“There is always more than one way to climb a mountain.” Though many of them with different outcomes. There is more than one way to grow and develop sound football/soccer players. Yet the depth of high level training maintains consistency, while the surface may always change and adopt. There are so many fantastic clubs and schools in the world that we can learn from and grow as players and coaches. Its is great to learn from all with respect and gratitude.
Knowledge: Just like in other fields, in football/soccer with knowledge comes the thought of knowing how much we don’t know. I find it amazing how many differences are in the (quality) schools of football that project different outcomes in terms of player development. And yet, they all contribute a great deal to teaching and developing quality players.
Styles and Differences: Some schools play strong possession, some a more direct game, others a blend between the two. Regardless of what the tactical applications, styles of play or other preferences one chooses, the depth of the fundamentals combined with new ongoing evidence, will always be the key to player development.
The Depth of the Fundamentals:
Strong independent skills: Strong technical individual ball abilities particularly in 1v1, 1v2 and 1v+ attacking situations, dribbling for space, dribbling to beat defenders, ball manipulation, timing, dribble to finish and basic individual awareness will always give players enough level of play to see the game differently. Its very important to create independent skills before players can learn how to play interdependent. In addition, motor planning development adopts well from early ages.
These are skills that contribute to developing creative high quality technical players. One way to grow these players would be to play unrestricted from any environment (including coaching) for creativity. However, its important that this follows with consistency, time and effort for true growth. Practical interpretation: young players can benefit from many high intensity 1v1+ games, multi directional games, constant switches of play and more.
Strong Interdependent Skills: Ability to show strong quality passing, receiving, touch on ball, recognition of space and pressure, maintain balance on movement and runs. Practical Interpretation: near support first, balanced runs and with purpose, balanced support, space and time relation, pressure and space relation.
Fundamental field decisions, such as: when to dribble for space versus to get behind a defender, when to dribble versus pass, when to go forward versus wide/back, when to switch the point of play, when and how to create numerical advantage, when to finish an action versus building from the back. All of these together continue to a rhythmic, entertaining and developmental game. Practical Interpretation: problem solving constantly, find incorrect ways to find correct ones, pattern recognition and more.
Ongoing Evidence: This includes prescribing activities based on new and ongoing research. Some of these elements (evidence based) are: ability to make the right decision under pressure, visual orientation, reaction time, dribbling center of gravity, acceleration short distance, dribbling speed and quality, high quality players passing and speed accuracy and many, many, many more elements.