What Makes a World Class Soccer Player?
Super Soccer Stars players, coaches and families were recently fortunate enough to learn from one of the best and most respected coaches in soccer – Manchester United First Team Coach, Rene Meulensteen. Coach Meulensteen visited us last week and I’d like to share with you a few quotes that resonated with me for parents with young, athletic children.
“The best are the best because they make a difference.”
This quote was very simple, but struck a chord with the audience. Rene went into detail explaining what it takes to be the best at what you do. In reflection, the following attributes can be adapted and used in other environments.
∙ PEAK FITNESS: which includes PACE, STRENGTH, STAMINA
∙ AWARENESS UNDERSTANDING: DECISION-MAKING
∙ PERSONALITY: WINNING MENTALITY and ATTITUDE
∙ BASIC SKILL: MOVES, TURNS and TRICKS
“Young kids are like a sponge, and you soak them and dunk them in the bucket of skills.”
This one brought a lot of smiles and filled the room with laughter. Rene went on to explain that he introduced the skills and moves method to the youth academy at Manchester United in 2001. His program is still used today and continues to produce players who are now playing for the First Team and representing their country in Euro 2012. During his talk he explained that the skill introduced to young players needs to be purposeful, challenging, fun and enjoyable. Quality and increasing intensity pick up once the player (sponge) has perfected the skill (soaked it all up!).
“Technique becomes a skill when you can reproduce it. Technical training is about repetition.”
Rene’s explained this method of training by displaying a triangle: individual training, group training and conditioned games.
Individual training allows you to create moves with no pressure to perfect the skill. This develops fast feet and agility on the ball. As a result, players will be more confident in using moves to beat and feint an opponent.
Group training is more structured, then moves into free flowing without an opponent in a group setting. Then as the skill is achieved, opponents are then added. All sessions in the group environment will then end going to goal.
Conditioned games are games with variations in the number of players in a game: 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4. These games can be players dribbling over end lines, small goals and scoring on big goals.
With Rene’s help, our coaches, players and parents all learned what it takes to be a world class soccer player. Take these tips, see if your child fits the mold and we’ll hopefully see you on the pitch!
Dean Simpson is the Director of Coaching for Super Soccer Stars, New York City’s largest & most popular children’s soccer development program. Dean is a highly-acclaimed UEFA “A” licensed coach and personally oversees and refines the Super Soccer Stars curriculum, since joining the team in 2006.