Developing Successful Performers: Learning from Spain’s World Cup Victory

On another blog, I saw an interview with Seattle Sounders Strength & Conditioning Coach David Tenney. He has an interesting response when asked about soccer development in the United States:

I agree that soccer has developed to a good level in this country…However, there are still some real areas that we lag behind our South American and European competition. I think that if you look at the average high school age or college game, it’s an overly physical battle…The American game is about trying to play at a frantic speed for as long as possible. At times, it looks like uncontrolled chaos. When we start to get coaches that can slow the game down a bit, so players can think, then we will make progress.

From the fitness standpoint, I think we are burning out many good young players because our volume of training and games for the 16-18 year old is just too high. We have created a system where it’s the “grinders” that make it through to the next levels, and the more creative, smaller kids sometimes get left by the wayside by those in charge. Some kids are left out because they are not “big enough or strong enough”, while others are left out because we place such high physical demands on them, that some technical, but under-developed kids may break down. Look at the Spanish team that won the World Cup, guys like David Villa, Iniesta, Xavi, etc. are these slight, quick little players who don’t look physically imposing, but can dominate the tempo of the match.

Do we see the same thing in basketball? Do the “grinders” progress while more creative or skilled players are ignored? Do we concentrate too heavily on physical attributes at a young age and ignore differences in maturity?

By Brian McCormick
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

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