Comparing Team Goals: Winning Versus Development

Reproduced from “Developing Youth Football Players” by Horst Wein.

Before starting to train young people, coaches have to choose between two very different types of work ethic:

  1. Trying to lead their teams to victory in the short-term – at any cost.
  2. Seeking to develop the children with an age-orientated, gradual and long-term approach to the complexity and difficulty of the game of football.

Objective: To Win

  • Usually the players chosen are physically more advanced, especially in strength. They are generally the tallest ones. Their efforts to improve, regular attendance at the training sessions and behaviour as a team member receive less attention than does their actual performance on the pitch, which guarantees a win.
  • There is little room for younger, less able or under-developed players. Football is undemocratic.
  • From the age of 8, excessive emphasis is placed on tactics.
  • The players rely mainly on long passes (the goalkeeper clears the ball with the foot). They play faster than their skill level allows.
  • There is little thought given to building up the game. Usually the ball doesn’t pass through midfield and goes directly to the forwards through long passes.
  • When attacking there are few changes of direction (switches from left to right).
  • The coach instructs with the objective of winning the match and the championship. The player has to obey the coach, who gives orders or instructions from the sidelines.
  • To win, players are taught to be disloyal, to create traps, be dishonest and to deceive opponents and the referee. The ends justify the means.
  • The game plan has been thought out by the coach as it applies to adult players. There is no time or room for flair.
  • There is premature specialisation in a particular role. Always the same play and the subs rarely get an opportunity.
  • Young people are prematurely exposed to adult’s competition instead of adapting the competition for efficient learning. It takes many years of disappointments and frustration for the children to finally develop the same correct habits that adults show in 11v11.
  • Excessive emphasis is placed on physical skill and workout, as this is the manner in which results are achieved most quickly.
  • To win, during training there is an emphasis on traditional methods of teaching.
  • Everything connected with football is valued more than the individual. Dubious behaviour to achieve a good result is frequently accepted.

Objective: To Promote Development

  • Everyone plays, not just the strongest players. The coach prefers players with ball sense who have an understanding of keeping it in possession and who are intelligent. Good behaviour on and off the pitch is one of the criteria when making a selection about who will play. Putting in effort is also important.
  • Everyone has the same right to play, regardless of physique and ability. Football is democratic.
  • Matches serve to highlight how much skill players have and allow them to gain experience in tactics.
  • All players touch the ball. They tend to make short passes and dribbles. The goalkeeper usually throws the ball in order to construct the next attack.
  • The ball generally advances from defence to the midfielders, with the game based on communication and co-operation.
  • Often the weight of the attack is changed with the objective of creating spaces for penetration.
  • The coach motivates the team with the aim of improving performance of each player and the team as a whole. The player decides what the next move will be rather than the coach deciding for him or her, using perception and decision-making capabilities.
  • Players are taught the values of sportsmanship, honesty, respect for rules and loyalty to the team.
  • The individual is allowed to introduce his or her flair, skill and imagination.
  • Everyone gets several opportunities in the competition to experience different positions in the team. Everyone plays, regardless of ability.
  • With the aim to assure more efficient learning of the complex game of football, the competition is adapted according to physical and intellectual abilities, at each stage of the young person’s growth. More self-esteem and fun are guaranteed.
  • The surrounding environment is respected and the players’ co-ordination and ability to play under various conditions improve with the variety of competitions to which the children get exposed each season.
  • To be able to understand the game and to make fewer mistakes, the method of discovering skills and capacities in simplified games is emphasised during training.
  • Priority is given to the development of the person through sport. Sports is used as ‘training for life’.
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