Who Developed Him?

soccer player photo

Who Developed Him?

A player ‘makes it‘, and then everyone who’s ever touched him claims development credit. So who’s responsible? All of them? Some of them? None of them? And how can credit (or blame) be distributed?

Should we be accrediting their coaches, or blaming them? So at what age(s) was a certain player under the tutelage of certain coach?

Much is made of “the golden years” which – depending on who you talk to – can range from birth, all the way to U12. And while there are truths in that meme, the reality is the entire trajectory is critical.The vast majority of the potential created in the golden years is technical. And technical development during this time happens first and foremost on the player’s own time and/or playing in informal settings like “street-ball”.

Again, the golden years serve mostly to elevate the potential of players. What is lost in that discussion is that potential is useless, unless realized. And that’s where coaching at the older ages is absolutely crucial. Coaches here, must have the capacity to take that nice slab of marble and form a sophisticated footballer.

If anywhere say between U10 to U20, that marble isn’t being properly sculpted … that player’s development is getting messed. You need a bunch of Michaelangelo’s throughout the age groups that can take that potential from the golden years, and realize it.

The US is a very tricky monster in that the players who make it pro here are not a reflection of proper and deliberate development. It is far and away a reflection of the time put in by the player himself, pedigree, crude physical attributes, and circumstance.  None of which are bad things, but they are not development attributable to a coach.

Time… Next let’s touch on the time factor.

I posit the following:

  1. 1 year is sufficient time for a coach to considerably develop or considerably damage a player.
  2. 1 year with a master is not the same as 1 year with an average Joe.
  3. Time spent with average Joes hurts, not helps development.

If anywhere along a player’s trajectory, he’s been with mediocre (or worse) coaches, that players ultimate peak has been negatively impacted.

It may be 80% of what a player is comes outside the formal training environment. But that remaining 20% … is like a swing vote! That 20% can make, or break you.

Let’s be clear: not make or break you in the ‘making it pro’ sense (total junk becomes pro here). But rather in the sense of achieving the qualities of a sophisticated footballer. The difference between having that and not, is in the finest of details.

The question is what coach(es), if any at all, had a meaningful and positive contribution to that 20% – to those details?

And what coach(es) were actually a waste of that players time?

These are terribly difficult, if not impossible, things to conclude by the masses. Which is a principle reason why every single coach who’s laid hands on a player can and will continue to claim credit.

from a Friends in soccer


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