“Some youth academies worry about winning, we worry about education. You see a kid who lifts his head up, who plays the pass first time, pum, and you think, ‘Yep, he’ll do.’ Bring him in, coach him. Our model was imposed by [Johan] Cruyff; it’s an Ajax model. It’s all about rondos [piggy in the middle]. Rondo, rondo, rondo. Every. Single. Day. It’s the best exercise there is. You learn responsibility and not to lose the ball. If you lose the ball, you go in the middle. Pum-pum-pum-pum, always one touch. If you go in the middle, it’s humiliating, the rest applaud and laugh at you.
It’s a pity. Talent has to be the priority. Technical ability. Always, always. Sure, you can win without it but it’s talent that makes the difference. Look at the teams: Juventus, who makes the difference? Krasic. Del Piero. Liverpool? Gerrard, or Torres before. Talento. Talento. When you look at players and ask yourself who’s the best: talento. Cesc, Nasri, Ryan Giggs – that guy is a joy, incredible. Looking back, I loved John Barnes and Chris Waddle was buenísimo. [Open-mouthed, eyes gleaming] Le Tissier! Although their style was different I liked Roy Keane and Paul Ince together, too. That United team was great – my English team. If I’d gone anywhere, it would have been there.
Think quickly, look for spaces. That’s what I do: look for spaces. All day. I’m always looking. All day, all day. [Xavi starts gesturing as if he is looking around, swinging his head]. Here? No. There? No. People who haven’t played don’t always realise how hard that is. Space, space, space. It’s like being on the PlayStation. If the defender’s here, play it there. I see the space and pass. That’s what I do.
It’s good that the reference point for world football right now is Barcelona, that it’s Spain. Not because it’s ours but because of what it is. Because it’s an attacking football, it’s not speculative, we don’t wait. You pressure, you want possession, you want to attack. Some teams can’t or don’t pass the ball. What are you playing for? What’s the point? That’s not football. Combine, pass, play. That’s football – for me, at least. For coaches, like, I don’t know, [Javier] Clemente or [Fabio] Capello, there’s another type of football. But it’s good that Barcelona’s style is now a model, not that.”
Joined Barcelona’s youth system at the age of 11 and made a scoring first-team debut aged 18 in the 1998 Spanish Super Cup final. He has made 557 appearances for the club, scoring 56 goals.
3 Champions Leagues 2006, 2009, 2011
1 Club World Cup 2009
5 La Liga titles 1999, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010
1 Spanish Cup 2009
4 Spanish Super Cup 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010
1 Uefa Super Cup 2009
Represented every Spain youth team from Under-17 to Under-23 level, making his senior debut in 2000 at age 20. He has scored eight goals in 99 appearances. He has also scored twice in eight matches for Catalonia
1 World Cup 2010
1 European Championship 2008
1 Under-20 World Cup 1999
Olympic silver medal 2000
The world’s best playmaker, he completed 104 passes more than the next most prolific passer at last year’s World Cup which Spain won. He has made more assists than any other player in the past two La Liga and Champions League seasons
European Championship player of the tournament 2008
Champions League final man of the match 2009
Fifa World Cup All-Star Team 2010
Fifa Team of the Year 2008, 2009, 2010
Uefa Team of the Year 2008, 2009, 2010
Third place in Ballon d’Or 2009, 2010
La Liga Player of the Year 2005
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Thomas S Clark
In preparation for the Fall Season, Summer is the time to focus on technical development and work towards Raising Your Level. 15 to 20 minutes a day of focused and intense training will make all the difference. This workout can be done by players of any age at any level…. Technical execution is a very simple concept: How quickly, accurately and consistently can you perform the most basic skills!
Make the commitment today and Lets Raise Your Level!
Click here or on the images to download the file!
TEAM: Anthem Middle School Girls Soccer
- Primarily 4th-7th graders (one 8th grader)
- Other teams had five to seven 8th graders
- Half the team had never played competitively
- Some teams ‘laughed’ at first sight of Anthem’s size (score ended up 8-1)
What did they do in training? How did they motivate players of different skill level? What did they do to win?
HEAD COACH: Doug Pillsbury
Game Day: We Won by Passing and Dribbling Around Bigger, Faster Players
Every team we played was bigger, stronger and faster than our girls. Our central midfielder (a 4th grader) is only 4’6″ – One game she played against a girl that was 6’1″! We had to rely on our individual and team skill to 1) Be able to dribble and get out of tight spaces, and 2) Be able to effectively pass around the bigger players. iSoccer gave us that technical base that really showed up in the games. By the end of the season, my girls were doing give-and-gos and passing the ball around the field. It was great to see how the training came to life in the games! [Check Out iSoccer's Article on Passing and Receiving]
First Four Weeks: One Hour of iSoccer Everyday
iSoccer was the skill development program that we implemented at the beginning of the season. We would train for 1.5 hours a day: One hour of iSoccer and 30 minutes of small or full sided scrimmage. Over the course of the season, we did three formal assessments, while the other nights, we just used the iSoccer Space and 20 second work intervals. The difference in my players’ skill level was ‘night’ and ‘day’ by the end of the four weeks. Our better players were sharper with the ball while our more recreational players went from having basically zero control, to being able to control, dribble and pass effectively. It was incredible! [Check Out iSoccer's Article on How to Use iSoccer in Training to Motivate Your Players]
My Players were More Focused with iSoccer
The 20 seconds and simplicity of the 16 assessed skills helped focus my players. For those 20 seconds, each player gave it their all – Maximum effort with maximum attention. As the weeks went by and I was able to correct the technique of each player, every one of my players kept getting better and better. And the number of touches each player was getting on the ball was amazing. 20 second work rate + high number of touches = My player’s skills were becoming faster, more accurate and more consistent. [Check Out iSoccer's Article on 20 Seconds, Skill Isolation and Deliberate Practice]
My Girls were Fired Up about Raising Their Level
A couple of weeks into the season, I began to offer optional Saturday training that focused specifically on the iSoccer assessment. I was extremely happy when I got a little less than half the girls to come out on Saturday morning to do technical training. They wanted to ‘Raise Their Level’ and were willing to wake up on Saturday for optional technical training! To further motivate players, I gave out an iSoccer Outstanding Skills Award to one player who had the highest score and raised her level over the course of the season. [Check Out iSoccer's Article on The 10 iSoccer Levels and The Psychology of Motivation]
Practices were More Structured and Effective with iSoccer
The first day of training I had 21 girls: Some played competitive club soccer while others had never played at all. I asked myself, how am I ever going to create an effective practice with players of very different abilities? I found the answer in iSoccer. By separating the girls in groups of three, working in the iSoccer Space and putting girls of similar skill level together, I was able to effectively teach and motivate each player. By working in the confined grid, the girls were more focused on beating their own scores, than worrying about what the other girls were doing. This was especially helpful in motivating the girls who were playing soccer for the first time. They could develop at their own pace without the pressure of others watching or seeing how far behind they were technically. [Check Out iSoccer's Article on The iSoccer Space]
Brought iSoccer Reports to Regular Training Sessions
I would print out various iSoccer reports and bring them to practice. One of the reports shows the top scores for each girl on the team. If I heard a score that was higher than their highest score, I would publicly recognize them. This added a healthy, yet competitive element to the session because other girls wanted to be recognized. Being able to quickly reference scores and use them to motivate was very helpful!
Coach Dean Koski of Lehigh University and Scott Leber at Lehigh University
“Having a strong familiarity with iSoccer as a training and evaluation instrument, we began using the platform for my college team during training sessions as part of our technical warm-up. The iSoccer model is easy to organize and execute, as well as dynamic enough to keep our players motivated and focused. While no test can fully assess a players’ readiness to compete at this level, the more information we have as coaches about our players and even potential prospects can only serve to help us make more informed decisions.”
Scott Leber, iSoccer Founder
“The College Standards Project is a very exciting initiative for many reason – But two of the top reasons are: One, being able to measure and then publish a ‘technical level’ of college teams is going to motivate thousands of youth players across the country. By giving our youth players a target to attack, I am confident there is going to be a lot more time spent with the ball trying to obtain the various levels. Secondly, the College game is known for speed and power, but not necessarily skill. The iSoccer Assessment empowers college coaches across the country to be able to measure, track and compare their players while empowering college players to sharpen their own technical ability. Over the long run, the technical level of the college game will hopefully begin to match the physical level.”