Archive for January 2, 2009

More Evidence for Free Play

Posted in Youth Training on January 2, 2009 by mboyle1959

My good friend Daniel Martinez was kind enough to forward this blog post to me. Although the link was from a volleyball blog it is actually about English soccer. Here is the essential quote.

“In England, at the age of eight, thousands of kids are accepted into Soccer Academies. They go to school and learn one sport – football, the number-one sport in the world, which we call soccer. That we have to call the world’s most popular sport something else in our nation says something all by itself, but I digress. These young athletes then train for nearly a decade, year-round and at the ripe, old age of 16, their “graduation” as it were take place. They find out if 1). They are signed to pro contracts or 2). “Released” and sent off to just play recreationally.

So Mark set out to see if he could determine what might separate the players signed vs. those let go. After a long look, they found really only one key thing that they could measurably say was different. The kids who were released, played an average of a couple of hours of “street soccer” a week. This would be like sandlot games for us, games played without a coach; rules set by the players; scoring options determined by the players; field of play determined by those playing.

Those who were signed to pro contracts? They averaged just under 10 hours a week of street soccer. Wow.”

The key, free play. If you watched the Don Lucia clip yesterday, you heard him say he had ‘the second best job in coaching”. The first “head coach at an orphanage”. To read the whole piece you need to go You may need to cut and paste the link.

Now contrast to this interview with Elena Delle Donna ( mentioned in a previous post) who according to the video had a personal trainer in second grade! The video is on the right sidebar.