In each episode of John Pranjic’s 3Four3 soccer podcast he plugs 3Four3’s coaching training program.
One of his best selling-points for their coaching program is that helps coaches get past the “trial-and-error discovery phase” of figuring out what activities work and getting right to activities and coaching points that will make a difference in the players and team.
While writing the previous two posts, it dawned on me that soccer culture serves the same function for individual players.
Becoming a competent player from scratch has two has two general periods:
A. 2-5 year period of trial-and-error of learning about soccer and what’s important. This phase is filled with dead-ends, traps and road blocks. One example is simply underestimating the importance of ball skills.
B. 3-5 year period of developing competency on basic skills like first touch, dribbling and passing.
Soccer culture is a shortcut past the first period, because the culture has already discovered what’s important and made it possible to achieve that with activities that develop the basics in fun, unorganized activities with nobody noticing.
In baseball culture, we know one such activity as “catch”. Examples in basketball are 1-on-1, OUT and 21.
Soccer culture activities include juggling, monkey-in-the-middle and 1v1 to 3v3.
In addition to being played in unorganized settings, it’s with people ranging in age and ability, which enables knowledge transfer between generations and ability levels that doesn’t occur in organized settings sliced by age and ability levels.
In the U.S. soccer culture, it’s typical for kids to learn how to self-organize and enjoy playing a game of monkey-in-the-middle (which develops about 60% of the basic skills useful in soccer) in their teens.
In stronger soccer cultures, kids learn to play this on their own and have fun as early as age 5. And they play it a lot.