Top International Soccer Coach Points the Way For Irish Youth Soccer

Jul 06, 11 Top International Soccer Coach Points the Way For Irish Youth Soccer

His name Horst Wein and most of you probably have never heard of him before, to many he is perhaps the most famous mentor of soccer coaches and trainers around the world.

He has taught coaches in over 53 countries covering 4 continent and has written 31 sport related text-books, including 4 for soccer. He is an Olympic silver medal coach and was the first coach from the western world to be invited to train athletes in the former Soviet Union in the late 70’s.

“Football for everybody, everybody for football”

So far

He has worked as a consultant with Inter Milan, Leeds United, Sunderland and for various Olympic games and currently works cooperatively with the Centre for Research and Studies (CEDIF) of the Royal Spanish Football Federation. He regularly travels the world helping other adapt the game of soccer to better suit the young players, he recently designed the USA project for schools in Central and North America and NIKE UK appointed him as head coach for their famous Premier Football training programme and we soon be coming to Ireland to introduce us to his Youth Soccer Development Model, a model that is being rolled out all over the world.

Before Soccer

Before turning 15 years ago to Soccer, Horst Wein’s methods were already successfully experienced and applied in other team sports, like field hockey and ice hockey. Nineteen member countries of the International Hockey Federation are using his “Development Model in thousands of clubs and schools, whilst in Finland, one of the top countries in ice hockey, the young hockey players are learning quicker than ever and at the same time enjoying their practise and their rich and attractive competition program thanks to the methods of Horst Wein and those of the former captain of the Finish Ice Hockey team at three Olympic Games, Juhani Wahlsten.

*What you are about to read has been taken from Archives written about him, so you could say this is from the “Horst mouth”

Horst Wein Concept

Horst Wein always been convinced that one way of promoting the game of football and persuading more youngsters to take up the sport is, to make the practise of football more enjoyable, attractive and from the learning point of view more effective!

Few children relish hours of boring practice, but if ones make the training pleasant and easily understood for the teacher and the young players and furthermore one combines it with a stimulating variation of different competitions which are considering the actual level of physical and mental capacities of the children, that’s a different proposition.

Wein, having learnt through his intensive travelling that many countries still use inadequate methods in youth soccer, believes that he is able to solve their big problem. He looked at the way subjects like mathematics or languages are taught progressively in schools and thought the same principles could be applied to the teaching of team sports.

Before introducing his ideas in the “Centro Piloto del Calcio Giovanile” of the Italian Football Federation in Rome, in 1986 taught his revolutionary football principles to the youth soccer coaches of FCBarcelona.

The encouragement given by the coaches in Rome and FC Barcelona stimulated Wein to publish his method in his first football text book “Programmed learning in Youth Football” in Italian language which 10 years later went in the 5th edition and was also published in Spain under the title “Fútbol a la medida del niño” (“Football tailored to the child -An optimal coaching and learning model to unlock and develop the innate potential of young football players”) by the “Centre of studies, development and research of the Royal Spanish Football Federation”.

After the great acceptation of his philosophy by Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and South American coaches (supported by his popular coaching clinics for coaches and the success of his second book “Fútbol a la medida del adolescente” (“Football tailored to the adolescents”), several famous football clubs in different countries ( for instance Inter Milan, Peñarol Montevideo, UNAM “Pumas” of Mexico, Cruz Azul, Real Sociedad de San Sebastian and Universidad Católica de Chile) decided to invite him to demonstrate and later on adopt his methods.

“ It is not sufficient to teach  your players well, it’s essential for future successes to prepare them better than others”

(Horst Wein).

The Approach

One of the problems in coaching soccer is the complexity and variety of situations which the player is required to face. There is also a considerable range of techniques and skills which the handling of those situations demands. In this different approach to develop young soccer players with the FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT MODEL, Horst Wein doesn’t simply list the skills to master at each age group but the situations most commonly encountered in football. These are incorporated in a progressive sequence of several simplified games. For each of them the educational aims and the skills, that are necessary to successfully resolve particular game situations, are clearly defined. However, the skills are only taught (with help of advanced programmed “corrective exercises or games “) when the player has realised in the proceeding competitive simplified game a lack of a certain ability or capacity which prevented him from succeeding.

At all 5 levels of formation Horst Wein manages to construct a solid bridge between learning a subject and applying it some moments later in a simplified training game or official competition. Training and competitions are always seen as a unit, one being tightly linked to the other. The players are always highly motivated in their training because they see the practise game orientated and not isolated from the competition as frequently observed in youth football.

Back to Natural Ways

Wein believes that all things in nature have a gestation period and must progress through a natural sequence until reaching maturity. Natural learning in any team sport should work the same way!

The step-by-step approach is one of the keys to success in his model, which uses the brain’s innate ability to make memory-building connections. Each accomplishment is broken down into a series of small steps, gradually and methodically leading to the final goal, the mastering of the 11-a-side game.

Level 1

First the young players from 7 years onwards are exposed to a program of ” Games for developing basic skills and capacities”. Once the youngsters have mastered a great variety of multilateral tasks (incl. the “Football-Decathlon”), they progress to the program of simplified games 2 v 2s and 3 v 3s.

Here they can experiment and improve on the skills and basic tactical behaviours which they learnt before when they were exposed to a great variety of stimuli included in the dribble games, games for tackling, games for passing, controlling and shooting and multilateral games.

Level 2 and 3

Of the formation, the players understand and learn to play successfully the competitions of “Mini Football” which is considered an ideal base to prepare the 8 and 9 years old players (together with the practise of several simplified games for teams made up by 3 and 4 players) to face with 10 and 11 years the more complex and difficult problems included in 7-a-side soccer.

Finally with 12 and 13 years the young players show their excellent skill level and football intelligence in the competition of 8-a-side football which is played between the two penalty areas of the full-size filed on mobile 6m x 2m goals, always with a frequent interchange of players.

Every two years the difficulty and complexity of the competition are increased in harmony with the physical and intellectual growth of the players. That means that the competition (as well as the contents and methods used in the training program) is adapted at each stage of development of the young player to his characteristics and not vice-versa. In this way the child always has the feeling of accomplishment, will love the game and want to come back for more.

The Progression

The young soccer player progresses slowly from one unit or game to the next one, confronted continuously with slightly more complex and difficult problems, just like lessons received in mathematics in school. The progression occurs when the technical and tactical requirements of one simplified game or competition are understood and mastered to a high degree. Advancing in Horst Wein’s detailed program of teaching and learning to play football the natural way, the coach of the young football player experiments that training is a process of development by gradually increasing demands.

“It is not sufficient to develop your players well, it’s essential for future successes to prepare them better than the others!”

(Horst Wein)

Football Developmental Model

Following his proposal for a FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT MODEL step by step , similar to what happens in all schools with the teaching of mathematics, languages or other signatures, will enable less experienced soccer teachers or coaches to let young soccer players grow over eight years of effective and enjoyable practice of simplified games (with the respective corrective games and formative competitions ) into the full game of football.

The result is already known: a more intelligent and more complete football player.

With an integrated approach to learning, children get encouraged in all 5 levels of formation to make during the practice of many simplified games and their attached corrective exercises/games constantly connections between technical execution, tactical and overall knowledge and other important capacities like vision, co-ordination, anticipation, will and physical qualities. Never the mistake is done, like in traditional education theories, to compartmentalise the coaching of the game of soccer in discrete disciplines (techniques, tactics, physical fitness and mental preparation).

Instead children always experience and enjoy the game in Wein’s “Football Development Model” as a dynamic whole.

In Summary

What are the common development problems that all our young players are facing and what are we doing to address these, what plan have the SFAI or FAI or whoever wants to take control of Youth soccer in this country for the future of the KIDS game?

Many of the Provinces, Various Academies and Clubs are addressing some of these issues – but only in isolation, I mean can you name more then 5 clubs that are actually putting the correct structure in place with the emphasis on DEVELOPMENT? Demanding coaches develop over winning?

We need a common strategy and action plan so that we can make progress as a nation. It is understood that successful player development programs require at least 10 years before success can be clearly demonstrated. Therefore, we should start now and if we do not have our own model, which I don’t believe we do unless someone is writing one as I type….? then perhaps we adopt Horst Wein’s?

It can be over looked, it is one that many of the top clubs and federations in the world are currently adopting. Can we afford not too?

Coming To Ireland

Horst Wein will be in Dublin from July 22nd – 25th for a promotional visit and then return to complete a coaching seminar  in September.

If you want to find out more about his July or maybe your club or league would like to host this legend, get in touch

Contact Antonio or Dermott Dalton, and new website launching soon come and listen to the man, what have you got to lose, only your bad coaching habits!!!!

Research: Horst Wein’s Material and Books

If you have the time (9mins) take a look at this post about “The Little Stars”


Friday 22nd July at 7pm – Portmarnock Sport and Leisure Club  (€10 entry)

Saturday 23 July 10am – PSLC

Saturday 23rd  TBC

Sunday 24th TBC

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