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THE "HORST WEIN" APPROACH TO SOCCER
 
WHAT IS THE USE OF RUNNING (TRAINING ) WHEN YOU ARE ON THE WRONG ROAD ?
 

To make a delicious cake, the recipe of an experienced pastry chef is needed. To design a training program for a specific age group, a coach needs to consult a FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT MODEL. This consultation will minimise his mistakes and ensure a better results in coaching . Like a recipe, a model should inform the teacher or coach of all the necessary ingredients of the game and the proportions in which these ingredients have to be mixed to achieve enjoyable and effective training sessions. In particular this plan must deal with the problem of what to coach at which moment in the evolution of the young football player.

Horst Wein, a well-known German university lecturer with coaching assignments in 51 countries, has 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 football, 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 football coaches of FC Barcelona, one of the biggest football clubs in the world.

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.

In october 2000, Human Kinetics the world's largest publisher of books ,journals, videos, and software on the art of human science and movement has announced to offer his English version of the book in the majority of the countries in the world. Before turning 15 years ago to football, 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.

"WHEN YOU DO WHAT YOU HAVE DONE ALWAYS, YOU WLL NEVER REACH ANY FURTHER"

 
DIFFERENT APPROACH
 

One of the problems in coaching football 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 football 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.

 
THE RETURN TO NATURAL TEACHING AND LEARNING
 

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.

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 against 2 and 3 against 3. 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.

In the 2nd and 3rd level of 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 football. 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 young football player progresses slowly from one unit or game to the next one, confronted continuously with slightly more complex and difficult problems, in a similar way to the 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!

 
TEACHING BECOMES EASY
 

In order to give each young football player the same chance to develop his talent independent of the expertise of his teacher or coach as well as the infrastructure of his school or club, the FOOTBALL DEVELOPMENT MODEL enables anyone to coach beginners successfully. This requires only two weekend coaching courses in which the teacher or coach gets familiar with his unique educational management system in football. Little experience is required for successfully completing the two coaching courses for coaches " The Key to Success in Football "-An optimal coaching and learning model to unlock and develop the innate potential of young football players "in which all activities for the different age groups will be worked out.

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 football teachers or coaches to let young football 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.

"IF IT'S OUR DESIRE TO TRIUMPH IN FOOTBALL, WE HAVE TO LOOK OUT FOR NEW HIGHWAYS OF SUCCESS INSTEADOF USING ALWAYS THE OLD BUMPY ROADS OF THE PAST VICTORIES. A MAJOR OBSTACLE FOR THE PROGRESS OF FOOTBALL IS THE FORCE OF HABIT. BECAUSE OF SLUGGISHNESS MOST OF THE TEACHERS/COACHES CONTINUE WITH THEIR OLD HABITS WITHOUT THINKING SUFFICIENTLY ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE PRACTISING WITH THEIR PUPILS"

 
LEARNING FOR THE FUTURE SUCCESS
 

In his first Italian-Spanish text book "The Key to Success in Football" Horst Wein envisions the formation of young players as a full development of human potentialities. The German after offering for the first time in soccer coaching for each category of youth football a detailed activity program which is perfectly adapted to the child's present level of abilities and capacities, stresses the character of the coach as one of the most important aspects of the teaching and learning process . It's not merely academic qualifications that make a good football coach or teacher, but his ability to incorporate his pupils in the learning and coaching process in order to unlock and develop their innate potential to the most. 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.

Though during the primary years technical learning is given priority , at all formation levels of his programmed learning, the young football player is given ample time to be creative and expressive. Constantly the thirst for knowledge within the child's mind is awaken until it is properly equipped with the skills and capacities necessary for matching after 8 years of progressive and attractive training the challenges of a full game. Horst Wein's holistic approach in football coaching allows each child to develop his often dormant potential to the fullest.

Horst Wein has worked for many top clubs such as Real Sociedad, Leeds Utd, Sunderland, Inter Milan and is currently at the Centre of Research and Development of the Royal Spanish Football Federation. He has also wrote numerous books on soccer, offers regular coaching courses and recently ran a course for the English Football Association. You can e-mail Horst on horstwein@eresmas.net. We would like to thank him for the kind donation of this article.

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