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24 minutes | a month ago
Ep 283: USMNT Olympic Qualifying Failure – What’s the Excuse Now?
Pointing to the: * Coach * Player(s) * Schedule * Player availability * US Soccer or stating that the Olympics isn’t that big a deal anyways … you name it, it all misses the mark, it’s all superficial, and it all conveniently serves to distract the fans, the customer base, from looking at the underlying issue. This episode of the podcast is from an Instagram live Gary Kleiban had with Nick Rogers the day after the United States failed to qualify for the Olympics for the 3rd straight time. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 283: USMNT Olympic Qualifying Failure – What’s the Excuse Now? appeared first on 3four3.
39 minutes | 7 months ago
Ep 282: The Training Formula That Can Help You Create a Competitive Advantage Over Your Opponents.
The key to achieving a significant degree of competency is repetition. Furthermore: The key to making up that technical debt we described in the previous episodes, is repetition. The key to creating a moat, a competitive advantage, over your competition, is repetition. The key to achieving your goals is repetition. But not just any repetition. It must be the repetition of the right things. This seems to be common sense. So, why don t we follow the formula that clearly works and that so many success stories have as a common theme? If I want 6-pack abs, well, there s a clear-cut formula for that. Why don t I have 6-pack abs? I didn t do the work. Or I didn’t stick to the diet. Or I didn’t have the consistency. Or I didn’t do the program for long enough. Now, how much consistency, discipline, and hence repetitions are required to achieve competency in soccer, depends on where you currently are and what your objectives are (short term, medium term, long term). In this episode, Gary Kleiban and I discuss repetition and how it fits into the player development puzzle. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 282: The Training Formula That Can Help You Create a Competitive Advantage Over Your Opponents. appeared first on 3four3.
41 minutes | 7 months ago
Ep 281: How Can We Catch up to the Best Players and Nations in the World?
Technical debt is a concept in software development that reflects the implied cost of additional rework caused by choosing an easy (limited) solution now, instead of using a better approach that would take longer. If you choose, you can read the full Wikipedia entry. But in short, the longer you postpone doing things *correctly, the greater debt you accrue significantly increasing the risk of mild to catastrophic failures in your ultimate objectives. And the cost/effort to correct the problem and pay the debt increases the longer it persists akin to accruing interest. In this episode, Gary Kleiban and I discuss technical debt and this relates to individual player development. Specifically, how far behind American players generally are, and if we can possibly catch up to the best players and nations in the world. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 281: How Can We Catch up to the Best Players and Nations in the World? appeared first on 3four3.
36 minutes | 7 months ago
Ep 280: You Want to Help Your Player Achieve Their Goals, Right? Start Here.
I m sure you ve heard these terms before: Work Ethic Sacrifice Mentality Grit Culture Grind etc Or the saying: Hard work beats talent when talent doesn t work hard. It s just the reality. If you want to get back those 6 pack abs, it s not going to happen by sitting on your ass, eating Cheetos, drinking beers, and binge-watching Netflix every day. There s case study after case study, testimonial after testimonial. And we ll testify as well after having seen what happens to countless players who have passed through our tutelage, and the cohort we ve competed against and monitored. In today’s episode, Gary Kleiban joins me to share his thoughts and observations regarding worth ethic, sacrifice, culture, and mentality, with personal anecdotes and stories of players he s very familiar with. We also provide some practical advice for parents who are looking for ways to help their players instill better habits and create an advantage for themselves. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 280: You Want to Help Your Player Achieve Their Goals, Right? Start Here. appeared first on 3four3.
37 minutes | 8 months ago
Ep 279: A Huge Deficiency in the Suburban American Soccer Player
Across the globe, players of all ages from 7-year-olds to adults benefit from the street game that informal pickup culture the American player lacks. The barrio, as Hispanic/Latino cultures call it, is where strong mentalities, ball skills (of the smooth, not mechanized variety), and the dark arts of the game are forged. This is something you can t get at your club. This is something you can t get with personal training. And this is something that is not only critical to top-level player development, but also a huge accelerator for any lower level player who wants to quickly (relatively speaking) catch up to his immediate peers. If a player doesn t have this throughout their early developmental years, they are behind their international counterparts. In this episode, Gary Kleiban joins to me discuss the importance of playing pick up games and pick up game culture. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 279: A Huge Deficiency in the Suburban American Soccer Player appeared first on 3four3.
40 minutes | 8 months ago
Ep 278: American Players Must Improve This Before We Can Contend With the World’s Best.
In this episode, we dive a bit more into Soccer IQ. While the correct decisions are sometimes governed by the current scoreline, run of play, the opposition, time on the clock, etc., what most people fail to realize is the most fundamental guide. The correct decision, by and far, is the one that retains possession. All decisions to the contrary are risks: Trying to dribble by a player or two or three. Threading a pass to your midfielders or strikers. Launching a 40-yard ball to your forwards etc What are you risking? Well, a turnover and wasting what would have been a much better opportunity 2, 5, or 30 passes later. Gary Kleiban joins me for this conversation about Soccer IQ and proper decision making. Please leave any comments or questions below. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 278: American Players Must Improve This Before We Can Contend With the World’s Best. appeared first on 3four3.
39 minutes | 8 months ago
Episode 277: Listen to This before You Say a Player Is “Elite”
Just as it s important to discern what is a much-preferred team environment for player development, so is the capacity to discern what an elite player is and isn t. Having a good model for elite allows you to properly calibrate your measuring stick, and consequently be able to better identify, judge, and rank the shortcomings in your player. That in turn makes you a better mentor, better coach, better player, and even a better fan of the game. In this episode, Gary Kleiban joins me to discuss elite soccer player characteristics and some ways you can calibrate yourself to better judge a player’s true quality. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Episode 277: Listen to This before You Say a Player Is “Elite” appeared first on 3four3.
34 minutes | 8 months ago
Ep 276: The One Training Tool Every Soccer Player Should Be Using
When you re not training with your coach, learning the game from TV, or playing with others Go Find a Wall It is the single greatest tool for developing your technique. Nothing else comes close. Claudio Reyna, one of the few quality players to survive the US Soccer landfill, shares a brief story with us. The following is an excerpt from his book: More than goals: the journey from backyard games to World Cup competition . I spent a lot of time hitting the ball against the side of the house when I was a growing up. If my mother complained about the noise, I d hop down the retaining wall at the end of our property to the office-building parking lot. I d use that wall hitting the ball with both feet, seeing how long I could return the wall s passes without losing control. I found out later that so many pros spent lots of their childhood doing that. Dennis Bergkamp, the great Dutch striker who scored and set up hundreds of goals for Ajax Amsterdam, Arsenal, and the Dutch national team, said that when he was a youth player at Ajax, they had little three-foot-high walls. He would knock the ball against the walls for hours. Every time he hit the ball, he d know whether it was a good touch or a bad touch. He d do it over and over, trying to establish a rhythm. Whenever I saw Bergkamp slotting a perfectly placed ball past a goalkeeper or making a precise pass, I thought of him practicing against the wall. Kicking against the wall is an excellent way to work on improving your weaker foot. You can back up and practice shots on goal, or move close to the wall and work on passing, because where there s a wall, there s a teammate. You can practice trapping and work on your first touch by controlling the ball before you kick it, or hit it back first time. Passing the ball against a wall from close distance takes timing and coordination. Hit the ball faster, and you ve got to react faster and get a rhythm going. It almost feels like you re dancing. Practicing the correct striking of the ball over and over helps it become second nature. It has to be, because in a game a player doesn t have time to think about his form or approach. Under pressure, everything is more difficult. Mastering technique while playing on your own is the first step to being able to do it right in a game. We share Claudio s words because they re well-put, but more importantly because that is our personal experience as well. Our personal playing experience and the experience of the players we ve directly worked with for years. And in this episode, Gary Kleiban and I discuss the benefits of training against a wall and why this should be a staple in a player weekly individual training routine. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 276: The One Training Tool Every Soccer Player Should Be Using appeared first on 3four3.
35 minutes | 8 months ago
Ep 275: The Truth and Lies About Possession Soccer
There is a movement towards possession-based soccer in our country and it s about time. The possession-based game, in one manifestation or another, has dominated global football for decades. But unfortunately, it has taken an extreme interpretation and execution of possession, in Barcelona/Spain, to awaken us in the United States. As a result, the word possession is now commonplace. Commonplace in American media, commonplace in the household, and becoming more commonplace on the training grounds. The gap and challenge, however, is in going from mere use of the word to its understanding, implementation, and execution on the field. And it s a challenge that requires not only a big commitment in time and effort but essentially a complete overhaul even abandonment of what s been traditionally done in soccer at all levels. As a result, there is a lot of friction by established coaches and others in the community whose expertise does not reside in the possession-based game. Another result is that parents are left wondering what s good, and what s not? So, in this episode, Gary Kleiban and I discuss what possession soccer means, what parents should be looking for in the team training environment when it comes to possession, and how technical and tactical development happens in a possession-based system. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 275: The Truth and Lies About Possession Soccer appeared first on 3four3.
46 minutes | 9 months ago
Ep 274: Introducing the 5 Components of Player Development
You cannot relay solely on playing in a structured club environment to fully develop a player. There is so much that should be happening outside of the club environment, away from the coach, on the players own time that contributes significantly to the development process. In this episode, Gary Kleiban joins me to discuss what he calls the 5 different components of player development: The household/parent/family influence. The playing on your own influence. The pickup game influence. The structured club training influence. The personal training influence. Each tap into a piece of the puzzle. Some may be more important than others. There s definitely overlap between each. But they all play a critical role in the development process, and none can be ignored. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 274: Introducing the 5 Components of Player Development appeared first on 3four3.
54 minutes | 9 months ago
Episode 273: Here’s the Unvarnished Truth About American Soccer’s Culture Problem.
In American soccer, we have a diversity problem. But it’s not a racial diversity problem, it’s a cultural diversity problem. That’s right. Racial diversity does not equal cultural diversity. The lack of cultural diversity is one of the biggest issues we suffer from, but one of the least talked about. Around the world, every club has its own identity. In America, however, MLS is the club and in order to advance in the sport here, you must conform to that culture. In this episode, we pick apart MLS’ monoculture and begin to highlight why their monopoly over the American landscape is so detrimental to soccer here. We also discuss: The passion for the sport in other cultures, like Argentina. Why one culture thinks they’re the judge of what’s right and what’s wrong. And we also talk about the story of Efra Alvarez and what influenced his trajectory. We’ll get started with this episode right after a message about our coaching program. Thanks for tuning in. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Episode 273: Here’s the Unvarnished Truth About American Soccer’s Culture Problem. appeared first on 3four3.
58 minutes | 9 months ago
Ep 272: Who Can Claim Credit for Developing a Player? The Answer Isn t as Simple as You d Think.
Who can actually take credit for a player “making it”? Furthermore, what does “making it” even mean? Does it mean something different in different situations? What’s the context? Specifically, we talk about who can claim credit for a players development and ultimately their trajectory? Can a coach claim credit? Can a parent/mentor claim credit? Can a club claim credit? Can a league claim credit? Can a federation claim credit? How much credit should the player themselves get? Well, Gary Kleiban and I discuss all of that, plus more in this week’s episode. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 272: Who Can Claim Credit for Developing a Player? The Answer Isn t as Simple as You d Think. appeared first on 3four3.
36 minutes | 9 months ago
Ep 271: What Is and Isn’t Remarkable About American Soccer?
In previous episodes, we’ve discussed language and why it’s wise that we update our soccer vocabulary. Well, in this episode, we’re to focus on just one word. The word is: remarkable. Gary Kleiban joins me to answer some of these questions: What is remarkable? What isn’t remarkable? What are the good and bad sides of remarkable? Which players consistently demonstrate that they’re remarkable? What’s the difference between consistency and a single remarkable action? What about coaches? Are there any remarkable American coaches? As I pointed out in a different episode, changing just one word in the vocabulary opens up a whole new realm of conversation. This conversation is yet another example of that. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 271: What Is and Isn’t Remarkable About American Soccer? appeared first on 3four3.
69 minutes | 10 months ago
Ep 270: Who’s Really Making Money Off Youth Soccer?
Being a coach, administrator, trainer, or educator in youth soccer is a job like any other. Why should anyone be expected to do it for free, or for minimum wage, or for less than minimum wage? That’s the expectation in American youth soccer, though. Those who make money in youth soccer are often unnecessarily demonized. Here’s the thing, nobody is getting rich off youth soccer. Sure, some DOC’s or executives might be making 6 figures, but why shouldn’t they? This certainly isn’t the popular stance to take, but the notion that no one should be making money off youth soccer is completely misguided. So, today Gary Kleiban and I discuss the issue and how it’s linked to other popular talking points such as “pay to play”, promotion and relegation, and the global soccer marketplace. If you have questions about anything we cover, send them our way. We’d be happy to answer them in future episodes. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Ep 270: Who’s Really Making Money Off Youth Soccer? appeared first on 3four3.
33 minutes | 10 months ago
Episode 269: How to Use Foundational Rondos and Really Improve Your Players
The biggest misunderstanding of the rondo is that it s been perceived as just circle keep away. Where you have some number of players on the perimeter and some defenders in the middle. The classic circle keep away warm-up. That s what most coaches think a rondo is. As you’ll hear us say, rondos, especially foundational rondos, are typically misunderstood here in America. What people seem to not understand is that there are 15, 20, 30 different variations of a rondo all with varying geometries, position-specific, different responsibilities, all kinds of restrictions to bring a particular foundational lesson, and more. Everything that goes on in a match, except shooting, you can do in a rondo. The competitive aspect, fighting to make space, what to do when in possession and what to do when you haven t got the ball, how to play one-touch soccer, how to counteract the tight marking and how to win the ball back. Johan Cruyff (Legendary player for FC Barcelona and Holland) The conversation between John and Gary in this episode stemmed from a question that was submitted to us on Twitter about rondos. Specifically, the way that we use the 4v1 rondo with our teams. Why do you have the players check all the way down to the cone towards the ball in rondos instead of reading where the defenders are and position themselves in a position to break lines? (I ve only done phase 1 so I m not sure if it changes in later years) marco devito (@CoachDeVito1) June 18, 2020 In order to orientate everyone going into this discussion, we’ll use some information provided by our friends at Soccer America. Definition of rondo : A game where one group of players has the ball while in numerical superiority (3v1, 5v2, 5v5+2 etc ) over another group of players. The basic objective of the group in numerical superiority is to keep possession of the ball while the objective of the group in numerical inferiority is to win the ball back. Rondos help develop the following areas: COGNITIVE. TECHNICAL COORDINATION. TEAM BUILDING. (mini-societies) CREATIVITY AND EXPRESSION. COMPETITIVENESS. PHYSICAL CONDITIONING. Do you have more questions about rondos or the 4v1 rondo specifically? Drop your questions in the comment section below. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Episode 269: How to Use Foundational Rondos and Really Improve Your Players appeared first on 3four3.
19 minutes | 10 months ago
Episode 268: Why You Should Expand Your Soccer Vocabulary and Get Rid of These Limiting Words and Phrases.
The language used throughout American soccer is weak, and ugly. Using words like pace and phrases like whip in a cross instead of words like elegance or skipping by a player. Depending on your particular vocabulary, it can expand or limit your judgement of the sport as a whole. Today, we re going to discuss the need to expand our vocabulary here in the United States and what some of the benefits and consequences of language are. When you sit at a cafe in Argentina or Spain, the types of footballing conversations that take place are lively, but also nuanced. As I ve said before, if you get in a taxi cab in a foreign country, the driver is likely capable of providing you with a more authentic, and deep, soccer education than what you d receive at a coaching course in the United States. Now, that s not to say we don t have that type of hardcore soccer culture here in the United States that talks about the game in that way. We absolutely do. But the voices dominating the conversation are largely those who don t come from that type of soccer-first culture with that sort of soccer sophistication. In America, even our most prominent soccer journalists and media members still haven t graduated beyond the same recycled talking points like pace and physicality. And I don t think it s a stretch to say that the language of the media ultimately becomes the language of the general fanbase. Furthermore, the language used throughout American soccer, youth to professional, is still heavily influenced from past generations of English football culture, while other cultures have historically been excluded, and even discriminated against. The natural byproduct of that discrimination is those cultures having little to know influence on our vocabulary. So, the question remains: Why do we have a particular vocabulary over another? And a bigger question looms: Could our current soccer language be holding us back? One thing that continues to impress me about Brian Kleiban, is the way that he talks about the game – to his players, to his colleagues, to himself. I was reminded of this during the launch of his YouTube mini-series in April 2020 in which he broke down the entire US U20 player pool. Player by player, position by position, Brian provided deep insight into why he believed certain players should be on the roster, and why others shouldn t even be able to sniff the field. He compared our U20 s to top-level examples like Kevin De Bruyne and James Rodriguez. He said, bluntly, that other players just didn t have anything to offer other than their physical attributes. But it was his enthusiasm, and the language he used, that really popped in my opinion. Having grown up in an Argentinian household, it s no surprise to me that this is just standard operating procedure for Brian, and many other immigrants residing in this country. I myself was shaped on the ideals of the Croatian National Team that finished 3rd in the 1998 World Cup, with Davor Suker winning the Golden Boot that tournament. One thing that has stuck out to me about immigrant culture is the passion with which they ll discuss the game. It s just different. A habit that I grew to look forward to was calling my dad after a game and absolutely ripping the Croatian National Team to shreds, whether they won or lost. I remember games when they won by four or five goals and it was still shit in our opinions. That type of passionate discourse just doesn t seem to exist, at scale, in American soccer circles. For the most part, it s casual. And we ve discussed why in other episodes. Another thing that didn t surprise me about Brian s YouTube series is that quite a few people seemed to pick up and enjoy on how he was describing the players and comparing them to top-level pros. Why? Well, first off, it s so much different than what most American soccer fans are used to when players are discussed. Comparing players, or pattern matching is something that is rarely done in American soccer. Especially not in American soccer media. If the standard was to compare our next generations to today s global superstars, we probably wouldn t hear much about the Paxton s and Weston s. Because who would they be compared to? By using examples of top-level players, Brian helped to paint clear visuals for what the players potential could be, or, in some cases, what their pitfalls are. For example, he said, Efra Alvarez strokes the ball like James Rodriguez. There are two things in that statement. The obvious is the comparison of one of our brightest prospects to a world-class player. The not-so-obvious is the use of the word stroke . This is where we can begin talking about some of the actual words and phrases and what changing your vocabulary could potentially do for you. Talk the Talk How often are you talking about the way a player strokes the ball? How many different types of strokes does the best American player have? Can you identify them? Do you know what each different stroke is used for? Is there one stroke in particular that the player hits better than the rest of his peers? Aka, is he world-class in any particular stroke? Do you see how much more conversation can be generated just by changing one word in the vocabulary? Do you see how many layers can be uncovered? In 2018, Sports Illustrated s Brian Straus was taken aback by the different vocabulary being used at the World Cup in Russia. Specifically, the use of the protagonist . He tweeted: No coach who’s a native English speaker uses the word “protagonist”. Every coach who speaks any other language, according to World Cup translators, uses the word “protagonist” constantly. What word is being turned into “protagonist”? Or are we just shitty coaches? Almost exactly one year prior, Brian Kleiban discussed his coaching role model, Marcelo Bielsa, with Soccer America s Mike Woitalla. Here s what he had to say: When he took over after the 1998 World Cup, Argentina finally had a clear-cut identity aggressive attacking soccer. It didn’t matter the opponent or venue, Argentina would be the protagonist dictating play for 90-plus minutes. Italy in Rome? No problem! Spain in Madrid? No Problem! Brazil in the Maracana, no problem! He changed the culture and mindset of that group and made them all believe they could win playing this way anywhere on planet earth. There it was. The word protagonist. As a prominent member of the American soccer media, how is it that Brian Straus had not been exposed to this word, or this idea of being a protagonist, before 2018? Well, he, like so many others, are familiar with a more restrictive language – things like pace and box-to-box. These words don t frame conversations properly. These words and phrases lack clarity and depth. So, how do we graduate to another level? We have to expand and change our vocabulary. What a new vocabulary can do is place your headspace and the headspace of the people you interact within a different headspace. A headspace that has more precision and allows for more possibilities. For example, if the word protagonist were to become commonplace in our vernacular it would enable us to start viewing and interpreting the game differently. Instead of looking at possession percentages and completed passes, we might start talking about who was the protagonist of the match? Not just which team, but also which individual players? What player received the ball and demonstrated that he was in control? Who took the initiative? (Another keyword.) The word protagonist reminds me of boxing and which fighter decides to take the center of the ring. When I spoke with Gary Kleiban about this, he said, That s all we ve ever done with our teams. And that s all we re asking for from our National Teams. Have ring control. Be the protagonist. Take the initiative. He went on to say, We should demonstrate that in each game, outside of maybe the top 15 teams in the world. But even within the top 15, we should still attempt to be the protagonist. To make another boxing reference, it s not unheard of to punch above your weight. It must be intentional, though. Not the bunker and counter style that provides for lucky opportunities. The biggest example in world football is Marcelo Bielsa s teams. Whether we re talking about how he totally transformed Chile from a minnow into a contender. Or his recent project at Leeds United where he has demonstrated that his type of football can be played in England, even in the lower divisions. Most notably is his Athletic Bilbao side that completely dismantled Manchester United in the Europa League. They came in as an underdog, punched above their weight, and were the ones that dictated what happened – with and without the ball. Defensively they pressed in a way that prevented Manchester United players from breathing whenever they were near the ball. They suffocated them. And individually, each and every player was nasty. It looked like they were ready to run through a brick wall for their coach. Offensively the team was efficient and exciting. Sometimes going from one side of the field to the other in just a matter of seconds. They hit United square in the jaw, over and over again. And just when they thought it was time to rest – nope – here they come again like a swarm of bees. That Athletic Bilbao team was the definition of protagonists. Do you see how just one word opened up a whole new line of thinking and discussion, though? There are so many more examples I could give. Like the word elegance. When the player strikes a ball, does he look elegant? Or does it look laborious? When the player dribbles, does the ball look like a natural extension of his body? Or is he tripping over his own feet? When the player receives the ball out of the air, does it look effortless? Or does his first touch bounce off of his foot and land two yards away from him? These simple words and ph
53 minutes | 10 months ago
Episode 267: Why You Need to Develop Pattern Recognition and Pattern Matching.
In this week s episode, Gary and John continue covering the topic of early talent identification. This is part 2 of this series. You can find part 1 here. In this round, we tackle additional important topics, such as: How to calibrate yourself to see and read the game differently. Why you need to develop pattern recognition and pattern matching. The difference between exerting energy on basics versus advanced actions. These are the sorts of things we should be looking for, and subsequently talking about when it comes to players in American soccer. These are the sorts of things that are going to drive our nation forward. These are the sorts of conversations that I get excited about, and I hope you do, too. As always, let us know if you have any questions about anything we discuss. Your questions are always welcomed. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Episode 267: Why You Need to Develop Pattern Recognition and Pattern Matching. appeared first on 3four3.
23 minutes | 10 months ago
Episode 266: Do You Know What “It’s Just a Game” Really Means?
Have you ever found yourself saying the phrase It s just a game ? Well, I know I have. But, over the years, and even more so recently, I ve realized that it s so much more. And today we re going to talk about why that phrase is so prevalent in American soccer and the realities of what sport actually means to individuals and entire ecosystems. First off, soccer is an economic market like any other. There are businesses in play, livelihoods at stake, communities to consider, and consumers that should be looked after. This is an ecosystem with real people, with real consequences, who depend on responsible governance. This is an ecosystem with real people, with real consequences, who depend on responsible governance. Clubs (independent businesses) get affected. People working with or for those clubs get affected. Members and customers of those clubs get affected. Every community and the general consumer gets affected. While the relative magnitudes vary, anyone who has an economic, social, political, or cultural touchpoint with this market gets affected. You might not even realize how big of an economic effect it has you and your family. A coach wanting to pursue US Soccer s educational pathway will be asked to invest a far greater percentage of their net worth compared to what most MLS franchise owners invest in purchasing a franchise. We ll have more on that later. The economic aspect of the sport is measurable, which is why it s easy to talk about, but it s only one piece of the equation. The other pieces include all of the ways individuals have spent their time and energy on the sport in a myriad of ways. You likely know someone whose life is defined by their involvement with soccer. Young players who work to be recruited by professional and college teams. Coaches who travel all over the world investing their hard-earned money into education. Parents who drive their kid’s hundreds of miles to play the game they love, for years. Journalists and media members who are able to put food on their tables and provide for their families by covering the sport. Is it just a game to them? I don t think so. You can t measure that stuff, though. More Than a Game I m sure you ve heard someone say, it s just a game . How does that make you feel when you hear it? When I asked Gary Kleiban, 3four3 s founder, about that phrase, he had this to say: I kind of liken it to the phrase The American Dream. Because just like the American Dream, there are so many layers beneath that that make it what it is. He went on to say that, it s an ecosystem just like any other ecosystem. Gary used the examples of manufacturing products, such as paper, or coffee beans, or doorknobs. Because all of those things have an ecosystem built around them, too. All of those things have people who dedicate their lives to them. Whether those be the engineers who design them, or technicians who test them, the distributors who distribute them. Then, of course, there is the consumer who buys these things. The point here is that all of these people are affected by what happens in the ecosystem. It s part of their livelihoods. Soccer is the same way. You have business owners who own the clubs and franchises. You have business owners who create jerseys and cleats and socks that go into the game. You have the coaches, players, agents, trainers, doctors, front office, ticket booth, stadium staff, vendors, and so on. All of which support and are supported by the ecosystem that is soccer. And that s just touching on the professional side of the game. We could go on to include examples such as the local soccer shops that are supported by the hundreds of customers who shop at their stores ahead of each recreational season. Or the backpack manufacturers that sell their products directly to youth club teams. Or the youth soccer referees which have unions to ensure they aren t overworked and underpaid. You see, the ecosystem is loaded with touchpoints. For further dissection of the phrase it s just a game , it s best to divide into two parts. The micro-level, which is the role of one person in the ecosystem and how they participate and are affected. Like, for example, one tiny organism in a South American rainforest. Then we have the macro-level, which is how groups such as teams, communities, cities, countries, and the World as a whole operate in and are affected by the ecosystem. I d like to address the micro-level and share what the phrase it s just a game means to me. To me, it s incredibly degrading. As someone who s invested a ton of time, energy, and money into making soccer my career it s like getting a knife in the heart. For example, when I paid over $3,000 to participate in a US Soccer coaching course, I invested a far greater percentage of my personal net worth compared to what Atlanta United s owner, Arthur Blank, paid for his MLS franchise. Arthur Blank, whose net worth is reported to be north of $5 billion, purchased his MLS franchise for $70 million. That s 1.4% of his total net worth. The median net worth of the average U.S. household is around $100,000. Meaning, for the average household to participate in just one course offered by US Soccer (the C course), they would be investing double what Arthur Blank invested in purchasing his MLS franchise. And I think we re being quite generous here because I think it s highly likely that your typical soccer coach has a substantially lower net worth. Again, economics are just one piece of the puzzle. There are so many immeasurable s, though. After suffering a career-ending injury in late 2019, losing my dad in early 2020, and then global soccer coming to a screeching halt due to the global pandemic – I realized just how much soccer meant to me. I was unable to coach, play, or referee the sport that has quite literally defined my life. I lost the person who introduced me to the game, spent years teaching me the game in the backyard, and who is largely responsible for my obsession with the game. Even watching replays of classic games on TV drummed up incredible emotions, some of which were very hard to stomach because the first thing that I used to do after a big game was call my dad to dissect it. These emotions alone solidified that it s certainly more than just a game to me. I have to believe that some of you would feel the same as I do, but maybe some of you don t. How Did We Get Here? How did we, as a nation, even get to this point where we re thinking it s just a game ? As we ve discussed before, the sport itself is so much more than just a game throughout the rest of the world. But here in the United States, we re made to believe that soccer shouldn t be taken too seriously. Here s the thing, Incumbent American soccer culture has a recreational mentality a property that is the antithesis of the hardcore culture the rest of the world has. And by hardcore, we simply mean people who recognize the fact that it s not just a game . The soccer structure we live in has been built of, by, and for a casual soccer demographic. It extends from youth all the way to the pro level. When something is casual, there are no stakes. When there are no stakes, nobody gets too heated over things. After all, if it s casual, it s just a game . There s that pesky phrase again. That phrase right there is the convenient foundation upon which American soccer has been built. One could argue this is more a strategic move by the power brokers – whether conscious or not – because if they re able to keep the masses thinking along the lines of it s just a game , then that enables the power brokers to maintain power while operating as they wish on the business side of things. Because, remember, if no one gets too worked up about things, then there is nothing to worry about – business, as usual, can continue. So, it s no wonder we re mediocre at scale. Anybody with the mentality of it s just a game will not achieve excellence. Contrast that with the rest of the world, where a portion of people s very identity and self-esteem is hinged on their clubs and national teams. Now, before you robotically react and think that s sad, reserve judgment until you understand that clubs and national teams across the world represent people at a social, political, economic, and cultural level. It is their flag. Most soccer-first households (the largest and most critical of demographics) in the United States aren t paying attention to American soccer. Because well, it s low level, inauthentic, and most importantly has historically discriminated against them preferring instead to cater to the soft suburban soccer-mom demo. As a consequence, it s that soft culture that both dominates the narrative and creates policy when it comes to the American game it has inculcated that softness into the very fabric of American soccer. Therefore, the phrase it s just a game has tragically become woven into our soccer, too. But it doesn t have to remain this way. Soccer Governance, Incumbent Media, and Protecting the Power Structure. First things first, if soccer is just a game – why does it require such a powerful global governing body whose decisions have geopolitical ramifications? Not just a global governing body, like FIFA, but each and every country has its own Federation. Where their decisions have social, political, economic, and cultural ramifications at the national, and at times international, scales. And the higher up the food chain you go in these organizations, the further removed you are from the actual playing field, and you enter a realm that is far more than just a game. Actually, it s barely about the game at all at that point. For example, why did our US Soccer Federation President, Carlos Cordeiro, and our board of directors, team up with President Donald Trump to meet with FIFA President Gianni Infantino at the White House? That sounds like a lot more than just a game, doesn t it? That exam
58 minutes | a year ago
Episode 265: How to Properly Calibrate Yourself to Identify Talent at Early Ages.
In this week’s episode, Gary and John begin covering the topic of early talent identification. How can we improve it? Why do so many people get it wrong? What is the gold standard? One very important aspect of this is the language that is used. I don’t mean bad words. I mean the language used to describe players and actions. Specifically, how someone must calibrate themselves in order to really see the difference between average players and those at the top-level. So, pay close attention. These details could help make a big difference in what you’re looking for. Let us know if you have any questions about this topic. We’d be happy to dive deeper and provide additional information. Never miss new episodes: Subscribe to 3four3 FM on iTunes Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Stitcher Subscribe to 3four3 FM on Spotify Coaching Education Program This is brought to you by the 3four3 coaching education program. Learn more and join over 400 coaches using our proven possession-based methodology. The post Episode 265: How to Properly Calibrate Yourself to Identify Talent at Early Ages. appeared first on 3four3.
31 minutes | a year ago
Episode 264: You Want Diversity in MLS, and the National Teams? Okay, These Things Must Change.
As a soccer nation, we have a diversity problem, on and off the field. And in more ways, than you might think. Although we generally seem to be aware that a diversity problem exists, we don t appear to have a good grasp of the root causes, which is likely why we have not made significant progress in solving anything. As Gary Kleiban, 3four3 s Founder stated on Twitter: Soluble problems will continue to persist unless the root is both identified and undone. If we re talking about racism and diversity being a systemic thing, which more and more people seem to be coming around to, then the change itself must be a systemic one. People often think the problem is solving the diversity of players, or coaches, or GM s. People think that changes in these areas is going to enable the systemic change we so badly need in our country. The reality is that you can fill MLS with Black and Latino GM s and franchise presidents – and nothing would change. Because the problem is bigger than that. Much bigger than that. It s about opportunity, and ownership. In turn, these things would have a greater impact on those positions that I just mentioned. So, today, we re going to examine the disenfranchisement, discrimination, and lack of diversity throughout soccer in America throughout the ranks. More importantly, we re going to expose the root of the problem American soccer suffers from. You might have seen some people telling us, Now is not the time to be talking about this stuff. Okay, but if we don t educate now, then when? When we ve brought up discrimination over the past ten years, it went ignored. Now, with the recent events, it s imperative we continue discussing it. And we re going to discuss it again, and again, and again. This isn t taking advantage of current tragedies, on the contrary, we ve been beating this drum in public for a decade. It s the ones who haven t been highlighting this over the past ten years that we should all be suspect of. People and organizations that are pandering by riding the wave of public perception. The inequality and injustices we fight in other facets of society run rampant and unchecked in American soccer, partly because of the it s just a game narrative that is conveniently pushed during times like these. It s not just a game, though. It s so much more than just a game. You know that. That s why you re listening to this podcast. Sports, and soccer specifically, have social, political, and economic implications attached to them, all of which affect the livelihoods of millions of individuals, communities, and entire nations. So, when we talk about diversity and inclusion, we cannot brush aside the fact that, like any other sector, sport is a battleground for equality and opportunity. The Obvious, and Measurable Problems To illustrate one of the most obvious examples of the diversity problem we suffer from in American soccer, we can take a look at the history of head coaches in Major League Soccer: MLS has only hired 5 full-time black head coaches in its 25-year history. Put differently, only 3.2% of the league’s full-time head coaches have been black. Additionally, none of those black coaches have been born in America. On several occasions, MLS has hired black head coaches on an interim basis, like Cobe Jones for LA Galaxy, but the fact remains that just 5 out of their 156 full-time head coaching hires have been a black coach. In 2018, I interviewed Justin Reid regarding the lack of diversity amongst NCAA soccer head coaches and administrators. According to Reid, out of 528 NCAA first division soccer programs, both men s and women s, only 43 coaches were identified as Black or Latino. It should be noted that the lack of minority coaches also has an impact on players. Referencing a statement from Mark McKenzie made about having a black coach, former MLS player Amobi Okugo pointed out in a blog post, it s just different when you have a coach that can understand you and has gone through some of the same things you went through. Justin Reid also noted that out of 326 Division 1 NCAA Athletic Directors only 20 were Black. The problems only got worse in regard to the breakdown of men and women in those same roles. And even worse again when it came to minority women. This has a major impact on the hiring process when it comes to head coaches, assistants, and beyond. Patrice Parris, a coach that Justin Reid spoke with while gathering his data, said, A majority of the hires that take place at the NCAA level are based on networking, rather than one s body of work. Society in general relies heavily on personal networks when hiring. For example, if a college student is looking to intern for a tech firm over summer, he might increase his chances by reaching out to a founder that is in his fraternity network. Fraternities and sororities tend to offer job support to past and present members. American soccer at the professional level is frequently referred to as a fraternity. Its members are part of a fortunate group of people who happened to have been around when pro soccer got another jumpstart with MLS 25 years ago. So, if that fraternity is not diverse, it should be no surprise that hiring based principally on that network would continue to produce a lack of diversity. This is what s known as a vicious cycle . Here s another example of network hiring. As of June 2020, the Major League Soccer Players Association Executive Board featured six white men and just one minority. Historically, the Executive Board has been made up of predominantly white guys. Many of these Executive Board members have moved on to serve as coaches or executives within the league, and many others have been hired to work in media positions for MLS and USSF s partners. For example: Ben Olsen has been the coach of D.C. United for a number of years Alexi Lalas has served as GM of LA Galaxy and NY Red Bull, as well as multiple media roles with ESPN and Fox Chris Klein was President of LA Galaxy Landon Donovan has served as an analyst for multiple networks, including ESPN and FOX Tim Howard has served as an analyst for TNT Why is this important to point out? Well, the MLS PA Executive Board is charged with representing all MLS players at the bargaining table when it comes to negotiating things like the CBA. But the Executive Board also represents the collective voice of the players when speaking to the public, whether its in celebration of an achievement, or in times of peril, such as a pandemic, or mass protests. And, like Mark McKenzie pointed out, the message hits differently when you feel like you re connected to the messenger. It comes down to minorities having the opportunity, and the platform, to express themselves, deliver a message, and ultimately represent their communities. But it is those opportunities that are denied in this country, and the vicious cycle of network hiring which we just discussed is but one aspect that contributes to the ongoing problem we face. What do I see For quite some time, I ve questioned whether or not the MLS, and by extension, the U.S. Men s National Team, properly represents the people that make up American soccer. It s hard to say what s coming next without putting it into some sort of context. So, here it goes. I view American soccer through my lens. I grew up playing competitively and ended my career after just one season of collegiate soccer. I ve coached for more than fifteen years, both boys and girls. I ve also refereed just about every level, from youth recreational games to NCAA to Men s semi-professional. Throughout all of my experiences playing and coaching, I ve found it to be very rare that a Hispanic player has not been the best player on the field. Yet, growing up, and into my adult years as a fan of the U.S. Men s National Team, I ve always found it strange that there were so few Hispanic players on the team. Especially ones with the attacking skillsets that I was so accustomed to playing and coaching against in Central and Southern California. According to Census estimates from 2019, Los Angeles is a county comprised of nearly 50% Hispanics and Latinos. That culture is traditionally a soccer-first culture, but that isn t what I remember seeing on TV when I was growing up watching the Los Angeles Galaxy. The star players were Landon Donovan and David Beckham. Don t get me wrong, those guys were great players, but what happened to all of those Hispanic guys I played against? And the guys I coached? And the guys I coached against? Did they just disappear? No. And I don t buy into the fall through the cracks narrative. I don t even buy into the the system is broken narrative. Because I honestly believe that the system is working perfectly because it’s built upon a foundation of disenfranchisement. MLS, with permission granted by US Soccer, is purposefully designed to keep certain people in, and certain people out. Yes, you heard me correctly. A closed league like MLS is all about exclusion. Community outreach programs or diversity task forces only serve as PR stunts due to the fact they never actually hit the essence of what inclusion, and equal opportunity actually means. This is why we continually fight for a system designed around inclusion. Now, with all of that said, are you able to start seeing how the lack of diversity ties into promotion and relegation? Who Represents Who? In 2020, how is it that just two MLS franchises are supposed to accurately represent the soccer-rich culture of Los Angeles? The real answer is: They can t. Sure, there are USL teams and whatnot, but the real soccer culture in Los Angeles exists at the fringe, in Men s Leagues, pick up games, and other unaffiliated organizations that are effectively and purposefully excluded by US Soccer and MLS. This so-called fringe soccer culture is made up of primarily immigrant communities. I remember growing up watching my dad play with a group of Croatian s in the men s leagues
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