Welcome to Dutch Vision 101, a primer on the soccer youth development model known as the “Dutch Vision,” the founding philosophy of the PLSA/RIPTIDE SC. But before we begin, you might be wondering...
WHY THE DUTCH VISION? WHY NOT THE SPANISH VISION?
Over the last 3 years, Spain won the European Championship and the World Cup while FC Barcelona won a couple of Champions League trophies, most recently by thoroughly dominating Manchester United in the 2011 final
with masterful one and two touch passing that kept Man U off balance and the ball in Barca’s possession for nearly 70% of the match. Why follow the Dutch now when the Spanish game has established itself as the best in the world? Shouldn’t we look to Spain for developmental insight? The answer is yes, but with the understanding that the Spanish game owes a great deal to the Dutch Vision and the ambassadors of the Dutch game who exported the Dutch soccer philosophy to Spain over the last three decades. While the Spanish have certainly put their own stamp on the Dutch style of play, the Dutch Vision is at the foundation of their current game. So in looking to Spain for developmental insight, we would really be looking to the Dutch game. Please take a moment to read one of the following articles, written during last year’s world cup, acknowledging the Dutch influence on the Spanish game and how this small nation has left such a big footprint on the soccer world. Also, over in the left menu under DUTCH VISION 101.0
is a link to a video clip demonstrating the connection between the Dutch game and the current game of FC Barcelona.
ON WITH THE DUTCH VISION...
In 1985, the Royal Dutch Football Federation (KNVB), under the leadership of legendary Dutch coach Rinus Michels, embarked on a project to ensure that the Netherlands could maintain its international powerhouse soccer status in the face of the competitive advantage many larger soccer powers had. They wanted to determine how the most skillful and creative players were made so they could maximize the talent of their smaller pool of players. Their research suggested that the most talented and creative players of the past were made in the streets, playing hours a day without adult supervision and the adult objectives that coaches and parents impose on young players. Street soccer was about kids playing with each other for respect and to impress, playing by their rules and according to their objectives. Without the restriction of adult objectives, creativity was nurtured by the game itself as kids were free to try their own solutions to the problems that the game presented to them over and over.
Unfortunately for the KNVB, kids playing street soccer for hours every day was not a realistic proposition for modern, industrialized Dutch society. Their solution was to take the fundamental street soccer experience – small sided games where each player has many opportunities to touch the ball and solve match like soccer problems – and create a framework around it that would make the learning experience more efficient. By carefully manipulating the games to teach specific aspects of soccer and develop insight, or “soccer intelligence,” knowledgeable coaches would accelerate the natural learning process inherent in the street soccer experience without losing the biggest advantage of that experience – the nurturing of creativity. In addition, the Dutch embraced research in childhood development to ensure that the complexity of the training matched the psychological and physical developmental stage of the players and that the model provided a stepwise progression for learning the game. In 1995, the KNVB published a pamphlet entitled The Dutch Vision on youth soccer: 4v4 - Better soccer, more enjoyment
. Two years later, Coaching Soccer - The Official Coaching Book of the Dutch Soccer Association
was published in the US by the KNVB, which formally laid out the principles of the Dutch Vision.
While this model makes a great deal of sense intuitively, it was a radical departure from the prevailing training methods used for youth in the 1970s and 1980s in nations such as the United States. Not only was it common to see 8 year olds playing the full adult game of soccer (too much complexity way too soon), but training often revolved around a sequence of drills and conditioning unrelated to the actual game. This is not to say that the small sided game training framework of the Dutch Vision ignores drills that develop individual skills, but that those skills must ultimately be honed in match like settings that the small sided games provide. Fortunately, the United States Soccer Federation adopted much of the Dutch Vision and has been pushing this model through such documents as its Best Practices for Coaching Soccer in the United States
While I would encourage anyone with a strong interest in youth soccer to read Coaching Soccer in order to gain a sound understanding of the Dutch Vision, I will be posting articles here that describe the key components of the Dutch Vision and will hopefully provide a solid outline of this youth development philosophy. Some of the topics that I will cover are: basic understanding of the game, the role of 4v4 and other small sided formats, how games can be manipulated to teach specific soccer lessons, conditioning principles, the stages of youth development, the role of the coach during the training session and the match, and the role of the parent. While Coaching Soccer, The Official Coaching Book of the Dutch Soccer Association, will be the primary resource, I will tap other sources as well.
For the good of all the young players who play the game,
Director of Education, Point Loma Soccer Association