Developing Soccer Players theDutch Way

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From under 13 to under 19 the organisation throughout the country is excellent and because Holland is a small country it is easy for a team in the north to play in the south so the best teams can play against the best teams throughout the country. Professional teams are also allowed to scout in any amateur club and if they find someone it is then not a massive jump for the player to move into a professional team because they have had a good grounding and a decent football education at their amateur side, because the amateur club was already running their coaching with licensed, approved coaches.

If you look at England then if a young player moves it is always a big step to make, but in Holland the Dutch FA have already set the training guidelines so the move for a 14 year old to professional club will be minor. The training will obviously be more intense at a professional club, but effectively it will be the same. The details will be more specified, but overall the training guidelines are set. One of the key factors in Holland is that youth players understand basic principles like positioning and running off the ball and that comes from the Dutch FA.

I have traveled all over the world and I have recognized the weakness of technical instruction that in Holland we implement as second nature. At an age of 18, players are pretty well developed in what is needed to play to a good technical game at a decent level.


The starting point for the Dutch FA is technical awareness. To play from the back, through the midfield to the two or three strikers — that has been the way since the early s and it helped us build a certain type of player. Not too many countries have achieved that, maybe Spain, maybe France and Germany is coming through now. At 9 years old you can give players certain direction in an exercise, but you can organize your session so you can reach your objectives. The main parts of the game — attacking, defending — you can bring that together in drills for a 9 year old and he will recognize his strengths and weaknesses.

We do that in simple exercises, not too complicated where the ball and the goal are the main tools. Anything before the age of 9 and you are almost becoming a babysitter. We leave children younger than 9 out of the Dutch Soccer Camps. It is better to keep the focus on the ball so they stay focused and can improve. The key thing they learn is how intense the game is in Europe. The level of competition is also a huge benefit for visiting players and teams — playing against good, tactical and technical opponents.

The social and cultural aspect is also invaluable to youngsters as they mature. There are some very good players in the United States. You just have to see the size of the country to know they will have talent coming through. But the problem the US has is its very size. That is what Holland does so well.

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Even if the organisation was present in the US, the travelling that you would have to do, and the cost of that travelling would be huge. The other main problem the US has is the different types of coaching that the youngsters are engaged in.


Of course, Cruyff also knew what to do with the ball once he got it. Others on the Dutch team were good at some of those things as well. But only Cruyff was the whole package. Everywhere he went, there were stories about Cruyff butting heads with coaches and the powers that be.

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During the World Cup, Cruyff was the only player on the Dutch team who refused to wear the official team jersey, supplied by the German brand Adidas. Cruyff had a contract with another supplier.

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So while all of his teammates wore orange shirts with the three Adidas stripes down their sleeves, Cruyff demanded special shirts made just for him, with only two stripes. Cruyff played there after leaving the Netherlands. And after his career was over, he coached there too. It was also his idea that Barcelona develop a youth academy to develop future talent.

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And it boasts several generations now of amazing players, many of whom have played a role in bringing a cascade of trophies to Barcelona and Spain. And we can thank Johan Cruyff for that, too. Rest in peace, Johan. We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience.

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