Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Michael Dober - Hertha BSC Berlin U11 coach

“No goal kicks in Germany”

“In the Hertha BSC Berlin youth academy all U11 players must be able to play in all positions, in defense, midfield and in attack. This way they will automatically learn all aspects of soccer. This also means we do not bother with tactics at this age group. We do give them tips once in a while,but overall they have to discover it for themselves, simply by doing.”

Complex exercises
“We try to educate players in the broader sense of the word, which is why we
train with complex exercises. We call them complex exercises, because they
cover every aspect of soccer. The following elements always have to be in every exercise: passing, receiving, running with the ball, fake moves and shooting on goal. All these elements have to be a in every exercise. You can also have 2 players across from each other shooting the ball back and forth, and they will also learn from that approach, but it is very boring and the players will be less motivated to execute it correctly (and therefore also to learn). Having fun is a huge part of the training sessions, but you have to make sure there are always enough repetitions.”

No goal kicks
“We, under no circumstance, want to play ‘kick and rush’ soccer. We want to build up from the back. Not just with the U11s, but throughout the entire academy. A lot of districts have already reinforced this rule in Germany. The goalkeeper is not allowed to kick the ball across the halfway line whenever he has it in his hands. This way they are forced to pass it to a teammate who is close and will build up from the back.”

Over the ground
“With the U11s we prefer to play in a 3:1:2:1 formation, so that we play with 2 diamonds in midfield. Whenever the goalkeeper has the ball, one of the defender always has to be available to receive the ball. If need be a forward can also come to the ball. Whatever happens you have to build up from the back and are not allowed to kick the ball long.
At Hertha we have an extra rule that the goalkeeper must always pass the ball along the ground. From there on we try to play combination soccer with fast short passes to get the ball to the strikers.”

“During matches and training sessions I always pay close attention to the techniques that are being used. Aspects such as passing the ball correctly, receiving the ball, etc. I also pay attention to the movement to the ball and movement off the ball. Furthermore players should never pass the ball from a standing position, they should always be moving. Even when shooting on goal.
They have to react within seconds, so the handling speed should be high.Whenever something goes wrong I interrupt the game, because every player on the team should be able to act faster and more efficient. At the end of the season a coach has to be able to say ‘he improved in this aspect, he reached that goal and he made steps in that area’ about every single player. The next coach taking over the team will then know what they can and cannot do. I also ensure that they execute every exercise with the will to win. I believe that is important.”

“In the past endurance was probably the most important aspect in German training sessions. This has changed. The players spend enough time running during training sessions, so I don’t bother with additional conditioning exercises. The German mentality has changed from educating powerful and enduring players to educating creative players.”

Mental guidance
“I do not coach mentally. Although I probably shouldn’t say never, indirectly you are doing it. Whenever a player has problems in school or at home you have to help them, but we don’t do it separately. You are also trying to prepare the boys for inter national youth tournaments, where we play teams like Inter Milan, Arsenal and Ajax. These are all big teams and my boys look up to them. A club like Hertha may be known in Germany, but it does not have the international fame like some of these clubs.”

“I told my boys not to look up to the bigger international teams, but simply play them like they play against Bayer Lever - kusen or Borussia Dortmund. They know these teams and therefore also know they can beat them. When they play at home, you see real competition, but at these tournaments it is new and they have to play against foreign teams. In their mind this plays a role, which was apparent in a game we played again Inter Milan. We were trailing 2-0 after 30 seconds. Afterwards they realized they could have won, but they were nervous. Eventually we were the only team to beat the tournament champions Everton and we also beat Ajax 5-1.”

“After the tournament I asked the players what they learned from the experience. They all said that they learned that they were able to compete against the bigger international teams. That those teams aren’t much better than they are and that we were able to play good soccer, with a solid build up and organization against these teams.”

Little tactics
“Like I said before we don’t really spend a lot of time on tactics and I don’t bother with complex tactical talks. We want to play combination soccer, with good passes and we want to play forward and I try to make this clear with as little words as possible. Less is more. They don’t hear it anyways, they just want to play soccer and I allow them to do that. We want players to show their qualities. Of course we explain to them that they have to play structured in defense and that they shouldn’t execute fake moves or actions (in the red zone), but rather do that in the attack. We also motivate them to do it in the opponents half. During a match I try to coach in a composed manner and stay positive. For example tell them to receive the ball, or when a player is dribbling towards the opponents goal and is not sure whether to shoot, I will them him ‘go ahead shoot, try it’. He shouldn’t pass the ball in those situations, but simply go for it.”

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