I first heard of the “Dutch Style” of training from a fellow coach. At the time, although I had played soccer for over 30 years, I was just beginning to learn how to coach the game. Searching for the best methods available I began to build my book and DVD library. And, of course, I began down the path of the U.S. Youth Soccer courses.
After finding several books and DVDs on Dutch Coaching Methods and books filled with Dutch exercises, I began to incorporate these into my training sessions with my teams. At first, I didn’t truly understand what I was doing with the exercises but figured that if they were good enough for the Dutch, a country that I had learned was well-regarded for their training methods, then they were good enough for my U-9s.
A few years later I found a free 8-week course offered by a local high school coach and decided I’d give it a shot. I had never met the coach, but knew he had been around for a while and ran a very successful program. I have come to know that the coach, Terry Michler of CBC High School, is not only the country’s most winningest high school soccer coach, but he is also an expert at using Dutch Training Methods to help his teams remain successful in a very competitive soccer environment. What a lucky break for me to find Coach Michler right here in my own backyard.
Over the years, I have, with the help of Coach Michler, his Dutch Touch Soccer Camps and through everything I could find about Dutch Training Methods, found that the approach the Dutch use to teach young players the game of soccer gives me and my players everything we need to be successful at soccer. For me, the most important aspect of the Dutch Soccer Vision is that every training topic must relate to the game. If you don’t see it happen in a real soccer game, then don’t train on it. You don’t dribble around cones in a game, so leave the cones in your bag. Let the players learn to dribble against other players, just like in a game.
It’s an obvious concept, but one that I see violated nearly every time I watch other teams train. The more I learn about the Dutch Soccer Vision the more natural it feels to me as a soccer coach. It may be a bit challenging in the beginning to think in this way, but you’ll quickly get a handle on it and you’ll find that it will become second-nature to you. Preparing for training sessions will take less time while also giving you the freedom to be creative in your approach. I just ask myself, “What do my players need to work on to be more successful during their games?” and then quickly set up simplified versions of those game situations. After the players get a chance to work on the simplified version, we go to a game situation, with real opponents, where the focus is on just what we practiced a few minutes ago. Simple.
Even when working on technical issues like passing accuracy or their first touch, the exercise (and the coach) must help the player understand how this fits into the game. The Dutch, famous for their passing exercises, do not use these exercises as cold, technical drills, but instead bring them to life by giving the players insight into communication, timing, concentration, consistency and situational play, i.e., when would this situation happen in a real game and how would this help you beat your opponents?
But it’s not just simple, it’s also effective. When you let players practice something that happens in a real soccer game, they get better at handling that situation in their weekend league game. Simple and effective. That is the Dutch Soccer Vision.
– Mark (Coach Z) Zimmerman, Co-Founder, Dutch Soccer Vision