This past year, I had the enormous privilege of observing and learning on three separate occasions from some of FCB’s top youth coaches: Xavi Closas, Oscar Alonso, Pep Ruiz and Sergi Lopez. As you can imagine the X’s & O’s of the tactical discussions were brilliant, but I also took a close look at the way they carried themselves and what parts of training they valued most. Here are some take aways.
- Friendly, nice personalities. Each one of them was very down to earth. I’ve seen this in other successful people as well. The more accomplished a person is, the more secure they seemingly are. You could never guess that each one of these men have won championships at the highest level. Each carried themselves very humbly. Just good guys.
- Passionate about futsal. Okay, so this one seems obvious, however, these guys can literally talk about the sport for hours on end. Although each has probably explained how to break a zone defense hundreds if not thousands of times, when Xavi and Oscar explained it to me, it might has well have been the first time. Their sincerity to educate was palpable. They want their beloved sport to grow.
- Wickedly deep evaluation process. Each player’s progress was charted from game to game in the minutest of detail. Video was used extensively and individual clips of a player’s performance were created to highlight strengths and weaknesses.
- Advanced scouting. Every opponent was scouted ahead of time for individual and team tendencies. This information was then worked into the week’s training.
- Training through fun games. Elementary school PE type games like keep away and tag are frequently used to keep training fun and get the neurons firing. Decision making under time and space limitations is a constant feature of these drills.
- Development over winning. There is plenty of pressure to win at FCB, however, without development it means little. Players are encouraged to work the ball up the court with precise passing. At the younger ages blasting shots from distance over short goal keepers is frowned upon. Yes, this can run up the score, but it deprives the players of developing a well rounded game.
- Focus on decision making. As noted above decision making is a hallmark of all FCB drills. If the brain is trained the feet will follow. Dribbling around cones doesn’t cut it.
- All areas trained simultaneously. Technique, tactics and conditioning are not viewed as separate areas to be trained in isolation. Instead all three are incorporated into every drill from a young age.
- What happens in the staff meeting stays in the staff meeting. Coaches may disagree and offer up differing opinions, but in the end all coaches support the training and game plan publicly. Unity at all times.
- Serious, energetic trainings. All coaches showed great amounts of energy and were constantly offering praise and critiques in real time. Not a second was wasted as players transitioned seamlessly from drill to drill. Through frequent eye contact and simple, clear instructions, the player engagement was off the charts.
Many thanks again to Xavi, Oscar, Pep and Sergi. Not a day goes by where I don’t reflect on their coaching ways.