The important thing I’ve learned from them is all is that players have different weaknesses and strengths coming not necessarily from their body type, but from the training and developing structure in their own countries.
My latest research of Asian football and player’s development is based on South Korea. As an example, we scouted a player who came from an academy known to be the developing base for the National Team of Korea, and was one of the most successful football institutes in Seoul.
He was 22 years of age and he came straight from his youth experience to Dynamo Zagreb. This player in my eyes was exceptional centre midfielder who was able to play in any of the central midfield positions on the field. His tactical awareness in the game and his intelligence to adapt to the coach needs and game situation was excellent.
The biggest advantage was his kicking ability as he was comfortably able to switch the ball from side to side over 30-50 metres. His shielding of the ball under pressure was unbelievable despite his slender body and height of 178cm.
In saying all of this, there was an important part of his game performance missing, which could have, in my eyes, brought his game up to the level that he desired. It was explosion and explosive power.
It took me about 2 months to realise and come to this conclusion, as I conducted my research to find out that the training routine in his country is everything but “short and sharp” exercises.
To build explosion, quick feet and sharp acceleration over 2-5metres, you have to work with players who understand and absolutely believe in your methods. Every single exercise is built to reach the maximum of their speed all the time with enough time to recover between sets.
If you as a coach or trainer see the player losing speed during the exercise, you must stop immediately and let him recover which will usually be up to 30-60 seconds (depending on the fitness of the player). This is very important, because if the
player keeps pushing through it and you are not recognising that they need to recover in between sets, you will lose the purpose of the exercise and will not improve his speed or explosiveness. Understanding and communication between the player and coach is crucial.
We worked on his fitness and slowly changed his strength into explosion in two months. His performance grew and the sharpness gave him extra confidence during his games. Through his own words; “I’ve never felt more confidence in my body ever”.
A few years later, he retired from professional football and has become a very important part of my coaching team.
In comparison to Australian footballers, I see the biggest problem is not understanding the tactical part of the game. This is a limitation that is missing from creating a strong football culture here in Australia. The players are not growing up with quality football around them and this creates a big barrier in the understanding of tactical tasks from the coach especially if you come countries where football is their number one sport. A lack of creative players in this country is obvious and I have to say the development is not helping to change it at all, but this is for another article.
As a child, I grew up in an environment where I could see a minimum of one live game and another one on TV every single week. The topic in daily conversation between my mates was football. You research, you learn, you educate yourself from older friends and from your father’s conversation with you about football. This is the main difference from what I can see and compare after living ten years in Australia.
What I see on the other hand is a huge advantage in developing players here, and this is another reason why I based my academy here in Melbourne’s “mix nationalities”. In my academy, I have players from difference backgrounds including Asian, South American, European, African and I see this as a massive advantage to develop potential future stars.
One more quick word about African players. Their body and athletic makeup is just unbelievable and an incredibly huge advantage for the majority of them. I have experience in developing a player like this from when he was 14 to just recently turning 15. This player came to be a bit late, and he was a typical street grown player with an amazing lean body (185cm), unbelievable jumping ability, fast, and very, very explosive.
We are in the process of developing the technical part of his game. (ball control and advance technique), but I can see his biggest limitation is
understanding his required tactical tasks during the game. The information given to him somehow tightens up his creativity so we need to be patient and believe in his freedom on the pitch especially in the attacking phase of his game.
If we got this player 3-4 years earlier, I would be sure of his success but it’s never to
o late and I still believe you will see him in a professional football club very soon.
For your own understanding, please notice these observations are based on my personal experiences.
What I’m sharing with you will help you understand the mix and approaches that the club environments all around the world have. These reasons are usually based on the particular club and coach’s philosophy to create the strongest and effective squad for their season.