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Coaching Education

La Liga Formation Methodology Level 2 Course Day 1

LIVERMORE — Just one week after packing Las Positas College with over 300 participants for NorCal Premier Soccer’s Summer Coaching Symposium, NorCal drew over 100 at the same venue for the first-ever La Liga Formation Methodology Level 2 Course, co-hosted by US Club Soccer.

In the roughly six hours of classroom instruction, participants were given an introduction to the philosophy and methods used by La Liga to train, develop, and form some of the world’s top players.

“It’s great to have La Liga back — this is the second straight year that we’ve been able to work with US Club Soccer to bring them to Northern California,” said Coaching Education Coordinator David Robertson. “La Liga also hosted us in the winter when our Directors of Coaching visited Spain. Now, and then, they’ve been an invaluable resources to further the development of our coaches.”

Phil Wright, the Chairman of the Board of US Club Soccer, opened the event with a short speech before turning the mic over to Hugo Blanco, La Liga’s Sports Projects Coordinator, who gave an overview of La Liga, its position in the world soccer scene, and its astounding growth over just the past few years.

According to Blanco’s presentation, the world audience for La Liga games has more than doubled over the past two years, growing from 1.2 billion in the 2014/15 season to an estimated 2.7 billion in the 2016/17 season.

In addition, Blanco explained how La Liga has offices in four continents and global networks on six, showing the massive reach of what is arguably the best league in the world.

The session then turned over to former Athletic Bilbao Director of Methodology Gari Fullaondo, who focused on explaining the methodological criteria for designing a training and performance model.

“Anytime we can have a person of Gari’s level teaching us about football we’re lucky,” said NorCal Premier Soccer President Benjamin Ziemer. “It looks to be a fascinating and fantastic weekend. I can’t wait for the next session.”

Fullaondo engaged the packed crowd with questions designed to make them think, while then providing insight and advice from his years of experience at the top of the domestic game in Spain.

“What’s more difficult, to create or destroy?” he asked the coaches in attendance. “It’s to create, of course, so let’s focus more [training] time on the things that are more difficult.”

“The most important thing, is don’t always give solutions [to your players],” he later said. “We used to always give solutions to players: ‘go here, pass here.’ No, let the players find their own solutions.”

Once Fullaondo explained the criteria for the methodology, he advanced the lecture to key into how to manage said methodology and the sports area of the club, again drawing on lessons from his time at Athletic Bilbao.

Fullaondo focused on three different principles of management during this section: adaptation, progression, and continuity.

He explained: “Adaptation — we need to adapt everything to the level of the guys. If we do things that are too difficult, they will not get it. But if we do things that are too easy, it’s no good.

“Progression — We need to progress. When they learn something, we progress.

“Continuity — If my daughter is trying to learn how to ride a bicycle, and then waits a year, she’s going to need to learn how to cycle again. But if I teach her each day, she’s going to know how to cycle in a year. Without continuity, they’re not going to learn.”

Fullaondo also addressed a controversial issue in youth club soccer in the United States: the idea that there are too many clubs.

But according to the former Athletic Bilbao man, there are 164 clubs within a 45 mile radius of Bilbao, each of which provides more competition for its rival clubs, and therefore helps better develop players — if it was up to Fullaondo, there would be more clubs, not fewer.

“The objective is not the competition, the competition is what we use to develop players,” he said.”

Finally, Fullaondo, closed with the final classroom lecture of the night, which explained the idea of the Kimet Planning application, a software program used for building training sessions, and its use in the methodological and management structure of the club.

Demonstrating Kimet in action, Fullaondo took the audience members through the planning of an entire season, demonstrating the level of organization needed to succeed at the highest level — namely a meticulously-planned document that took into account many possible factors, from a preseason depth chart to a color-coded schedule of each day of the entire year to even a plan for meals throughout the year.

As the first day ended, coaches were able to leave around dinner time in order to rest up for Saturday’s day-long schedule, which features the first field sessions of the course as well as more time in the classroom learning from La Liga’s world class minds.