Training Soccer Champions

Anson Dorrance, Tim Nash, 1996, Echo Point Books & Media

Anson Dorrance is the most successful college soccer coach in US women’s soccer. In this book he describes how he did set up the soccer program at the University of North Carolina and what made them successful. This is not a training or coaching book that explains tactics or techniques, it talks about how to set up and run a team in general. The chapters of the books are focusing on different aspects of the organization of a sports team. One chapter will dicuss how to create an positive competitive environment in training, another one how to make sure everybody is able to learn and improve even if not playing regularly. It is also covered how to get good players beyond good, by making them understand the why of decisions taken in training but also on the field. Dorrance also talks about how to make sure, that the preparation for soccer doesn’t end when leaving the training court, especially focusing on how to keep player’s fit during vacation and how to make the off-season challenging for everyone. Furthermore Dorrance highlights the value of statistics, so that players get constant feedback. The statistics do not only provide that, they also make the player’s feel that the feedback is less subjective, because it is not directly coming from the coach.
Another important point the author points out are the differences between men and women. That starts with what type of relationships is required to get respected to them but also how they react to criticism. Finally he also describes how to provide the best players with enough space for creativity and how to create acceptance for their unique skills.
The only part of the book which is a bit outdated is the tactics part, simply because it is from 1996 and at that time the 4-4-2 was dominant and a attack line with 3 forwards was new. Today that is probably not the case anymore.
All in all the book is not so much a soccer coaching book but a book about leadership and how to organize a team with a soccer team as an example. Competition without hostility and creating a learning environment which provides everybody constantly with feedback and makes them able to improve no matter on which level they are, are just two aspects of that. Others are providing the space for independent decision making for the people who have the skills to do so but also to treat everybody with respect even if they will never will be your top performers. All these topics are discussed in the book and therefore it is not only a good read for soccer fans but also for managers who look for some insights in team management.

Biography: 0/3
History: 0/3
Background: 3/3
Tactics & Game philosophy: 1/3


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