(Wednesday Feb 20th, 2020).
Between Sunday and Tuesday we demonstrated over 200 exercises which took me 25 years to learn and perfect and be able to show players. The only players who have taken to these exercises have gone onto play professionally, for National Teams, top colleges such as UNC and UCLA and are ALWAYS the very best youth players.... The best youth players always come back to practice smoother and more comfortable with the ball, You can see in 24 hours when a player has been self training. Its that obvious in the same way if a player has not taken a ball on vacation with them- they look stiff, awkward and at odds with the ball. I was taught all of these (and more) by Wiel Coerver himself personally. Just when I thought i was doing it right he would correct me and point out that i was too stiff and rigid and not smooth enough and then it was back to work polishing my skills which is why he hired myself and my brother to assist him. Not being able to do it was not fun! He wrote a book and there were some videos of his work which had some of the material but I never saw them or read them until many years after he taught me. Most of what I learned from him was never put in the book or video. Its a bit like getting taught by a master musician and playing with them and then being asked if I bought the book or video when i was a part of making the actual material itself. Looking back it was a tremendous honor and opportunity. I have only met 6 coaches (2 in our club) and players who have ever shown a real interest in learning the material but everyone in the soccer world talks about Coerver material and how good it is etc.
Critics of Coerver should criticize Liverpool FC skills coach Pepijn Linders, Michel Mommertz, Ajax Amsterdam, Simon Ireland (who was one of the best/most technical players to have played in the USA), numerous national Federations and professional clubs entire youth Academies, most of Japans mens and womens professional and national team youth coaches and coaching curriculum, courtesy of Tom Byer, Arjen Robben, Manchester United youth academy & Rene Meulensteen and many more. Sadly those who cannot actually do the material tend to criticize it because its beyond them and they dont understand the benefits of the exercises and frankly their ego's get in the way. My boss at Liverpool, the famous Steve Heighway said to the coaches, if you cant demonstrate better than the players, get them to do it for you...He hired me to demonstrate for the players at Liverpool FC. I met many 'coaches' who without even trying to do it (because they couldnt) criticized the material but I never met a high level player who didnt love and value the material....ever! Sadly too many coaches avoid their teaching material entirely and focus on systems, tactics and positional play, all of which are important but as anyone who has played the game at a higher level, means nothing as the sum of all parts is greater than the whole and a team is only as good as its players.
Coerver coaching has never been a total solution to dvelopment. We use the material perhaps 5-10% of the time and I have developed my own hybrid material which borrows from Coerver. The goal is to have players become interested/fascinated with the material and for players to self train so they come back to the practice field with better movement and enhanced ball comfort. In the same way we encourage wall training, juggling etc. Its merely that. Our intentions are to merely get players to take responsibility for their own development and self train. If players are getting better on their own then we will be better off for it.
I've had coaches want to work with me and wanted to get Coerver Coaching certificates (I dont have one) but they have never even tried the material. You actually have to do it to learn it. You have to feel it to know how to coach it and teach it. There are no shortcuts.
We did not get the material from a book, or from video but from watching coaches and players demonstrate, adapting various nuances of movement, experimenting and understanding which exercises are for speed of footwork and flexibility versus which are practical. Ball feeling is designed to improve stance, balance, coordination, agility and help players become limber. Its designed to help players become more confident with the ball, to become not only better dribblers but better passers and have better control of the ball. Many fakes are used not only to dribble but to actually add some deception to the pass, which is a more frequent use of these acquired skills.
The bending of knees, widening stance for power & balance and deception, ankle and knee flex, use of arms for balance and faking....are all tremendously important. The 'moves' are made with the whole body, not just the feet. Many players can do the actual move but have no 'pre-move' or conclusion, often losing the ball at the beginning and end of their movement because they fail to transfer the ball to the protected side of the body or they stagger & lose balance at the end of their movement, or let the ball get away from them too much.
At the end of perfecting all of this material, dont always expect players to be flying around the field doing 'moves'. Some players are not the type of players to exhibit all of their skills but are more selective and use them when needed/required. I know of one player who knows and can do all of the material but doesnt use any of it. Where is has helped show obvious improvement is in her dipping, shooting, passing, shielding, turning, first touch etc. The reason for this is because all of the movements require a great deal of balance and coordination. In the same way you dont see basketball players playing like the Harlem Globetrotters just because they know moves....You dont see Messi doing move all the time. Its just not realistic. We dont ask players to practice more touches to simply take more touches in a game. If a player improves their one touch passing (which they will as their center of gravity will be improved and their power base when passing from under their body will be enhanced. i.e you wont need a run up to the ball or a big leg swing or follow through when you can punch the ball 20 yards+ from under the body) then they would have achieved something special!
This all said, players do need to be able to take what they learn in practice and put it into a game. They are often too afraid to try things in a competitive game and if we are being honest, we coaches dont want players always experimenting to the detriment of the team when the game is on the line, which is why we dont always need games vs the top opponents and need training games. There are places on the field where risk taking is acceptable and the gain can be equal to the risk which is always encouraged. At times we do want players to experiment in training and gradually take the skill into a game which is why we ask players to do what we all did as players....dont wait for the next team training...go home and work on this by themselves. 95% of learning and adapting these skills will come from self practice in the driveway or back yard but in order to actually perfect these you need a master coach to teach you. Its always important to remember and this is something we tell players every day. "if you look like and feel like you are fighting the ball you will attract defenders like a magnet and your teammates will be in cover-up mode and not freeing themselves up to help you".
Gary Ireland- PSV Union FC/Soccerbook Consulting)
When Robben arrived at Stamford Bridge at the age of just twenty he carried on his shoulders a huge weight of expectation. Fresh from a trailblazing four year spell with Groningen and PSV Eindhoven in his native country, the winger had already been marked as one destined for greatness. By the time he left London he had become one of football’s biggest names, and perhaps the defining ‘inside-out’ winger of his generation.The origins of Robben’s unique quick-footed, skilful and pacey attacking play can be traced back to his early training as a youngster in his home town of Bedum under the guidance of a forgotten hero of Dutch football: Wiel Coerver
Many of the worlds best clubs advocate and use the famous Dutchman's coaching material and have hired his personal assistants to clubs such as PSV Eindhoven and Manchester United. Coaches influenced by Coerver have coached at Porto and Liverpool FC (PSV Union's Gary Ireland was at Liverpool FC Academy 7-17 years players while Pepijn Linders was with the EPL squad ). UNC women's soccer (Anson Dorrance is an advocate of Wiel Coerver), the USA women’s' team and many top USA players have a long history of using Coerver material. Most Collegiate players have worked extensively on the material and most of the Bay Area's top youth teams have used the material for the past 20 years.
I had the honor of being an assistant coach to Wiel Coerver along with my brother Simon in Dubai and in New York. Wiel took myself and Simon Ireland under his wing and reinforced in us the importance of individual technical development. Wiel was tough but caring and had a passion second to none. Simon and I had the privilege of knowing Wiel for over 20 years. Few people had the conviction of what he was teaching in football. I recall when he described to us his disagreement with Charles Hughes the former Technical Director of the FA over a 'short corner' debate. Wiel wanted to take a short corner to Roderick Thomas, the phenom playing for England youth at the time- Charles Hughes insisted on the long corner. According to Wiel the disagreement as to which was the best approach resulted in Wiel resigning as technical advisor to the England FA. If they would have taken the short corner Wiel would still have remained. Such was his conviction. (Gary Ireland)
Wiel Coervers assistants/students have gone on to influence the way the game is taught on every continent over the past 25 years. Numerous clubs and federations have incorporated his methods with assistants going onto work at many high profile clubs across the globe and not only working at those clubs but having a large say in the long term youth player development. Manchester United, Porto, Liverpool and other clubs have embraced his teachings. North Carolina coach Asnon Dorrance uses Wiels material every day. Gary and Simon ireland along with Victor Ireland introduced Wiel Coervers material to Australia in 1989. This introduction to (at first) Les Murray from SBSTV profoundly influenced Australian soccer forever. The NSW Soccer Federation under David Lee then embraced the program after Gary & Simon made a presentation to State and club coaches and admin. at the NSWSF headquarters at Parklea in 1989.
Wiel can be proud of his achievement and influence in the game. He gave many of us hope as players who were searching for more knowledge and ways of self improvement. His teaching laid the foundation for my trainings and i have since incorporated them into my coaching material (Gary Ireland)
Gary & Simon Ireland met Wiel while coaching at Manahatnville College during a summer soccer camp that they had been hired to work at. They were contemplating playing college soccer or returning to Europe or Australia to play professionally and were using the camp to stay in shape and keep their touch up. During the camp they were asked to demonstrate for Wiel regularly and struck up a good friendship with Wiel and his assistant Michael Momentz. They were humbled by the material Wiel was demonstrating and Wiel was impressed with the eagerness and enthusiasm the brothers showed as they tried to learn and adopt the material. They would spend hours in the dormitory hallway working on the material after many hours on the field as they tried to master the material. Their efforts were ultimately rewarded with an invite by Wiel to work in Dubai along with his assistant and Wiel at the Al Wasl club.
The brothers declined the many scholarship offers in the USA and return to London before going to Dubai. After Dubai they returned to Australia where they introduced the Coerver Method and arranged the purchase of the Coerver Philips videos (1-2-3) from SLS to SBSTV in Australia.
The last time we visited Wiel was when Carine and i stopped to see Wiel and his wife in their small and tidy apartment near the church at the center of small town in Holland near the German border called 'Kerkrade'. He was still at it. Still inventing and analyzing- still the purist. He was quick to present his analysis of the state of the game. Several EPL and world famous managers even called when we were there, asking his advice. He had some sore points about the game but nothing had deterred him from improving his craft and trying to help develop better and more technically gifted and creative soccer players.
Sadly, Wiel recently passed away but has left an incredible legacy in global soccer. He was a consummate professional and purist. He was a man who wanted to bring beauty and artistry back into the game and help to influence youth coaches teach their players the 'right' way to play. Wiel 'fought the battle' and influenced an entire generation of players and coaches dedicated to bringing beauty back to the game.
Mostly I to try to achieve the highest standards coaching and demonstrating and to pass on a philosophy of the pursuit of excellence. Wiel proved that age has no boundaries and that coaches should remain healthy and active in order to be able to demonstrate at the highest levels to provide strong visuals. At 65 he was demonstrating better than 25 year old professional players! (Gary Ireland)
Thank you Wiel for bringing much sunshine and enlightenment to football around the world! I was proud to have been one of your few personal coaching assistants. You taught us an incredible amount.
John Owens (Liverpool FC Academy Head Coach & co-Director 15 years) COPYRIGHT-Gary Ireland/Soccerbook-2007
Our Academy coaches use Coerver-like practices for the individual ball manipulation work leading to 1 v 1 work, and the passing drills leading to 2 v 1 , 2 v 2 etc. We find that many of our younger players quickly learn their favourite moves which they can perform very well in isolation. The difficulty comes when the player needs to choose WHICH skill to use and WHEN to use it. This is the main task of the coach - to help the proficient player to apply his technique in a game situation so that he can be EFFECTIVE. We make the analogy that the learned techniques are the tools and through a variety of practices we help the player to extend his tool-box. Once the player 'owns' an extensive tool-box then correct decision-making lets him choose the right tool for the job, i.e. the right technique for the situation faced. Too many players following just the Coerver-type work do not get enough practice at making decisions.Naturally, players will make mistakes as part of the learning process, so coaches must show a high level of understanding so that players are not afraid to try their new techniques in the real situation. We feel that the best definition of skill is the ability to choose and perform the required technique ON DEMAND, i.e. when the situation in the game demands it. there are stages of development towards the game situation and the Coerver-like work can help towards that goal, particularly in the early, younger stages. Too often, that early work is not linked to the later stage of development. Through the years 1992 to 1997 when working with England Under 15 team, we played against Holland most years. In warm-up and practice, the Dutch players would show some good 'Coerver-type' moves. However, in the actual games there was no sign of the moves because they had learned the mechanics of the move very well but had not moved on to internalise the activity to be able to implement it in a game against real opposition.