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How a Soccer Star Is Made in Amsterdam

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This article originally came out during the 2010 World Cup, but it's worth revisiting today. The gap between the USA and Holland in technical skills, especially passing, has closed some but it is still quite evident.

What Americans consider the warmup, the Dutch consider the MAIN thing they do in training: PRACTICE.

By age 15, the boys are practicing five times a week. In all age groups, training largely consists of small-sided games and drills in which players line up in various configurations, move quickly and kick the ball very hard to each other at close range. In many practice settings in the U.S., this kind of activity would be a warm-up, just to get loose, with the coach paying scant attention and maybe talking on a cellphone or chatting with parents. 

At the Ajax academy, these exercises — designed to maximize touches, or contact with the ball — are the main event. “You see this a lot of places,” a coach from a pro club in Norway, who was observing at Ajax, said to me. “Every program wants to maximize touches. But here it is no-nonsense, and everything is done very hard and fast. It’s the Dutch style. To the point and aggressive.”

Gregory van der Wiel’s description of the detail-oriented routine at De Toekomst struck me as dead on: “You do things again and again and again, then you repeat it some more times.”

I see your point that this is why the Dutch are so good at technical skills.

They've been training this way for a generation.

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