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Coaching Aug 13, 2016

Guest column: A firsthand view on La Liga Formation Methodology

Amazing. Insightful. Fun.

These were just a few of the words uttered by participants during the fourth-ever US Club Soccer La Liga Formation Methodology Level 3 course, held August 3-5 at Elmhurst College near Chicago. More than 75 coaches from 26 clubs participated in the three-day event, bringing the total for the year to more than 500 coaches across the country.

Headlined by the attendance of legendary striker Raúl Gonzales Blanco, participants dove deep into a comprehensive framework to youth soccer development, provided by La Liga instructional advisors. The Real Madrid legend recently retired from the New York Cosmos and now serves as “Country Manager and Ambassador” for La Liga.

This course is part of US Club Soccer’s Players First initiative and the organization’s long-term technical partnership with La Liga, who serve as content-area experts for the Formation Methodology courses and share curriculum used across its academies to train some of the world’s bestplayers.’s Charles Boehm had the opportunity to visit a course, which was conducted in Virginia just two weeks ago.

At the helm of this instructional team is Gari Fullaondo, experienced UEFA-PRO certified trainer for Atlético Bilbao and LaLiga Technical and Methodology Advisor. In addition to Gari, Hugo Blanco (LaLiga Sports Projects Coordinator) and Zun Fullaondo (Methodology Director of Kimet Sports) directed the 22-hours course that included both classroom and field sessions.

“The core belief of US Club Soccer is the understanding that in order to produce better youth soccer athletes, first we need to produce better coaches,” said Kevin Payne, CEO of US Club Soccer, who was also in attendance. “The Spanish have their style, Italian’s have their style, Argentines have their style, but America does not yet have a playing style. The information and tools provided will allow coaches to use this proven system to successfully craft our own American method.”

During a Q&A session with participants, Raúl shared insights on the importance of coaching and the vital role they play in player development and helping mold well-rounded youth players. When asked what makes a good coach great, he referenced two key characteristics – knowledge of the game while using a consistent coaching system and connecting on a personal level with players.

“A coach needs to make a personal connection with every individual player on the squad,” said Raúl. “From managing player emotions to building trust and comradery, the player-to-coach relationship may even be more important that sticking to a strict approach.”

Wrapping up the year, an additional La Liga Formation Methodology coaching course may be held in New York, bringing to a close a 2016 national tour that has traveled to Texas, California and Virginia prior to this event in Illinois. In the coming year, the next step up – Level 2 courses – will be developed, allowing coaches to delve deeper into LaLiga best-practices.

It is the goal of US Club Soccer to engage thousands of U.S. coaches to systematically take advantage of the course year-after-year. Prompted by Players First holistic approach to player development, having a good foundation will allow for proper player growth, while providing all coaches with the ability to work based off one set methodology.

US Club Soccer’s Players First is a branded, holistic club soccer experience for parents and players, which emphasizes the development of each individual to his or her full potential, and helps parents make better choices about where their children should play. It is focused on five pillars: Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety.

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