At FC Sarasota we work to instill a possession based approach to soccer. We do this for a number of reasons, chief among them is that a possession based approach challenges players technically and forces them into constant decision making. This makes it a very enjoyable style for players as they have freedom to create and express themselves.
Playing this particular style of soccer is often quite difficult for people new to the game to understand. At young ages they might be watching an academy game, say U10, and the red team is scoring goal after goal by punting the ball from the goalkeeper and have some players chase after the ball. The blue team is attempting to pass the ball out of the back and, quite often, failing to do so. The game ends in a defeat for the blue team.
However the players who are challenged at an early age to use their technical skills to solve the problems that the game presents will have gained much more from this approach than from the long ball, results orientated approach of the red team. Coaches and parents want the same thing-to help every player become the best they can be, and it would be unprincipled to be well aware of the optimal methods for achieving this while ignoring them.
US Soccer is crying out for players who can compete at national level. We tend to turn out players either from the club or college system who can run all day, are physically strong, but lack the guile and creativity to compete against the best in the world. While US Soccer is still somewhat in its infancy there are over 3 million registered youth soccer players in this country, more players than the entire population of Trinidad and Tobago, who are pushing the US hard in pursuit of World Cup Qualification. It is our duty to work with every player based on what it takes to succeed at the highest level, and while only a tiny fraction of those 3 million young players will ever play on the world stage, we must coach each and every player as if they could make it to the big time.
Possession based soccer is the focal point of almost every soccer governing body when it details expectations for youth development. The style is fast, enjoyable, challenging, and rewarding for players. It lessens the need for repetitive aerial challenges, it promotes creativity over rehearsed plays, technical skill over brute force, and with patient and dedicated hard work winning will often follow.