FanDuel - WFBC

May 20, 2008

How soccer prepares athletes for the NBA: NBA'ers credit much of there skills to playing soccer as young'uns

posted by Landis to basketball at 09:58 AM - 10 comments

Some years ago I worked with a man who doubled as a youth soccer coach at a fairly high level. He used to explain to me how a soccer offense is constructed, pointing out many of the things the article speaks of. He showed me the many similarities between soccer, basketball, ice hockey, lacrosse, and indeed any sport that involves putting an object into a goal. With the influx of Europeans and Latin Americans into the NBA, the soccer-like aspects of basketball are becoming more apparent. Nice post, Landis.

posted by Howard_T at 10:37 AM on May 20

Soccer never did much for my basketball game. When I played youth basketball, coaches would always yell at me for not pivoting correctly. I could never figure out exactly what I did wrong, but I think it stems from the fact that you really can't pivot in cleats, so I learned to turn differently seeing as my first sport was soccer. Now to be fair, being short was probably the main factor in my being a terrible, but soccer didn't do much to make up for it.

posted by Chargdres at 10:47 AM on May 20

As soon as I get someone to give me a lot of money to implement my proprietary training methods, you will all see just how successful Americans can be at soccer!

posted by holden at 12:14 PM on May 20

Holden +1. You need to work on your delivery though. That was roughly a brazilian-times too short.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 12:21 PM on May 20

I think this is key: In both, the idea is to let the ball do the work. “The whole culture is they appreciate the guy who passes the ball to the guy who gets the assist and passes to the guy who scores,” D’Antoni said in an interview Thursday. “They appreciate the work that went into it. Even the guy who is not getting the stat is important in the whole function of the team and the goal that is being made. That, to me, is fundamental.” Also, I think most kids growing up playing soccer rarely wear cleats, especially in developing countries. They might wear cleats in an organized game but not so much just messing around which is when ball skills are really developed.

posted by rumple at 01:01 PM on May 20

Also, I think most kids growing up playing soccer rarely wear cleats, especially in developing countries. They might wear cleats in an organized game but not so much just messing around which is when ball skills are really developed. This is an often overlooked advantage over US youth players, who have been drilled to wear the proper shoes and shinguards from an early age. I've had kids on my team tell me that they can't practice because they can't find their boots. I tell them to suck it up and play with their socks on or barefooted. There is nothing that will break bad coaching and bad technique, which includes letting the kids toe-kick to get greater distance, than having them play without shoes. One toe-punch without shoes and they'll never do it again. There are definite similarities in "goal" games: agility, balance, vision, creativeness, playing a real team game, split second decision making...

posted by Texan_lost_in_NY at 02:25 PM on May 20

Which would explain how international teams were able to field good basketballs so quickly...

posted by Bonkers at 09:08 PM on May 20

Yeah it would help American soccer a lot if more kids would play street soccer and random pick up games when young, and leave the more rigorous coaching in team tactics until they were older. You can teach advanced tactics when they get older, but if they don't learn basic ball skills and positional sense when young, they can't be easily taught later. As for basketball pivoting, true you can't turn the same way in cleats, but besides street soccer, don't forget futsal. This is soccer played with five a side on what is basically a basketball court, with a smaller, heavier ball that doesn't bounce as much so you don't need walls like you have in indoor soccer. Go to YouTube and search for futsal to see what I mean.

posted by dave2007 at 12:31 AM on May 22

Wes Welker of the Patriots credits soccer with sharpening his receiver skills. Randy Moss and Welker talked about it, and now Moss has taken up soccer drills to improve his skills. OK, dads of America, if you want your kids to grow up to make millions in athletics, forget about playing catch. It's time to get out the soccer ball.

posted by Howard_T at 03:41 PM on May 22

Yep, futsal. Or just having an environment where you're making your own drills in a way that isn't drills -- playing wall-y, three and in, etc. The idea of shipping off pre-teens in shinpads and boots for organised games and training is just weird to me. Not that there aren't leagues, but the game is learned on the playground, not the practice field. And that's going to come eventually, and the basketball courts in less affluent neighbourhoods will be its cradle. Nash is the poster boy, because he really does plays the point guard position like a central midfielder. (Gasol? Well, you have to say Peter Crouch comes to mind.) But Kobe too, with that balance and body control and spatial awareness. The sheer audacity, though, doesn't belong to any one sport in particular.

posted by etagloh at 01:30 AM on May 23

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