YESsoccer COO Matt Brown recently traveled back to his homeland to conduct our #YEScoachID event at Aston Villa, and around that event he pursued his own development by visiting and observing several Premier League academies, as well as the home of the England National Team.
Brown is a showcase-level coach here in the U.S., so he was curious about how the the physical preparation of elite players in the U.K. might inform how he prepares his own players.
Brown attended the recent Aston Villa Vs. Everton game in the Premier League as a guest of Everton and visited the Everton dressing room prior to and during the players' arrival. He saw the club's attention to detail, from uniforms to cleats to player-specific hydration guidelines.
"Every player was treated as an individual," noted Brown. "They all had their own routines and requirements. Choosing molded cleats or studs; choosing a long-sleeved or short-sleeved jersey; drinking water or drinking a custom mix of energy powders and liquids - the attention to detail in order to produce maximum performance was impressive."
Following the game, Brown traveled north to visit the England National Teams' training facility, St. Georges Park, where he spent time with the Football Association's Head of Team Development, Matt Crocker and Technical Director, Dan Ashworth and was given a tour of the facility.
"What a privilege, to tour arguably the greatest football facility in the world, with two of the most educated people in the modern game," said Brown. "They monitor and manage every aspect of the player's body, mind, preparation, recovery and overall game from this one facility. "
Brown left St. Georges Park for one final stop on his personal development journey to see his friend Andy Sparkes, Head of Goalkeeping at Swansea City Academy. On the day Brown visited the Academy, the club's U18 side were playing Manchester United's U18's, and several things stood out as he observed both teams throughout their pre-game preparations, the game itself and their recovery after the final whistle.
"The individual speed of the decision making and recognition of their roles within different transitional moments of the game really struck me. Both individual responsibility and collective unit responsibility received constant emphasis from both sides' coaches," Brown noted.
"I look forward to sharing these impressions and ideas with our YESsoccer coaching staff this spring season, and I can't wait to borrow a few things for my own team, in training and on game day."
What will Brown borrow? After all, the best coaches are the best thieves.
"Preparation. I need to elevate my level of preparation. It's the key to any successful process. Fail to prepare; prepare to fail. A successful coach plans for every eventuality and expects the unexpected."