The National Soccer Coaches Association of America Annual Convention was held on January 15-19 in Philadelphia, billed as “Soccer’s Biggest Party,” and featured 10,270 people at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Attendees were treated to more than 230 educational sessions from high-level clinicians, including two from Sebastian Dremmler, FC Bayern Munich U-16 Head Coach.
On Thursday, Jan. 16, Dremmler spoke to a packed room of youth and professional coaches alike about Bayern’s world-class youth development system. The following day, he stepped on the field and conducted a session on “Passing and Positional Play, the Bayern Way” with a group of energetic female players.
We sat down with him to learn more about FC Bayern Munich’s youth system and how they develop elite youth players.
Q: Working specifically with the U-16 group at Bayern Munich, what are some things you look for as you identify players to fit within your system? What qualities are important to your staff?
A: We begin to focus our U-12 group on positional play and where they should be on the field. It is easy for us to identify if the player is an attacker or defender. As they progress, we have a better understanding if they are a central player or should be on the right or left side. With the U-16 group, I’m only one part of several steps in each player’s development. I closely watch the U-15 group to understand the quality of the team and my opinion on how to improve them.
Q: At age 16, the players have experienced a lot of technical training. With your pool of 22 players, do you focus more on tactics for the group?
A: Yes, and we ask our players several questions at this age. How can you win the game? Should we pressure or not pressure in certain areas of the field? It is very important to have a clear understanding of how we approach each match.
Q: Arsene Wenger from Arsenal recently discussed the popularity of “block defending” and how difficult it can be to break down opposing teams playing this way. What are some of the ideas you discuss with your players?
A: Our first team manager, Pep Guardiola, says he wants two defenders and seven or eight midfield players. Our goal is to attack very quickly when the opponent is unbalanced. It’s a philosophy to play a bit higher with the entire team. Certainly, it is more risky but we have very talented goalkeepers and confident in their abilities. When we get the ball, the distance to attack the goal is much smaller. The time for our opponent to organize is much shorter.
Q: What are your thoughts on the outlook for U.S. Soccer and the current youth system?
A: The importance of a solid training environment during the week and competitive matches on the weekend is crucial to individual player development. The potential here in the United States is unbelievable. So many players at age nine are playing soccer in this country so the pool to develop is much larger than other areas of the world.