lifeblood of any sport system is talent identification. Once the talent is
identified and directed then the task is to develop that talent. A key aspect
of that development process is how the sport skill is learned and acquired. Nobody
in recent years has done a better job at this than Barcelona Football Club.
These three books will give some great insights into talent development and
some of the reason why a system used at Barca works and can be duplicated,
The Little Book of Talent – 52 Tips For Improving Your Skills by Dan Coyle – I am a big fan of Dan Coyle’s writing. I think he has done a great job of taking much of the current thinking on skill acquisition and teaching and putting in a format that the layman can understand. This little book is full of stimulating ideas and thoughts in that regard. My only criticism is that I would like it to have the big book of talent. There is so much there that it almost demands more detail. This will stimulate your thinking and motivate you to search for more, it is well worth reading.
Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World by Graham Hunter – Terrific insights into the evolution of their system. The majority of their players are home grown developed at their La Masia training school. Their coaches are also developed and learn through the same system as the players. The emphasis is on creating “Automatismos” – habits that are so ingrained they become second nature. I thought an interesting point was that if a player starts at age ten in La Masia and debuts with the first team at age twenty he will have accumulated 2,300 training sessions! This computes out to 3,070 hours. The emphasis is first on technique (not drills), then tactics and at age fifteen to sixteen is there an increased emphasis on the physical - stamina and power. I also thought it was interesting that they were taught how to lose! They learned how to handle defeat with dignity.
Attention and Motor Skill Learning by Gabriele Wulf Book – This one will get you thinking. This is the science behid the other two books. For those of you who are still using detailed internal verbal cues and instructions you may won’t to reconsider. My take home point from this book is to focus on external cues that trigger implicit learning. Wulf’s concepts certainly are in concert with all the current thinking on learning and cognitive neuroscience. This is a must have for any coaches library.