The WeGotPlayers team has worked very hard to get an exclusive interview with the American youth master coach who has revolutionized the Japanese soccer and who’s on his way to do the same in China. After exchanging multiple emails and between his flights to the United States, Europe, Japan and China to name a few, we finally got the ball rolling with Tom Byer. The American soccer coach who I am sure that you will hear more about in the future as his work is paying off. Japan and China are already building a solid foundation for their youth soccer players and most of the credit goes to the man behind the scenes, Tom Byer. We’ve interview and asked Tom 10 questions to better help educate clubs, coaches, parents and players understand the basics of the early youth development.
In case you were wondering about the quality of players that have been developed so far, Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa and women’s team captain Aya Miyama are among Tom Byer’s prodigies, just to name a few. Tom is also the Founder of TomSan which has published books and DVDs. We would also like to thank Tom Byer for taking the time to share his knowledge. So let’s jump into the interview and absorb more knowledge from a powerful mastermind coach who’s impacting and developing many of Asia’s superstars. Enjoy 🙂
WGP 1. Briefly tell us a bit about yourself and how you started coaching?
Tom Byer: I’ve always been interested in coaching kids since I was a high school student. I attended Rondout Valley High School which was very close to Ulster County Community College. I worked at summer Camps when I was in High School being influenced by Coach George Vizvary and Tommy Mulroy. Both very active in Kids Camps and I worked with them both when I was young. So I always had interested in working with kids. Then after I stopped playing in Japan in 1989, I quickly went into doing Soccer Clinics, or events, all around Japan. I introduced the Coerver Method of focusing on Technical skills to Japan back in 1993. We focused on making the individual player better technically by creating a delivery platform to deliver our content and message. This included Television corners, Comic Books, Football Magazines, Schools focusing only on Technical Development, Camps, Content thru vhs video, dvd’s and now APP’s. Also, we conducted over 2,000 events for more than 500,000 players. The theme was always the same, one player and one Ball, teaching them ways to practice on their own.
WGP 2. How difficult was for you to integrate in a different country? Any major cultural barriers?
Tom Byer: It’s always a challenge when working in different countries because there are so many variables. You have to learn the local language in order to communicate with the people. You need to learn the culture of the country since you are a guest there. You need to find a good translator and have a good relationship with the Media. The Media plays a massive role in Development if they are saying the right things.
WGP 3. What’s your coaching philosophy?
Tom Byer: I have been focusing primarily on the U12 age Group. I am a Technical Coach that focuses on improving the technical ability of individual players. The philosophy is simple, ensure that kids have learned the proper core techniques which form the foundation upon which you build all of the other parts of the game on.
Parents are more important than Coaches at the very young ages, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 years old. This is where Latin countries kill everyone because kids get a tremendous head start in learning Ball skills.
WGP 4. Do you have any specific advice or tips for coaches around the world?
Tom Byer: Well, depending on what age group you are working with will depend upon your approach. There is no “one size fits all”, on how to teach the game. I learn new things every time I work with other coaches or players or visit other countries where I have been invited. We tend to think as coaches that we know it all and that there is only one way to think. This is a big mistake.
WGP 5. Regardless of winning or losing, how can a coach of significance measure his or her success?
Tom Byer: Again, depending upon what age group you are working at and what level will depend up what success looks like. With very young kids development should always be the most important, not results. Too many kids go through the technical development phase and do not master the basic skills of a Football player. When you are working with much older, senior players, there is much pressure to win since you are based on win/loss.
WGP 6. How important is the developmental process for the youth?
Tom Byer: I can’t emphasize this enough because I believe a majority of kids that play Football around the world are technically deficient. Especially in the United States. They don’t learn the core techniques and hit a Wall. There is lots of data that tries to build a consensus that many kids stop playing the sport in the early teen ages because of too much pressure or dislike of coaches, etc. I believe it’s because when they become older they realize they are not that good which it turns out it makes playing the sport boring. Who want’s to play a sport that you are not good at. In many countries at the very young ages many kids/teams are given Trophies for not being the best. They receive so much praise because there is this belief that there should be no winners and losers. But sport is build upon winning and losing and there are many life lessons to learn about the ups and downs of playing a sport.
WGP 7. What are the most valuables lessons you’ve learned from your coaching career so far?
Tom Byer: That the best kids we usually inherit. We might make them better but technical ability is usually not the result of coaching. Most kids learn their skills un-coached or by their Fathers or family members. Culture is perhaps the most important component of a players’ development.
WGP 8. Did you feel like you always had all the support needed to succeed?
Tom Byer: Absolutely not. To become a good coach or good at anything you have to work extremely hard and there are lots of setbacks. Nothing is free in life and you must take responsibility for your own success and development. There is support out there but you must pick the correct role models and search for solutions to problems that arise.
Persistence is perhaps the most important component to success.
WGP 9. Why do you coach?
Tom Byer: I coach because I enjoy the challenge. I never accept a job unless I am 100 percent sure I can make a difference. I also like to be around young people and help them to develop. And probably because I didn’t have much coaching when I was a kid. But now that I’m a parent I realize how much more important good parenting is compared to coaching if you are trying to develop kids.
WGP 10. What advise do you have for coaches who want to improve themselves and make an impact on their players?
Tom Byer: There is so much information on the internet nowadays. You can self teach yourself just about anything. You can focus in on many different parts of the game and study some of the best coaches out there. The web makes that possible today. Pick great role models and try to learn as much as you can from them. A coaches education never stops learning.