Associate Professor in Physical Education and Sport at Flinders University, Australia
In 2011, I was working on a paper on play with purpose for football/soccer coaching and a workshop to go with the paper for the 27th ACHPER International Conference proceedings with colleague John Murphy. During our exchange of ideas, John mentioned that the ideas I was sharing were aligned with the ideas Horst Wein shared at a workshop in Adelaide in 2007, when he had been in Adelaide to work with Adelaide City FC. I was coaching junior football/soccer at the time, and keen to grow my understanding of the game, and so undertook a research of Horst Wein’s ideas. I discovered a national player, elite level master coach, innovator of game-based coaching, and globally appreciated coach developer.
Horst Wein was a trained physical education teacher who became a world-renowned hockey coach (Germany and Spain men’s national teams) and football coach (FC Barcelona), and coach developer.
“The art of teaching lies in knowing for what activity (a technical move, a tactical behavior or a complex competition) the player is prepared for at a particular stage of physical and mental development” (Wein, 2000, p. 11).
His ideas have been implemented across the world of youth hockey and football. His ‘Game Intelligence’ model was applied to hockey (2002) and football (2004a). He was a strong advocate of small-sided games for children and youth game development in both hockey and football/soccer (Wein, 1981, 2000, 2007).
“the secret is: Stimulation through play” (Wein, 2004b, p. 4)
The Horst Wein Model
- The player is at the centre of coaching
- Each age group has its own game matched to the physical and mental capacities of the young player
- The training curriculum relates to the five levels of competitions
- Games for Basic Abilities (6-7 years)
- Games for Mini-Football (7-9)
- Games for 5v5 and 7v7 Football (10-12)
- Games for 8v8 Football (13)
- Games for 11v11 Football (14+)
In the model, the coaching focus is on developing thinking players. “The intelligence of the player should be considered the real driving force behind his performance” (Wein, 2014a, p. 3). Systematically developing game intelligence through games was a core feature of Wein’s approach – “a varied and progressive training program with simplified games” (Wein, 2014a, p. 4).
Wein advocated that “The complicated adult game has to be simplified; a logical progression of competitions must e created, designed with increasing demands that adapt perfectly to the mental and physical capabilities of individual children” (2007, p. viii). “In a well structured scheme, young footballers grow at the same rate as their competitions grow in complexity and difficulty” (Wein, 2007, p. 2).
Wein proposed that “a coach’s objective should be to make the others [players] think instead of thinking for them…coaches must master the skill of posing questions…Through systematic questioning by the coach, the players are self-generating the information. Thanks to intelligent questions, many players become aware of problems they have never noticed before. When faced with problems presented by the coach, players have to think, examine, judge and evaluate until they find their own solutions” (Wein, 2007, p. 5).
Horst Wein suggested repetition through games to enable “the player to understand and read these game situations with the aim of making correct decisions and winning more often” (2004, Developing Game Intelligence, back cover).
Explaining why a cogent and coherent plan of progressive development is necessary in coaching to develop children and youth playing potential Wein suggest ed that “planning the development of young players is like preparing for a journey. It’s advisable to have a map (plan or model) to avoid getting lost and wasting time and energy” (2007, p. 10).
Horst Wein’s Game Intelligence model has all the hallmark features that we associated with a games-based approach. Horst Wein published his first book on coaching in 1968 but he is possibly best known for his 2004 book Developing game intelligence in soccer. For more information, you can see his Wikipedia profile here https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horst_Wein.
We would like to encourage you to continue supporting the 40th Anniversary of TGfU celebrations; including our next instalment in the special blogs where we will be discussing Launder (2001) Play Practice. Please visit http://www.tgfu.info/40th-anniversary.html for our other events.
Horst Coaching Ideas
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Murphy, J., & Pill, S. (2011). Moving, Learning and Achieving in Football (Soccer). In G. Dodd (Ed.), Edited Proceedings of the 27th ACHPER International Conference (pp. 220-229). ACHPER. https://www.achper.org.au/documents/item/83
Wein, H. (1981/2000). La clave del éxito en el hockey/The key to better hockey. International Educational Management Systems
Wein, H. (2002). The development of game intelligence in hockey with mini hockey games. German Hockey Association
Wein, H. (2004a). Developing game intelligence in soccer. Reedswain.
Wein, H. (2004b). Small sided games to develop soccer intelligence. Institute for Youth Soccer, Germany.