By: John Greene
If you are unfamiliar with many of the North America-Caribbean based coaches who have been migrating to the U.S. and Canada for decades, the Late Great August Wooter (Suriname), Lincoln Phillips (Trinidad & Tobago), Lenny Taylor (Jamaica), Lorne Donaldson (Jamaica), Clyde Watson (Guyana), to name a handful, then you are definitely familiar with some of their teachings. Phillips was the Goalkeeper coach for the US Men’s National team in the 1990s and worked with Tony Meola, former US Men’s National team Goalkeeper. Donaldson has worked with players the likes of Mallory Pugh, who currently plays for the U.S. Women’s National team. All of these coaches have one thing in common and that is teaching the game the Caribbean way, with the structure of North America. A great mix!
The Caribbean way of teaching the beautiful game was first developed in the 1980s when we began to see an influx of coaches leaving the Caribbean islands for North America. Prior to the arrival, Brazilian coaches were extremely popular in North America. They possessed a similar teaching style as our Caribbean coaches with 1 v 1 flare and the ability to break the game down on the field. Prior to the arrival of Caribbean coaches to North America, players were just beginning to learn the importance of technical skill development. U.S. players were rugged, but the innovative coaching techniques developed by these coaches have since spread around North America and have influenced the game at all levels, from the top professional leagues all the way down to the child playing soccer at recess in school.
Caribbean coaches for many years have been great coaches and trainers individually, but the NACTM has brought all of their training techniques together into one method. “The North America Caribbean Training Method focuses on individual skill progression, and the development of tactical awareness and mental strnght carried out through various exercises in small groups,” writes NACTM Director of Camps Justin Reid.
The NACTM has drawn its inspiration not only from Caribbean coaches who have been impactful in the U.S. and Canada, but also from Caribbean players. Clyde Best (Bermuda) is just one of the players from whom the NACTM has drew inspiration. Think Dwight Yorke (Trinidad & Tobago). John Barnes (Jamaica). Shaka Hislop (Trinidad & Tobago). In addition to female players, Khadija “Bunny” Shaw (Jamaica) and Kenya Cordner (Trinidad & Tobago), and you have a mix of players who have accomplished alot in their careers, with some still active. We highly encourage young players to get on Youtube and search for highlights of these amazing players.
“I was transfixed by the North America Caribbean Training Method and couldn’t wait to get out on the field and work with the 8 and 9 year olds on my team,” said James Jones, a youth coach in Detroit. “I am looking forward to the new methods and exercises that they will be producing in the coming months and years.” One of my favorite moments is when I applaud a player for making a move that beat a defender. If this is a “fete” match as they would say in Trinidad & Tobago, the entire crowd would go while. Its just great to see that joy and excitement in the game.”
Watch any professional team, and you’ll see the importance of developing technical skills on the ball. The ability to move the ball is crucial, and the ability to beat a player on the dribble forces an effect that defenders dislike. When one defender is beaten, another must step in, which is cover and balance – and in doing so, this creates passing options for the player with the ball. This is what’s called dribble penetration, and Caribbean players are extremely good at this, just watch Leon Bailey of Jamaica who currently plays in Bayern Leverkusen in Germany.
The North America Caribbean Training Method is not all there is to the game, however, it is an important element. We live in a time where defenders are attackers, and centerbacks as well as goalkeepers can be the first line of attack, as Phillips mentions in Goalkeeping: The last line of defense, first line of attack. So technical skills are demanded from each and every player on the field.
The North America Caribbean Training Method looks forward to bringing decades of training together under one methodology to develop youth players across North America. “The players in this country we believe are really missing technical skill abilities. There is a huge drop off from the top tier players in the country to the mid-level players who I would classify as recreation. So we have a lot of work to do,” says NACTM Director of Coaching Myron Garnes.