Teaching coaches how to play
İlkay Gündoğan, Mesut Özil and Leroy Sané are some of the many talents who started at “Knappenschmiede”, the youth academy of Schalke 04. Peter Knäbel, technical director of Schalke 04, explains what makes the academy so special. “After the Second World War, a whole mix of cultures and backgrounds came into the coal mines in the region. Such as Polish, Italian and Turkish people, which we are now reaping the benefits of. Because the children of hard-working parents with opposite instincts and mentalities come here and we have a fantastic melting pot.” At “Knappenschmiede” they use this mix in their way of coaching.
Formations like 4-4-2 and 5-3-2 doesn’t matter for the players under 14. No tactical plans, but only exercising with the ball. Knäbel also indicates that winning is a certainty for the children. “The children have to learn to understand the games themselves. We let them play and, believe me when I say so, the result is always part of our education.”
What you can see in every youth team is that the training sessions increase the size, intensity and physical requirements. No single exercise take longer than 20 minutes. The more different exercises, the more the players are tested on different aspects.
Knäbel also indicates that the players are not the only ones who are teached: “We teach our coaches whether they should give advice or an objective to players. To communicate something is not the same as understanding it, but there are different routes to arrive at the same objective. We need both sessions and coaches to be flexible but with clear principles; remember that we had the names of Joël Matip and Leroy Sané passed through this system. You could not find two more different people or players.”
The best of academies
What was seen by the younger teams, is similar to the U-17 and U-19 teams but it is only a more intensive way. With this philosophy, Knäbel compared his own academy with other top academies. “Look at Barcelona, Ajax and the top academies all over the world. They have the same consistent messages and philosophies from the ages of 9 to the age of 19. That’s what we do here.”
After the training session of the U17 trainer Frank Farenhorst indicates that not only football, but also personal relationships are important to the club. “As a coach we are responsible for teaching players about responsibilities and discipline. This is our job and it requires a specific support program so that the boys can develop as people and become independent. Both on and off the pitch.”
Knäbel joins the vision of Farenhorst. “We have to prepare our children at Schalke to enter the real world, because they will probably end up in my brother’s competition (amateur club on the 13th tier of German football) because only 0.001% can play for Manchester City.”
Go back to the Academy Trips website.