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The German Method of Soccer Coaching

By Stewart Flaherty

German soccer coaching, a method respected throughout the world, has a history of producing successful teams and developing players who become world superstars, including Jurgen Klinsmann. The national men’s team has won three World Cup titles. At an international coaching convention, German Football Coaches Association president Horst Zingraf said the national team's success demonstrates the common philosophy under which all German coaches and teams work.

Talent Development

Many soccer coaching techniques are practiced universally, particularly when it comes to teaching the fundamentals of the game. However, German coaching methodology has developed a reputation for consistency along with high performance. The German soccer governing body (known in German as the DFB) has implemented a nationwide talent promotion program that offers coaching at 390 sites to young players. These sites use standard coaching methodology to improve tactical know-how and individual skills, including passing, shooting, dribbling, tackling and defensive organization.


In developing its tactical philosophy, the DFB cites the lessons it borrows successful teams around the world and merge with traditional strengths of German soccer. In 2008, the DFB adopted the zonal approach to defense, which puts the line of confrontation closer to the team's goal and focuses on positional discipline and avoiding fouls over fighting urgently to win the ball back.


When attacking, the 2008 DFB philosophy varied between a patient approach that focuses on ball possession and a risk-taking approach in which the players push the ball forward into areas that can hurt the opposition. These two approaches are very different, and German soccer coaches look to enhance a player’s decision-making ability during a game, allowing the player to determine which approach works best in a given situation. A particular player's relative strengths and limitations may factor into the style a coach encourages that player to adopt.

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It is important to remember that while this is the German soccer coaching philosophy, the German national team coach's, like the coach of any other team, may switch approaches as the circumstances of the game or the team's talents demand.


The National Soccer Coaches Association of America offers an international coaching diploma based on the German methodology. This diploma illustrates the worldwide admiration of the German soccer coaching methodology.

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