National coaches announce major changes in Germany’s youth program

2014 world champion Germany needs to improve its junior coaching system, according to Joti Chatzialexiou and Meikel Schoenweitz in a recent Xinhua interview.

The German association’s Director of Sports and the head-coach for national youth teams said major changes are imminent to modernize the country’s coaching methods and development of talent.

Germany needs to catch up on individuality and creativity after suffering a humiliating 2018 World Cup, going out in the first round for the first time since 1938.

A few weeks before their youngsters were eliminated from the European U-17 Championship in the group following heavy defeats by Spain and the Netherlands, who went on to win the competition.

Those shocks may well trigger a substantial change in the country’s football culture – with greater emphasis on the schooling of youngsters.

“There are other European countries who are doing a better job with their younger age groups. Our job is to put this right in the not too distant future,” Chatzialexiou commented.

England, France, and Belgium have made huge investments and implemented fundamental changes. Germany still has high standards but is forced to close the growing gap compared to other leading football nations.


Recently, the managing director national team and academy, Oliver Bierhoff, said the future generations lack spearheads and full-backs capable of fulfilling modern football requirements. Bierhoff spoke about the significant weaknesses in the schooling system.

Under-21 national coach Stefan Kuntz expressed his concern about too few youngsters making their way to their club’s senior teams.

The association’s coaches are encouraging clubs to have a second and a third team to provide match practice for teenagers on the verge of adult football.

Next to youth training, coaching methods need new inspiration. The association’s efforts are expected to affect club-coaching after a new training license specifically for kids is implemented.

Germany has neglected the schooling of individual quality, says Schoenweitz adding “creativity, unique skills and personality haven’t been a significant part of the learning process.”

Chatzialexiou said the association is not an educational facility but is delivering know-how and advanced training trends.


Schoenweitz is pleading for more age-specific training content supporting an enjoyment of the game, leaving space for personal development. “We might have over-professionalized youngsters’ schooling, including an overload of tactical advice. Youth training was too often strongly inspired by adult training patterns.”

Kids are “not mini-adults,” says Chatzialexiou. German football needs to promote different types of footballers as in the past, a standardized type of player was favored.

Both said more openness and curiosity is needed when it comes to youth training.

Germany needs to enforce individual training methods, such as to run training sessions in smaller groups to initiate one-to-one duels or two-against-two. Kids need to have as much ball contact and goal situations as possible. Kids need to learn to find solutions themselves and not always rely on advice from outside.