In 1995 AFC Ajax captivated the world by beating the previous champions AC Milan 1-0 to win the UEFA Champions League with a young, relatively unknown squad playing an energetic, attractive, attacking, possession-oriented style of soccer. They had a visionary coach, Louis van Gaal, who helped to revitalize the vision of Ajax soccer made famous by such legendary figures as Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels. In 1996 Ajax returned to the UEFA Champions League final but eventually lost to Juventus in penalties. In the summer of 1996 I attended a coaches clinic at the University of San Francisco hosted by Ziemer Brothers Soccer Camps and presented by Franz Hoek and Gerard van der Lem, two of the assistant coaches for the AFC Ajax team. This was an extraordinary clinic conducted by coaches literally at the top of the international game. The level of detail and instruction I experienced during the three-day clinic was breath-taking. Many of the concepts introduced to me by Hoek and van der Lem revolutionized the way I viewed and understood the game of soccer, and still, to this day, influence my thinking. Recently, in cleaning my office space, I came across my notes for the clinic. I thought it would be nice to share. The notes are quite detailed, so I will present them in several parts (I can’t say how many yet. There are lots of notes).
AFC Ajax Amsterdam: Advanced Coaches Clinic – Level II
University of San Francisco campus
Friday, June 21 to Sunday, June 23, 1996
Gerard van der Lem, Assistant Coach
Franz Hoek, Goalkeeper Coach
Structure of Ajax (Friday)
Aim of the game: winning
How? Only attractive, beautiful soccer
Main moments in the game:
1) We have the ball – Possession-style means we must control the ball the majority of game time (60-70%).
2) They have the ball
3) Transition/change of possession – Important – can often be deciding factor in the game.
- Every player and positional line (i.e. defense, midfield, offense, and goalkeeper) knows exactly what their job (task) is during each of the main moments.
- Analyze problems with system and break them down into smaller, easier or more difficult part of the game.
- Always game-related exercises.
- Players know why things are done.
Elements of the Game
- The ball: Different balls have different characteristics.
- Train with a ball that you will play with in the game.
- Opponents: Practice with their style and system.
- Teammates: Team-building exercises
- Team sets rules
- Teamwork is paramount – No Individuals!
- Space: Practice on half-field or smaller to simulate game situations (microcosms).
- Pressure: Defensive and offensive; external.
- Rules: Training rules mimic rules of the game, including yellow and red card violations.
- Time: Game-related
- Direction: Towards opposing goal.
- During training include all elements to reach objective.
TRAINING IS ALWAYS BUSINESS.
Every training session contains:
- Soccer-related objectives
- Many repetitions
- Detailed planning
- Sufficient materials (jerseys, balls, etc.)
- Group considerations
- Skill/experience level
- Correct coaching (openness, communication)
- Influence players
- Give instructions
- Q & A
Ajax Training Sessions:
- Vision: Ajax way – Explanation – Training objectives
- Player led (alternate)
- Group run/jog/running stretches
- Individual stretching (static/dynamic)
- Exercises – with specific aims