Frank Wormuth discusses German Football Philosophy and Developing Young Players
Frank Wormuth is the Head Coach of the Germany U20 National Team and the Director of Training for Football Coaches at the DFB’s Hennes Weisweller Academy, the central training facility of the German Football Association. As a player he was a teammate of Joachim Loew at SC Freiburg and represented his hometown club Hertha Berliner on 70 occasions.
In the build-up to the all-German 2013 Champions League Final, Wormuth and The Coaching Manual Editor Pavl Williams met up to discuss how Germany produces young players, how the German football philosophy has evolved in recent years and, of course, the small matter of the England vs Germany rivalry.PW: 10 years ago the perception of German football in England was that it was muscular but quite unattractive. However, in recent years the success of Germany's youthful, energetic national teams and Bundesliga teams has very much changed how English fans view German football. As a coach in the national set-up, how would you describe Germany's playing philosophy at this point in time?
FW: For the DFB the German playing philosophy is focused on the senior national team, and our national team plays as modern as possible. That means:
If we gain the ball our first view will be forward to play a counter attack, because we all know that opponents will drop back behind the ball in 6 to 8 seconds. But in that time we have much space to play. Remember our match against England in WC 2010 in South Africa?
opponents will drop back behind the ball in 6 to 8 seconds
Otherwise, if we don´t have that space then above all we´ll try to have a safe combination play in the opponent half.
Regarding defense, the players have to decide if they can attack the ball immediately or if they have to drop back as mentioned.
That reflects the current state of play [in international football] and therefore it isn’t especially new, nor is it unique to Germany.
The players make the difference...and we have a lot of good players
Ultimately, the players make the difference within the framework of our philosophy. And we have a lot of good players at the moment!PW: Thank you for mentioning the 2010 World Cup game against England - you will be especially popular with our readers after that!
FW: I remember that we score goals by counter-attacking, that’s all I wanted to say!PW: I think the Germany vs England rivalry is one of the best in sport so I don't mind referencing it. I think most English fans actually - grudgingly - have a lot of respect for the German team.
FW: Do you know from whom Jürgen Klopp has introduced “high speed football” in Dortmund? I think from English football. We Germans like that kind of football.
Jürgen Klopp has introduced “high speed football”...from English football
And we love the fans of England because we hate the players who fall down after a small touch. In England the players do not do that because of the fans. They would boo that player at once.
Besides, I don’t want to focus on the football relationship between England and Germany. We both know if the two teams play against each other Germany will always win a penalty shootout.PW: Haha, we certainly wish we could take penalties half as well!
You mention that Germany has so many good players at the moment. Do the most exciting young players share anything in their past education (from the time before they turned professional) that you believe has been especially helpful in their development?FW: I think our system of duty for clubs to get their licence - which means first and second division clubs must have a [DFB-accredited] youth academy - combined with the DFB’s scouting system and talent development system all play a part.
Sow well, harvest well
The DFB introduced new ideas into both talent recruitment and talent development in 2000 and, as Lao Tzu Wormuth will tell you, “sow well, harvest well”.PW: How prescriptive has the DFB been in determining how young players are coached - for example, is there a similar development philosophy in grassroots youth teams and in elite youth teams?
FW: No, the DFB doesn’t have a special prescriptive way.
In our coach education courses we show them the normal methodology. We give all the coaches an idea of good coaching, we show them in a lot of exercises how they could coach. In that regard, we have a similar education system to all European countries.
We have a similar education system to all European countries.
But because of having a lot of professional coaches in the youth academies, and professional coaches in our DFB youth development system, we think that we confront a lot of coaches with coaching.
Many coaches in Germany can earn [full-time] money by coaching a team and so they have enough time to develop themselves and their players.
If you confront yourself all day long with football you´ll be better automatically and in the end the players will be better too.
Coaches in Germany...have enough time to developPW: The development of players between the ages of 17 and 21 is a matter of great discussion in England. Based on your experience with the U20 players in Germany, how important do you believe it is for young players to play competitive matches?
Most of my U20 players train with the first senior team - Bundesliga - but play in the reserve team, in the fourth league. There are only a handful who feel particularly happy at the moment.
It would be better for young players to be loaned out.
In my opinion, it would be better for young players to be loaned out to teams in the second or the third division so that they get the opportunity to train under professional circumstances and play competitive matches at a high level as well.PW: So, rather than a talented young player training with world-class players every day but rarely playing, they would reach a higher level by playing more competitive matches - even if this means they train day-to-day with lower-ability players?
It’s a good question and if I knew the answer I could make a lot of money!
In Germany we have a Bundesliga [a separate first division] for U17 to U19 players. This is a further way to get experiences on a high level.
But in the end they’ll have to train with the senior teams of the Bundesliga, have patience by sitting on the bench and use the chance when they play.
Coaches in the Bundesliga have confidence in their young players.
Everything depends on the player himself but we have to give him the chance.
At the moment head coaches in the German Bundesliga have confidence in their young players and their players are paying that confidence back.Photo Credit: DFB/Flickr