Horst Wein

On Sunday February 14th 2016, Horst Wein, one of the most formative coaches in the history of the

game, passed away. The first time I heard of Horst Wein was about 17 years ago while in Milan visiting family.

I received a book as a gift, written in Italian about coaching youth players. I was very appreciative of the gift as I was coaching youth players at that time and in full quest of soccer knowledge.

The book was very engaging, and presented a different approach to coaching from what I had been taught in the various soccer coaching courses I attended. It was later, to my surprise, that I realized that the book was written by a German gentlemen by the name of Horst Wein.

I met him many years later in Toronto at a coaching workshop where he was the main speaker. As a new coach, I was inexperienced, confused, and on the look out for the best methodology to adopt to teach soccer to youth players.

Thinking back on how I learned to play soccer, I could definitely relate to Horst Wein's approach and development philosophy.

I learned the game by playing the game, in the streets with no coaches or parents. As children, we played the game for hours on end, and learned to solve the game's problems on our own.

We played endless small sided games and spent countless hours kicking the ball against a wall, learning how to strike it, and control it with both feet, all with no coaches.

His approach to player development puts playing the game in the forefront as a way to develop the cognitive aspect of players. He integrates “corrective exercises” to help the development of proper technique.

One other important aspect of this plan, is using an appropriate-age group game format that would progressively bring young players to the 11v11 game format.

The following are some of the key points of Horst Wein's development model:

  • DEVELOP THE A-B-C OF AGILITY, BALANCE, AND COORDINATION through multilateral games and activities, especially from the younger ages (before 7 years of age). This is crucial for their technical development.

  • SKILL AND CREATIVITY IS BEST AQUIRED THROUGH SMALL -SIDED SIMPLIFIED GAMES such as 1v1, 2v1, 2v2, 3v2 and 3v3 etc. They include most of the individual and collective elements of play and gradually help develop their understanding of the game and their decision making process.

  • AGE-APPROPRIATE COMPETITIONS. Contrary to popular belief, the game of soccer is not a simple game. There are many tactical decisions to be made in the complex adult game. Having an age-appropriate, step by step approach to learning and experiencing the game will bear more fruit than rushing children as young as 11 years of age into the adult game. Also, children before the age of 14, usually haven’t experienced their growth spurt yet and are very small to be playing on a full size pitch. The distances young players must run on a full size pitch involves too much anaerobic activity which is unhealthy at this age.

The following is the game format recommended for the various age groups:

¨ Multilateral games primarily before the age of 7

¨ 7/8/9 years = 3v3 on four goals (FUNino)

¨ 10 years = 5v5

¨ 11/12 years = 7v7

¨ 13 years = 8v8

¨ 14+ years = 11v11



Also, the coaching approach is different from the traditional command style coaching. Here are some of the key points in his coaching methodology:

  1. The coach should emphasize development more than results!

  2. He should know and respect the rights and needs of his players (see Horst Wein Model) at each age group and also their individual needs.

  3. He should have a good knowledge of the game of soccer and the appropriate curriculum for the age group he is working with.

  4. He should act fairly and evenly with all the kids under his care to help all of them reach their full potential.

  5. He should use words and actions of encouragement towards the players, creating an enjoyable and friendly environment for them to blossom.

  6. He should use less instruction and more active learning, empowering the players through giving them responsibility and welcoming their opinions.

  7. He should use games more than drills in training, so that the game itself becomes the teacher.

  8. He should use the Guided Discovery method of learning with his young players, employing more questions/problems which they must answer/solve for themselves. This ensures greater participation and attention, deeper knowledge of the game and greater retention of lessons learnt, helping to create decision-makers on the pitch.

  9. He should be able to use different games/variables/progressions in training to keep his players interested and ensure steady progress, always challenging the players, but not overstretching them, so they develop in a continuous experience of success.

  10. He will need a lot of patience and perseverance, bearing with the foibles of young growing children, and allowing them to develop steadily and naturally. He will also need the moral courage to defend his players against the pressures from the other adults who demand more than is fair from the players, especially with regards to results.


The following is a series of interviews of Horst Wein on his views on player development.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

FUNino is a three a side game. This is an abbreviation of Futbol a la medida del Nino or basically football designed for children, part of the Horst Wein Youth Football Model. This model is used in Spain and has been called the revival in “street football.” The game is aimed at the 7-9 year age, but it works well with 10-11 year olds.

It is a 3-a-side game played on a small field 30m x 25m with two small goals, old measurements of 5 foot by 4 foot. At each end is a 6m scoring zone. The players experience frequent repetitions of important game situations, not just those set by the coach and this enables them to learn and master them. Obviously there is scope for the coach to intervene and improve players where necessary using open ended questions to get the players to think. The two wide goals encourages peripheral vision. Each team has a squad of 4 players. Every time a goal is scored one player in a preset order is substituted. As the game is 3-a-side there are no set positions so the players learn to play the game and not a certain position. There are many pre-game exersises which encourages many skills and team play opposed and unopposed.

(The length of matches can be what you want. It is not set at 9 minutes.)