Episode One – Hollandia’s Technical Philosophy with Percy Hoff

A messages from Hollandia President, Bart Voswinkel:

Around this time of year we normally count down the days we can go outside and kick a ball around. We wish the snow away and for green(ish) fields and sunny days.

Even in these difficult times, it’s in our nature to think positively and hope our children can still get outside and enjoy the beautiful game with their friends this spring and summer.

The Hollandia board and our coaching staff, mostly parents like yourselves, have taken the opportunity to plan and improve our world-class programming for the months ahead. We think it is important that we engage our parents and give them the opportunity to understand our club’s values, culture and most importantly, our methodology.

With that in mind our Director of Coach and Player Development Percy Hoff is kicking off a series of easy-to-read articles explaining the elements of our technical programs.

We hope you enjoy it.

On behalf of everyone at the club, we appreciate your continued support and we hope to see you on the field soon.



Step one in building a successful soccer club is the need for a philosophy that all club members understand and align themselves with. We will look at our philosophy and how it impacts on and drives club culture, which can be simply defined as “The way we do things around here.” There are two main areas of philosophy that are important to understand: Our playing philosophy and our developmental philosophy.

In this episode, we will focus on Hollandia’s playing philosophy. Generally, there are two ways of approaching the game. In one model, play is very direct and is dependent largely on the physical prowess of the players. In the other model, the main emphasis is on the technical and tactical ability of the players, where the physical aspect is somewhat less important.

In Britain, some Scandinavian countries, and in North America, a no-nonsense style of soccer is typically employed. Attacks are built on direct long balls over the defense, usually bypassing the midfielders entirely.

In the Latin and Continental European game, the players aren’t necessarily as tall or as strong. The style of play is a possession-oriented method of playing, with lots of passing. Players are trained to be technically advanced, rather than maintaining strict positional discipline and relying on physical activity. Just think Messi, Aguero, David Silva, Marta, and Miedema, etc.

The above is admittedly a simplification, as some analysts have defined up to six playing styles, but for the purpose of understanding youth amateur soccer development, it will suffice

Hollandia’s philosophy is born out of the soccer culture and philosophies of two countries, Brazil and The Netherlands, where during the early 1990s, I spent a great deal of time learning about youth development and effective coaching.

Our philosophy is therefore built around a possession-based game, where the emphasis is placed on the technical and tactical ability of the players. In clubs that value the direct game (often driven by a focus on winning) the bigger, faster players are always selected ahead of smaller and more technical players. Our preferred style is to build up from the back as often as possible, rather than having the goalkeeper kicking the ball deep into the opponent’s half.

The long ball into the other half most frequently leaves one striker trying to win the ball from three of four defenders, which is a low-percentage option at best.

Direct, physically-dominant teams will be trained to play in that manner. We aim to train our players by emphasizing skill, regardless of physical attributes. This is especially important because no one can accurately predict how a player will develop, what they will look like after puberty, and how their bodies and mentalities will adapt.

In summary, we are looking to develop players, in all divisions, who have good ball control, are comfortable with the ball, who make great decisions, and importantly (because possession of the ball is key) will fight to win the ball back immediately when it is lost.

In the next installment: Hollandia’s developmental philosophy.



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