Lennard Visman is the Coaching Director for Dutch Total Soccer NY. DTS, which operates out of Aviator Sports & Events Center in Brooklyn, offers classes, team training, soccer camps, runs an indoor co-ed recreational league for players between the ages of 5-10 and since this fall the DTS Academy teamd joined the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League. Visman joined DTS in March 2010.
Tell us a little about your background.
I am from Laren, a small town in Holland. It’s about a 20-minute drive outside of Amsterdam. Growing up, I mostly played soccer, but I also played tennis and took karate lessons. I attended a college in the small city of Hilversum, majoring in Sports Instruction at the CIOS, with a background in Sports Business and Physical Education.
What first brought you to New York City?
An old soccer coach of mine from Laren was working for DTS in Somerset, New Jersey. He invited me to come to America to work as a coach in 2010. Shortly after, DTS wanted to expand into New York. I saw that there was a lot of opportunity in New York and wanted to be a part of it.
What was youth sports like where you grew up and how was that different from youth sports in the US and specifically in NYC?
In Holland, sports are very well organized. Clubs use professional coaches and the sports facilities are very well taken care of. Each club has a club houses – with locker rooms, cafes, often a bar and lounge area – and there is a huge social factor to it. You are not just a member of a team, but you belong to a club and clubs are a huge binding factor in many towns in Holland. After games or practices, everyone hangs out together at their club house, young and old people get together. There is no separation between youth and grownup clubs. Everyone is playing for the same club.
This is a big difference that all clubs in Holland are for both youth and grown-ups. The goal of each club is to develop young talented players that will eventually play in the men’s first team of the club. Even for the older players (40+) there are competitive leagues. In America, a huge part of the sports system is built on school/college sports. In Holland it’s solely built on the local clubs. In school we have physical education, but there is no competition between schools or anything that looks like it.
In Holland soccer is by far the most popular sport, but there are more sports in Holland in which we compete worldwide in the top level. Popular sports are swimming, field hockey, tennis, speed skating, volleyball, judo and more. Sports are very important.
There are so many youth soccer programs in NYC. What should parents consider when choosing the best program for their children?
There are a couple of important things to consider. Coaching is in my eyes very important. A coach has to give your child the tools to work with and the freedom to develop their talents/skills. Also you should be looking for an appropriate level. You want your child to be playing on a level where he/she will be challenged.
How would you compare NYC youth soccer players to ones in Holland of the same age?
NYC soccer players are physically much stronger and further developed compared to Dutch players of the same age. In Holland I think the soccer players are further in developing soccer “smarts.” They show more creativity on the pitch.
Should young kids be heading the ball?
I find this a difficult question. With young children I think they should not be heading the ball. I never practice heading until the players are older, about 14 years and up.
What are some of your achievements at DTS that you are most proud of?
Starting a soccer club for DTS in Brooklyn is by far my biggest achievement. In New Jersey DTS is a training organization. We only coach teams from clubs in the area. Being able to start the DTS Academy is like a dream come true. Every coach wants their own teams.
Another big achievement is becoming the flight 2 Flight champion with one of the first teams I started working with here in America. Not necessarily because of winning the Flight, but because I started working with the team when it was in Flight 7, one of the lowest divisions, and in 2 years’ time we moved up to Flight 2 and just before the boys started playing for the high school we won the Flight 2.
What are the particular challenges of doing what you do in NYC?
I don’t really see any challenges; I see a lot of opportunities. There is an enormous group of talented young soccer players here in NYC and I can only say we are here to help develop this talent.
What is the Dutch Total Soccer method?
The Dutch philosophy of coaching is founded on the premise that the player’s ball control and tactical development will receive top priority in training. Players will be constantly challenged to achieve individual and team goals.
An important part of the training method is decision making. We don’t tell our players they have to pass or have to do this or that, players will begin to know what to do, when to do it and how to do it at the technical and tactical speed that is required in the modern game and make their own decisions. If you keep telling players everything before they think themselves they won’t be able to make decisions themselves in a game.
When you look at the setup of training sessions we always make sure all or most players are moving, touching the ball and are practicing. We try to stay away from the static regimented training environment that most players experience today.
Many believe that younger kids should play as many sports as possible. However, with the advent of year-round travel sports there is often not time for them to play more than one. What are your thoughts about kids specializing in one sport at a young age?
Playing different sports is definitely important in developing a child’s motor skills, coordination and in finding out what they truly like. Finding the sport that you are crazy about is what it’s all about. If, however, soccer is the only sport a young person wants to play then I see nothing wrong with that. Good physical education in schools is in my eyes where a huge part of the development of children’s coordination, motor skills and injury prevention should be. If besides that you play different sports that is of course a good thing.
You must have lots of great stories from your years working with kids. Tell us about one that inspired you.
When I was still working in New Jersey we received a request from a girl who wanted to set up a soccer program for children with special needs. Together with some of the coaches and this young girl we started an eight-week class for children with Autism with the support of the Somerset County Park Commission’s Therapeutic Recreation department. The class was a great success and it was very inspiring seeing the joy expressed by all children who attended the class
What was the best advice you got from a coach?
Always work at 100% and keep believing in yourself. You are the only one that can make yourself a better soccer player.
Do you still play soccer yourself?
As much as possible I try to keep playing. Last summer I played in New Jersey with the U23 DTS summer team for college players.
What is your most treasured sports possession?
I kept the jersey I wore when I made my debut in for the men’s first team of my soccer club Laren ’99. I was 17 years old and I was playing with the team I always dreamed about playing for.
Favorite NYC team (any sport)?
New York Red Bulls
What is your favorite sports venue in New York City and why?
I would have to say the Red Bulls arena. I haven’t been to a lot of other sports venues, but the Red Bulls arena is a beautiful soccer stadium. The only downside is that it’s not sold out most of the time
Favorite sports book?
500 Days in South Korea, written by Guus Hiddink, a famous Dutch soccer coach, about his experiences with the Korean National team.
Favorite sports movie?
Best sports memory (involving you as a player or a spectator)?
Holland making it to the World Cup final in 2010. Unfortunately they lost, but for such a small country it is an outstanding achievement to make it so far.
As a player I made my debut as a captain of the men’s first team of the soccer club I played for in Holland. I was the youngest captain in the club history.
If you’re not out coaching or playing sports what do you enjoy doing?
I love the outdoors. I like going for hikes upstate NY and exploring the area over there. Besides that in my daily life here I like watching a movie, going to a concert, going out for some good food or a comedy show.See more New York Sports Connection articles
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