Hard Work and Practice Are (Still) More Important Than You Think.

You can search high and low, but you will never find a magic potion to replace the practice it takes to become a master pianist.

Your fingers touching the keys, over and over and over again, is required to become world class.

There is no ‘easy button’ that you can press that will bring you to center stage at Carnegie Hall. And there is certainly not a cheat code you can deploy that will make beautiful music reverberate throughout the room and earn you a standing ovation.

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of the book Outliers, made the 10,000-hour "rule” commonplace like "no running on the pool deck" or "don't chew with your mouth open." Even without his book and his rule, it has been well-understood and widely accepted that if you want to be great at something - you need to practice. A lot.

Since releasing his book and making the “rule” famous, many people have challenged his rule and have proven that practicing something for 10,000 hours doesn't always guarantee you success. Even Gladwell had to clarify that just practicing isn't enough. There are also matters of circumstance beyond your control that will affect you.

Besides sticking a needle in the 10,000-hour balloon, some have taken that idea and adapted it or improved it.

For example, instead of 10,000 hours, someone morphed that into the idea of 10,000 experiments.

And you can boil that down to… how often are you pushing the limits of what you think is possible?

This is all great stuff, but I don’t play piano or work in a lab. I’m here for soccer.

I understand.

Give me a little bit of slack here before you try to reel me in, though.

Let’s look at a simple experiment that you can relate to soccer.

How many different ways can you get the ball off the ground?

Go try. I’ll wait...

Okay, how many? 3? 5? 7? 10? More?

Now, let's think about this a little deeper. How much time do you spend tinkering with the ball? How often are you experimenting with new techniques? How often are trying and failing/succeeding?

If you are indeed experimenting…

  • What roadblocks are you running into?

  • What do you need to improve?

  • Can you do it with both feet?

  • Did you do it successfully more than once?

  • Did you do it successfully five times in a row?

  • Five days in a row?

  • Against a teammate at practice?

  • In a real game?

And if you’re not experimenting, how do you expect to be the best?

Do you think you’re just going to magically do this in a game?


Being able to do these types of things comes from 1) a lot of practice (probably a lot more than 10,000 hours) and 2) a lot of tinkering, experimenting, and finding out what you can actually do (this should happen outside of your regularly training environment).

Zico Bailey did this in the park...

Train like a G, play like a G! 😎 pic.twitter.com/7U82z9FvsL

— John Pranjić (@ThatCroatianGuy) August 15, 2018

A week later he did this in a game...

I apologize for this ✋🤚 pic.twitter.com/kO8uAPYnIG

— Zico (@ZicoBailey1) August 15, 2018

The bottom line here is that nothing will ever replace the hard work, practice, and tinkering that you need to do in order to become really, really good at something.

Three More Tips For Starting A Podcast

I'm going to tell you three more things about podcasting that will give you a massive head start.

Well, not a massive head start. But, when I learned these tricks they all made life a lot easier. And these are the kinds of tips you're probably looking for if you're thinking about starting a podcast. Or if your new show is still in the infant stage.

**Disclaimer** This information is for people with an idea and a desire to start a show from scratch with very little or no experience at all in audio content creation. If you're a professional radio disc jockey, you can stop here.

Alright, here we go...

1) Create a "Master Track" and fill in the blanks each time you produce an episode.

If you've listened to some of my original episodes you might remember hearing the ringing of the Skype call, lack of intro and outro music, and a very unprofessional sounding show throughout.

What a train wreck!

If I would have known that creating a "Master Track" would have allowed me to piece together my work and create a very sophisticated sounding show I would have been doing that from day one.

Now I know. Now you know. And now you can.

See the image below for how I break up my show for editing purposes. This particular episode was a "best of" type show. Hence, all the chopped up pieces in the interview section. Usually, this would be one long and uncut track. Or two tracks, if it was recorded in person using two microphones.

2) Use the mute button and shut the hell up!

This one seems like a no-brainer. It took me awhile to really figure out the art of muting, though. You can hear big differences in my interviews with Hugo Perez and Bob Bradley.

The biggest difference between those two episodes? Less background noise when I interviewed Bob. For example, as Bob talked, I listened for long, long periods of time with my microphone muted. I actually made coffee while Bob was answering one question. I also had my two 110 pound dogs in the room with me. And you would have never known that.

During my chat with Hugo, you can hear my dogs. You can also hear me typing my follow up questions and thoughts as they were popping into my head while he was talking. How lame, huh?

That's why muting is so important.

You'll also find out that muting your own microphone prevents you from interrupting your guests unnecessarily. Talking over guests was such a bad habit of mine when I first got started. It wasn't until I learned the art of muting, and picked up some tips on asking questions, that the episodes started to get a lot better. 

This is another reason why the episode with Bob was so great (to me). He spilled his freaking guts out! And when there was a pause in the conversation, he took it upon himself to break the awkward silence and keep going with even more information. That was 100% by design on my part. And it's a tactic that you should try to use, too.

3) Ask interesting questions that other people aren't asking. And learn from people outside of your field.

You should 100% be listening to the mainstreamers in your field that are all asking same lame ass questions. Then, you should be asking different and more interesting ones. And you should also be listening to other experts in other fields and learning what and what not to do as well.

One of the most interesting things Gary Kleiban said when I interviewed him at his house came after I asked him the question "What rules have you broken when building 3FOUR3?"

First off, I thought that was a great question that soccer people just aren't asking. Ever. 

Secondly, Gary said he doesn't think that he's broken any rules at all. He's just used tactics in his field of work that other people aren't using. And that he has learned these alternative tactics from other industries. And that is fucking genius!

Gary is one of my mentors, so it shouldn't be a surprise that this tactic of his is what I eventually learned and deployed myself. That's how I found that question about rule breaking actually. I stole it from a different podcaster who has a show totally opposite of mine. And this sort of thing is exactly what you should be doing when you start your podcast.

Scour the internet for interviews of all different sorts and take notes on what you like and don't like. Watch old Larry King interviews. Listen to interviews of politicians that were having their feet held to the fire by journalists asking incredibly uncomfortable questions during times of economic downturn or scandal. Watch, or read translations, of foreign post-game press conferences to see how media in other countries treat athletes and coaches. Check out something way out of your world, like Howard Stern or Oprah.

Question asking is an art. And I'm nowhere near a master. But studying some masters or some historic interviews just before some of my biggest interviews has helped my confidence and creativity tremendously.

Again, I have to remind you that I am not a pro. But if you're reading this, you're probably not either. And you're probably going to hit the same speed bumps and road blocks that I did. Hopefully, these tips will help you hit the ground running and keep you moving forward. 

Good luck with your show! And if you have a question, drop me a line in the comment section. Someone else is probably wondering the same thing that you are.


Are You Thinking About Starting a Podcast? Here Are Some Tips.

Do you have something to say? Is there a topic that isn't being talked about that you think deserves more attention? Should you start a podcast?

The answer is yes. 

But how the heck do you do it? 

Well, as you'll see below, I don't have all of the answers. I have made a ton of mistakes since starting my show two years ago. And because of that trial and error, error, error cycle I've gone through... I do have some tips to offer that can help you hit the ground running.

So if the thought of starting a podcast has entered your brain, even for a second, you're probably going to get a kick out of this email I sent to someone who reached out to me with questions about starting a show of their own.

Email to a future podcaster:

"Yo [persons name]!

Hope things are well my man.

All good questions. Let's see if I can help.

1) You should definitely start small. Maybe even a recording with an assistant coach or personal friend. It doesn't have to be published. But, you have to find out if this is right for you. I learned quickly that this is not easy and it is not rewarding.

When it comes time to approach any guest, big or small, you want it to be quick and easy. Here is an example from a recent invitation I sent:


My name is John Pranjic. I host the 3four3 Podcast. 

[Insert club/business/team name here] has a great story that more people need to hear. Which is why I am interested in having [persons name] on the show.

Previous guests include Bob Bradley, Alexi Lalas, and Eric Wynalda. You can find even more episodes on 343coaching.comor 3four3 FM on iTunes.

If [persons name] is interested in joining me for an episode, please reach out to me and we can discuss more details and schedule something. 

Thank you for your time and good luck as you continue to build!"


2) Personally, I have enjoyed Soundcloud the best. For technical reasons, Gary and I have chosen not to use it, but if it were my choice, that's where I would still be. Once you've uploaded an episode to Soundcloud, it can then be distributed to iTunes or Stitcher or other podcasting hubs. This is done via the RSS feed. Basically, you'll have a home base where you upload and store your episodes and iTunes (or others) will just pull the information. You will never physically upload to iTunes or change anything there. 

3) Pre-interviews can be done in a couple of different ways...

  1. When I first started doing this I would email the guest a TON of questions beforehand. This served two purposes: helped me prepare and helped them prepare. What I noticed is that no one gave a shit about the questions I emailed. So, I stopped doing that. I've now come up with a list of standard questions that I tend to ask in every interview and if a guest requests information prior to recording I will send that document to them. I now compile questions/topics/thoughts/links in Google Docs for each interview that help me prepare, but the guests never see that.
  2. Just before you start recording, or maybe in a phone call days or weeks leading up to the episode, you can have a short conversation and brief them about topics you'd like to touch on. One thing I always like to ask is, "Is anything is off-limits?" Most of my guests are bold, and they don't give a fuck, so it's no holds barred. I have had several guests request to stay away from certain topics, though. (I've noticed that I can dance around the topic... and if I get them close enough... they'll dive in)

4) Equipment is easy at first. 

  • Use your iPhone or smartphone to record a few short topics. Again, this is making sure you're cut out for it. No sense in investing in equipment if you're going to be selling it on Craigslist a few months later. 
  • Once you get to the next level, do a quick google search for USB microphones. I ended up with an Audio Technica ATR 2100.
  • I record and edit in Garageband on my MacBook Pro.
  • I conduct all of my interviews on Skype, and use a third party app called Call Recorder. That will automatically create a file that can be dropped in Garageband for editing.

I think that's enough to get you started. Learning and mistakes are part of the fun! I can't tell you all of the secrets :)"


Hopefully, this little bit of information helps you. If you have more questions, leave a comment below and I'll answer it where everyone else can see. 


Ted Talks... And We Should Listen.

If you follow Ted Westervelt (@soccerreform) on Twitter, you know he has a lot to say.

The problem with Twitter is that it's limiting. And when any topic is restrained, value can sometimes be lost. But when the format changes from 140 characters to unlimited spoken words... all of the sudden things start to look, and sound, differently.

About a year ago I spoke with Ted for the first time. It was quite shocking to find out just how much information he has on demand. Each question asked received several minutes worth of detailed answers. The second time we spoke was no different. Both very good experiences that I learned a lot from.

While in San Diego for the 3four3 Winter Player Camp, I broke away for an hour to Skype with Ted. Honestly, it was a bit of a bait and trap. Gary really wanted Ted on as a guest. Ted really wanted Gary to join him on the show. So I set it up that Gary was actually in the room with me as I recorded, along with Joey Cascio, but neither participated in the conversation. It was just Ted and I.

(My next mission is to actually get them both on at the same time.) 

So what did Ted and I talk about this time? A lot.

Promotion and relegation is the hottest topic in American soccer, by far. Evidenced by the fact that the mainstream media folk are now mentioning it just to stir up interest in whatever other bullshit topics they're trying to talk about on their platforms.

Ted and I spent our time discussing little bits about a number of topics. So many topics that Ted agreed to come back on the show in the future to dive much deeper into some of the things we discussed. So start here, and expect more in the future.

Real Talk- Part 1

Several months ago I threatened to start recording phone calls between Gary Kleiban and myself. The words were too good to disappear without ever being heard by anyone else. And honestly, the idea of recording was actually well received by Gary and I've shamefully missed out on capturing some great conversations between him and I. 

Thankfully, I finally decided to hit the big red button and record something. And I am glad I did.

This particular conversation included Kephern Fuller following his most recent trip to Europe. If you're wondering what Kephern was up to in Europe... start here.

If you're already in the know, or too anxious and want to eat this raw... scroll just a bit more and press play to listen to part 1 of a candid conversation between Kephern Fuller, Gary Kleiban, and I. 

Tuesday. Almost Noon.

I'm currently sitting in a Starbucks editing quite possibly the best episode of the #3four3podcast to date. And I frantically remembered I had made a half-assed promise to elaborate on my post from yesterday. So here it is...

At the highest levels of the game, things are not happening at random. Barcelona makes it look unpredictable. But it is actually a multitude of choreographed sequences and actions.

It's not unpredictable at all.

It's options! It's pre-rehearsed options.

So a coach that is letting his center midfielder just operate on the fly is actually enabling true randomness and stunting true and meaningful development.

It's Noon on a Monday.

Around this time, I've had my morning coffee and a small bite to eat. I've surfed some of the waves on internet. By now I've had a million things come and go in this manic mind of mine. I'm lucky to have done anything truly productive. So I decided to change that and write some quick thoughts. 

Today there is one theme that has reappeared several times already. And must I remind you, it's only noon on a Monday. 

Some call it 'guided discovery'. Some call it coaching. I call it criminal.

A conversation was had recently with a parent about a particular player on his daughters club team. By far, the smartest, and in my opinion, best player on the team.

She is the conductor to the orchestra.

But she isn't coached. She is expected to conduct with no direction.

Part of the conversation I had with this parent was that it's criminal that this conductor isn't being taught. She is the best player on her team, therefore she is left alone to work her magic while other players reap the rewards of having a creative mind pulling the strings in the center of the field. This conductor is left to do as she pleases. Quite simply because the coach does not know how to coach her.

This, my friends, is a problem.

And maybe I'll jump back on here tomorrow around noon and discuss how I'd solve this problem.


Kephern Fuller [PODCAST]

Two things really stood out to me during my chat with Kephern Fuller. 

1) Flavor

2) Counter-culture

Listen to this episode of the 3four3 Podcast and hear Kephern describe how his plans to get American soccer players on European soil without help from Sunil Gulati and the rest of the U.S.S.F. crew.

Jason deVos Interview

Jason deVos was very generous with his time and spent over an hour on the phone with me talking about a number of different topics. We touched on youth and professional levels discussing subjects that cross the blurred soccer borders of U.S. and Canada.

Listen to our chat here: 

Also... don't forget to visit 343camps.com for information on the next 3four3 player camp. 

Tom Byer [PODCAST]

This episode of the 3four3 Podcast was brought to you by 3four3 Camps. A legit, non-daycare soccer camp for serious soccer players in the United States. Click the link below to get more info and to sign up for the 3four3 Winter Camp:



I won't waste your time with a lengthy write up about Tom.  Just scroll down and click play. Listen to what Tom Byer has to say. He's legit. Then, come back here and click the appropriate links to learn more about everything you heard on this episode of the 3four3 podcast.

Where can you find Tom? Well, start with these...

Twitter: @tomsan106  Website: tomsan.com

Mastery or Misery [PODCAST]

This weeks podcast is unique in the sense that this is not new material. It is simply presented via a different medium and expanded upon by me with points that I feel are relevant to what many coaches encounter. Here are the original blog posts that I read during this podcast. They were created by Gary Kleiban and published on 3four3.com roughly two years ago:

Part 1- A Huge Mistake Well-Meaning Coaches are Making

Part 2- The Golden Rule To Team (And Player) Development

The challenge I present to you after listening to this weeks episode is to reflect on what activties you use as a coach and decide whether or not you are leading your team, and yourself, down a path to mastery or misery.

Dre Cordero Podcast + Show Notes

This is a serious soccer podcast. It has been made clear that we are not here to gossip about transfer rumors or waste your time. This is a nuts and bolts show. 

So you might be wondering why we'd bring on a guest like Andres Cordero, a broadcaster on beIN Sport, to talk to coaches? Well, it's simple. Dre has interacted with some of the most respected soccer minds and covered some of the worlds best games. He might not be the one pulling the strings from the sideline, but he watches and reports with a different style than many of the others out there. He is a big reason I tune into beIN Sport for soccer information instead of those bogus shows like Guys In Suits or whatever it's called.

Dre first caught my attention a couple of years back when he briefly mentioned the Chivas USA youth academy during one of his segments. As you'll hear me say in the podcast, my ears perked up, and I began to listen a bit more carefully to Dre as he had just scored major points by talking about a youth team on a professional soccer show. Bravo, sir!

During my chat with Dre we discussed his time covering the two World Cups, two Copa America's, and his interactions with some of the worlds top coaches. He also gives us some suggestions on which teams to keep our eye on in La Liga this year and tells us why La Liga is in fact the best league in the world at this moment! Plus... much more!


-Shortly after hanging up I sent him a message saying that I feel like I could have gotten more out of him if I would just dug a bit deeper. Totally my fault! But now I'm passing the baton to the 3four3 network! Find Dre on Twitter (@drecordero) and continue the conversation. Ask him some follow up questions. Grill this guy! You have my permission. (sorry, Dre)

-Look for Steve Amoia for some very valuable translations of excellent soccer content. You can find him on Twitter (@worldfootballcm) and from there link to his website. 

-I am working on putting together more information about "la pausa" for everyone. I had mistakenly said that there is a 3four3 blog post that discusses the topic. I was wrong. Thinking back now, I believe it was just a piece of a conversation that I had with Gary Kleiban at some point over the last few years. I'll do my best to come up with something soon and post it. 


Ryan Rich is the Director of Coaching at Alexandria Soccer Association. He is dedicated to implementing a playing style and philosophy throughout his club and has taken the necessary steps in order to get the ball rolling. I chose to interview Ryan because I feel like many of us coaches would relate to his story and daily routine. I hope you enjoy my chat with Ryan. Please retweet and share and also leave comments and give feedback about the podcast and what you'd like to hear in the future! Thank you for taking the time to listen and I appreciate your support. 


[NEW PODCAST] Kai Edwards

Kai Edwards, Director of Soccer Operations at Arizona State University, joined me for a chat about his time spent in Europe studying Dutch and Spanish football and how he's used that in the American college system. 



Hugo Perez Podcast

I mean this in the least offensive way... but here in the U.S. it is rare you come across a coach with the proper knowledge and passion required to help a team reach the highest level. I feel privileged to have interviewed Hugo Perez. He is a coach that possesses both of those qualities. I won't bore you with my own words in this short blog post. Please listen to Hugo and I chat about his philosophy and many other things spanning his entire playing and coaching career. As always, thank you for listening and sharing!

The Network.

As you probably know, the networks you belong to have massive influence on what opportunities are open and closed in the [soccer] world.

The more you network and communicate with others the more opportunities you will have.

Several years ago I attended an entrepreneur conference with my Business 101 class that I was taking at the local college. There, I had a chance to listen a self-made millionaire speak about a unique technique he used as a young, new business owner. He said, "Never be afraid to ask a millionaire to lunch." 

That advice stuck with me. 

To my knowledge, I've never had lunch with a millionaire but, I have had lunch with some pretty amazing people. Better yet, I've had interactions, conversations, and connections with people who have opened many new doors. 

Start building your network. And start building it now! Don't be anonymous. Don't be a silent follower. Don't be afraid to ask a millionaire to lunch. 



Conversations Must Be Had.

What I'm noticing more and more is that the communication from coach to... anyone... is shockingly poor. What is most shocking is the coach to coach communication, or lack thereof. 

Here are things on my mind at the moment... assuming you're lucky enough to have a coaching staff:

-How often do you meet with your staff away from the field? 

-How long do those meetings last? 

-What gets accomplished at those meetings?

Just a few questions for you to think about.


Copy Cat.

One very important lesson that I have learned in coaching is that it is extremely difficult to forge your own way.

It is also difficult to know who to copy, what to copy, and how to copy. The word copy has such negative connotations, but it's beyond applicable when it comes to developing your own coaching philosophy.

Eventually, your brand of soccer will be defined differently from your predecessors, but that could take years, or even decades for those of us who are only in the game part time.

The word 'steal' also has negative connotations. Again, it's applicable. And in the way I'm intending it to be interpreted, it's not even criminal. 

Watch a game on TV. Steal the ideas. Steal the movements. Steal the interactions. Steal the big picture. Copy what you like. Throw away what you hate.

Then... create!


Thirsty For Connections.

Over the weekend I visited Portland, Oregon. The trip was strategically planned around opening weekend of MLS and the Timbers having home game. I neglected buying game tickets until arriving in Portland for two reasons: 

1) To see how the CBA talks panned out

2) I wasn't sure if $50 was better spent at the bar across the street from the stadium or to actually sit and watch it live. I just knew I wanted to see/feel the excitement of being in Portland for their home opener. 

I spent the $50 on a ticket.

There was ZERO value from actually watching the game. ZERO. Seconds after kickoff- the launch fest ensued and my focus shifted to a more important facet of my trip. Networking.

Networking with people, like you, who I probably interact with on a regular basis via social media but have very little human interaction with. Prior to traveling I connected with several people via Twitter and planned some meet ups with like-minded coaches.

Friday- I sat an enjoyed a beer in the rare Portland sunshine with a young coach originally from So Cal. This was the first time I had met Sean Monaghan

Friday night- I met up with Christopher Cramer, guest from my very first podcast episode, to talk about his current season, the landscape of Portland soccer, and ideas for the future. I had recently met Topher in Los Angeles for the first time. Ironically, we had both planned a trip to watch Chivas USA, and unexpectedly got a chance to meet with Gary Kleiban (@3four3) for a five hour dinner following the game we attended.

Saturday in Portland was a doozie. I accomplished my other goal of trying a hefty amount of great North West beers, but Saturday night was the true treat. I met up with Porter. Not Caleb Porter, I met up with @PorterGTsoccer. He's a youth coach who lives a short drive from Portland. We communicated the day before and he ended up buying a ticket and to attend the Timbers game with my buddy and I. Prior to kickoff, we got a chance to chop it up at a couple different bars as we made our closer to the stadium. Once we were inside we realized our tickets were in separate sections, so we decided to take a chance and just sit where we saw open seats together. After getting the boot several times, we finally settled in about 3 rows up from field level behind the Real Salt Lake bench. Collectively... I'd say we watched about 5 minutes of the game.

Porter, my buddy, and I spent the entire match talking soccer, not watching the jungle ball in front of us.

Halftime rolled around and I waddled up the steps to track down Topher who said he'd be gathering with some other coaches from the area near the beer lines. The 15 minutes at halftime wasn't enough. We all stayed there, chatting soccer, and making connections, until about the 60th minute before all agreeing to part ways, and connect again via social media.

In my opinion- $50 for a match ticket well spent!

These connections are priceless. Putting faces to (Twitter) names is crucial. Developing these coaching relationships/friendships is 100x more important than anything else I could have possibly planned this trip.

Which leads me to this...

Survey results.

3four3 recently announced me as the point of contact for our upcoming Coaching Summit in Las Vegas this Summer. We asked you to fill out a survey. And there was overwhelming cry for networking opportunities, like mine this weekend, with like minded coaches and those pushing the limits. It is obvious that coaches are thirsty for conversations. Thirsty for connections. And not to brag, but bringing people together is sort of my expertise. 

So this is my promise to you. If you sign up, and you join 3four3 in Las Vegas this summer, you will not leave disappointed. You will have the conversations you're searching for and you will make the connections needed to help you progress as a coach long after the Las Vegas sunburn peels off. 


Portland Breweries Worth Visiting: Burnside, Basecamp, Cascade, Baerlic, Hair of the Dog**, Lucky Lab, Rogue, Tugboat, Apex (beer bar), Baileys (beer bar)

Portland Restaurants/Food Carts Worth Eating: Koi Fusion, Pok Pok, Pepper Box, Rocking Frog, Blue Star Donuts, Voo Doo Donuts, Hair of the Dog**, Bunk Sandwiches, and just about any other food cart you walk by!

Bars/Hangouts: River Pig, The Worst, Romtoms



The 3four3 [R]evolution w/ Gary Kleiban

Revolutionary people are few and far between these days. Why would anyone put themselves out there for criticism in this cruel and ugly world for little to no reward? Why would anyone want to be different? It takes balls. But more importantly- it requires a vision. And Gary Kleiban, founder of 3four3.com, has a vision. 

What is it? Dog eat dog!

The theme Gary kept circling back to in our hour long conversation was accountability. Why? That is the only way to promote pushing the envelope. The only way to achieve excellence is by holding feet to the fire. By putting himself out there via his blog, social media outlets, and podcasts like mine, Gary is holding his own feet to the fire. 

Listen to him as he discusses the beginning and evolution of the 3four3 product that is continuing to change the landscape of U.S. Soccer, as well as working alongside his brother Brian and what they are doing to smash through some of the road blocks as they try to reach the absolute highest level of this sport. 

Twitter: @3four3

Site: www.3four3.com