Staring at a nondescript brick wall in the west of Amsterdam, a clue to the great English coaching conundrum stares you in the face. The wall is outside Dennis Bergkamp's childhood home, in a modest apartment block around the corner from a canal in Bos en Lommer. It was here that the young Bergkamp refined his technique with the kind of specifics that would not occur to most footballers. He worked his technique with such precision he would aim for a corner of a particular brick, time and again, with different pace and power and spin to see how it changed the ball's trajectory and challenged his ability to tame it.

It was fitting somehow that Bergkamp returned to this spiritual spot to talk about his philosophy. The pursuit of control in football inspires him as much today as a coach with Ajax as it did when he was on the pitch as a player trying to change games with a flawless moment. Control is so much his obsession that he is completely frank when he says he prefers the first touch that started any of his most memorable goals than the strike that finished them. Others might say that, but it is doubtful they really mean it. Bergkamp does. The glory, for him, is all about control and touch.

Can that be taught? "The basics for me is the first touch," he says, as if a perfect first touch is some kind of alchemy. "First touch in football is so important. If you talk about Mesut Özil people say he is not marked properly, he always has a lot of space but he has got that space because he can create space by his vision and his first touch. With that you create your own time."

It is quite an arresting concept, creating time with a moving ball. "Teach that to children," he says. "Do something with the ball, let it bounce, back, back, back against the wall, left, right, that's the main thing."

The business of establishing technique fascinates him. It is a subject he elaborates on in his illuminating book, Stillness and Speed. On the subject of how young players are "over-coached" nowadays, he becomes animated about getting the right balance between teaching young players, and allowing them freedom to express themselves.

"If I look at my coaches in the youth at Ajax, with all due respect they were two elderly men who would stand at the side of the pitch, shouting a few things," he says. "So in a way you create your own career, you create your own development, and that helps you later on. Whereas now there are a lot of coaches, everyone has got their badge, they all think they are Mourinho or Wenger, even with the 12- to 13-year-olds.

"They know exactly what to do, what kind of exercises they have to do with the kids, and in a way they don't have to think for themselves any more. It is all done for them. It's a problem because they don't think for themselves. If they get a new situation, they look to someone as if to say, 'What do I have to do now?' I believe that is over-coaching. It's too much. Let them have their freedom. You have to create the environment where they can be unique and not a clone."

Bergkamp is not a fan of the way youth football in England is results-orientated. "You have to win these games, so the coach is going to manage to win the game instead of developing the player. In my opinion it should be totally the opposite. Sometimes you put your strongest player on the bench just to let others shine. Or you put a right-footed player who can't do anything with his left on the left side and force him to use his left foot. Of course in that game you will probably lose because you don't use your strongest players in their strongest position, but in the end you have a player who used his left foot when he was 12 and 13 and 14, and he can use both feet when he comes into the first team. That's what we have at Ajax and I really stand behind that."

Bergkamp was in a way a reluctant coach. He found it difficult to adjust his thinking – a player used to the highest technical standards working with aspiring players who were not at his level. "I struggled a bit," he confessed. "You look at a player and think, 'Why can't you control that ball?' But you have to take a few steps back." He still enjoys demonstrating during coaching sessions, although he blushes and sounds slightly reproachful that he cannot be "explosive" any more.

"There are times not to coach," he says. "You have to be balanced to know that. The urge is to step in and show how good you are as a coach and show you know everything and you can tell them. Sometimes it is better to let them make a mistake. Sometimes they learn more from that than being told what to do."

Seeking out beauty and refinement in football still excites him. He sees it in Lionel Messi, obviously, but also picks out Özil, who is expected to be fit to face Norwich today, as a player he is particularly captivated by. Does he see some of himself in the German playmaker? "I do," says Bergkamp, with the caveat that he is not fond of comparisons. "The way he is finding his space, in his free role, and his first touch is fantastic. I really enjoy him. The main thing now is that he will bring more to Arsenal, and push them towards victories, towards trophies."

He reckons something has changed to make for "a different Arsenal" this season. "It looks fresh, sharp, a lot of good movement, it feels like – also because Mesut came – there is an awareness they can do something. Maybe that was the missing link."

While Bergkamp rules out a future in management, he has not been shy about his aim to one day be part of the coaching set up at Arsenal. English football still gets him to the core. The marriage of aesthetic and hectic is perfect in his eyes. "For me, that is beauty," he says. "I saw Arsenal against Spurs. The pace of the game was incredible. An hour later I watched a Dutch game, and there is no point. It was so slow. A lot of things are happening in English football, openings, the high pace, that is beauty too."

Dennis Bergkamp, Stillness and Speed (Simon and Schuster)