Youth Soccer “Creating the Passion”
In the ‘up close and personal’ segments of both the men’s and women’s world cup interviews one glaring point was made by each and every star player. They all learned to ‘love to play soccer’ when as children they played pickup games (backyard soccer) in their neighborhoods. Is it possible to create this type of environment in the United States? The answer is a resounding YES!!!
We can begin our national ‘passion’ development player program by considering the following points:
- OUR PLAYERS ARE CHILDREN. The dictionary says, “Children are young persons of either sex and at any age less than maturity; persons in the process of developing both physically and mentally.”
- OUR PLAYERS ARE LEARNERS. We need to teach our players to create their own playing environment. That is we need to teach in a manner so that they can learn to ‘love to play soccer’.
- CHILDREN LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES. Players learn from errors made – if the coaching is done correctly both verbally and physically. It is crucial that coaches turn player errors into a positive learning situation. The player’s self-confidence should not be affected by mistakes that are made when playing soccer. Note this comment about professional soccer, “it is a game played by 22 error prone, overpaid juveniles .. who are surrounded by 80,000 mistake-free, perfect, expert spectators.”
- CHILDREN LEARN THROUGH POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT. When improvement does not take place immediately the child will not sense failure unless you show a negative reaction. Take the approach of ‘being a positive influence.” Reward players with a positive comment, a pat on the back or simply a smile .. but, only when they serve one!
- CHILDREN COME TO PRACTICE – TO PLAY!
- DUPLICATE THE EXCITEMENT OF THE LEAGUE GAME IN PRACTICE.
- ALL GAMES MUST INCLUDE TWO GOALS.
- ALL GAMES MUST INCLUDE SHOTS ON GOAL.
- CONSIDER THE PRESENT SKILL LEVEL OF YOUR PLAYERS.
- DUPLICATE YOUR GAME BEHAVIOR IN PRACTICE.
- VIEW YOURSELF AS A COACH/PARENT/TEACHER. When coaching, soccer, be as helpful, understanding and patient, as you are when teaching your child life skills such as reading and writing. You may be these players’ first and most influential coach/teacher. The stimulation and support you provide can instill a desire to play soccer for years to come. Please avoid just getting them ready for the next opponent. Instead prepare them for a life long enjoyment of playing the worlds’ most popular team game! You must begin by teaching your players to create their own environment focusing on the 1 vs. 1 game. Give them the tools (in practice) to experiment and fail their way to success. Teach them (in practice) to become independent and responsible for their own personal development. Then, give them the ‘homework assignment’ which is guaranteed to develop the passion that ‘star’ players have for our game – Play Backyard Soccer!
Editors Note: Your comments on how to develop ‘Passion’ for playing soccer – are welcome!