It seems like we are constantly searching for that secret element that guarantees maximum success for ourselves. We continuously seek that shortcut that gives us an advantage over other teams or countries.
In our quest to find the elusive answer, we read articles, magazines, and soccer books. We watch training films and videos; we observe other ‘successful’ coaches training sessions; we discuss with our peers; we attend coaching courses.
The more desperate seekers take more drastic measures by visiting other countries, preferably World Cup Champion winners, hoping to find the solution by osmosis. As usual, in all our efforts, we ignore the obvious.
Surely you have heard the often-quoted line, “The Game is the Best Teacher!’” How will the players discover the joy of soccer and improve if they sit at home watching television or playing computer games?
Soccer has enabled me to travel over a million miles domestically and internationally. I discovered through my international travels that the streets and sandlots of most of the world are where soccer players develop their skills and find the joy of playing the game.
I suggest that we look at the problems created when we insist on playing on strictly grass fields, many of which are without lights. These fields are often supervised by the local Parks and Recreation department, which has been known to force the cancellation of practices and games.
Reasons given by them for taking such drastic measures run the gamut from over-use to inclement weather. We cannot fault them for their actions since they are responsible for maintaining the fields. In other words, Parks and Recreation Departments are entrusted to look out for the grass!
In contrast, we (coaches, administrators, and parents) are entrusted to look out for the players! When it gets dark early, how can we develop players if they are given only short periods for training? Where can they play when grass fields are behind locked gates?
We do not need thousands of beautiful grass fields dotting the landscape. We need soccer complexes with many lighted dirt fields and maybe a grass field to be explicitly used for important games.
I took 25 players to the world-famous Tahuichi Soccer Academy in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, a few summers ago. My American players’ skill levels improved exceptionally rapidly. My players even suggested – If we had dirt fields back home:
- We would develop better skills.
- We would get tougher mentally and physically.
Before we build more soccer fields and complexes, why not do some logical thinking?
- Building more soccer fields is a significant investment.
- It’s worth considering alternatives to traditional grass fields.
- Dirt fields have been successful in developing international stars.
- It’s worth exploring the potential for dirt fields in our country.
What are your thoughts?
Thank you for reading this article and Sharing it with your soccer community.