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Fundamental Soccer Blog


Coaches Rich Jablonski, Chris Sieber, and Scott Benbow, well-regarded in youth soccer, share their valuable insights in response to my article, ‘A BOLD STAND FOR CHANGE.‘ For their experiences and ideas on improving the future of youth soccer in a bold way …

Much of this phenomenon goes back to the primary driver in all youth sports, i.e., the overemphasis on competition instead of player development.

Most coaches, parents, and adults generally don’t need to wonder — they’ve seen it.

Beginning at an early age, kids are evaluated and effectively segregated by their perceived ability to win. To compound the felony, the same kids are selected Yearly for so-called elite teams. Once you’re in, you’re in. Once you’re out, you become monetized chips, whose parents continue to pay for their kids to play in the vain hope they’ll be recognized and promoted. After a few years, disillusionment and defection to other activities.

Karl wish I had actual answers, as opposed to just causes. I still have the “evaluation” that proclaimed my son too slow and not technical enough to play for the “elite” traveling” team that year. As years passed, my son was deemed fast and technical sufficient to play at the NCAA D1 level.

The funny thing about 10-year-olds is: They Mature On Their Own Timetables.

Most local club coaches don’t have the time or capacity to recognize the intangible qualities that keep a kid going or discourage him to the point of quitting. That takes the kind of crystal ball that most club coaches don’t have in the context of the pay-to-play model.

I believe the false “elitification” of youth soccer seems to drive kids away in this age range, not the application of a recreational label. It’s no coincidence that the start of middle school sports coincides with steep drops in club soccer participation. Families start to look hard at their “elite/ select” club team, with its $3K fees, regional travel for league games, and recurring hotel/airfare expenses.

For a lower-tiered team with players who are not likely to continue into college / professional ranks, the “juice” of playing competitive soccer is no longer worth the squeeze. Most kids around this age (12-14) who have been grinding it out in club soccer suddenly find a much more fulfilling and affordable alternative on their school’s football, soccer, track, and basketball teams.

The false elitification of youth soccer drives kids away due to high costs and demands, leading many to switch to school sports. –

I agree with your article that they are all competitive in some form.

When I coached stateside, the recreation teams all had uniforms, the games were still competitive, and the levels of ability were lower than those deemed competitive.

If it’s recreational, it should maybe be a pick-up game once a week, book on, come down, and have a social blast.

These last few months, I have been hearing grassroots coaches local to me talking about having development teams in their age groups. Mind you, this is u6 – u10. When I point out they are all developing & that even their best teams’ players struggle with ball manipulation, it seems to blow their minds.

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