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Fundamental Soccer Blog

Part 1: Finding Love (Mentees)

Kudos to Koach Karl for his SOCCERevolution project. Instepper and its Instepper Mentoring Program are proud supporters and are doing our part to reduce soccer drop-out rates. To learn how to enjoy our 3-part “Love” series.

  • Part 1: Finding Love
  • Part 2: Staying in Love
  • Part 3: Love Isn’t Cheap

The Instepper Mentoring Program is a cross-aged mentoring program where high school-aged or college-aged players mentor younger players. The initial focus is on developing a sound and confident first-touch, the most important fundamental skill in soccer.

Puppy Love (roughly grades K-4 … ages 5-9)

This video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztksVi5Hct8) tells you all you need to know about the challenges of coaching your youth teams.

At any age, having FUN is the most important factor in reducing drop-out rates, especially at these ages. And let’s face it, many adult coaches are too far removed to know exactly what young kids find fun. Mentors, on the other hand, many of whom are only a few years from these players, have a much better idea of what fun is.

A youth player or team with an opportunity to learn from or practice with Mentors will likely develop a stronger bond with the older mentor(s) than their coaches. If there ends up being a bit of Puppy Love, where the mentee can’t wait to go to practice or training with their mentor, would that be all bad? I think not.

Falling in Love (roughly grades 5-8 … 10–14-year-olds)

There are hundreds of reasons why players fall in love with a sport. I will focus on the “Success” reason at individual and team levels. Success also plays a huge role in whether a player will continue to play soccer or “drop out.”

More players are likely to stay in soccer if they are good, get plenty of playing time, have confidence in their playing ability, and their team is competitive.

At this age, raw athleticism can still contribute mightily to a player’s or team’s on-field successes. But athleticism will only take players so far. However, developing and reinforcing solid fundamentals will lead to longer-term successes.

But developing/reinforcing fundamentals does have two (2) main obstacles.

  1. All organized team practices and games do not provide enough reps for players, no matter how good the coach is. Players must find more time on their own or with friends and, if nothing else, play more!
  2. Working on fundamentals can be extremely boring.

This is where Mentors can play a huge role in players’ fundamental development.

Mentors …

  • Make working on fundamentals FUN.
  • Motivate players to improve on their own and encourage accountability.
  • Reinforce proper mechanics.
  • Assign FUN homework/home play activities.
  • Empathize with the challenges young players go through (having recently gone through similar challenges themselves).
  • Instill the love/appreciation for working on FUNdamentals (i.e., other sports, academics, careers, etc.).

Better FUNdamentals will lead to better players, leading to more success for players and their teams. This will hopefully reduce the dropout rates.

Koach Karl’s Notes:

Thank you, Coach Kos, for sharing valuable insights on mentoring in soccer to help prevent the unacceptable dropout rate of players! Your article highlights the importance of mentors in fostering a love for the game at different age levels.

Dear Reader, I’d love your thoughts and experiences on this topic. Please continue the conversation and support the SOCCERevolution in creating positive experiences for young players so they will stay in the game for a lifetime! ⚽️🤝 #SoccerMentoring #ShareYourThoughts

Alex Kos
Alex Kos

After decades of playing, coaching, refereeing, inventing, and being obsessed with the first-touch, Alex started Instepper, a multi-faceted program on a mission to improve soccer, reinvent fundraising, and most importantly, inspire young players to invest in their futures so that they can Change the World. Learn more about Instepper, the Instepper Mentoring Program, and the importance of the first-touch at www.instepper.com. Get in step with Instepper today!

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