Point & Counter-Point

The discussion began amiably when my FUNdamental SOCCER FB group received and posted the following…

(Point) Why is “playing time” even an issue in YOUTH soccer? Everyone should play as much as possible; otherwise, how will you get increased development across the board? In YOUTH soccer, focusing on just a few players based on arbitrary “skill levels” and “classification” and rewarding those with extra playing time is ludicrous and one of the main reasons US soccer sucks at the National and international levels.

(Counter-Point) It really depends on the type of soccer we are referring to. Are we talking about competitive travel soccer or just more of an intramural type? I get the comments to a point. However, there are starters for a team that’s expected to be competitive, and there are subs. That is how it works.

If it’s not a competitive situation, then sure, everyone gets to play equally. I coached travel soccer for many years. Kids and parents at a certain level expect that team to win or at least be competitive. So, some kids did play more.

What I did was hold special practices for my non-starters in an effort to bring their skill level up to the starter’s level—no starters allowed at that practice. The dedicated came to that practice, and some developed into more minutes or even starters. I think it was fair to both the kids who had higher skill levels and wanted to win and the kids still striving for that level of play.

I did make mistakes, though. It happens as a coach. It is a balancing act at times. I didn’t mind the extra day for the non-starters. Those that came and put in the extra work greatly improved. So to a certain extent, I agree with the statement. But efforts should be made to get those kids some additional training. And it is also up to the kids to choose to be a part of that available opportunity.

(Point) define “competitive travel soccer.”
What age groups are we talking about? U10? U12? U14?
I’ve coached every level from local municipal to Cup and ODP level teams. “Winning” does not equal development, especially at a young age. This is the mentality I have been fighting for decades. It’s why the US continues to struggle nationally and internationally. Too much emphasis on “winning” at young ages and leaving kids behind could develop into better players as they mature into their bodies. I’ve seen it a thousand times. Some kid gets tagged as a “great” player as a 10-year-old and runs all over the place, scores goals. Everyone is patting him on the back, and by the time he’s 14, he’s on the bench because no one took the time to develop him properly.

(Counter-Point) Kids can choose. Parents can choose. It’s ok for kids to want to win. If parents and kids want to be in a competitive league, that is their choice. It is not your choice or mine. If that’s what they want, it’s ok. Competition is healthy, and kids who believe that are healthy too. Stop labeling kids, please. There’s plenty of leagues for both those that want competition and winning and those that don’t. And did I not just say that I spent extra time on the kids that needed additional skills development? And where did I say winning had anything to do with development? Amazing. Read first. Then respond.

(Point) I read your post and understood your point. Then I responded aptly.
You kind of proved my point, but you won’t see it that way. It bothers me that you didn’t tell me what age group you’re dealing with. I have a sneaking suspicion it’s in the U10-14 year range. I currently run programs that start at 4 and go all the way through the high school and beyond level.

Where did I label any child?
I didn’t say you said any of those things.
I made general statements about what I have experienced in 30 plus years of coaching, 40 plus years of playing, and seeing the difference between the European model I experienced as a younger player and the American model I experienced as an older player. Sorry you took it so personally.

(Counter-Point) I don’t get people like you that put kids in-boxes. But hey. That’s you.

(Point) Where have I said anywhere that I put kids in boxes? I do the OPPOSITE. EVERY kid gets the same chance to develop and succeed without having to have to be split off from the supposedly “better” players and take “extra” time to “make them better.”
“Sorry, kid, you’re just not good enough to be “elite.”
It sounds like that’s putting kids in boxes to me.
You never told me what ages you’re training these “elite” kids at.

(Counter-Point) Because I don’t answer you. I made a comment and stand by my thoughts. We have different styles. Let’s leave it at that. Have a good weekend!

(Point) Ooooh. “You don’t answer to me…” You that afraid to answer a simple question?

“Competitive travel soccer,” my rear end. I’m guessing it’s some local U10-U12 team that plays in some version of a small-time state organization.
I’ll keep doing things in my style. Have a good weekend!
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Dear Reader: Your Points & Counter-points on this discussion are welcome.

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