Which box did you check? For many soccer parents and coaches, it could be a tough choice. But from a practical standpoint consider the following;
· None of the players will remember the U-6, U-8, or U-10 league championship ten years from now. If you disagree, then try to recall and explain to me what you did each day in first grade ! - second? Then, name all of the players on your U-10 team – if there was a U-10 team in your day!
· There are no “teams” in soccer until the age of fourteen or older. By the time adults become familiar with youth soccer by watching kids play from ages five through twelve, it becomes apparent that successful teams are dependent upon individual physical maturity.
Under six players can’t define the word team – because there will always be an “I” in team for them. “I” want the ball – “I” am not going to give her the ball – “I” am hungry! I am an island – not a team!
The eight year old who’s feet can actually do what his mind is thinking will surely have the ball more often and probably will be the “Ball Hog” that Soccer Mom despises (he also wears an adult medium t-shirt). He will never pass – because he doesn’t need to. He will win every ball he decides he wants – because he can. He will score goals at will – because he is bigger, stronger and faster than all of the rest. This is not a team – this is a physical specimen!
Under ten teams that win do so because of the two “soccer rats” that are the best of friends. One wins the ball and gives it to his friend to score at will. Then they reverse the roles. The rest of the team is along for the ride and have the ball only when the “rats” say they can have it.
The U-12 championship is sponsored by Gillette because the winning team has the six footer who is already shaving. His athletic ability has the coach contacting Division I College programs and promising he will get this player to sign with the school that offers the best deal (of course there will also have to be a guaranteed assistant’s position for the youth coach). Opponents do not defend this one man show – they get out of his way. These games resemble Wiley Coyote chasing the roadrunner – no chance to catch him – three steps to one.
· “Winning” is not the primary goal in youth sports – Learning to set realistic and attainable goals is an integral part of athletics and life. Setting goals and attaining them is an important process shared by most of the successful people in all professions.. If the goal is winning, then we set the players up to fail more often than not. Instead, we should look at winning as a by-product of individual player development. If we all become better individually, we have a better chance of being successful as a group – winning.
· Once upon a time, youth soccer was not for profit - We all know that whenever people start a business, competition is inevitable. Youth soccer started with competition and now it has become a business. Winning in business is defined by those who make the most money. The one that makes the most money usually finds short cuts in the business.
In youth soccer, these short cuts to winning affect the business decisions – Do we spend more time developing each player or more time to find another player to take their place? Do we play against lesser competition to get more wins? Do we play more games instead of paying for more training? Do we pay more for quality coaches or pay less and get less experienced people? Do you really want your son / daughter to make someone’s business more profitable (winning) or do you want them to become better and enjoy playing the game?
· “Teams” are not recruited for scholarships. When was the last time you read this type of news release –
XYZ Team Signs Letter of Intent
(Dobbin) The 2009 state championship XYZ Team from the relatively obscure town north of Houston has become another - in a long line of teams to sign at the Division I level – to be signed at the University of ABC. Head coach Sammy Soccer has been quoted as saying that this team could be part of his best freshman class ever. His other recruits include additional teams that were part of the USYS youth national tournament from Ohio, Massachusetts, and the outstanding Juneau Alaska team coached by Sarah Palin. Coach Palin will also be hired as an assistant coach at the university.
OK, so you Democrats say there is a correction – Palin would never be hired! You guys always want to argue – I know you get the point.
Now, which box did you check?
by Mike Parsons – STYSA Director of Coaching