Leaders influence followers within all areas of life including business, leisure, and recreational activities. Within the youth soccer world; soccer coaches, directors and organizations provide leadership and the knowledge of how to become a better soccer player. The knowledge, level, and ability of the organization and coach directly influence the passion and skill development of the players.
Will an improved organizational model featuring better coaches increase the ability to develop players that are trained within the United States and can play at an international level? I believe it will and this is how I believe it should happen.
A youth soccer organization that is properly organized features a curriculum intentionally based upon technical development and encouraging a passion for participation during the golden years of learning (ages 5 to 12). The coaches all design their lesson plans within the structure of the club curriculum using proven activities that have created passionate and skilled performers in the past. A proven track record of successful player development ensuring that players take ownership during training sessions and want to practice skills outside of training should be a significant objective within youth soccer development. This initial stage of a common belief within development and how the process occurs performed within an intentional environment of learning and success has the opportunity to create the type of soccer players with abilities to perform at the highest levels.
United States Soccer has developed a curriculum overview to use but has not created activities to be inserted into the curricular overview. I guess they hope that the soccer clubs have the knowledge to get the activities correct…hmmm…hasn’t worked out great so far but they are totally OK with picking players that have been developed in other countries….I am not OK with that practice and youth coaches within America should not be either.
Player participation dramatically decreases during the middle school years and I personally believe that is the result of coaches of participants under the age of 13 focusing upon the wrong aspects of youth sport. Coaches that focus upon winning and losing and training players through the “laps, lectures, and lines” method will possibly create pre-pubescent soccer team success but will usually not have lasting individual player development success due to the fact that the players do not become passionate over the long term. A developmentally based soccer organization focuses upon creating opportunities for individual development within a team environment.
The creation of a successful soccer organization featuring an appropriately developmental curriculum must then be delivered to the individual players and teams by highly skilled coaches. If the participants between the ages of five and twelve are not passionate about participation while developing necessary skills for success, the club will have a limited draw for its 13 and older program eventually limiting the talent pool for the US national soccer team.
What is the correct make-up for a soccer coach at this important stage of development? This topic will be featured within the next blog in the Youth Soccer Coaches in the United States blog series.
Thanks for reading the blog and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas about the topic.