As we continue to mingle with those involved in youth soccer in the eastern PA area, one common theme continually comes to the forefront—Everyone talks about the importance of overall PLAYER development, but majority do not understand what that entails or worse, shake their head agreeing with you but their actions are completely opposite. Worrying about league standings at U8 does not constitute someone who understands or advocates PLAYER development. Why do we even post league standings at these ages? Because PARENTS want to see them. I couldn’t tell you anything about my soccer playing days at age 8. Matter of fact, I’m confident the only thing I cared about was the oranges at halftime and seeing my friends. The American way of always being the best can not co-exist with PLAYER development at these young ages. We wonder why we have players in this country that can’t and won’t ever match some of the international players’ technical ability. You do not become a “magician” on the ball when we focus on wins and losses at age 8 instead of creating an environment that focuses on the technical and 1v1 skills needed for a player’s foundation. What is wrong with bringing 40 U8 players together to train and then compete in 5v5 small-sided games within that pool of 40 players? No score keeping, No standings…just pure PLAYER development. This does not take the competitiveness out, it simply switches the focus….the focus becomes on the individual player and developing their skills and confidence on the ball and not on the standings.
Up Next…Cultivating Parents