Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.

 

Player Development...To What End?

Sam Snow

Here’s a type of question that comes my way now and then at club meetings.

So much of Youth soccer seems to be all about improving the player. To what end? This model plays into supporting an infrastructure of paid coaches and trainers and tournaments with an increasing amount of burn-out on the part of the kids we work with. So few kids will see a slot on an Olympic team or a professional bench, yet this is the Holy Grail kids are expected to aspire towards. At the same time, just dumping the kids onto a field with a ball and some nets is just a form of kick ball. What purpose should organized youth soccer serve and where, in your opinion, should the balance be? On a less esoteric note, what should parents of a young child look for in a municipal program; i.e., Parks and Rec. or a local travel club?

Is not our objective to improve players?  Whether that objective is accomplished by volunteer coaches or paid coaches the end must be the same – player growth.  Our goal is to help each player with whom we work to develop within the game of soccer.  Some of those players will be lifelong amateur players, some will become college players, a few will make it to the pros and of those some will play internationally.  The point is to keep all of them in the game at one level of play or another.

Yes, I would agree that just ‘dumping’ kids on a field may be kickball.  But with a few older players thrown into the mix it then becomes a pick-up game.

From the National Youth License consider these two sport models:

blog 1

 

blog 2

 

I think what we want is a blend of the two models.

To the question of “… what should parents of a young child look for in a municipal program, i.e. Parks and Rec. or a local travel club?” the answer is mostly the same for both scenarios.

  1. A mission statement/philosophy that guides the organization
  2. Qualified staff
  3. A curriculum for development
  4. A sound business plan
  5. Safe infrastructure
     

After that it becomes a matter of price point and time that the player’s family is willing and able to invest.

 

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