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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.

 

The Game Within the Child

Sam Snow

The cornerstone of the player development model and the coaching methods advocated by US Youth Soccer and its members is the philosophy of The Game within the Child.  The phrase was coined by Dr. Ron Quinn.
 
The idea that The Game within the Child is not so much about finding the right sport for a youngster as it is saying that the game, whatever game it may be, is already inside of each kid.  So in time they find the sport that best suits them.  Then the craft of coaching is to help the game come to the surface, so to speak.  Let’s say a child is 7-years-old and plays soccer, baseball and basketball.  Each of those games is already inside of the child, but to different degrees.  The right sport environment and the right coach help the game come to the surface in the child and that game becomes part of the person.  How much of each of the three sports is in that 7-year-old will vary from child to child.  The sport that is best suited to the child and the sport to which the child is best suited usually comes out between the ages of 10 to 15 years old.  So the kid plays all three sports when young, but narrows it down to one or two in the teenage years.  The odds are that one of those sports the player excels at and the others not quite so much – well unless you were Deion Sanders.
 
Let’s say though in this case that soccer ends up being the number one sport for our youngster in question.  The art of coaching would be for the coach to help a lot of soccer that is already in the person, to rise up and be honed.  Fundamentally, the concept is that rather than force a sport into a child, let’s bring out the game that is already in there.  How much of a particular game is in each child will vary individually.  Even once the person chooses their number one sport the amount of the game in them, and thus the level in the game to which they will rise, varies with each person.  They are not all destined to be professional players.  Our final goal with all young players is to help the soccer within them come to the surface to the degree that they want to be involved with our sport for a lifetime.
 

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