Youth Corner Kick – Love of the Game and FUN
Commentary by Paul Burrows
Full Disclaimer: I am a father of a 12 year old girl in competitive soccer and a volunteer coach for the goalkeepers in the same club. The views below are my personally views and are not reflective of AzKicksIt or the club.
As a father and a fan of the game who attends many games as well as tournaments, I think that the state of the youth game in Arizona has never been better. We have many club teams and former youth players achieving great accomplishments in the game nationally. These include youth national competitors, professional players, college All-Americans, as well as World Cup and Olympic players from the state. These players didn’t get there based on sheer talent but with will to get better, great coaches, outstanding support systems in terms of family and positive teammates.
One of the overriding observations I have noticed in my playing career from youth through college and now as a coach, is that there are many factors that can make players leave the game. Most important in my observations, is coaches and/or parents putting too much pressure on the children to win at all costs and not enough emphasis on learning the fundamentals and how to most importantly HAVE FUN. Building an atmosphere of fun and learning the game will retain more children in soccer and give them the drive to get better and keep the love of the game. Advice to coaches; put the “Fun” in fundamentals and competition. Advice to parents; put the “Fun” in game days by cheering yours and other children on from the sidelines without the distraction of telling them when to dribble, when to pass and what to do. That is what the coach is there to do, the children don’t need Mom, Dad or another parent directing them in a game situation. I realize this is hard and we all want our children to succeed. I have been guilty of minor coaching to my daughter and always kick myself after I say a word that even resembles coaching. Cheer and support your children as much as possible. Too many mixed messages from the sideline could eventually make the practices and games a “need to do” as opposed to a “want to do”. By taking the fun out of the sport for a young player it could lead to a disdain for soccer. My goal as a coach is that whether the player is a recreational player or a potential professional they love the game and enjoy their time on the pitch. It’s a lot of hard work but it should be fun hard work.
Below is a quote from Doug Shank Youth Director at Sereno Soccer Club and a member of the AYSA education staff in the September newsletter for AYSA. The full article on ethics in the game can be found at http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs066/1105493007071/archive/1111002664465.html
“There are 3.6 million registered players with US Youth Soccer (children between the ages of 6-18). In Arizona we have over 33,500 but expect for substantial growth as the popularity of the game continues to grow. However by the age of 13 studies have shown that over 70% of those kids will no longer be playing the childhood game they have learned to love at a young age. The big question is why and what can we do to keep kids playing longer?”
My response is to keep the FUN in the game no matter what the level or the age group.
Next Youth Corner Kick – Confidence: Build it Up in Young Players