Jan 23, 2014 • 3 min read
ByÂ â€œKoach Karlâ€ Dewazien, author and producer of soccer resources for all youth levels.
The best preparation for learning to play soccer and keeping them playing is beingÂ under the tutelage of a loving coach/teacher at the very beginning. ExperiencedÂ coaches know that it takes between 7-10 years for most children to have had enoughÂ familiarity with playing the game to be able to put it all together and actually master soccer.Â When we expose beginning players to an adult soccer environment, including over-organized practices with laps/lines/lectures, practices consisting of drills with no â€˜themeâ€™,Â competitive games for league standings and winner take-all tournaments, then we robÂ them of the inherent joy and purpose that comes from learning to play masterful soccer.
One of the biggest problems we face in soccer is that we are trying desperately to teachÂ technique and tactics which are out of alignment with natural development. ExperiencedÂ coaches know this but our soccer culture forces coaching that is inappropriate for youngÂ players. We would never tolerate trying to teach children to walk at 3 months because itÂ is impossible. Yet, we attempt to teach tactics before technique is mastered.Â Development requires that players have more time as proven by international soccerÂ stars. These super-stars reached the highest level of play, in their youth, throughÂ playing informal pick-up games which we seldom see played in our country.
Therein lies one answer to prevent the quitting phenomenon â€¦ I truly believe that weÂ must first TEACH and then ENCOURAGE the young players how to play soccer onÂ their own without adult supervision.
Teach by having the players lay-out their own playing environment in everyÂ practice. There is no reason for coaches to continuously lay-down & pick-upÂ cones which results in players becoming dependent. Yes, young players areÂ able to lift and carry cones. They are also able to learn how to step-off distancesÂ required for small goals, grid or field sizes.
Encourage by giving specific Home-work & Home-play assignments:
If you are able to teach and they are able to learn how to play â€œHorseâ€; â€œAround theÂ Worldâ€; â€œ21â€; â€œ1 vs.1â€ and â€œPick-up Gamesâ€ in Basketball, then surely you can teachÂ them and they can learn how to â€œJuggleâ€, play â€œ1 vs. 1â€ and â€œPick-up Gamesâ€ in Soccer.Â When players are allowed to be involved in their own learning process and becomeÂ independent, they learn more easily. Learned players then become competent andÂ competent players usually end-up loving what they do. And we have found that rarelyÂ does anyone quit something they Love to Do.
Illustrations are from Koach Karlâ€™s Coloring Book, â€œTOTALLY â€“ FUNdamental Soccerâ€.
Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien) is the former State Director of Coaching for the California Youth Soccer Association (CYSA),Â Author of the Internationally Published FUNdamental SOCCER Books Series,Â Producer of the highly acclaimed â€˜9-Step Practice Routineâ€™Â DVD.Â He can be reached at:Â firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ orÂ www.karldewazien.com.