Adults are turning kids off soccer at an alarming rate. As already stated in earlier posts, the problems start with the imposition of an adult definition of “soccer success” which means winning. Do kids care about winning at a very young age. No they do not.
In order for kids to stay in the game, a new definition of soccer success must be evaluated and enforced. Surely a better definition of success and a better way to measure this would be to count the number of kids who turn up to play next year.
When coaching young children, the most satisfying experience is seeing the kids turn up again for the next season. If you are a coach and the team remains the same except for the addition of a few players, then it probably means
- They enjoyed your coaching, training and games.
- The children feel like they are improving and have alot to learn from you as their coach.
- The parents believe that you are a good coach and want to invest their time with you.
- and obviously want to be trained by you again because you have done a great job.
Let me give you a scenario: Your the coach of the local soccer team. According to you last season was successful because your team won more games than they lost. You even finished 3rd on the ladder which is a great accomplishment. Now for the new season, your goal is to improve on the 3rd place finish. The new season starts and you feel very motivated and enthusiastic. To your surprise only 6 of your players from last year turn up for the new season. You can’t believe it and start to wonder why they left. If they don’t turn up next year have you succeeded? You might have won the majority of games, but do you feel successful? Remember your coaching juniors and the game should not be about you.
If your players don’t turn up in the following year, you can bet your bottom dollar that they:
- Didn’t enjoy the training or the games.
- The children felt like they hadn’t improved.
- The parents were not satisfied and no longer want to invest time in your coaching methods.
- and obviously don’t want more of the same in the following year.
Given the two scenarios above, which coach would you prefer to be? Notice how the definition of success as a coach has changed. Its important not to put too much emphasise on winning at a junior level. To ensure you are a “successful junior coach” remember to:
- Make training sessions and games fun and enjoyable.
- Involve every single kid and don’t base the level of involvement on performance.
- Keep the kids active all the time at training. Don’t lecture or teach them the game, they get that all day at school.
- Do not focus on results and winning.
- Focus on skill development and personal development.
- Care for the kids as if they were your own.
- and ensure club officials and parents support you in your new definition of success.
From my personal experience, the year my team finished last was the most successful season I’ve had as a coach. Sounds funny, but really think about it.