When I was playing Soccer it seemed like the best players were always in the stands. It’s easy to sit in the stands and criticise and yell at players. Instructions and advice are easy to give but not always easy to follow. One of the greatest mistakes I see youth coaches and parents make today is that they place too much emphasis on the result. Winning should not be used as a litmus test and a measure of success or development.
Youth coaches fall into the trap of trying to coach every segment of the game. Some coaches play the game for their kids by constantly shouting instructions from the sideline. Parents are guilty of this too and never let their kids make decisions on their own. Kids being obedient usually listen to their parents even if their instructions are wrong. When developing young soccer players the emphasis should be placed on learning. A young child cannot learn or develop if he is not allowed to make mistakes on his own.
Can anyone guess why a youth coach would try and coach every segment of the match? Why would he continue to instruct his players by yelling from the sidelines? The real reason why a youth coach yells and continues to instruct from the sidelines is that he is trying to eliminate players mistakes so that his team wins. A good junior coach doesn’t concern himself with the result, but concentrates on player development and learning.
Parents are also known to coach every second of a match. The majority of parents at junior soccer try and live out their failed ambitions through their kids. Have you been to a junior soccer match lately? Parents are too involved in their child’s activities and virtually suffocate them with instructions. The child has no opportunity to express himself on or off the pitch.
So ask yourself this, what is player development?
- Player development should be about problem solving and decision making.
- Player development is about learning and learning from your mistakes.
- Learning is a life long process and challenge.
- Mistakes and consequences are just as important as winning.
Are you denying your players the chance to develop? Remember a soccer match is a short term event which runs for about 90 minutes. These events called soccer matches should be a test where the youngsters can play freely and experiment with their own abilities and decisions. Only through their own decisions and mistakes can the young players develop and learn.
So you might be looking at the screen and still wondering what point I’m trying to make. By the coach or you as the parent constantly trying to make the decisions or solving your kids problems by yelling out instructions, you are dis-empowering your children in favour of short term solutions. These short term solutions have short term rewards. A win or 3 points will not ensure your child develops. It doesn’t guarantee improvement or the capabilities of learning. It guarantees you 3 points, so what.
So what are the consequences of dis-empowering your players? Dis-empowering your players results in them never learning to become self reliant. They never acquire the ability to trust and back themselves. This inevitably leads to difficulty in making decisions and solving their own problems on the field. Can you see my point now? Soccer is about decision making and problem solving. Don’t deny your kids the chance to master this beautiful game.
Children need the freedom and support to make mistakes. The more mistakes your players make, the greater chance they have of developing and evolving with the game. When they play on the weekends, let them express themselves and let them challenge themselves. With respect, trust and responsibility your players might be the next generation of superstars.