If you’ve been around the green pastures for a while, especially around youth soccer, chances are you’ve noticed something peculiar. Apart from the gathering of money hungry soccer zombies (for those that are new to the blog, soccer parents) you’ll also notice a significant trend evolving.
This is something I’ve seen first hand as a child, player, coach and parent.
The best players are not always picked in the first eleven.
The best players are not always selected to represent their State.
The best players are overlooked by scouts or not given trials to some of the bigger clubs.
How could this be?
The players that do get picked aren’t necessarily the ones who spend all their time training in an organized team environment.
The players that get picked are the ones that often play in the park, play in the backyard or play in the street with their friends. They play without the constant avalanche of instructions from their coach or their parents. They play with freedom, with friends and the sound of laughter signifies the lack of supervision.
Playing without supervision allows these children to play without judgment, without fear and the freedom to play without second guessing every movement. Informal settings or “organized chaos” as I like to call it, allows young children to excel by becoming quicker on their feet, improve coordination and increase levels of exuberance by competing for bragging rights amongst the gang.
Young kids that play consistently in a structured environment or a professional team environment are less exuberant and experience burn out and a very young age. Also their intensity and effort tends to suffer as they become self conscious of making mistakes and trying to please all the watchful eyes.
Don’t get me wrong here; structured training sessions are important for learning and development. However, as parents it’s our job to strike a delicate balance between structured training and organized chaos.
Young players need training and guidance from experienced coaches to master new skills but they also need the enthusiasm, freedom and passion that comes from having fun with their friends.
Think about it.
If your child is enthusiastic, passionate and having fun, he or she is more likely to play freely, creatively whilst taking measured risks. They will stand out like a sore thumb and usually get picked by scouts or selected for their State.
Young players that are burnt out or have had the life sucked out of them through continuous structured training often go through the motions and are less likely to stand out when its crunch time.
Soccer parents should get together and round up all the kids in the neighborhood and organize a weekly match at the local park. Once the game is organized the parents must step back and watch the chaos unfold.
“May the winds of destiny blow you to the stars”