Arizona Youth Soccer

The Soccer Stairway

The Soccer Stairway: Keeping Your Child On Track

Whether or not you watch soccer, there is no way you can deny its popularity. It stands as one of the worlds most recognized and commonly played sport, if not the most. The vast majority of the world have soccer teams at national level, as well as domestic leagues. The United States has a colorful history throughout the game, and today interest levels are rising as the sport is taken far more seriously than it once was.

In fact, soccer currently has the third highest attendance of all sports within the United States. With the MLS constantly improving and generating further interest with bigger names and better domestic players, the onus is on the next generation to make a significant breakthrough. Stars such as Landon Donovan have forged excellent careers for themselves both domestically and abroad, while others like Clint Dempsey have enjoyed successful spells abroad for many years before returning home.

Years of implementing more structured coaching ideals and actually beginning to head towards having a philosophy of its own has been a huge part of the uplift in soccer. USMNT coach Jurgen Kilnsmann has been essential to the recent upgrade in performance, with the coach openly asking players to get out to Europe and test themselves at the highest level – but what of the next generation?

As a parent your job is to make sure that your child is improving in a healthy environment. Although the best thrive under pressure, it has been shown in many other countries that making the learning process as fun as possible for children is vital to their success as soccer players. While it’s important to praise your child when they do well, it’s equally important not to get too carried away with the bad performances. The majority of children lack any real tactical understanding or intricate understanding of a match in motion, and it takes time to learn that.

If you are looking for some ways to make sure that your child has the best chance possible at making it in professional soccer, we can offer you some general advice and ideals.

Keep in mind that the numbers who actually make it are minimal to those who do get through, so creating an environment where your child can grow without constraint and actually make mistakes is important. You regularly hear footballers talking about younger squads losing heavily, and how it could be a “good experience for them”. While losing is never enjoyable, it’s important to be outclassed at some stage so you can really reflect on the level you want to actually achieve.

While many players strive to get to the Barclay’s Premier League in England, argued as the most exciting and popular league in the world, England hasn’t followed these principals. Many young English players fall due to pressure and a “win at all costs” mentality from a very early age. This ensures that only the elite get through and spotted. While the best will stand out, every year hundreds if not thousands of potentially excellent footballers are discarded because they are hounded and destroyed by pressure.

Make sure your child is in a stable learning environment. While complacency is never a good thing, you don’t want your child to lose all of their self-belief due to a stray backpass.

Work With The Youth Coaches

One of the most important parts of becoming a good player is learning to play in the right way. This means understanding the importance of technical quality and also the ability to read ahead of the game. Anticipation is key in the modern game, such is the pace and fluency of counter attacks. Finding your child the right youth coach is vital – somebody who will let them grow and express themselves, preferring to work on the parts of a child’s game they will actually improve from. In our opinion, the adage that if a child is good enough then they are old enough only starts to apply when you are reaching 17!

Working with your child’s youth coach can help you establish a baseline for the type of training that is being undertaken. This allows you to help your child prepare before training and to even assist them yourself – participation is key, if your child is not involved at home they will only improve so much. Very rarely does a child without a passion and love for the game itself succeed.

That leads us on to a very important point…

How Does Your Child View Soccer?

How interested is your child in the sport? Do they enjoy the training? The tactics? Do they see themselves in a preferred position?

Again, we cannot stress enough the importance of having a genuine affinity with the game. A child will generally be drafted into positions based on the most obvious attributes, but trying to help your child understand the game is more important than having a position. A good player will be able to anticipate potential opportunities, or danger, from any position on the park even if they do not naturally play there.

While you don’t want to fry your child’s brain with information overload, ensuring they have an active love for the game is almost a pre-requisite. If you find that your child goes to soccer practice and does not spend much more time reading or talking about the game, you should try and encourage more active participation. A young child full of dreams of being the next Messi is far more motivated than the child who goes to soccer practice because their parents want them to play for the national team.

While offering drills is perhaps beyond us here at – it’s more down to the coaches – the importance of actually delivering a more complete output of the game to your child is imperative. If they can only see specific parts of the game unfolding, you need to help them learn the rest of the game. Seeing your child struggle is not easy, but pressuring them to do better next time is not the best tactic with a young child. Once your child is at an age where they have been training for years and are heading towards a professional environment, then scrutiny is to be more expected.

At a young age, though, try and keep things nice and calm. There is no need to scold your child if they lose the game for their teammates, they simply need to be able to analyze what went wrong and develop from their mistakes. So, remember that your child’s mental and technical game is going to be every bit as important as the physical side of things. A young boy or girl will not develop well enough to be toned and molded physically – not professionally – until they are in their teens, so ensuring they get to their teens keen students of the game is a vital part of the process of becoming a dependable, modern footballer.

Well that is our thoughts on it anyway 🙂