This post is about youth ages 7-8 all the way to pro. When looking at natural athleticism for soccer players things start to change as players get older. Younger ages you can see who’s aggressive and understands what to do. The best athletes oftentimes don’t reach full potential because they get comfortable being better. Being a natural athletes is arguably the most dominant element because the small percent who want to master the craft separate themselves. But many average athletes with strong desire and opportunity become the best.
Pro vs college soccer
In college soccer a large percent are players who are super athletic with average skill.
Another percent is the average athlete who worked really hard to improve technique mixed with amazing desire to be their best.
Last, you have a very small percent who are naturally better athletes, plus have amazing work ethic to improve their craft.
Elementary age soccer players
Nowadays there’s a group of kids in youth sports who get good training at ages 7-8. The risk putting a lot of time into this age is not knowing if they fall in love with a different sport or hobby by age 12.
Some have amazing natural athleticism for soccer players and understand how to score and defend. Aggression and personality play a big role.
On the contrary, others don’t show good ability at ages 6-9 and then come out of their shells to become one of the best by middle school.
The dominant athlete
There are your dominant 1% athletes who at age 8 you can tell have a super natural gifting. These athletes usually stay athletic forever.
Many of these are so superior to their peers in terms of these qualities listed below that they don’t work/practice as hard.
Though they may go play in college, they never reach full potential.
There are many who could have played pro, but didn’t work hard enough to become better.
Average athletic ability
There are average or just below average athletes at the age of 8-12 who by 15-18 can explode into beasts. Meaning, they can become the fastest and most athletic player in HS or college.
The reason is because some blossom late, therefore you can’t give up on young kids.
Other kids might not blossom, but will still improve if they train.
The joy in playing is competing no matter the level. I know kids who play rec soccer in high school and they absolutely love it. Some even got good training and worked hard, but couldn’t make the high school team, mainly because the area they lived was filled with great soccer players.
A diamond in the rough
Some athletes are hiding behind never being trained…
I’ll never forget the Hershel Walker 30 for 30. He was the worst athlete in his middle school.
The Summer of 8th or 9th grade he worked hard everyday doing sprints, 2,000 push ups and sit ups [200 or so every few hours]. The next year, Hershel was the fastest kid in the state of Georgia.
Lower athletic genes
Then you have some people who have very lower athletic genes… Meaning they are not as coordinated, fast, strong nor match the endurance of their peers. Before labeling them though, they need a opportunity. With no training at all, how will you know?
The choice to work hard at the right things brings out the true person.
If there is no desire or practice there’s no chance…
For those who have the maturity and hunger to practice and improve there is opportunity to play. Soccer is the same sport, no matter what league it is… If high school and club are too competitive, find a rec league.
Athletic yet clumsy
There are kids and adults who are athletic in terms of speed and power, but are not coordinated.
This could be with or without a ball. Some possess agility without a ball, but with a ball struggle. Then you have some who are clumsy regardless having a ball or not, yet still have great athletic ability in terms of sprinting speed, changing direction and strength.
Coordination for soccer players can come in 2 ways.
Even if a player is coordinated in terms of agility ladder or moving in/out and around objects, they could be clumsy with a ball. So that’s why there’s a difference from coordination with and without a ball. You could get the most athletic track star or American football player and then give them a soccer ball and all of a sudden they are clumsy ‘with a ball’.
Can anyone improve athleticism?
Yes! Anyone who practices the right things can improve. You’ll become better at what you practice, no matter how naturally gifted.
Athleticism for soccer players does matter, but you don’t have to be a 1 percenter. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are and work to improve both.
Not everyone can become a Hershel Walker or Alex Morgan, but you can improve.
The quality of the drills/exercises matters as well as the attitude.
Those who do good drills with the mindset of not caring or putting in effort will not improve. On the contrary, if you work really hard and don’t do good drills with correct form there also will be a slow if any progression.
The purpose of playing youth sports
5 reasons youth sports are great:
- Having fun
- Physical and mental health
- Learning to work with others
- Growing character by learning to take criticism
- Being apart of something outside of school is important for the mind
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