The other day I read a quote that said “Youth coaches will impact more kids in 1 year, than most people will in a lifetime.” I remember growing up moving a lot. I was born in Texas, moved to Colorado and Michigan all by age 7. Once I was settled in Texas, I started to play sports. Besides my family from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my coaches are who motivated and encouraged me most. Sometimes even the other teams coach would say something to me that helped me feel good. Thankfully, I never had a youth soccer coach who discouraged me. They all put courage in me, whether it was on purpose or not. As a youth athlete you just need that one person who believes in you. Some athletes have bad experiences with coaches, but I say think about how the good ones impact you.
Youth soccer coaches give courage
Youth coaches who believe in their players will get more out of them. Kids are smart and can recognize when you are for them. Sometimes all it takes is just that one person to believe in you, to get you through challenging moments. Youth soccer coaches who share their passion & knowledge are heroes to the game. I can tell you that out of all the private and small group lessons, many of my students will tell you that they know 100% I was for them. There are times they don’t have a coach with character, but they know when they come to Global Futbol Training they have us in their corner. We thrive and grow more when people speak into our lives.
Building confidence in so many youth soccer players
A study we found on NAYS involving more than 4,000 girls in Europe found that teenage girls who play soccer report higher levels of self-confidence, and that playing the sport can have a greater positive impact on the self-confidence of teenage girls than other popular sports.
The study found:
• 80% of teenage girls exhibited more confident behavior thanks to playing with a soccer team/club vs 74% of those who played other sports.
• 54% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “I am less concerned what others think about me as a result of playing my sport” compared with 41% of those who played other sports.
• 58% of the 13- to 17-year-old females questioned said they had overcome a lack of self-confidence as a result of playing soccer, compared with 51% of girls who play other sports.
• 48% said they are less self-conscious as a result of playing soccer, compared with 40% of those who play other sports.
Youth soccer at the early ages of 4-8
From an early stage, youth players across the world are experiencing sports for the first time. Parents are trying to find out what sport their kid likes most. I think the most important thing is knowing the difference in Rec soccer and Academy [Club] soccer. Some kids need to stay playing select, either because of their skill at the time or because of their interest or desire at that moment in their life. There are those kids from as early as 4 or 5 years old who you can just tell are naturals. This doesn’t mean that the kids who are not good from ages 4-7 are not going to be good when they are older.
Youth soccer players who excel quickly
If your kid is one of the better kids on the team and they really love soccer then move them to play academy. If money and time are an issue you can ask for scholarship. Most club coaches offer 1 or 2 scholarship spots where they take the financial hit. But this also makes their club soccer team better, which advances the coach in the long run.
The youth soccer golden ages
Ages 7-11 are really the golden ages, but if I had to pick only 2 ages to start heavy on the extra practice it would be age 10 & 11. The reason is because I have seen many players start to get serious at this time. Whether they were already playing club soccer or rec, I have seen this age go all the way to the D1 college soccer level. I am not saying wait till they are 10 years old to start private or small group training. I am just saying you don’t have to feel like you are getting behind starting that late. They are falling behind, but can catch up easy with good training. There are some kids who start at age 6, 7 and 8 years old and they do get ahead. But you have to know your family and what is best for you.
Some kids ages 6-9 are not ready for club
My oldest daughter is 9 years old and we still haven’t put her in academy club soccer yet. The reason is because she is one of those kids who likes to play other sports and activities, plus she is not really into soccer enough for us to pour in extra time and money. She loves reading and playing with her sister more than spending time at home on sports. In my opinion if it comes for her it will be when she is 10 years old, or maybe 14 which in today’s youth sports world will be difficult to compete with those who have been training since 8-11 years old. I say this a lot, but I’ve seen kids playing rec at age 10 and end up playing D1 college soccer.
Sports maturity comes at different ages
Sports maturity comes in so many different ways. For me ages 4-5 I encourage this age to first play soccer at home and be encouraged by parents when doing so. I have free homework lessons for new players. Then at 6 years old they will be prepared and do well even if they have a rookie coach. Ages 6-8 still has a hard time receiving what they do wrong, so keep it positive, fun and push the fundamental skills. Some kids are very natural and good, so don’t compare at this age. This is an age where they believe everything, so make sure you teach them character and life lessons.
Ages 9-10 is a wonderful time because they are so eager and can do just about anything you show them. They love to get good feedback and are mature enough to hear what can do better. This age is a great time to really push the extra skills training, because they will be technical by the time they reach high school.
Ages 11-13 are very mature at this point, so keep reminding them to practice on their own, even if it’s only 10 mins. If they don’t then think about how they respond when you tell them to clean their room or do homework. They usually don’t want to and you have to tell them to time after time. Ages 14-17 is high school age and if they are not responding or playing as hard as they should, then talk with them and ask questions. Ask how you can help them.
Some kids have a greater passion early on for soccer
Then there are some kids at age 6-9 who absolutely love and understand what private lessons are for. It’s not just for fun, it’s to improve each minute. They know that this will make them better and they just love to get extra training. These are the kids that you should spend that extra time and money on.
If you know that your kid loves soccer more than any other sport, and they put in the effort then go for it. Give them 3 months on and off or 1 year getting real technical skills training. Getting extra training doesn’t mean sign them up for the club “skills” night. Just because it’s called “skills” doesn’t mean it’s going to help. Reach out to someone who does it full time and doesn’t play a role in your playing time. Find someone who has to make you better for them to keep their business going.
What if you have a coach who discouraged you?
This happens a lot unfortunately. Sometimes you just have to go through a few seasons with a bad coach. There are thousands of soccer players and coaches and not all are going to be the perfect fit. If it happens you need to talk with your family and see if you can come up with a solution. Maybe it turns into being a teaching season for you in learning how to deal with this type of coach/person.
Sometimes these things can work out as a positive. If it’s too toxic then there are times you have to part ways and do what’s best for you. Most of the parents I have worked with want their kids to finish out the season. When it’s time to move on take your time in searching for the coach who likes your soccer style. Usually this is just a feeling you have from meeting the players and coach.
Youth soccer leads to different opportunity
For some soccer leaves a lasting impression that gives back good memories of sports drink or oranges at halftime. Or maybe trying out for the school team and making it, after lots of hard work. For some it might be trying to play soccer as long as you can. Soccer will teach you so much about hard work, success, failure, and working together. It will take you to much of the State, Country or even World. Youth soccer takes us to places of happiness and places far away.
The key is that we have fun and work hard doing it. For those who have big dreams to play college or even pro then go get it. You have to change your lifestyle and do things that you don’t want to do. To be a 2 percenter you have to do what the other 98% won’t do. To be this good you have to know that some days hurt. This is what makes the good days feel great! Let youth soccer take you to this memorable place, whatever that may be for you.
Youth soccer going into college recruitment
This goes back to your brand and what coaches think of you. Remember it’s not about what you think of you. It’s about what others think when they hear your name. Most club and HS coaches want to help, so make sure you are returning the favor. Working hard and showing respect for yourself and team is returning that favor. The key is that you promote yourself the best you can and reach out to 50-100 college coaches. Then follow up with them several times, so that they know you are really interested.
Ask your youth soccer coach questions
Communication is key in most things we do right. If you have questions about your role in a certain position ask the coach. Make sure you ask them at the right time. Which means ask them when is good for them. Don’t ask them out loud for everyone to hear though. This may lead into some good honest feedback with things you can do to improve. Note: Don’t make this a habit. Asking the coach every 3 weeks is too much and shows you are just trying to get on their good side.