For years I have used the term sports maturity because I have seen players mature at different times. Some kids as young as age 5 or 6 understand what sports training is for, while some don’t understand it until they are 10 or 11+ years old. There have been players who have come to me at age 10 who all of a sudden want to improve their skills. These are players that played soccer when they were younger, but didn’t know or think of what it took to improve or they didn’t have interest. These same players who were behind technically compared to kids that have been getting good training since age 7 can catch up. Note: This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Sports maturity in gender
I really don’t see a difference in gender when it comes to the sports maturity I’m talking about. Yes, I do see that girls are better listeners at younger ages like 6-8, but when I talk about sports maturity it’s different than the maturity you first think of. There are some boys who are wild and crazy in a good way, but when it comes to sports maturity they understand that practicing skill drills they will improve. That is good sports maturity. Different from social maturity where kids just act wild when they should be calm.
I have a daughter who has played different sports from ages 5-8 and I would say she doesn’t have great sports maturity. But she is mature in social events or in conducting herself in public. She is very smart at school and communicates with kids and adults very well. But when the whistle blows on Saturday, she doesn’t yet have the understanding that you have to focus on the ball and try to win at all cost. I think with her inventor brain, she is always thinking at least 3 different things outside of what she is doing. And that’s okay, we are all learning what is best for us.
Sports maturity by age
From ages 5-9 you will see a big difference in kids sports maturity. Some get it right away and some don’t. I think the way our brains are wired makes us all very different. Some kids absolutely love sports more than any other activities and so they get it right away. But then there are some who also love sports. But maybe their brain is thinking so many different things during a game or practice, that it looks like they are not interested. You have to be patient with these personalities and not discourage them, but encourage them.
Teenage sports maturity problems
I can tell you as a teenager I was a punk at times. I think that is one reason I now have such high desire to speak positive and knowledge into these youths. I remember getting substituted off the field during a tournament for poor play or attitude, and then walking away from the pitch after coach took me off. I just wanted to tell him through my actions how I felt. Which was that if you mess with me, I will mess with you. Bad attitude! I think it takes time and it takes someone who’s been there to tell you that you are wrong and why.
It’s such funny timing that I am writing this article, because a friend of mine from elementary and high school called me. He has 2 son’s that play soccer who I have worked with several times in camps or privates. His sons are awesome all around boys, but he was telling me about how so many teens will give up on the field after a mistake. I think it’s embarrassing when players mess up and they just don’t know that it’s okay and how bad it looks when we sulk after mistakes.
Body language in sports is powerful
I think for me that I would sulk on the field because I was frustrated with myself and through my body language I wanted everyone to know that I was upset with myself. We have to teach these youths that this is normal to mess up and that it looks so bad to give up. It actually is beautiful to watch a player mess up and then bust their butt to get back and steal the ball.
Watching pro soccer/football or any sport on TV is one of the best ways to learn how to act and react in good or bad situations. One thing that I love to teach is how to have a strong personal brand in sports. This is really a great way for youths and adults to protect their own name.
Opportunity & strong minds build champions
Put courage in them especially at ages 6-7 and let them believe they are capable of anything. But by age 8-9 start to be real with them and let them know that they still can do it, but that everyone develops differently. Some don’t get it till 8th grade, age 13-14 like Hershel Walker. What a documentary you should watch. I just watched it 2 days ago and was blown away with his story.
College and pro players when younger
There are so many stories of college or pro players who didn’t play a certain sport as a youngster. I can tell you that some of the players who went to top colleges in soccer didn’t even play club soccer at ages 6, 7, 8 or 9 years old. So don’t stress out thinking your child is falling behind their peers. Yes, they probably are falling behind at the moment, but don’t think you have to do academy soccer or certain club sports at young ages.
If your child is dominating the rec level and wanting more challenge and you have time for select then cool. But if the kid really loves it and is serious to improve then they will catch up at the right time. The key is the journey not the end result. Some would say different, but what if the end result is not what you dreamed? So instead work hard for what you want, but make sure the journey is good for you.
Building skills is best way to feel good in soccer
The best thing you can do for a player who will actually go out and do their soccer skills homework, is give them my online ball control courses. The best way to feel good for most players is to play better. Most youth soccer players will never know what it’s like to have skills. The reason is because it’s not the coaches job to teach all of it. They coach only has 1.5 – 3 hours of practice each week. Most of that time is spent learning position and tactics. Or team passing skills, which is totally different from individual skills training.
Pro players sports maturity is not always high
Pro players have high, let me rephrase this. Most pro players have high sports maturity, which is one reason they got to the high level. But I want to remind you that even some of the best and most professional athletes have made big mistakes maturity wise.
Let me give the example of my favorite player growing up. Zinedine Zidane who is one of the 5 best players ever, was playing in the World Cup Finals [France vs Italy] when he headbutted a player. This action resulted in a red card and his team [France] losing the final match. He headbutted a player, who was talking about his mom or sister. I mean C’mon! A top pro playing in his last match for his country and he loses his head. Sports maturity comes in many different forms.