It seems that more frequently I hear from parents convinced their kids are falling behind in soccer by not starting private training by age 5. They started playing rec soccer with their local league or YMCA by age 3 & now, at age 5 they must prepare for ‘select’ soccer at age 6. CHILL OUT.
Get on the RIGHT path
First of all, regardless of age, soccer should be FUN. IF you have no joy in the game, what’s the point of playing it? There is lots of hard work, dedication, possibility of injury & heartache involved in playing a game for long-term so you’re reasons had better be spot on in your desires for the work.
Let them eat cake
Pushing kids into one-sport specialization at such an early age is detrimental to overall physical development, your own emotional & financial health & the kid’s emotional health. You risk burnout, relationship strain & more. I have personally mentored hundreds of soccer players to the college level & my staff and I have trained over 10k kids in 8 years. So I consider myself a part-time child psychologist & family counselor.
the Pros of early-age skills training
The pros of early-age skills training (starting weekly skills at a young age like ages 7-9) is that the kids are going to obviously become better than most of their peers at an early age. This may all change once they turn 12+ because there will be other kids who start showing their peak later and start to catch up or even surpass the players who started young. So this is important for the ones who started young to know: this might be the easiest time for them because when they are older more of the kids will have also had private technical training. So mentally if the players can know this before it happens they are maybe more prepared if that time comes.
the Cons of early-age skills training
Cons of not starting early is that kids will fall behind technically from the players who are taking private lessons but if they are the kid who is just faster than most (i.e., naturally athletic) then he or she can hang in there and catch up quickly when needed (assuming they remain a natural athlete, which is usually the case). You just don’t want to wait till you’re 13+ years old because it takes a few years for all the basics to be firm and it takes several years to be great at the simple things.
When is it too late?
Age 13 is around the time many players are trying out for high school soccer and it’s just going to be tough if you never got that training outside of your team training. I’m not saying you have to do Private Individual Lessons month after month for 2 + years… Will that help? Yes, it can help tremendously as long as that athlete and trainer are working hard to improve every week. But each of them must understand that once the kid has been training for a few years in a private or semi-private setting they stop learning as much as they were the first years of their technical training. This is why a high-level trainer is essential.
So when that time comes to where the athlete can do most of the skill drills sharp than its time to be mentally strong and understanding that sometimes certain drills aren’t as exciting as others but its not about learning more Ronaldo moves for the training to be better. It’s about trying to do the simple things perfect every day because nobody is perfect in soccer every day, even on their best day. Listen, I can’t say it enough but its all about the players having fun! Who cares about what league it is as long as the players are having fun, learning, in a good environment and being challenged how they want; that’s what it’s all about.
In the end we all stop playing as much as we would like and we want everyone to look back at when they played and like what they experienced with soccer.