Why self-challenge is more than the win. Developing youth soccer players (both rec and select) Our goal at GFT is to teach skills, instill confidence, and educate players on how to become better soccer players. Each age group requires different training methods. It is vital that the players are working on the right things and are shown how to pass, receive, turn, dribble and shoot correctly. Our trainers are dedicated professionals focused on ensuring that the development happens at timed stages.
“You need to do the right things at this young age group in order to get the right end product and move towards becoming an elite player.” – Dave Chesler, U.S. Soccer Director of Coaching Education
Self-challenge for soccer players Ages 6 – 11
– If a player starts private skills between ages 8-11 they should be fundamentally sound after 2 – 3 years. Meaning able to perform basic skills really well. Skills like passing clean with both feet, receiving balls on the ground well, dribbling with the inside and outside of the feet.
More advanced skills like striking a ball with the laces, bending, redirecting volleys takes longer.
– Ages 6 & 7 are also a good time to start private skills but most don’t have the psychosocial emotional maturity to focus the whole hour of training.
Starting at this age is great but the player will usually take longer than 2 years to become technically sound, although they will be ahead of the majority of their peers.
These ages should really focus on ball control/dribbling, so that they fall in love with the ball.
–Ages 8-11 are the golden years because they have the maturity and hunger to soak up all they can.
Also by the time they are 11 they will have learned how to strike a ball with power, dribble many different ways, control balls out of the air.
This will help them feel good about themselves once it’s time for High School or select soccer.
But don’t worry!
Age 10-11 is still very young and players have 4 years before high school soccer. This is plenty of time to catch up on skills.
Self-challenge for Ages 12+
– Ages 12+ should focus on receiving, turning while receiving, passing (e.g., bending/chipping), 2v1, 4v2, 2v3 and decision-making drills.
These are the years that the players really need to improve on these things and feel good about themselves playing.
Age 13 is when most kids quit soccer because they realize that in high school they will have a hard time making the team. So they feel that soccer is no longer for them or worth the grind.
– Ages 15+ should be clean in all the fundamentals and should try to be perfect at them. Then they should challenge themselves to be able to redirect a volley on goal from a cross.
Using both feet and being able to use the inside of foot and the laces to perform a side volley.
Most teens that play select soccer can’t do this well, because they never work on it. You have to have a private trainer, or a partner and know how to teach and learn the skills.
There is just no way a team coach can help his players with every skill. And if they do work on it they don’t get enough reps because of the large groups of 16:1 ratio.
Is structure killing creativity in youth soccer?
Soccer [especially in certain areas] is so heavily based on structure and focused on winning, which circumvents the opportunity to be creative.
GFT training offers all players the chance to practice those Ronaldo-like skills. The highly skilled athletes also get opportunity in that they can really test themselves.
Things like using only one-touch or one foot, or alternating their dominant foot for use of their non-dominant foot.
We don’t expect players to do Ronaldo-like skills in their “real” games but if they can do them in a friendly 3v3 small sided game then that promotes confidence on the ball and off the field.
Kids need the opportunity to have fun & improve
Every season is meant to provide the youth with the opportunity to have fun.
Get good touches on the ball, experiment with skills, and identify [& improve] their strengths or weaknesses, then they are more confident with the ball at their feet. This means they will want the ball more, which will improve first touch, defending & so much more.
For all of this to happen, parents need to be careful how they “teach” their soccer players.
The teaching needs to be done at the right time, or else you could discourage them. The last thing you want is to take courage out of a person!
Times you want to avoid trying to teach is right after a game or practice.
Instead of going off on them about what they did wrong or right, ask them how they thought practice went. This will open up other conversations that could later on lead into teaching.
Small sided games
Side games of 3v3 / 5v5 are a great way to keep kids engaged in soccer play, stay fit, and to gain continued self-improvement.
After all, the best thing we can do for our athletes and kids is to provide honest play, challenge, and opportunity based on their honest self-evaluation.
Kids are ultimately competing with their last best time’ or ‘best play’. Small sided games can help them because they have more freedom & don’t fear losing the ball as much.
Kids need freedom to think on their own
Even the Greatest players today didn’t always play in structured high level as youths. They played in the school yard, neighborhood park or front yard vs players of all playing levels.
Kids need to be kids and have the freedom to think on their own, not always be told what to do by a coach, parent or teacher, and they need leadership and sportsmanship, which are vital for continued growth as a youth.
This is why self-challenge is more than the win.
The perfect mix of soccer training
Most of this article has touched on kids needing freedom to learn in this structured soccer society. But if we give them too much freedom, they will only continue to work on what they feel comfortable doing. This means they won’t work on their weaknesses and improve in areas they need to.
With the right mix of training, players can get that freedom to be creative & learn more.
Training to work on weaknesses or new skill methods is also needed so that players can be better all around.
One reason why self-challenge is more than the win, is we learn so much about ourselves in this beautiful game!
Why self-challenge is more than the win
Self-challenge will teach you so much about yourself and make you stronger.
Whether you want to grow up and play college soccer or pro soccer, or if you just want to enjoy playing in high school.
The key is for us to have fun and learn how to improve ourselves. Not just on the field, but also how we deal with other people. This is why self-challenge is more than the win. You learn how to react to different situation in life, because you have already been through so many situations.
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