As a professional soccer coach who conducts soccer training in New Jersey, I face the same concern every single day that I come in contact with youth soccer players' parents or parent coaches. It is their lack of understanding that there is a difference between kids (ages 4-12 or 14), and adult soccer. It is the fact that they do not realize that they view the game with grown up eyes and capabilities than the kids they are trying to coach. There is a BIG difference in the kids' capabilities and that of an adult. I remember when I first got involved with coaching trying to figure out why my 7 year old daughter could not pass the ball straight back to me and why she could not copy the mechanics of proper passing I was trying to teach her. Keep in mind that I was an ex pro and my ego could not stand the fact that I could not teach my own daughter how to properly strike and pass a ball. It didn't dawn on me why she could not do it until I was taught in coaching courses that there is a difference between kids and grown ups, boys and girls, age groups, player to player. So for this particular instance, 7 year olds still have tight tendons which do not allow them to properly turn their feet so that they can properly strike a ball. With age they will gradually be able to do it.
I was glad to learn from my coaching courses as well as asking other coaches who had been coaching for quite a while what should the kids at that age be doing since their physical age limitations gets in the way of proper technique development. They made me aware that 7, 8 9 year olds want to just play, play with freedom, taking risks, dribbling and shouting. The technique will follow as they get older. In fact if you just watch kids style soccer it is full of running, chasing the ball, dribbling and shooting without much tactical components. However we, as adults try to make it tactical with passing and maintaining positions and all kinds of other stuff that adult soccer has in its game, which is way too much to understand by the kids mental capacity. It also stifles in a way their ability to be free and creative and take risks. Something that contributes to players waking up one morning at 16 or 17 years old and being so ROBOTIC with their play. All the years of coaches telling them what to do, how to do it, when to do it has now build a nation of ROBOTIC players who do not express themselves or think for themselves unless the coach is shouting directions from the sidelines. They are afraid to make mistakes and take chances out of fear that the coach will go ballistic and bench them.
One thing that makes this whole thing even more frustrating is that while I conduct soccer training in the Jackson New Jersey area I explain all these things to parents and they refuse to listen and be open to trying a different way. They DO NOT like to see players just playing soccer. They like to see players just doing SOCCER DRILLS, not exercises but SOCCER DRILLS. Coach Niko did not do enough SOCCER DRILLS, he let them play way too much. I do not understand why coach Niko has them scrimmaging every week when other teams are constantly training and doing SOCCER DRILLS. I can not get over the fact that coach Niko has them playing 4v4 & 5v5 in festivals with small fields, where they keep no scores or standings when everyone else is playing 8v8 and 9v9. How is that soccer? How can 3v3 or 4v4 or even 5v5 help my kids understand the game? It is not real soccer unless they are playing 11v11.
That is one of the BIGGEST misconceptions of youth soccer, when in actuality it is pretty simple to understand. The kids DO NOT have the capability, (mental and physical), to play in a 11v11 size field or understand all the rules of a 11v11 game which is also an ADULT game. This is why they play small sided games with simplified rules, smaller spaces where they can touch the ball a lot more times than they would in a 11v11 adult game.
We invite you to attend a soccerskillz soccer training session and or call and speak with coach Niko to better understand that the traditional way of American Soccer Training is killing the sport of soccer in America.
When this question is asked I am sure there are hundred different answers to say the least. Good ball control, sound fundamentals, ability to pass well, being able to take players 1v1, athleticism, game read and game vision, team player, coachable and on and on an on. While all these things are true and many more how does a player, regardless if they are field players or goalkeepers get there?
Most teams train two times per week and maybe some players do outside training with a trainer once per week. That is roughly 4-5 hours per week on average. The rule of thumb is that to get at expert level at anything one must train about 10,000 hours. Well, do the math; 10,000 hours divided by average of 5 hours per week, it would take 2000 weeks or 38.46 years for a player to get to be an expert at soccer. Probably old age would catch up to him before he is an expert. How about if we were to double those numbers and have a player train 10 hours per week? Now it would take him 19.23 years. So if he started training around 4 years old he may be an expert by the time he is 24-25 years old. You get the idea? If we add a few hours here and there maybe he can get to that level by the time he is 18 or 19. Sounds much better and he now is able to play at the high level world leagues.
This may sound like an exaggeration but this is one of the reasons some pro players are special and that GREAT. A Messi, a Ronaldo. Those players not only play with the ball since they can walk, but they touch the ball every chance they get, anywhere, regardless if there is a coaching session going on or on their own. Fact is both players even at the height of their careers, are the first ones on the field to train and the last ones to leave. They pay trainers to train on their own and constantly polish those fundamental skills and anything else they feel they need to work on. This is why when you watch them play they seem to do things effortless, with such ease as they have been doing it all their lives. Well they have been doing it all their lives. It is called PASSION and LOVE for the sport of soccer. They would rather play with a soccer a ball than do anything else.
The reason why I started to write this article is not to highlight Messi or Ronaldo but to show what it takes to get there. In the American youth soccer culture we think by training a few hours we will be become great. We seem to bounce from one sport to the other and do multiple training sessions with different sports each day. Furthermore when youth soccer players do train most of them just go through the motions and try to do what the trainers have asked them to without any passion in their training, without making training realistic and game like. You can see that they are just going through the motions so they can get to the scrimmage. Although I strongly believe the game is the best teacher and American youth soccer players do not play enough games, they still need to train on their fundamentals and when they do they need to pay attention to the fine points the trainer points out. When I conduct soccer training in Central New Jersey, or goalkeeper training in Central New Jersey I find myself looking at players and as good they may think they are I can see they are just going through the motions. When I coach at my University team, 18 to 22 year old soccer players I still see the same thing in a lot of these players.
So I always wonder how many if any of these players will ever experience the ULTIMATE pleasure of playing at the highest level? The percentages are so low. I speak with some of the pro players that are currently playing with local pro teams in New Jersey, specifically the women's pro league where salaries are so low and most players have to have other jobs while still training, traveling and playing with their pro team. Almost every player will tell you of all the hours they had to put in and the dedication and the things they missed in order to get better and be able to get to the pro point. If you speak with most pro players of any sport they all share the common theme of hard work, passion and love for their sport to get to that point.
So how do we expect youth soccer players to excel with just a few hours of NON CONCENTRATED, lukewarm, passionless training? It may sound like you have to go through torture, but to someone who loves the sport that much, it is FUN.
As parents we have come to be brain washed that if we pay to play our kids will become that much better. Yes, some players do become better players under the right trainer and the right training system. But there are also a lot of players that do not belong in that system. They are there for the allure of that paid outfit or the wins they bring. Some players after their parents have spent 1000s of dollars in a paid enviroment quit and do not want to play any longer. Is that fair? If a player has the passion and desire he will find a way to get there without the parents breaking the bank. But, then the other thought is that the more something costs the better it must be. Soccer training in New Jersey should not be all about the money but unfortunately it is and the parents have allowed it to be.
Please do not misunderstand, there are players who just go out to have fun and have no expectation of anything other than just kicking the ball around, and that is fine. But for the ones that claim that they want to get to the next level it will take a lot more time and passion. A lot of players even when they get to the next level are still not that good, technically, tactically, physically or mentally. Yes you can get to the next level and still not possess all those things. You can fake it in the US but not in Europe or South America. They are that good. The American players that do make it there are also JUST THAT GOOD. So why can not produce more of those players? Is it American culture? Is it the way we do things and think we are so good at what we do but in reality we are not? Is it the fact that we do not seem to want to copy systems from countries that are SOCCER EXPERTS?
Maybe if clubs had a financial incentive to gain from proper development rather than just wins and losses. Maybe if we had more trainers that coach with passion and not just for the money. Or if the were compensated if they developed players properly.
At the end of the day it starts with the players and ends with the players. There is no substitute for PASSION.
Every year there are a lot of indoor soccer or futsal leagues that compete for your team's cash. At the end of the season all you get is a possible thank you and see you next year...There is no real player, parent, coach, education. In most instances they advertise a futsal league but in a sense you are playing indoor soccer. That is because a lot of folks DO NOT even know the difference between futsal and indoor soccer. A lot of the local leagues capitalize on the consumer's ignorance as well as the consumer's search for a bargain. DO NOT be fooled by cheap futsal imitation leagues where they do not use a futsal ball, have regular soccer referees and in some cases just a person with a whistle and do not adhere to FIFA futsal rules. This country needs to start educating itself on the sport of soccer and further more on why futsal is such a crucial development component of youth soccer players.
We at soccerskillz futsal develop futsal teams that compete in the US Youth Futsal league in the Central New Jersey Futsal League affiliate.
Below is the US Youth Futsal announcement of the US Youth Futsal Academy and its benefits. This is another BIG reason to play in an organized National Futsal League with standardised rules and regulations, a league that offers development opportunities as well as educational ones on the merits of futsal.
OVERLAND PARK, KAN. (Dec. 4, 2017) - U.S. Youth Futsal today announced the launch of the USYF Futsal Academy Program.
The program not only standardizes Futsal curriculum and youth training across the country, but supports local academies in efforts to maximize youth player development through high-level technical and tactical Futsal training sessions, competitive league play, and regional and national tournaments.
"The U.S. Youth Futsal Academy Program is intended to be the equivalent of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy," said Soorena Farboodmanesh, the new USYF program's director. "The objective is to produce players of exceptional ability in Futsal and soccer."
Establishing an academy is in direct response to the growing demand for opportunities to learn, play and showcase Futsal across the country.
"Throughout the United States there are more and more players, coaches and teams embracing the sport of Futsal," said U.S. Youth Futsal Technical Director Keith Tozer, who also serves as a FIFA Futsal Instructor. "Syncing many outstanding local programs into one larger U.S. Youth Futsal Academy will be of enormous benefit to player development."
U.S. Youth Futsal's Academy structure will complement -- not compete with -- a player's regular soccer club training.
"The USYF Academy Program is for the player who is already playing Futsal, but who has the interest and skills to train all year and at the highest level of technical and tactical training," said U.S. Youth Futsal Executive Director Jon Parry.
Although the design of the program calls for year-round training, the entire curriculum is Futsal.
"We have many outstanding coaches throughout the country," said Tozer, who also serves as head coach of the U.S. Men's National Futsal Team. "The USYF Academy will help turn Futsal from a largely seasonal sport to a standardized, year-round training component that will create better indoor and outdoor football players."
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