Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Some Thoughts on Youth Development

Have you seen some of the latest articles in Soccer America regarding youth development? The magazine’s Mike Woitalia has been writing several articles that deal with some of the hot topics in youth soccer.

Some of the most recent articles are below dealing with over-coaching and U.S. Soccer’s evaluation of the nation’s approach to player development.

What do you think about the current state of youth development in American youth soccer?

Do we want Robinhos or Robots?
By Mike Woitalla, Soccer America Magazine
How over-coaching and the emphasis on winning stifle young American talent.

U.S. Soccer Youth Development Time to Reassess
By Mike Woitalla, Soccer America Magazine
The U.S. Soccer Federation is reevaluating the nation's approach to youth player development and coaching education.

Look for a new blog from Sam Snow, director of coaching education for US Youth Soccer. Sam’s Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog.


Rick Winblad said...

One thing that motivates kids to keep playing is the availability of post-highschool college teams and scholarships. There is a movement to bring men's soccer to the Big XII conference (and women's soccer to Kansas State)
An online petition can be found at
There is other information as well. Similar pushes may be underway for the SEC & Big 10.

don said...

I am happy US Soccer is taking a leadership role in discussing youth development.

I trust that many people more directly involved will be asked for their input- and that collective minds can determine if some people and/ or organizations are a part of the problem or can be a part of the solution.

I am please this dialogue is taking place...for the good of soccer and for the good of youth soccer.

From where I sit-

Most youth soccer coaches and parents are MUCH too interested in winning (trophies) in recreational and younger age levels of travel soccer.

If parents and coaches REALLY trusted and believed in an youth soccer environment that focused on training/ developing more and playing/ winning less...

If more coaches and parents REALLY felt there was a better environment for their child/ player to become a technically and tactically better player...

maybe...maybe they would support the changes endorsed and discussed by Mike Woitella, Kevin Payne and Tab and others.

Tryouts beginning at u-7 ages, over coaching once on the teams (not just in training...but during the matches at all levels)....there are so many barriers to creating a fun and developmentally appropriate environment.

I also liked what the Ghana team showed. They enjoyed the game... they had vision (they knew their options BEFORE they got the ball)
and they had the technical proficiency... and the combination allowed them to be successful on the field.

A bit of irony perhaps...

as little as many young players know about "the game"...I bet they have several good ideas of what they want in a training/ game environment to help develop into better players- and what THEY at odds with what many coaches and parents think is best!

In Indiana...Indiana Youth Soccer is anxious to further educate adults...through our educational programs for coaches (and soon for parents) help create better environments for player development- healthy, safe and fun environments that encourage players think for be comfortable with the not be afraid to experiment...

We can talk the talk...can we walk the walk...and crate the training and match environments...and define the roles fro coaches, parents and administrators that supports the needs of the game...

I look forward to the results of the efforts by US Soccer and US Youth Soccer as we all work on "Youth Development". said...

Don's comments are important. too often coaching is based on how to win -- that is coach directed. The basis ought to be how do we "grow" each player. I often talk in my soccer community about the player oriented coach. That is what it is about, the coach helping the player achive -- not only in the sport. When we look at the elements of coaching -- tecnical, tatical, mental and physical, we forget that at all levels we need to keep it fun for the players. Too many coaches at the most recreational level are still focused on yelling instructions to win.
US Youth soccer has continued to attempt to show the alternative so this will really develope youth players in all directions through soccer. thanks

Anonymous said...

I do agree with previous comments, however I do think we have to be realistic. Winning is way too ingrained in our culture at all levels. Would America consider a success winning 3 Gold medal in the Olympics??. I guess we have won for so long in no only in sports but in sooo many areas (i.e. wars, economy) that it would be very difficult to change that mentality.

Here is My 1/2:

What we really need to do is to expose the sport to all levels of our society. I think soccer in America is practiced by the middle and upper class. Despite that who do we see playing at soccer fields or in the Parks??.. Mostly foreigners.

I was born in a third word country and I can explain why players like Kaka or Ronaldinho exists and actually it is quite simple.

They played....Played.... and played when they were kids.

To me when the soccer leagues are over, that is when soccer ends for our kids. They go about their lives until the next season. You whatch the playgrounds, the soccer fields, the parks, the parking lots, the alleys etc and you hardly see any kid playing.

By the time the Robinhos and the Kakas of the world are "discovered" they already master most of the soccer skills and it is then when they will probably go to the soccer academys to get even better. In most cases even signed up to Major Clubs

Granted, changing our soccer coaching style to encourage creativity might help, but that is only 30% of the equation.

When we see more of our kids choosing to play soccer, instead of kick ball, beisball, football or basketball, that will signal a new era in soccer in America