Wednesday, February 7, 2007

JT's Blog - Myths or truths - Feb. 7

JT's Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. John Thomas "JT" is the Assistant Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.

I thought I’d take a moment to highlight some of the more common Soccer “myths,” so that coaches can get a better understanding when it comes to working with their kids and parents.

1) The younger you can get your child on a travel team, the better.

In some areas of the country, travel/competitive teams start as early as age 5 or 6, yes really.

My problem with that is there doesn’t seem to be any supported academic research to support this idea that I have read. Nobody that I know has ever produced a scientific study that shows that having your child play on a travel/competitive team at a very early age is going to guarantee athletic success down the road.

However, on the other side of the coin, there are lots of studies that show that burnout is a real problem for kids in their early teens – and burnout usually affects kids who have been playing one sport for a long, long time on travel teams.

All travel team coaches are certified instructors, have degrees in physical education or psychology, and have a solid background in coaching kids.

Now, I’m not saying that you to need to have all the above, but I think there should be some type of certification program as a requirement. Anybody can start their own team, but can anyone coach a travel/competitive team that will be a benefit to the players and parents?

The rules and regulations to become a travel coach depend on your geographic location. Unlike teachers, who have to be certified by the state in which they work, travel coaches have no such requirements.

Many parents automatically assume that if the coach has played the game then the coach certainly should be knowledgeable in how to train a travel team. There are assumption being made; one is that the coach has been trained appropriately by someone who had the qualifications to train a coach hopefully using methods that include player-centered and age-appropriate training methods.

Can you just show up and become a travel team coach? My answer is no.

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