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.
3) The sooner your child specializes in just one sport, the better chance they have of advancing to a higher level (e.g. college, professional ranks).
I have spoken with many professional players over the years and most say they didn’t even think to specialize soccer until they were in high school, around the age of 15. When they were younger, they played a variety of sports as did myself, soccer, basketball and track depending on the season. Some coaches will pressure kids to play just one sport. You should be wary of this! In addition to burnout worries, ask yourself, “how does a child know which sport will be his or her best one, unless they try a bunch of different sports?” When they’re young, let them try more than one sport. And please don’t forget to let them have fun in whatever sport they play.
4) The very best time to teach your youngster how to improve their play is immediately after the game; ideally, in the car ride on the way home while their game actions are still fresh in their mind.
Coaches, we really need to take a look at what we say to our player’s right after the game. We also need to educate our parents that it’s not the right time to critique your player right after the game, especially if the team lost! We as coaches should demonstrate to our parents the proper way to discuss the game with the players. For example, what did you liked about playing today, what was fun, can you tell me something you did well and perhaps, is there anything you might want to practice or spend some time on. This might help the parents ask more non-threatening questions. Most of the time coaches and parents are telling players what they did wrong and how bad other players on the team were. Perhaps waiting until a quiet moment later in the evening or the next day would work better for the player in terms of being ready to really discuss the game. If not done correctly critiquing a young player’s game right after the match could drive them away from soccer.