Sam’s Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.
There’s an old Navy phrase – sail or jump ship. Well usually it was so, and so jumped ship while at port because the captain didn’t know until the sailor was already gone. In youth soccer we have far too many players (sailors) jumping clubs (ship). Often the coach (ship’s captain) is at a loss as to why. There are many reasons that players jump or switch from club to club. Some of them are legitimate reasons such as the family moving to another city, the expenses become too great, the existing club doesn’t offer the next age group for the player or there are irreconcilable differences with the player and the club staff. What other legitimate reasons could there be?
Well the most common reason that players jump from club to club is to move to the “winning” club. This is the seed of many weeds growing in our youth soccer culture. Winning and success are fleeting experiences in sports.
“There are many people, particularly in sports who think that success and excellence are the same thing and they are not the same thing. Excellence is something that is lasting and dependable and largely within a person’s control. In contrast, success is perishable and is often outside our control… If you strive for excellence, you will probably be successful eventually… people who put excellence in first place have the patience to end up with success… An additional burden for the victim of the success mentality is that he/she is threatened by success of others and resents real excellence. In contrast, the person fascinated by quality is excited when he/she sees it in others.” – Joe Paterno
Parents are often the source of the move by a player from one club to another. Perhaps without even being aware of it they are seeking a short solution to long term player development. At the professional level of soccer a similar mindset often takes place with the club’s management and/or fans. At this level of soccer though it is more likely to change coaches than players. Well, yes, pro players do change clubs, but not as often as coaches are dismissed. So at all of these levels of soccer are expectations too high?
“There’s no evidence that continual changing of coaches brings success. It is not healthy that a coach can lose four games and be out of a job. I wish club presidents and supporters would have the same patience as coaches. But we’re asking miracles because football is so emotional.” – Sir Alex Ferguson
Is it possible for parents to have patience with their child’s soccer growth? What object lessons of loyalty and perseverance are being taught if the sailors keep jumping ship?