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.
A soccer coach must be able to advise his or her players, and their parents, on a number of aspects about the beautiful game. The advice concerns on the field performance to off the field factors that influence player development and therefore performance. Advice may be on something as paramount to both performance and health as proper hydration and sports nutrition to remembering to dry off between the toes after bathing to reduce the likelihood of athlete’s foot. Or the guidance may be about player equipment. What to look for when buying shin guards or goalkeeper gloves or most importantly for all soccer players the shoes.
Every player needs a proper pair of soccer shoes to play the game comfortably and effectively. Yet the parents, who frequently have not played the game themselves, need the coach’s advice on what to look for in a good soccer shoe, how to break them in and how to take care of them. While this piece of coaching may not seem as interesting to novice coaches as team formations or how to swerve a shot on goal it is a practical reality of daily life for all players. The coach, particularly at the youth level, may be the first source of correct information for the player on their equipment. While teaching players and parents how to clean and polish soccer shoes is a bit more mundane than teaching the players how to execute an overlap it is a crucial part of effective coaching.
So here’s a sample question from a soccer dad and my response.
“Dear Sir, maybe you can help me. I have a question about soccer cleats. My son play defense and I’m thing about buying him cleats that have metal studs. Is this a good idea? Also what is the difference? He is using rubber cleats right now. Also what is a good cleat to get for a defenses player? Also does the round stud make any difference? Thank you for your help.”
Whether or not to get your son shoes with metal studs depends on his age. Prior to puberty we recommend that players use multi-studded shoes. Prior to adolescence they should wear molded cleat shoes. Once they have hit adolescence, roughly 15-years-old, then they can look into getting screw-in studs shoes. The reason is that the metal studded shoe digs deeper into the turf and to turn or pivot now means the athlete must have the necessary torque to turn and tear the turf. If the player doesn’t have that kind of muscle power the leg will turn, but the foot stays planted and then the likelihood of a sprained ankle increases.
Since the field the players are on is the same for all players, regardless of position in the team, they can all wear the same type of shoes. There is no need in soccer for players to tailor the shoe type by position. The shoe type is more a personal preference.
Here are links to more advice on buying soccer shoes:
So coaches’ part of out craft is knowing about a large number of things that impact our players. Be prepared to give good advice on footwear and foot care!