From the article on Byer:
To Byer, it shouldn’t be rocket science that a soccer education would be like a school education: Kids who come from a culture at home that values education will usually be the ones who excel in school.
Bingo! In 2015, I wrote about how not valuing education is THE key problem with education and drew a parallel to my soccer coaching experience — kids from families who don’t value soccer don’t progress as fast.
Here’s more from Byer:
If you go out to many parks throughout the U.S. on any given weekend, you’ll see them filled, usually with parents, and they’re basically kicking the ball back and forth with their 3-, 4-, 5- or 6-year-old. So they’re conditioning them from a young age that it’s a kicking game.
“What I say as a challenge is: Kicking shouldn’t be the first technique you teach a kid,” he continued. “In fact, it’s detrimental to them. If you take a soccer ball and give it to a little Latin kid and try to dispossess the kid by lunging at him to try and take it away, he’ll either pull the ball back or he or she will try to beat you. Now you give that ball to a typical American kid or Canadian kid or Chinese kid and challenge them for the ball, and they’ll either bend over and pick it up or they’ll kick it and chase after it and freeze.”
Or…kick the ball right into the shins of the defender, where it then bounces randomly until it winds up in a goal and everybody on one side of the field or the other cheers as if something good actually happened.
More from Byer (emphasis added):
…the reality is the majority of kids that play the sport, they’re technically incompetent. Not good enough. They’ve never mastered the skills of a player. Then you’ve got some crazy coach trying to get the kids to play some systemic tactical formation. But they can’t do the math. It’s tantamount to taking a kid and throwing them into geometry or trigonometry or algebra when you’ve never offered the class for adding and subtracting.”
I find this frustrating, too.
That’s why I recommended that kids stick with 5-a-side soccer (or futsal) until they are technically competent. Other countries do this naturally, as 5-a-side is baked into their culture as pickup.
I will add that many families in the U.S. do value soccer, but have no idea what to do at home because they don’t know soccer and don’t know what technical competency looks like.
Actually, ‘technical competency’ makes it sound more sophisticated that it really is. It’s otherwise known as ‘ball control’. How well can you deliberately keep the ball with your team.
If parents actually understood just how bad their kids’ ball control is, they would be mortified. It’s like having a kid on a baseball team who can’t catch. The only saving grace in soccer is that there are plenty of other Bad News Bears teams out there who don’t realize how bad they are either, so there’s still plenty of opportunities for technically incompetent teams to win trophies and think all is well.
It will be interesting to see how the programs Tom Byer has developed in Japan might help that situation in the U.S.