Here’s a great tweet from Tom Byer:
Good timing. I’ve been working on a similar thought.
For me, it comes down to how much time kids spend discovering the ball, self-directed. The ball culture fosters this in soccer-playing cultures.
Not only does the US lack a culture that promotes discovering the ball in a self-directed fashion, many aspects of our culture actually works against developing ball mastery.
I know that sounds strange. It seems pretty simple to understand that it’s a fundamental.
But, here are just a few things that work against that…
Kick and run — While this attitude is slowly changing, many unfamiliar with the sport still see it as pretty simple, you just kick and run and there’s need for ‘fancy footwork’ (or, what I like to call “the basics”).
Sadly, it took me about 2 years to learn, as a coach, that I was wrong about this. It took my team playing against another team that did have some basics. I wish I would have played a team like that much sooner.
Misunderstanding of how touch develops — Lots of folks do appreciate touch, but just don’t understand how it develops. They think it just eventually comes with age and coordination. They don’t realize that it can start at an early age and takes a lot of practice.
I doubt that the folks in a ball culture explicitly realize this, either. It’s not like they are forcing their 2 year-old’s to dribble through cones with the express intent of developing ball mastery.
Rather, they teach and play with their kids in simple and fun games to play with the soccer ball, just like we teach our kids simple and fun games with baseballs (all variations of catch) and basketballs (all variations of 1-on-1, etc.) that build lots of repetition without realizing it, because it’s fun.
Aversion to playing with the soccer ball outside of organized soccer — I’ve scratched my head on this one for years. It amazes me, and lots of others, how few soccer players even look at the ball outside of organized events.
They treat it like a job that they don’t want to bring home. It doesn’t help that parents don’t want kids to have balls in the house, or a wall to kick the ball against. And, they seem to believe that practice should be enough to learn to ‘kick a ball.’
I think this goes back to the previous point — kids and parents simply don’t know simple and fun games.