US soccer youth need role models

Here’s another good Coaching Soccer Weekly podcast.

In part of it, host Mura and his guest discussed coaching teams of different ages. Mura said he has coached U9 and U17 girls teams at the same time and felt it was beneficial for both ages.

In this post, I proposed that a key missing ingredient in US youth soccer was the lack of a immediate role models for younger players to aspire to.

Our structure prevents it, while the club structure in other countries fosters it.

There the club’s first team is the equivalent of our high school/local college team. But there are couple huge differences.

There, the 1st teamers don’t disappear for half the year during a high school season. They are always at the club for the younger kids to see and build relationships with.

There, the 1st and 2nd teamers coach the young ones to keep costs down. So, the young kids get to know some of the 1st teamers and want to watch them play and emulate them.

There, the clubs also tend to have their own grounds, so it’s common for players of all ages to get to know each other and for mixed age play to occur. Here, most clubs get space wherever they can and it often means that club members don’t ever see each other or get to know each other because they practice at different places.

U.S. youth have nothing like this on a systematic basis. It may happen by accident in some clubs, like Mura’s, but it’s not the norm.

I think this helps the younger kids work on their long-term development so they can someday play like their role models someday.

Since kids in the U.S. don’t have these role models, they are content to be the best on their team at something and aren’t interested working toward being able to play like a role model someday.

I heard Mura echo some of this in the podcast and say we need more mixing of the age groups. He said the younger girls looked up to the older girls and wanted to play like them.

He mentioned another dynamic I hadn’t thought about. He said it was beneficial for the older girls, too. They adopted the younger girls like they were little sisters and they enjoyed encouraging and helping them out.

That made me think it might help a 17 year-old to see younger kids to see how far they have come. People tend to forget that development is a years long process and they seem to think that how good they are now is how good they have always been.

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