The most surprising thing about coaching kids soccer

Many things surprised me. But one really stood out.

Crazy parents? Poor refs? You can win so much by playing so wrong?

Those were surprising, but something even surpassed those.

I think it needs to be fixed to improve the quality of soccer in the U.S. all around and the top.

Okay…maybe I’m laying the BS on a little thick. But, I do think it would help.

I was surprised by how much gets in the way of kids improving.

I was even more surprised by how kids are their own worst enemies. Stupid me, I thought kids would want to get better. Nah.They want to be good already.

Kids avoid direct comparisons and overestimate their ability. “Yeh, Johnny can score goals, but I can take the ball from anyone!” They hear “good pass” as “you’re the best player on the team!” Egos are powerful and misleading.

That’s why crystal clear feedback should be the goal.

Our soccer system mucks up the feedback, too.

In this post I wrote about how pickup culture provides better feedback than organized teams, and strong soccer countries have a tightly interwoven pickup culture.

Here I wrote about how the sports clubs in strong soccer countries provide good feedback to kids in ways that our clubs do not.

Crystal clear feedback doesn’t mean telling kids they are terrible. It means giving kids a glimpse of where they should head, letting them know how far along they are and how they can move further. The posts above describes how pickup and clubs in other countries do just that.

Come to think of it, it bugged me as a coach how uncommon it was for the kids to praise or correct each other. They didn’t learn to do it in pickup and on a team, they figured that was the coach’s job. Yet, another area where they didn’t get the feedback they need.

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