Recent from Twitter: Why soccer players in the U.S. don’t have spatial awareness

TOVO Academy Todd Beane asked why soccer youth in the US lack spatial awareness.

My answer: Too much time at training spent making up for basic skill dev not accomplished informally with family and friends.

I believe Beane’s preferred answer is that spatial awareness training isn’t prioritized in American soccer.

Which, I also agree with. But, I think that goes back to my answer.

Spatial awareness training just doesn’t get your team much advantage on the pitch on Saturday in the U.S. if the kids can’t get the ball to that space.

If, as Tom Byers points out, kids came to their first club team as 8 yo’s with the basics, then teams would be working a whole lot less on the basics and more on the spatial awareness, if it were to emerge as a competitive margin.

But, at the present moment, the two primary competitive margins in the U.S. are how many players on the team have the basics and how good the team’s top 1 or 2 players are. So, clubs spend a lot time recruiting those top 1-2 players and try teaching the rest of the kids the basics.

Btw…I’ve seen teams at age 8 or 9 with great spatial awareness. They just happened to be made up of children of recent immigrants from soccer cultures, who play with their family and friends all the time. Some of these teams didn’t even practice as a team. They just signed up to play and could still pound the kids working on basics 10-1.

In the Twitter thread, Beane mentioned that he has seen American teen boys with good skills that also lack awareness. What he hasn’t seen is where those kids came from. How long ago did they cement those skills? Have they still been playing on teams where they are the 1-2 good players, while everyone else lacks the basics?

Here’s another point of comparison. Relatively low level American basketball players have good spatial awareness. I believe they learned most of that in informal play. Organized play may have put some finishing touches on it, but 75% of it was there by the time kids are making the cut to competitive teams by age 11 or 12.


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