In a couple of recent 3Four3 podcasts, Pranjic and guests talked about the inability of American soccer kids to self-organize a pickup game.
I’ve experienced that myself.
They wrote it off as something to do with kids these days.
I don’t think so.
Why? Because, I’ve seen the same kids who couldn’t organize a soccer pickup, organize pickup baseball, football and basketball games.
Why could they organize pickup for these sports, but not for soccer?
I think one reason is because they have more experience playing these sports in informal settings with mixed ages and ability levels and have picked up on the subtle solves for getting the game going and keeping it going.
Most of their experience in soccer has been coach-led.
I think the other reason is that the kids haven’t yet developed the skills to make soccer more fun in anything other than an organized game of kicking the ball into space and running to it.
That game doesn’t translate to smaller areas and smaller numbers, like a 1v1, for example. I wrote more about that here.
Short answer: culture.
No doubt, pickup play is a key driver to developing sports skills and game IQ.
The following two efforts will try to emulate pickup play for soccer, since it is sorely lacking in the U.S.
The guys from the 3four3 soccer blog are starting the 3four3 Player’s Club.
- 25 weeks
- Personal Training from proven, yes proven, coaches operating at the cutting edge of youth development
- 75 hours – of available pickup games
- Consistent exposure to proper pickup culture
- Under the eyes of 3four3 staff on a weekly basis
Some folks affiliated with pro soccer teams in the Kansas City area are starting the Zone 1 Academy program.
- 4 practices will be offered each week. Players may attend as many as they wish.
- The daily training atmosphere will be a point of emphasis.
- Individual and small group play will be emphasized.
- Freedom of expression will be encouraged.
These seem like steps in the right direction.
I wish them the best of luck.
Dear US Soccer:
More of this:
Less of that:
The story is here.
Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe opulent facilities to train coaches in is just the thing. Or, maybe you could use the Internet, like these guys?
When I started coaching rec soccer, I was shocked at how little useful information was out there to help someone like me who knew little about soccer. I wasn’t the only one.
There were many like us who simply put the fastest guys up the middle chasing rec trophies and not teaching them proper technique.
I was shocked that there wasn’t something like the F license online course (which is good, btw) out there for FREE for all.