Let the Game be the Teacher

Youth Soccer Training:  Let the Game be the Teacher

The other day I was speaking to a friend of mine about youth development here in the United States and he said something very profound to me. Mind you, this is not your ordinary soccer junkie, this guy is still playing professionally in the MLS and played on the US World Cup Team in 2006.

So on to the story. He started telling me how he took over an under 12 boys team that just wasn’t very good. He really didn’t know any of the players so that made it even more difficult for him. He played the players in the positions he thought would best suit the team. The team had a very difficult time at first and didn’t win very many games.

One day he decided to just sit back and let the kids run the practice. The only stipulation was that they had to organize a small sided game and play. Being kids, they quickly assembled the game, divided the teams, and began to play. The coach sat back in awe of what he was seeing. A particular player that he had been playing striker immediately took a leadership role, organizing his team, and being the leader that could make all of the pieces work.

He saw others that showed great presence and game awareness. Traits he had never seen or realized before. This all happened right in front of his eyes. Still, he just sat back and watched, making sure not to interject and allowing the kids to express themselves freely.

The point of this article is this:  The coach realized that his players were much more talented than he ever imagined when he “Let the Game be the Teacher”.  There is no coach in the world that can teach youth kids the game of soccer like a small sided game.

Go out next week and have your kids organize and run their own practice. They may even do a better job with  than you can.  Observing their skills sets in such a practical setting will help you have a better perception of your team. If they are too young, organize it for them and then just sit back and be quiet. Observe the traits of your kids when there is no pressure and they are allowed to express themselves freely.  You will be amazed to see just how brilliant your group of kids really are. If we take away all of the pressures from the game and allow the kids to have fun, then the real development begins on both the playing and coaching end.

It’s too easy if you just “Keep it Simple”,

Coach Randle

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