Another Coach Bites the Dust

Well those of you that really know me, know that I don’t sacrifice development for winning with my young players.  There are moments of the season where we are focused on being as competitive as we can be while others where we are strictly developmental, but we will never sacrifice their development for a stupid trophy.

Last week was a clear example of that.  My girls are 8 years old playing up 1 year against 9 year olds in indoor soccer.  Now, before I get started, let me just say this.  Indoor soccer is the dumbest developmental soccer game ever produced for kids!  The biggest problem we have with our youth in this country is their ability to think and be creative.  Now we go and give them a wall which keeps the ball in bounds essentially the whole game and offers them an easy solution.  Wow!  Only in America!  That’s why I advocate Futsal, Futebol de Saloa or Court Soccer for our youth.  Get rid of the damn walls and force the kids to think and play the game the right way.

Alright…enough about that.  So it is the semi-finals of this league and we are playing a 9 year old team that is just much bigger and stronger than us.  This coach has seen us play before so he changes his game plan to “Kickball Central”…I will explain in a moment.  But here is the first red flag.  If you are in a meaningless indoor league, in the off season mind you, and you have to change the way your kids play at 9 years old to try and obtain a trophy, then you need to turn in the coaching card because your priorities are all screwed up.

We played this team one of the first games of the season.  At that moment their coach had the right idea.  They came out trying to touch the ball and play the proper way and we beat them 9 to 2.  Back then I had much respect for that coach cause it appeared that he was trying to do the right thing.  But whoa nilly, he took that loss as a slap in the face instead of as a learning experience and abandoned his principles for the last 2 months of the season and low and behold, his team started winning “Kickball Central” style.

So back to the semi-final game, we dominated the game.  Probably had 80% of the possession.  Three, four, even five pass combinations were the norm for my little squad.  But the back and forth of the “Kickball” coupled with the handicap of the walls proved too much for my girls and we lost.  I told my girls I was proud of them because they played the game it was supposed to be played and will be better for it in the long run.  The other team danced and celebrated like they had just won the “World Cup”!

After the game my Assistant Coach went over and spoke with the other coach and asked him if that was how they played outdoor as well.   Get this, the coach said no, we tried to play you guys straight up the first time and got hammered so we changed our tactics so we could win.  No lie, that is what came out of his mouth.  It goes on and on and gets even more ridiculous but you get the jist.

Essentially, this coach had sacrificed at least 6 months in the developmental cycle of his young girls so they could win.  Why do I say that?  Number 1, he changed their style of play which is a huge setback for kids.  They just don’t get it quickly and you really confuse them with two different systems.  Number 2, he spent 2 months of their non-competitive season playing a style of soccer that required no thought, no skill, no thinking and no creativity.  You know, all the things that us Americans lack, even at the highest levels.  Number 3, it will take at least 6 months to erase all that negative learning and get those girls back to where they were on that day at the beginning of the season when we beat them 9 to 2.  But hey, they got their indoor trophy!

Listen parents and coaches, you have to change the way you look at this game for your kids.  Sure it is competitive, but the competitive part comes at age 13 on.  From 6 to 12 we need to focus on 2 things and 2 things only.  First, making sure the kids have fun playing this game.  If we can do that then we ensure the child will be around in the future to reap the benefits of positive training.  Secondly, we need to make sure that we have a platform and system where these kids develop and learn while they have fun.  When the two things above are accomplished, we ultimately will give the kids the tools they need so they can compete at the age appropriate level.  If we can do the first two correctly, the third will follow.

As hard as it was for me to sit back and watch a bunch of misfit soccer players beat my girls on the scoreboard, as a coach focused on the right thing I just had to bite my tongue and stick to my principles.  As parents and youth coaches you all have to do the same thing.  Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take two forward.  I know that we are definitely going to take two steps forward after completing our indoor “TRAINING” season.

Please leave me your comments here and let me know what you think.  Thanks again and I will speak with you soon.

Coach Randle

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