As parents, getting your child to practice, making sure they have the correct equipment, and providing them with the appropriate emotional support is of course very important. And at Soccer Central we want to help you raise great kids! Therefore, understanding what we do as an organization, why we do it, and ‘what it takes’ to truly provide young players with the right coaching and development is crucial, and it will make a massive difference in your child’s involvement and progress!
In this section of our website you will find some wonderful material, including free articles and videos that will help you understand why we do what we do and allow you to make sure that your child continues on the right track in their development.
“In Soccer Are You doing the Best By Your Child? Before you answer, you may want to read this book. Using a variety of examples and perspectives of many development experts this book provides the reader with compelling information on the damaging problems that currently exist in youth soccer due to large numbers of adults demonstrating misguided or outdated beliefs about working with children and/or harboring ulterior motives that are simply not beneficial to the player’s best interests. It is a thought provoking read!” New York State West Soccer Association: Striker West, Feb 2013.
Article: Developing Talented and Creative Players, by Gary Allen
Due to the nature and tradition of team sports in the U.S., the Soccer Central philosophy (which focuses on individual development, creativity, and providing players with the freedom to try things with no fear) is still somewhat ‘against the grain’. This was especially the case a decade ago when we first began to develop our ideas. However, this will slowly change as more state directors (who are educated on youth soccer development) are speaking out and writing articles like this one. Here is the final paragraph of an article by Gary Allen. He was the Virginia Director of Education and has coached for 32 years and recently won a National award for his services to youth soccer in America.
Article: Encourage Dribbling! by Richard Shaw
Over the years we have regularly encountered parents expressing disappointment about young players who they believe, “Dribble too much!” Often they will say things like: “When that player gets the ball they hardly ever pass!” and “my child passes all the time!” Sometimes, a parent may even say, “I told my child to always look for the pass as it’s what good teammates do!” Of course making passes is an important part of the game and this is a skill that we certainly encourage young players to learn and experiment with. However, in this article we will discuss the importance of young players being encouraged to dribble!
At NY Soccer Central, we constantly encourage players to dribble! Whether they are excellent dribblers who are able to consistently beat players with speed and skill, or whether a player’s dribbling skills are not one of their strongest assets, we continuously encourage players to try it!
The reason for this is because dribbling is a crucial part of the players’ development, and if they continually practice this skill it allows them to become far more confident and comfortable on the ball when they are older. This is something that we have witnessed firsthand over the years and is a message that leading figures in U.S. youth and professional soccer attempt to convey. We will provide their thoughts shortly.
But first, we must highlight a common tendency in youth soccer for parents and coaches (especially those coaches who are more concerned about putting winning teams together at young ages than developing players) to encourage youngsters not to dribble. For example, we often hear from the sideline the shouts of “clear it”, “pass it, pass it!”, and of course the mocking gesture of ‘stop playing with ball!’
Although these coaches and parents feel that simply kicking the ball up the field can be a far more effective way to get a game winning result, many clearly fail to consider that it inhibits the player’s ability to develop crucial skills.
Here are the perspectives of some leading figures in U.S. youth and professional soccer:
“This whole routine of ‘pass, pass, pass’ has been pounded into so many of our kids for so long that I would argue that it helps explain why we lack outstanding dribblers on our national teams.” Sam Snow, U.S. Youth Soccer, Director of Coaching Education
“At youth soccer games you’ll probably hear parents and coaches on the sidelines yelling, ‘Pass the ball! Pass the ball!’ When we continually tell our young players to pass the ball, we’re not allowing them to develop their full potential, especially those who have the ability to take their opponents on and beat them one-on-one. As a result, we run the risk of diminishing a player’s artistry and potential.” Tony DiCicco, Former U.S. Women’s National Team Coach
Mia Hamm credits pickup games she played with her older brother and other children as a key to her success, because as she simply states, “I was able to dribble all I wanted.”
In discussing the topic of developing elite and effective players, Landon Donovan, arguably the most successful U.S. soccer player of all time emphasizes how, “You can learn the tactical side of the game later. If you don’t learn at an early age to be good on the ball, then it’s just useless.”
Finally, the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Player Development Guideline states, “At the younger ages soccer is not a team sport. On the contrary, it is a time for players to develop their individual relationship with the ball. Do not demand that players share the ball. Encourage them to be creative.”
At NY Soccer Central we will continue on with our positive dribbling philosophy!
Video: Arsenal Coach discusses the importance of focusing on technical development
Below is an excellent video featuring Arsenal Manager/Head Coach Arsene Wenger who has helped to develop some of the best young talent in professional soccer. Additionally, he is the only manager to ever lead a team through a Premier League season undefeated! In this video, he emphasizes the importance of focusing on developing technical skill at a young age and waiting until players are in their late teens to focus on tactics, a philosophy which mirrors our curriculum and philosophy at Soccer Central but is unfortunately ignored by many clubs and organizations who focus on winning and team success far too prematurely.