This past week, our youngest child donned his brand new soccer gear for his very first ever soccer practice. It’s a day he’s been waiting for and talking about for months now. He’s excited about going to play soccer just like his big brothers. Ask him why he wants to play soccer, and he’ll tell you “because it’s fun!”
I think sometimes we forget this. After all soccer is really a kid’s game that is played by adults. It’s a simple game at its core. One ball, two goals and some players. The ultimate pick up-and-play sport. A couple of shoes for goals and something round to kick and it’s game on.
Soccer gets serious very early. 10 year old players are involved in 3 day tournaments already. Practice is intense. Coaches are coaching hard every day to get results.
This is the nature of the game. And much of it is necessary. It takes a great deal of commitment for kids to develop into quality players. There is much sacrifice to be made if players want to play at the collegiate or professional level.
However, it’s critical every once and a while that you throw in a “fun” practice to help the kids keep some balance. These kinds of practices are HUGE morale boosters, and the players always bring new focus and intensity in the sessions that follow one of these play days.
Where I live the schools are on Spring Break this week. We have cancelled formal practices for the week, but are making available the option for players to just come out and play. Several coaches were in attendance yesterday. Our role was to simply split up the teams, hand out the pennies and let the kids go.
Sure some of the play was sloppy, but we also saw some great creativity. We had a mix of 13-15 year old boys and girls, along with three coaches jumping into the game. We had enough for 3 teams of 10 players each so we played first to 2 goals or 7 minutes. We moved the goals in to the top of the 18s and let it rip.
As coaches we majorly limited our input in the game from a coaching standpoint. We just played with the kids. The players had an absolute blast! I saw one girl who normally plays centerback excel as a wing midfielder…a position she had never played before.
I watched my 12 year old son running down the sideline with a massive grin on his face as he tried to beat one of the coaches 1v1. It was the perfect pick up game, and a great way for our players to fall in love with the game once again.
Keep it fun Coach!!