I was approached by a parent today at the fields. He wanted to know if the coaches should be teaching dribbling moves to the players. His son is a U15 player and had an unsuccessful tryout with the Olympic Development Program (ODP) this weekend. He said that the players at the weekend tryout were so good on the ball and could beat players almost at will. I pondered for a while and before I responded.
I told him that the players he was admiring this past weekend probably were not taught moves, but were mimicking players they admire. I asked him if his son ever looked at highlight videos on YouTube of Messi, Ronaldo, Robinho or Ronaldinho. It is not about teaching moves at U15. It is about recognizing when to apply the appropriate skill at the right time during the game to the benefit of the team. This occurs through constant play and trial and error.
I explained to him that I never had anyone teach me anything fundamental. I learned through observation and experimenting when I played in the parks. My first coach was at U14. I do not remember a single session that taught us moves. I do remember playing 1v1 games though.
This same parent came to me about bullying at practice. He said some players were “bossing others around on the field and getting on each other when they made mistakes.” I observed a few of the practices to see what was happening. I saw the passionate players demanding more from their teammates. I saw leaders trying to lift players around them. I explained to him that it was not about the tone, but the content of the message.
This same parent wanted me to do extra sessions on Sunday to prepare players for ODP (he really meant his son), but guess who never showed up? I also run optional training on Fridays and we allow the kids to play in a 6v6 tournament environment for 90 minutes. Freedom of expression is the theme of the day. Guess who does not show up to that either?
It’s all about putting in the time and effort to get better and improve. As I mentioned before, YouTube is a great place to go to find moves and skills. There are other resources for those that wish to invest in their soccer games through a more structured program. Our friend Matt Smith has put together a program called “Epic Soccer Training” for players that want to work on their games outside of practice to improve. You’ll learn the same routines that Matt put into play to go from a high school bench player to a college All-American. Click here for more about Epic Soccer Training.
I guess some people can’t accept when their kids simply are not good enough or do not devote enough time to the sport . It is always the fault of someone else.