Why this Formula is Hurting Youth Soccer in America! Winning is killing the future of soccer and wasting parents’ money by requiring parents to spend more than they should just so their children can win. Everyone wants to win now, but ultimately the kids will lose later. Before you misunderstand the point of this article, we want to make it clear that we love to win! We play to win, but we would rather lose now and win later for the sake of our players, parents, and the beautiful game we love. At World Class Futbol, we believe winning should not start becoming a priority until the children reach the Under 13 level.
The win now and lose later syndrome is sweeping kids within the ages 6-12, parents that understand absolutely nothing about the game, and coaches and clubs that are solely looking to grow their business. Ask any parent how their son/daughter’s team is doing and you will hear one of two answers; they are winning all of their games and will probably go undefeated and their coach is great, or they are not very good, they are losing a lot of games, and the coach is playing some players he or she shouldn’t be playing. Do you see the problem? At the Under 7 or 9 levels, we are judging our kids’ development based on whether their teams are winning or not. Instead, ask yourself these questions:It’s beautiful watching parents on a Saturday morning cheering their kids on and high fiving each other every time a goal is scored. It’s quite the party and that’s the way it should be. Parents should really enjoy the game and support their kids when they score a goal and win the game, as well as congratulate their paid coach after the match for the amazing job he/she is doing. But there is a problem… winning is killing the game!
Is my child mastering the game?
Is my child developing the right technical skills and growing as a player?
Is my child being taught the correct fundamentals to continue developing?
Studies cite that 70% of kids quit sports by the age of 13 due to burnouts, the sport not being fun anymore, and too much pressure from parents and coaches.
At World Class Futbol, we believe there is one additional reason. We believe they also quit due to lack of preparation. Many coaches are not preparing kids to succeed when they reach the age when winning actually matters. In soccer, technical skills and game intelligence become the difference makers as you get older. Player development and mastery of the game must replace the “winning is what matters most” mentality parents find themselves cheering for on Saturday morning.
Winning allows coaches and teams to keep their best players. Many coaches will not be honest enough to tell you this, but there’s a formula to winning at the youth level. The formula is: discourage kids to be creative and demand they make no mistakes; don’t allow the kids to control the ball and pass in their defensive third of the field; and only allow the one or two more technical players to dribble and shoot to their heart’s content. If your child is not that special player, then he or she is told to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. Your child, therefore, becomes a specialist at getting rid of the ball and you instinctively cheer because he/she is kicking high and far. The team wins for now, but your child loses later when winning actually starts to matter. Is that what you signed up to pay for? Hopefully not. Don’t you want your child to learn the right techniques and develop the correct ideas regarding the game, even if they are just doing it for fun?
At World Class Futbol, we refuse to adopt this formula. Our philosophy focuses on developing and preparing our players to win when it actually starts to matter. We understand development takes time and patience; patience from parents and coaches to allow the kids to make mistakes and learn from them. On Saturday mornings, we should be focused on seeing our kids execute techniques and plays learned at practice during the week, knowing that when kids are taught the right techniques and are encouraged to worry about developing in those areas rather than on winning, everyone eventually wins in the end when winning truly begins to matter. Remember, winning at the right age could mean catching the eye of an academy or college coach.
Kokou Assigbe, Coaching Director at World Class Premier