Developing Young Soccer Players

I am siting here in the shade quietly watching my 6 year old daughter play recreational soccer, a Saturday morning ritual for the majority of parents with young children in America. The coach of the opposing team is clearly passionate about his role and just by glancing at his attire you can tell that he takes his job extremely seriously. We need more parents who care as much as he does involved with our young athletes at this age, however we need to make sure their efforts are not wasted or having a detrimental affect on players’ development. A wise old coach once told me, not practicing at all is better than practicing poorly. My observation here is not something that only this parent coach struggles with, unfortunately most of the youth soccer coaches I have come across in my 15 years in the United States seem to face similar problems, maybe this is the reason why US Soccer struggles to produce skillful, creative players who can solve problems on the field. The coach of the other team is continously yelling at his players to “pass, pass, pass” and “kick the ball up”. He is not only rewarding his players with praise for doing so, he is singling out and isolating players who dribble too much (if there is such a thing at 6 years old) by yelling at them on the field “why didn’t you pass, we need to pass”. These actions by the coach are all with good intention, however what he fails to realize is that no matter how much you yell at players this age they will never play anything that resembles “real soccer”. I understand where he...