It’s a common scenario: the junior soccer team that used to take the championship matches by storm takes a turn for the worse. What used to be the unfamiliar feeling of losing suddenly becomes a regular occurrence. Parents begin asking “What happened?” and “What went wrong?” and your soccer coaching skills are unexpectedly placed under scrutiny. When the team was born at U10 and soccer uniforms smelled fresh and new, everything was perfect. So what did go wrong?
What went wrong was the fact that you decided to groom your players for competition rather than hone their playing skills. The junior soccer team that has so easily brought home the bacon will not be “junior” people forever. They will grow out of their soccer uniforms. They will grow up, hence they will face more competitive teams whose soccer coaching was likely focused on technical work.
What went wrong was the fact that you unconsciously brought the junior soccer team to have a coach-centered approach instead of a player-centered one. Soccer coaching goes beyond having the authority at your hands and allowing the young players to think you’re the master of the soccer world. See, it’s the players who go out there. Their soccer uniforms get soiled. They get rough and dirty. You call all the shots, but the team has to realize they can call the shots too.
What went wrong was the fact that you underestimated your junior soccer team’s intelligence, creativity, and imagination. These three are to be cultivated whether in or out the soccer uniforms because these three help your young players grow. Soccer coaching goes beyond the direct, specific plays—who to pass the ball to, when to pass it, and where to pass it. Please remember it’s a soccer game. Your opponents have other plans in mind. Whatever play you have set out for your team, your opponents are determined to make sure those plans never get through.
What went wrong was the fact you didn’t look beyond where you should be looking. You didn’t think long term. Yes, you thought of winning, but have you ever thought of winning in the long run? Have you ever thought of teaching your players early on what really goes on in every soccer game? Have you ever considered teaching them that it’s always the basics that must be gotten down pat, that they will never earn a spot in the higher levels unless they learn how to play the right way first?
If you haven’t, now is the time to do so.