Careful !! - Children at Play • Our Generation • Had more unsupervised free time • Made our own rules • Ownership/power to decide what to play/how long • Our Children • Constantly supervised • Monitored by overbearing adults • Evaluated to adult standards • Fast tracked to achieve goals • Losing their autonomy/creativity opportunities
YOUTH SPORT HIJACKED BY ADULTS • WHOSE NEEDS ARE CONSIDERED? • WHOSE EXPECTATIONS ARE MET? • WHOSE AGENDAS ARE FULFILLED? • WHY PARENTS FIND IT HARD TO VIEW YOUTH SPORT AS JUST ANOTHER LEISURE ACTIVITY? (the return on investment syndrome)
HOW CHILDREN DEVELOPThis presentation will cover: • Cognitive development • Understanding players’ needs • Phases of commitment • Trainable components • Optimum practice to game ratio • State of flow for max creativity • Player Evaluation / Playing up • Responsibilities of the soccer parent
COGNITIVEDEVELOPMENT(Piaget) • SENSORY – MOTOR (birth to age 2) • PRE-OPERATIONAL (from 2-8 years) • Egocentric – Imagination – Non logical thinking • CONCRETE OPERATIONAL (8-11) • Logical thinking related to concrete objects • Less egocentric – more cooperative - rules • FORMAL OPERATIONAL (11 and up) • Logical thinking related to abstract objects • Time and space – Thinking in advance - rules
Characteristics of Children • U-6 Players • Body segments grow at different rates • Motor development primitive (head, body center) • Differences between boys and girls minimal • Easy fatigue, rapid recovery • Short attention span • Egocentric (me, my, mine) • Can only handle one task at a time • Does not understand ‘Team’ concept • Immature understanding of time and space • Play consists of imagination & pretend games • Psychologically easily bruised - Need generous praise
Characteristics of Children • U-6 Players – Implications • Need ‘Movement Education’ approach (walking, running, jumping, hopping, bending, twisting, throwing, catching, kicking, etc) • Simple rules. Short activities. Fire imagination • Parallel play with own toy (ball) • Mostly Dribbling activities • Unopposed activities with ball • Unable to think ahead – tactics not possible • They don’t play soccer – they play at soccer • Criticism not appropriate
Characteristics of Children • U-8 Players • Skeletal system still growing • Physical abilities still immature • Playmates emerge. ‘Best friend’ • Team identity limited • Attention span still short • Limited self-evaluation: Effort equal success • Still can mostly attend to one task at a time • Looking for approval from adults • Energy to burn – constantly in motion. • Inefficient temperature regulation system
Characteristics of Children • U-8 Players – Implications • Movement Education still a priority • More pair activities – Cooperative & competitive • Introduce 1v1 activities • Still mostly dribbling and some passing/shooting • Wean them from dependence on adults • Generous praise • Difficulties with throw-ins, goal kicks, etc • Tactics still beyond them
Characteristics of Children • U-10 Players • Boys and girls begin to develop separately • More prone to heat injuries than adults • Motor skills starting to refine • Rapid gains in learning • Starting to think ahead • Loves competition • Ability to sequence thoughts and actions • Peer pressure and Team identification important • Can take and absorb explanations
Characteristics of Children • U-10 Players – Implications • Small group activities but emphasis on Technique • Make it a competition as much as possible • Short explanations. It has to make sense • More confident psychologically – but still needs positive feedback • Ready to assume more responsibility • Allow them to solve problems • Fundamental Tactical concepts (2v2, 3v3) • Don’t dictate. Guide.
Characteristics of Children • U-12 Players • Golden age – sponges • Girls go through puberty before boys • Great variances in physical maturity • Increased ability to sustain complex skill • Begin to think in abstract terms • Systematic approach to problem solving • More time with friends. Less with parents. • Peer pressure. In crowd. Self evaluation. • Adult logic/values start to imprint • Questions everything, including sport participation
Characteristics of Children • U-12 Players – implications • Great time for skill acquisition & cognitive • Challenge them according to their ability • Beware adult expectations • Adult actions influence their Self image • Playing time • Criticism, perceived favoritism • Attentiveness. Motivation. Inspiration • Can turn off sport at this stage • Too early for cardiovascular & strength
Characteristics of Children • U-14 & U-16 Players • Varying stages of puberty • Display independence and are self-critical • Differences in mental development • Aware of praise, status, and recognition • A time of self-discovery • Self image • Motivation • Trying to fit in
Characteristics of Children • U-14/U-16 Players - implications • Will quit soccer if it’s not fun or fulfilling • Will be reluctant to open up to parents • Competition is highlight of sport • Might compensate for lower skill with aggression • Playing motivation is either social or goal-oriented. Motivation must be compatible with adults in charge (coach, parents) • Will migrate to appropriate level/position
Phases of Soccer Development • Phase 1 – Introduction to soccer • Phase 2 – Commitment to soccer • Phase 3 – Commitment to excellence • Phase 4 – Commitment to winning
TRAINABLE COMPONENTS • TECHNICAL • Ability to control the ball. Touches • TACTICAL • Ability to solve soccer problems (cognitive) • FITNESS • Endurance, speed, strength, agility • PSYCHOLOGICAL • Enjoyment, coping with anxiety, confidence
TRAINABLE COMPONENTS • PRACTICES FAR MORE IMPORTANT FOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT THAN GAMES (MANY MORE TOUCHES) • YOUTH SOCCER’S BIGGEST PROBLEMS: • OVER COACHING BY PARENTS AND COACHES • MISGUIDED EMPHASIS ON GAMES • WHY TEAM DEVELOPMENT CAN STIFLE INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT • TOURNAMENTITIS
FLOW STATE MODEL(Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) • Activity or task matches ability • Do not treat training like medicine • Achievement = happiness (artists, athletes) • Finished product less important than process • If not in state of flow, other behavioral states: • Distracted, bored, frustrated, anxious, defensive, mischievous, undisciplined
Player Evaluation -What parents should ask the coach • U-6/U-8 • Is he/she having fun? Period.
Player Evaluation -What parents should ask the coach • U-10/U-12 • Is he/she having fun? • Is he/she learning skills? • Is he/she socially adapted to team? • Too early for analysis of strengths/weakness
Player Evaluation -What parents should ask the coach • U-14/U-16 • Is burn-out a concern? • Is he/she Improving? • Is he/she having fun? • Is he/she respectful? • Is he/she making friends? • Is he/she showing independence/responsibility? • How is he/she coping with competition? • Does he/she have soccer potential? • What are his/her strengths and weaknesses?
Playing Up • Whose wishes? • Key Considerations: • Age (might need to return later to own age) • Maturity (physical, mental, social) • Leadership development opportunities • Survival skills vs expanding skills
Playing up • Recommended only if: • Player is 12 years old or older • He/she really craves the challenge • Can handle the physical demands • Is an impact player with the older team NO SCIENTIFIC OR RESEARCH STUDY SUPPORTS THE NOTION THAT EARLY SPECIALIZATION OR EARLY CHALLENGE IMPROVES POTENTIAL OF PLAYERS. IN FACT, RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT THIS IS A ‘MYTH’ THAT DESTROYED THE POTENTIAL OF MANY CHILDREN PUSHED TOO SOON TOO HARD.
Responsibility of the Soccer Parent • Understand the role of sports • Understand the odds • Be a role model • Evaluate the club and coaches • Understand pursuit of excellence
Role of the Soccer Parent Understand the role of sports • Develop a healthy lifestyle (Sport = Leisure) • Develop sport skills • Develop life skills • Social skills • Positive self-image • Values character and coping skills • Mission of youth organizations
Role of the Soccer Parent • Understand the odds • Academy no guarantee of success • Only 6% high school soccer players to NCAA • Only small percentage get athletic scholarship • Only 2% of NCAA soccer players to pro • Only 0.08% high school to pro • Need to prepare your child for disappointment. Not build up his/her hopes unrealistically. • College coaches only interested in U-16+ • ‘Exposure’ over-rated
Role of the Soccer Parent • Be a role model • Listen to your child (likes/dislikes) • Sideline behavior – NO COACHING!!! • Dealing with game results (unconditional love) • Don’t compare or be critical • Focus on positives • Be supportive (towards child, coach, club) • It’s your child’s game. Not your game.
Role of the Soccer Parent • Evaluate the club and its coaches • Consistent with mission statement • Club coaches • No lines/lectures/laps • Certification level • Philosophy of coach, motivation skills • Ethical issues • Best interest of the individual players • Recruiting • Playing time • Zero tolerance for abuse
Role of the Soccer Parent • Understand pursuit of excellence • Intrinsic motivation • Know the opportunities • Academy - Select soccer – ODP/DTC • How to reach potential • Touches on the ball • Self training • Learning from the pros • Practice to game ratio • Perishable vs transferable skills • Focus on process, not game results