When I was a youth soccer player a decade and a half ago, soccer in the United States was in a much different place. Paid trainers were not yet the standard, and volunteer coaches ruled the day. Players, although serious about the game, didn’t seem to plan as much for their future, either playing with the intention of getting a scholarship for college, or even playing professionally. The youth soccer game has changed quite a bit these last few years.
On the whole, the youth soccer game has progressed to a higher level in the United States, and I think what is most responsible is a combination of technology, education and dedication. In my day, the Internet was in its infancy, and the bulk of recreational coaches were at a loss for how to plan practice.
The majority just showed up to practice with a garbage bag full of balls, pennies, and cones, dumped them on the field and went for it. No rhyme or reason, but it sure was a lot of fun.
Nowadays, the recreational youth soccer teams (at least at my local club) get two sessions with a paid trainer, and the program, at least from the standpoint of recreational coaches, is much more standardized. It is easier to educate the coaches inside your club, using great coaching programs and soccer videos or even your club’s website. This improvement to technology has made becoming a competent coach possible in less time.
From the player’s perspective, I think kids are much more serious about soccer on the whole as they were two decades back. What accounts for this change, I am not entirely sure, but I do know that the combination of more lenient borders, relaxed guest player rules, and the wide scale acceptance of paid trainers are either symptoms or the cause of a more competitive youth soccer game. Player’s parents pay thousands of dollars so that their kid can play at the club that will most likely lead to a college scholarship. From the outside looking in, it all must look a bit insane.
For all of you new or less experienced recreational coaches, I know it must be a little intimidating. I would suggest getting up to speed with some coaching videos, or even outsourcing your season practice plan.
For everyone else who has been around the youth game for awhile, feel free to chime in with your opinion about how the youth games has evolved, and what you think is most responsible? Please leave your comments via the form below: