As I’ve mentioned before, soccer stars are made, not born. With the right kind of instruction, your child could be the next great player.
My experience as a young athlete is a case study in what not to do with your children. The shame I brought to my family as a little leaguer is almost unforgivable.
If social media existed back then, some of my fails would likely have gone viral. With that said, do as I say. Not as I did.
If you’ve got your eye on athletic scholarships for your soccer loving kid, do yourself a favor and find your child a private coach.
Following are 6 qualities to look for in a private soccer coach:
1. Those who can do, should teach.
Judge a coach by what they themselves can do. To master a skill, the coach needs to give the child a detailed visual of each component of the skill being developed.
Verbal instruction is insufficient. The child needs a visual to memorize and then model during solo practice.
The better the visual, the better the player.
2. Chooses frustration over fun.
Don’t judge a coach by how much fun your child is having.
In the book, Peak: Secrets from the new science of expertise, author Anders Ericcson cited research showing only amateur students end coaching sessions feeling happy.
Amateurs perceive practice as a time for fun. Advanced students recognize practice as a time to further develop a specific skill.
When first being introduced to the game, it needs to be fun for your child. Otherwise, they lack incentive to continue on. Once they’ve developed a love for soccer, you need to amp things up. When a player is appropriately challenged, they’re failing 30-40% of the time.
Failure is frustrating. And productive.
3. Avoids mindless repetition.
If the coach is telling your child to do 10 of these, followed by 10 of those every week, you need to question their effectiveness.
The coach needs to be engaged. Offering immediate feedback. And increasing or decreasing the challenge to meet the needs of the child at any given point.
4. Gives your child homework.
Does the coach give your child well thought out drills to practice at home? In addition to private sessions, the player must spend time (lots of time) practicing on their own throughout the week. And they must be taught to identify how their performance differs from their visual representation.
5. Knows how to overcome plateaus.
At some point, no matter how good the player is, they will reach a plateau. Plateaus are the end of growth for many, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right kind of coaching.
The coach needs to be skilled at identifying which component of the skill the child is failing to improve upon. Once this is identified, they need to develop drills to challenge the player’s body in new ways. And spend 15-20 minutes of each practice concentrating on that single component.
6. Embraces tools and technology.
Does the coach embrace tools enabling them to increase or decrease the speed of the ball? Allowing your child to focus on a single component of the skill.
If your child records their solo practices or games, will they review past recordings with your child, and teach them to analyze their performance. To identify and correct errors.
Once you find a great coach, be open to the possibility you may need to find a different coach as the child gets better or older. One coach may excel at teaching 6-10 year olds, whereas another may be best suited for coaching teens.
If you would like a referral, I'm happy to put you in contact with my little league coach.
Spends way too much time studying neuropsychology, and justifies this time spent by sharing her discoveries with you. Experienced frequent rejection by her peers when she joined a no-tryouts little league team. And insisted on playing for 3 years, much to the dismay of her team. In those days, only the winners got trophies. This made her sad.