Youth Soccer, How Do We Interpret It? How Do We Know They Are Developing?

One of the biggest challenges for parents and coaches it trying to see the game from a child perspective and understanding how sports are different from business and technology.

To start with, sports are always influenced by and have big impacts on business’s, politics, and more recently technology, but this is at the senior level largely. Youth sports is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and that has had its effects on the youth sport.

To take it deeper in to the day to day world of youth sports, we look at how the adults view the world. The world is now largely technological and continues to advance through algorithms and systems.

Taken from a Jonathan Wilson article from the Guardian… Justin Smith, author of Irrationality, discusses the baleful effects of the modern urge to quantify everything. Algorithms and systems, he notes, make life safer and more efficient but there is a cost. Once somebody becomes a set of data, they become a commodity. “This financialization is complete…”

It’s understandable how parents and coaches can then struggle to remove themselves from this modern world and work place model and watching their kids playing sports. We see winning as the simplest form of an algorithm of a player must be good if their team wins, or even a good team. However, we forget to look at the human, and the individual. Or, when we do look at the individual, we try to understand their performance by statistics.

“The tech companies’ transformation of individuals into data sets,” Smith says, “has effectively moneyballed the entirety of human social reality.” That is a trend that extends beyond managers, to scouts, agents, journalists and fans, many of whose interactions with football will have been conditioned by Football Manager or FIFA, in which players are literally bundles of statistics.

When looking at the individual it’s important to break it down as follows when concerned with player development –

  • Technical – is the player comfortable on the ball, and willing to compete in a 1v1 situation. Dribbling has become a lost art.
  • Sociological – does the player interact well with other players, coaches, and show respect to referees.
  • Psychological – is the player open and unafraid of making mistakes, but willing to try new skills on the field.

All these point towards a developing player in the correct environment, irrelevant of scorelines and statistics. Youth players need the human approach to understanding the pathway they are on.

Continuing Coach Education

We have a huge belief in education, there are so many moving parts to a youth players development and experience, that it is so important for coaches and parents to keep educating themselves so players get the best experience –

Coach Education

Already in the 2018/19 season, our Fremont staff have been participating in courses from a number of sources –

  • Football Association Wales, UEFA
  • La Liga Methodology, US Club Soccer
  • United Soccer Coaches
  • United States Soccer Federation

This gives Fremont YSC the best possible opportunity for continuing to provide players with the needed environment for them to continue to improve but also love to play the sport.

The same theme continues when attending these courses and as a staff discuss our experiences. It is still a problem with parents placing so much emphasis on winning games in youth soccer and the playing bracket. Players need to be in an environment where they can be nurtured for their individual level. A club where coaches are educated and put the player first above any other factor, with an understanding of all the developmental pillars (technical/tactical, psychological, physiological, and sociological factors).

We are still awarding players for their chronological age with their league titles and tournament trophies, and still we insist on having 2 games or more in 1 weekend. More consideration for the individual needs to be made, and patience with those players who are late developers, whether by biological age or sports age.

Congratulations to all the coaches who have continued with their education, and we are always happy to speak with anyone about our experiences and education.

Please use our website as a resource to help with your education in youth sports.