Soccer is no different than any other sport at the youth level – and I am not
inferring that anyone suggested otherwise – but every youth coach of every
sport, seems to think that the technical nuances of their sport are some how
more intricate or specialized than the skills of other sports… and that is not
And you can replace ‘Soccer’ with ‘Baseball’, ‘Basketball’ or any other sport
in the above paragraph.
The point of the Goal Confusion article can be summed up in one sentence –
Coaches and Trainers must learn how and when to apply certain teaching
techniques and when to let kids ‘learn’ things for themselves – and that is
especially true when we design drills in which we tell our players that the
success of a drill is based on the outcome rather than the form.
If you have been a subscriber for any length of time, you know exactly how
I feel about teaching skill – it is imperative and an ability that frankly, many
Coaches and Trainers lack (when in consideration of pedagogical science
and individual player temperament).
Having said that, by not letting young kids simply ‘have at it’ on their own
once in a while or at certain phases of development, we risk limiting free
nervous system adaptability at large – and this has been a prevalent problem
in North American sports for years.
We over-teach our youngsters and do not allow them free exploration
(which is at the crux of sport development) but then marvel at how much
more ‘naturally skilled’ international athletes often tend to be.
You could open an interesting debate with respect to teaching sporting skills to kids.
I did last week during a presentation I gave to area basketball coaches.
Some trainers and coaches have decided that the skills required to achieve a certain task should be taught from the beginning.
Others believe in the concept of motor patterning – allowing the young athlete to find his or her own way of achieving a task.
The debate gets even trickier when you factor in the varying nuances and therefore objectives of different sports.
For example, in basketball, if the ball goes in the hoop, it doesn’t really matter how it got there.
But in diving, you know going in that once you jump off the platform, gravity will pull you into the water – the style in which you get there is all that really matters.
Where do you sit on this debate?
I asked the coaches in my audience the same question.
Should you teach or over-teach a certain style of execution to young athletes from day one, or should you allow the young athletes to learn the relative motor patterning via exploration and natural refinement?