By Tim Bradbury, Director of Coaching Instruction, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
No matter who you talk to, which team they are on, what the developmental strengths of the team are or the statistics in the win-loss record, it seems that the country has gone tryout crazy. Parents and kids are searching for what?
I go out of my way to explain to all the soccer parents who I talk to that the following are the things they should and must place as a priority in their search for …..
• Quality, experience, level of education of the coaching staff.
• Philosophy of team and quality of training curriculum followed.
• Level of commitment and quality of players in squad.
• Access to training facilities- throughout both seasons and the winter months.
• A LTAD - long term athletic development plan.
• A truly holistic coach who has the wisdom to see the players as people first and care about their development as people
• One which is challenging and fun. Practice should be a challenge that the players love to go to.
Any parent who can find all the above should do their utmost to remain within the program as long as their child can.
Much to my constant disbelief and amazement, it seems that rather than use the checklist above to help find and secure a suitable team and training program for their child, I find that they are more likely to use the following set of false promises
"We are a winning machine – lost 1 game in the last 32 and with you we will never lose again."
"You are destined to be the next Messi and if you come to us, a scholarship is guaranteed."
"The only friends you will ever have are on this team."
"We are a tournament machine – have more Got Soccer points than there are fish in the sea and have guaranteed access to any tournament, anywhere at any time".
In this culture where parents make decisions based on empty promises and often place their children in environments that are negative ones, two things happen. Number one, development is either hindered or stops completely. Number two and at the heart of what good sports cultures can do, character development also gets lost. To become a better player, it is best to play against bigger stronger players who make you think and play quicker. Ones that force you to use skill and technique to conquer speed and strength. These are the same environments where you lose more than you win are also the best for character development. How do we react when it is cold and windy and we are losing three-zip? How do we behave after a hard fought game when the parents on the other team have been baiting us all game? How can we survive if the win loss record does not lead to a medal?
I invite all parents and coaches to consider all above and decide both what type of program you want to be and what type of program you best believe development will take place in. Ultimately for all parents reading this consider the quote below – it really sums things up.
“Your kids success or lack of success in sports does not indicate what kind of parent you are… But having an athlete that is coachable, respectful, a great teammate, mentally tough, resilient, reliable and honest who tries their best is a direct reflection of your parenting and the sports dreams you chased”