Do young players feel inspired when parents yell instructions at them from the sidelines? Do players feel more confident when a coach reprimands a young player for making a mistake?
An essential tenet of the Breakers philosophy is to inspire creativity in our players. For our very youngest players that means encouraging them to do things other clubs would consider reckless. Defenders dribbling out of the back to try and score a goal. Or a striker breaking out a scissors move. Both can easily cost the team a goal. But when you hear a Breaker’s coach shout “All Day Long!” to a player, even after an epic failure, the player starts to feel it. “There are no restrictions on my play. I can go for it”.
That’s exactly why we ask parents to not use verbs on the sideline. There’s no “shoot it”, “kick it”, or “pass it to Jimmy”. Clap when a player is successful, and clap when they go for it, regardless of the outcome. It’s sometimes behard for many parents to grasp…and believe me, it takes some time to work those verbs out of the vocabulary.
The Beautiful Game
Playing organized soccer with rapid, frequent passing to move the ball down the field certainly has it’s place as the players mature. But for 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 year-olds? We beg to differ. Yes, passing and receiving is being taught in practice. Yes, dribbling with your head up is critical so you can “see” the field. But the emphasis at this early age should be on individual play and skills. Seeing how far each player can advance their skill set and push their own limits. To see what’s possible, and yes, to even show off with bursting confidence. The Beautiful game is achieved where individual skill, meets team skill, meets determination. Look for this to come together at the U14 age level. In the meantime, let’s see how good your player can get.
That’s also why you’ll see frequent scrimmages at practice, particularly at the end. Scrimmages provide the perfect “safe” environment for kids to let their new skills loose. This can actually be difficult for parents to digest given they typically only see the end of practice. They wonder why they scrimmage so much. It’s really only 20% of practice at the end, but it’s essential. So, embrace the scrimmage. Better yet, embrace pick-up soccer.