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Development Over Everything


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Development over everything... At a young age this must be the focus. Players have to develop their minds, their bodies, and their game. Playing the right way and understanding how this game works should be the main focus for players and parents as they go through their youth careers. There are so many aspects of development that players miss out on because the goal is to win.


Winning is addicting. It is how we judge our success. It is unfortunate to have that mentality when there is so much more out there that can allow players to enjoy the game. We saw recently in the Women's World Cup how the entire world has caught up to the US. I have been saying this since the last World Cup in France. We see certain styles of dump and chase in this country. Players relying on their physical attributes to solve problems. It is great when it pays off, but it is also a crutch for winning. So many countries have invested into development and putting winning last. Technical understanding. Character Building. Not putting players on a full sided field until the time is right. The list goes on. They are developing the player's ability to adapt to certain situations that they are put in. While we are focused on a scoreline. We have an amazing opportunity to produce an unlimited amount of top level players. But, our culture is focused on getting a win starting from the youngest of ages. I have had groups of players where the focus is on winning and I have had groups that focus on development. The groups that focus on winning continue to judge the team and players around them based on that. Parents included. It becomes toxic and it is carried everywhere that they go. When you have a group that understands development, the sky is the limit. The fun and progression is endless. The environment during training sessions are extremely competitive, but a family who works together.


Status needs to be forgotten about during these times along with gotsoccer points. No college or professional coach cares what you won between the ages of 8 - 17. The real worries are, how have you developed during this time? Can you control the ball? What is your tactical sense like? How is your character when you aren't playing well or starting? Can you use both feet properly? Are you a great human being? How are you going to handle adversity? I've seen many of players play at the next level who came from a "low level" club team. I've also seen many of players not even get recruited who have gone the "academy" route. If you aren't developing it does not matter which shirt you are wearing.


For coaches, we have a lot of pressure on us. Parents and players want results now. These conversations need to be had about the pathway of the team well before the journey begins. Create a strong culture for everyone. Set the standards and develop great people. We have an opportunity to shape the next generation. Do more than just coach robots. Seeing your full project come to life is the biggest reward. Losses are tough at times, but understanding where you are in this journey helps. Ask yourself this, did your team play well? Has there been progress? Have the players bought into what you are teaching them? Small steps towards the end goal is still an accomplishment. Help your parents and players become patient with these challenges. You can have a "horrible" short term based on the scoreline results, but win in the long term. It can be tough for them to understand because of the environment that they are in outside of your team. The families who do get it will have an amazing time as they progress.


Stop chasing status. Start chasing development.


Check out another amazing post by my good friend Parker Soloway


 

One Quote

"It's very simple. You build a player like you build a house. If you have no technical skill at the age of 14, you can forget it"


- Arsene Wenger



 

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