vs. Learning Soccer
Does just "playing the game" create great
Some where along the way someone made two great comments that some
how have been twisted the wrong way.
1) "Youth players learn the game of soccer by playing the game."
2) "The game is the best teacher."
These are very true statements but you MUST understand that the GAME
is the GAME and technical skills are skills we take to the game to
Just "doing" something over and over does NOT necessarily make you
better at it.
I have seen soccer players that have "played the game" for years and
years but they have very poor technical skills. Parents often don't
understand this and call the teams that their children are trying
out for "POLITICAL" in their selection process. Not understanding
that "little Jimmy" can run fast and is big for his age, but can't
receive a simple long pass to save his life.
One of the most PAINFUL things for me to watch is a young / maturing
soccer player, generally between 13 - 16 years in age, tryout for a
team thinking that all those years of playing and practice "on the
field" will help them. They hit the field and look "clumsy" compared
to others. They are still "toe kicking", can't perform proper traps,
have trouble making quality passes and just don't have a good first
touch. I feel horrible for the player knowing that much of their
precious development years have been wasted.
Soccer players gain vision, understanding, creativity, and teamwork
from "playing the game". They become a more highly skilled player by
refining and improving their technical skills AWAY from the game.
This is why SOCCERU series was designed. Teach them early and expose
them to as much as they are able and willing to learn.
I will use the example of the 60 year old golf player. (Slicer)
I once knew a man that loved golf. He played the game twice a week
for over 40 years. He was a self taught golfer that never took
lessons and really didn't go to the range often. His philosophy was
that "the game was the best teacher".
The funny thing is that he never really improved. After "playing the
game" over 20 years (more than 80,000 holes of golf) he still had
the same swing, slice, and still shot in the 90's.
Soccer or any sport is much the same. If we simply "play the game"
over and over we only can improve "so much". We use the same
skills and HABITS throughout the years.
Until we OPEN OUR MINDS and allow our bodies to feel things in a
different way, we will do what feels "natural". Often this is wrong
or needing improvement.
I always get a chuckle when I get an email from someone about this
subject. It is often a teenager saying, "Joe Superstar, a pro soccer
player, didn't become great by working on technical skills. He
became great by playing soccer for years and years and in the
streets of his home town." Little does this person realize
that the amount of technical training these players receive at a
young age in training centers is HUGE.
It is those that have their technical ability constantly improved
that are able to take their game to the next level.
Usually this email ends with the person saying, "I learned the game
by playing the game and not spending hours working on technical
I always reply back warmly, but also with a common thought,
expressed with a question.
"That is great to hear and
I hope you do well. What team are you signing with?"
I have yet to get a response back.
Play the game because you love the game. Work on improving your
skills because you have a desire to be better and improve your game.
Take those new skills to the field and use them often.
We think it was
said best by
U.S. Men’s National Team captain Claudio Reyna: “It’s possible at
any time during a player’s career to get into top physical shape or
to try to win every game! But you can’t teach skills to an old
player. Youth coaches should keep in mind that individual skills
need to be nurtured at an early age. Players who haven’t mastered
the fundamental skills become frustrated because the game gets too
difficult for them as they move into higher levels.”