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Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.

 

Practicing at Home

Sam Snow

My 10-year old son plays soccer and loves to play and go to the team practices. He is in good programs with good coaches, but he doesn't want to practice between team practices and work on things the coaches have given him to improve on. When I do get him to practice at home, and point out that he isn't doing what his coaches have taught him and we end up arguing.
Am I expecting too much from a 10 year old?
When he does practice, should I just let him practice the wrong way, as long as he is practicing, and let his coaches worry about getting him to improve?
- a concerned parent
 
There are a few important factors in this scenario to consider.  The most important one is the child’s self-motivation.  For an athlete to become top class in any sport requires a lot of drive and determination.  That must come from within.  No one else can put those emotions into the player, only he or she can produce those qualities.  However, the right soccer environment can inspire those emotions to grow in a young player.  Coaches, teammates and parents should inspire young players to practice and play more on their own.  Yes, parents could force the issue and make a young player put in extra practice, but the results will fall short of the results that come from the player deciding on his or her own to put in the same extra time with the ball.
If the coach has given players soccer homework then by all means parents should remind their child to do that assigned practice.  Fundamentally approach it as you do with the child’s academic homework.  Specifically to the question of if he does practice but he’s doing it wrong the answer is yes.  If the child asks for assistance then help out, otherwise let him or her practice on their own.  If technique mistakes are being made then the coach can help the player to correct them at the team training sessions.  The most important point is the child’s decision to get out on his or her own to play the game and practice ball skills.  That’s when parents give praise!