February and March allow most organizations to pause and reflect a bit. Board meetings will bring up new topics, as new board members come on board and try to rejuvenate the organization’s leadership. High School awards banquets or Club banquets celebrate the players and coaching achievements, and often the parental involvement for being supporters of their players. Many organizations are beginning to work hard to improve skills with their competitive players, and in some cases, that is in-doors.
The buzz among soccer coaching directors, recreational directors, and organizational leadership revolves around several questions regarding training, retaining and growing youth players in that 13+ age range.
- How do we increase the percentage of players in recreation moving up to competitive, to greater than 30%?
- How do we decrease the fall off of the 60-70% of the players at age 13+ that leave the game?
- Should we try the Play-Practice-Play methodology to increase the “Fun” factor in hopes of both retaining players and improving their soccer skill set?
- How do we continue to provide advanced skills, techniques and tactics to players as they grow past the “parent coach” expertise level?
Yet, the conclusion is as you walk around and listen to the conversations, nothing seems to be breaking this pattern.
At MOTI Sports, we believe young players in recreation need to begin learning a solid foundation of foot skills/techniques.
As young players begin to learn basic ball handling techniques, it becomes apparent their confidence and self-esteem increases. Success from maintaining possession grows proportionally with the close ball skill handling, passing lane awareness and increasing the rapid movement of the ball between team-mates. They develop the skills to beat their opponent and learn to restrict the player movements of opposing players. They experience success, and it continues to grow.
During this lull between seasons, consider making a change. Bringing in skills training at the lower level of recreational soccer really helps players (and their parents) get involved in their own development if they have a mind to do that.
Change the stigma, so success is measured on the players’ ability to play, and not on their family’s ability to travel and pay for experienced coaching. Create community opportunities for solid recreational league 13+ (non-traveling) play so that players who cannot afford or parents, who don’t have the spare time to drive everywhere, have a viable socially acceptable alternative.
Hey, bring players back into the community, don’t make them leave.