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In the US, if at youth age (9-10) you’re clearly the best player on your team...

it’s time to leave that team !!!

I know that there are no kids who receive my news letter because it’s sent only to adults, often parents, but I will continue referring directly to kids, even if there is a ’filter’. Up to you parents, if you think that the following is correct, to transfer it to them !!

And, please, don’t write to me about how friendship, camaraderie and having fun are important, because I know that really well and I didn’t write that they are not important. I’m just talking about developing correctly the soccer/football skills of youth players who are clearly better than all their other teammates !!!

So, going back to you kids, a long time ago (but it seems yesterday !!!) I was a kid too and it’s very clear to me that it’s hard to leave your friends team but, if you’re much better than them and you want to become a better soccer/football player, there is no other way than to do that!

If you stay there, you’ll never get better and also, you’ll do things that wouldn’t be correct if you played in a more competitive team.

Let me explain why.

In Countries in the rest of the world things are different than here. There, millions of kids play soccer/football spontaneously in pick up games, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 in any free space not necessarily on grass. There are no teams that are ‘invented’ by parents because, so-so players, in order to play and have fun, are not playing in an organized way on a real soccer field with coaches, referees, standings, play-offs, tournaments, trophies, medals, diplomas and so on.

In the rest of the world, kids play spontaneously, which should be normal here also, and only the few who are really good, when a chance is given to them, go to try outs for existing teams that have already been there for many decades if not more than a century.

These teams are the youth teams (Academies !!!) of hundreds of professional teams (Clubs !!!) of First, Second, Third or even semi-professional Leagues from big cities to small towns in any country. (apart from here !!!)

Here’s an example of merging education with training sessions !!!

How can England win the World Cup

An extract from the article.....

...... "We pick the children up at around 7 am and they then do all the normal subjects but also have scheduled coaching throughout the day – at times when they are fresh – then we drop them home at 7 pm," says Nick Cox, the co-ordinator of Watford's academy. "We get to do about 15 hours of football with them a week, up to three times more than most other clubs in this country."......

......"And not only do kids not have to sacrifice their education, we find that they actually perform better in the classroom as well as on the pitch because the environment is more stimulating and they are more driven in everything – they know if they are not doing their best in the classroom we can take away the privilege of training. We have 50 kids here now – before, they might have been in 50 different schools and we would have had no idea what they were doing for 95% of their time. Here we can take more responsibility for their development, both as players and as people."

Coming back to my point, if they pass the try-outs and enter the Academy... great!!! If not, they go back to playing spontaneously and enjoy it like before !!!

The ones that make it, all of them would be, roughly, at the same good level so, the risk to be good and not work hard to get better, basically doesn’t exist !!

Here it’s different because, independent of the fact that you’re good, medium or so-so, you’ll always have a chance to play in an organized way (so, not spontaneously) because a team is invented just to give you the chance to ’pretend’ to be a youth soccer player (1 hour a week during the week end!!) and not just a kid who likes to play soccer and who can do that everyday without any adult interference !!! This is the misunderstanding that doesn’t permit you to develop correctly if you’re good !!!

Having said this, if you stay there on that team with so-so team mates, you’ll have the wrong impression of already being really good. But that, is just an impression because, it’s not you that it is really good; it’s the others that are really so-so and, of course, apparently you‘re already really good.

At practices, supposing that you work in developing fundamental skills (are you?), you won’t have the correct challenge and at games, you’ll tend to dribble too much, you’ll try to trick more opponents, you’ll keep going with the ball in the wrong attempt to go score by yourself.

It’s understandable why you do that, because every time you pass the ball to so-so team mates, just after that, the ball goes to the other team but, by doing that, you pick up bad habits like.......

* keep handling the ball, not pass and sprint to a better position ready to receive the ball back and keep developing the action.
* you’ll be too focused in looking at the ball instead of looking around for team mates.
* you’ll try to go to shoot without giving an assist to a team mate that is in a better position than yours to score a sure goal. (of course you’ll do that, because the team mates are not where they should be !!!!!)

To not be misunderstood, as often happens, because there isn’t anyone more deaf than the ones who don’t want to hear, what I pointed out makes sense ONLY if, (being good), besides having the correct amount of fun (which is mandatory!!!), your purpose is also to become a better soccer/football player. If instead, even if you’re good, you play soccer/football just to play, which is absolutely great, please stay with your friends and keep trying to win games by yourself !!!

But if, in a near future, you want to succeed at the high school level and after at College, you’ll pay for that mistake.

What you didn’t develop between 10 and 15 years old, will be very hard to develop after that age. Yes, of course, if suddenly at 14/15 you work hard everyday, maybe you can still make it, but don’t be surprised if maybe you don’t make the first team when you go to high school try-outs!

Because that, will be a REAL try-out not like the one when your team was invented in which the 10/15 kids that came there, whatever their soccer skill levels were, by magic became the 10/15 components of the team!!! Or at the elementary schools where try outs are called ‘assessments’ so, everyone will play in an organized way and no one will be cut !!!

At real try-outs at high school and at College, you could be... cut!!!

At that point, your only chance to make a team will be to play Lacrosse because, if you’re fit, strong and agile, even if you start at 15 and you never played it before, in a few weeks you can be great !!!! But because there are hundreds like you (fit, strong and agile!!!), one more time it won’t be simple to make the Lacrosse team either !!!

So, if you’re the best on your soccer team at 9-10 and you’d like to succeed in a few years, listen to gianni and force yourself to leave that team and go to an upper level where it will be hard just to get in. I know that here there are not real Academies of professional soccer teams (better say...Clubs with teams of all ages, which doesn’t exist here!!!!) but at least you can go to an upper level.

That way...

* you’d develop your talent correctly.
* you’d have a better coach (that maybe was just your dad or mom who never played soccer/football. I love and respect their great efforts and donation of time but no one can teach playing the piano if they don’t know how to play it !!!!).
* you’d be much more challenged and just to have some play-time would be a great achievement.
* you wouldn’t pick up bad habits like keep dribbling because, in doing that, you’d lose the ball and the other team would have an advantage.
* you’d improve your first touch keeping the ball close to you.
* you’d look around while handling the ball and check for open team mates.
* you’d finally make passes to team mates, not just send the ball approximately in their direction.
* you’d finally give assists instead of trying to go score by yourself.
* you’d learn to cross properly, which it’s not into the arms of the opponent keeper or at the feet of the first defender.
* you’d learn to shoot properly (2 feet from the ground - 2 feet from the post) and not just high because, at this moment, the keepers are short and can’t catch (YET !!!) a high ball.

In synthesis, you’d become a better soccer/football player and, consequently, a better human being because you achieved that through sacrifices.

Remember gianni’s 4 D’s of success in soccer and life?

Desire. Determination. Dedication and Discipline !

And if someone tells you that at 9 -10 years old you can’t understand the meaning of these 4 words, just tell them that they’re wrong !

Good luck, keep having fun while getting better and never forget to keep the same spontaneity and enjoyment that you had when you were playing only for fun. That way, many who were kids in the past, after many years find themselves holding and raising real trophies in the air, and a few lucky ones, even .............................. the World Cup !!!!!

Not the trophies, medals and diplomas that are constantly given to you just by dressing as a soccer player and having stepped onto a soccer field !!!


p.s. when your new coach asks you to run instead of walking around on the field, please remember that at 9 -10 years old you’re very lucky to be asked to do that, instead of being asked to work like these kids making bricks in Afghanistan for 3 $ a day !!!
Posted on 08 Sep 2010 by coachgianni
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