Appearing at a 2013 Ted talk, Dr. John Cohn explained that he is at his most creative, influential, productive, and happy when he is playful at his work. With playful, he means being in a state of childlike innocence.
So playfulness is not just about enjoying your work, you are even more creative, as studies show. You can also reclaim that childlike state, by imagining you are still seven years old.
This talk has so many implications in the world of youth soccer. Speak to any youth soccer coach and they all agree they want passionate and creative players. But the question is how do we foster passion and creativity in the context of soccer development?
After all, we hear a lot in sports about the importance of deliberate practice: focused improvement through repetitive activity, continual feedback, and correction, and the delay of immediate gratification in pursuit of long-term goals.
What has gotten lost for so many children, especially with the demise of the neighborhood pickup game and the overscheduling of our children, is simple play.
Researcher Jean Cote calls this deliberate play, which he defines as “activities such as backyard soccer or street basketball that are regulated by age-adapted rules and are set up and monitored by the children or adults engaged in the activity.
These activities are intrinsically motivating, provide immediate gratification, and are specifically designed to maximize enjoyment.”
As a soccer dad, I believe that you don’t need a Ph.D. to know that kids should play way more than they train. But how many clubs offer open free play days?
It has to be pure and unadulterated play with no hidden adult agendas. That is one reason we include fun soccer games in the Anytime Soccer Training program.
Related: 6 Parent Mistakes to Avoid
While training is necessary for skill acquisition. We can’t forget to keep things fun.
What Can Parents Do?
In reality, the explosion of video games and streaming services in conjunction with neighborhoods that are more transient mean that kids aren’t organically playing as they did in the past.
Therefore, parents must adapt by encouraging and becoming more intentional about providing free play opportunities for their children.
Here are a few tips for getting the ball rolling (literally and figuratively):
Organize your own Freeplay play dates with your child’s teammates.
Oftentimes, it’s that simple. Create a chat group and invite your friends. It will likely start off slow but will grow if you stay consistent.
Join other Freeplay play dates and bring friends.
Maybe you don’t have time to organize play dates, but you certainly should attend as many as possible. And organizers love it when you bring friends.
Play with them.
This goes without being said, but kids generally enjoy beating their parents in a pickup game of 1v1 or parents vs. kids. Just remember, no coaching; it should be all about having fun.
Work with the coach or soccer club.
Most soccer coaches will love the fact that a parent takes the initiative to organize Freeplay and will be happy to support it and even make an announcement. An invite from your child’s coach carries a lot of weight with other parents and will most certainly increase attendance.
The benefits of free play are undeniable. The irony is that free play is likely the most important ingredient to becoming a great soccer player. So even if your child plays competitively, you shouldn’t forget the importance of free play.
However, the world is changing; which means parents have to take a more active role in promoting organic play.
Tired of searching Youtube for soccer training videos? Join Anytime Soccer Training for free today!