The Inspiration Behind this Article
As a coach and founder of Anytime Soccer Training, I consult many youth soccer parents. One of the most common questions I get is, “Should my child leave recreational soccer in favor of more competitive club soccer?”
There are a lot of things that factor into this decision, but one consideration that is very high on my list is;
Will the child enjoy soccer more, or will the child enjoy soccer less as a result of joining a competitive environment?
I find, too often, that parents prematurely place a child (who was perfectly happy playing rec soccer) into a competitive environment without helping the child acquire the skills necessary to compete at a higher level.
It’s as if you entered your child into the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but not being willing to help the child study, and the child not being motivated to study.
Remember, that competitive soccer like the national spelling bee is not an essential activity to be a happy, active and smart kid; so if you decide to go down the ultracompetitive route, be sure that your child is motivated, enjoys the sport, and that you are willing to help them.
Related: Training Your Own Child
Why is this Nuance Important?
At times, we will need to encourage and even force players to practice areas that they don’t enjoy practicing.
For example, most children would only practice with their dominant foot if you let them. Forcing them to get extra touches with both feet may not be fun for them at first, but in the long run, the combination of your support and their persistence will result in a much greater and longer-lasting level of enjoyment.
In short, developmentally appropriate deliberate practice mixed with loads of fun games and challenges – will help your child enjoy the game longer.
With over 1,000 follow-along training sessions and hundreds of games and challenges, Anytime Soccer Training has everything you need to help them excel at competitive soccer and have more fun.
It’s free and easy to use.
The Real Reason that Ball Mastery is So Important
From a pure soccer perspective, ball mastery is a fundamental part of skill acquisition and something that every youth soccer player should implement into their training sessions.
More specifically, ball mastery drills focus on improving the player’s ability to manipulate the ball with all surfaces of the foot, while changing direction and moving quickly.
Ball mastery drills also improve a player’s balance and coordination as well as agility and functional mobility.
Below is an example from the Anytime Soccer Training – Two Cone Ball Mastery Series.
While the above benefits are great there is more to mastering the ball than improving in soccer. A good analogy is learning to play an instrument; Ball mastery practice is the vehicle that transforms the random sound of plucking cords into a beautiful symphony.
Likewise, ball mastery training transforms a player’s game from kick and chase into a thing of beauty. Players who master the ball are able to express themselves and tend to enjoy the game more. It’s really simple.
Players who Master the Ball Have More Fun!
While it may seem obvious that the players with the most skill have the most fun; it’s so seldom mentioned that I want to spell out my logic.
- Soccer games use only one ball.
- Every player wants and enjoys having the ball.
- Therefore, the more a player has the ball – the more fun and enjoyment they will likely have.
- Players and teams enjoy scoring goals (as one crude and imperfect measure of success on the field).
- Players and teams can only score goals when they have possession of the ball.
- Conversely, the less a player has the ball – the less fun and enjoyment they will likely have.
- The less a player or team has the ball, the less opportunity they have to score goals; with the understanding that goal scoring is not the only measure of success in soccer.
- The most technical players dominate the ball and normally experience more success.
This Means that Players who Master the Ball Usually Enjoy Soccer More!
Are there exceptions to this logic tree? Of course. Are there many ways to enjoy soccer? Of course. However, this logic holds true most of the time. The most skilled youth soccer players tend to receive the greatest rewards and overall satisfaction.
A common misconception is that certain players are naturally gifted. While there are some exceptions, in most cases, this could not be further from the truth.
Through Anytime Soccer Training, we have literally helped thousands of kids master the ball and become much better soccer players.
Dedication, commitment, and drive are the keys to success – not your current skill level.
Of course, there are many reasons why ball mastery is important. And yes, the simple outline mentioned above has many loopholes. However, as a trainer who has worked with hundreds of kids, I can tell you that when parents put low-skilled children into ultra-competitive environments; they run a considerable risk of reducing their child’s enjoyment of the game.
Unless the child and parent are committed to doing the things needed to improve and compete. Conversely, skilled players often enjoy soccer more because they experience more success more often.
Youth soccer is supposed to be fun, final a level that fits your child’s interest and commitment. Don’t rush to join competitive club soccer for any other reason than it’s the best fit for your child.
Try Anytime Soccer Training for free and learn to master the ball.