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Youth Soccer is Socially Retarding Your Child

If your child is “the best”  athlete on his or her team (relative to the person doing the assessing), then this may not apply to them.   This article is for the other 96%.

Of course, you – as a parent – won’t know the ramifications of your child’s sports career until they are well into adulthood.

Organized youth soccer is hurting your child’s abilities to be good friends with people of their own gender.

Tryouts and team sports do more to HURT relationship building than they do to HELP.  That’s because we teach our kids that – while this may be their “team” – they are in competition with everyone on that team for the opportunity to actually PLAY… with the team.  Of course, this not only destroys team chemistry, it also creates friction among individuals who might otherwise be good friends.

Is your job like that?  Do you go to work competing with everyone in the office for work hours?  Well, maybe at Taco Bell

Organized sports, which included youth soccer, are the #2 cause (behind TV advertisers) of social insecurities in children, because MOST children are not the BEST athlete on the team.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • “You’re going to have to compete for your spot on the team and in the line-up.”
  • “If you don’t give 100% in practice, you won’t play in the game.”
  • “We’re only as good as our weakest link.”

The fact is that someone is always going to be the worst player on the team, so when the coach makes a statement like those listed, about 20% of kids on the team think it’s THEM the coaching is talking about.  For a roster of 16 kids, that’s about 3, and the only reason they think it’s about them, is because their teammates tell them.

Compound that by an overbearing parent, and you can imagine the outcome.

“So? It’s not my kid.” 

Maybe not, but your kid is still DIRECTLY affected.  Here’s why:

Youth Soccer is Dying in America

2018 will see the lowest youth soccer participation numbers in the last 20 years.  This is directly related to how coaches and parents present athletic participation to their kids.  This dog-eat-dog environment has driven kids by the millions to the world of esports (online competition video games), in which Fortnite is the current undisputed game of choice.  In order for physical sports to once again become America’s pastime, parents need to back-off, and coaches need to adopt an “equal playing time” policy for every player, no matter what their ability or interest.

*Coaches laughing out load.*

Sure, the only thing more unAmerican than soccer is equal playing time for everyone on the roster (regardless of skill and interest), but if you want your kid to have someone to play with next year, understand this: Statistically, every bench sitter on every youth soccer team will quit soccer this year.  Now that’s not a literal statement, but statistically, about 10% of all youth soccer players will quit soccer for good, and do something else.  95% of those players are the weaker athletes on their team.  So, if 10% of all players quit every year…  you don’t have to be Einstein to figure this out.

As a parent, coach and/or player, how much do you love the game?  Do you love it enough to let it live?  Do you love it enough to help it to thrive?  If so, then let your kid PLAY soccer.  As a coach, praise INTENT, and stop micro-managing the action on the field.  Tell the kids when they do something right, and IGNORE EVERY MISTAKE.




About Author

Mike Slatton is a 2nd generation American youth soccer coach since 1984, and the son of one of the nation's first female licensed youth soccer coaches (Anita Slatton, 1979). He's also a professional soccer scout, a player since 1977, and the father of three adult and teenage children who all play or have played the game. "My job as a youth soccer coach is to develop confident, detail oriented problem solvers who can react quickly under pressure. It's important that players NOT be afraid of making mistakes, to encourage an appreciation of failure as a learning tool. This relates to life - not just soccer."

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