Regardless of the sport, competition helps in player development, especially when placed in the correct environment. There is an age old question which sometimes is lost during youth soccer, which is Development vs Winning. Although soccer is a competition, where score is being kept, it is important for us, as coaches and parents, to keep things in perspective based on age of the players. Throughout a match, there will be many opportunities to find “teachable moments” that will involve the 4 Pillars of the Game (Technical, Tactical, Physical & Psychological). While in a match, players will be presented with many problems they will need to solve. We, coaches and parents, tend to solve problems for the player rather than allow them to make their own decision(s) and succeed/fail on their own. Through the players’ decision making, it allows players to develop through the competition, as well as allowing the coach(es) to evaluate the effectiveness of training sessions with relationship to the game.

There will be games that are won, where the team really didn’t deserve to win AND games that are lost, where the team played extremely well. Although coaches want to win, they are encouraged to not dwell on the final score, but the focus on the details (process) that were done well…..or not so well. Some may find it helpful to break the game into smaller segments/chunks (possibly halves), where it is easier for all involved to see progress.

At times, it is difficult to watch a game without providing options for the players (i.e. shoot, pass, dribble, etc) but players will typically develop a better tactical sense when they solve the problem(s) on their own, not to mention the sense of accomplishment, resulting in a boost in confidence!! 

Claudio Reyna discusses the topic in the following video. It has a great message to both coaches and parents, and the overall effect competition has on the player. 

Throughout the course of the year, each coach will be providing feedback (evaluations) to each player. The personal feedback will help each player in their overall development and assist each in reaching their full potential!!

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