Sunday, August 12, 2012

No technique. No tactics. Period.

Why do we treat the teaching of a sport different from everything else?  Is it that important for a U11 soccer game to be a mini version of Barcelona v Juventus?

In Grade 1, mathematics starts at the very basic level.  One building block at a time, our students eventually, through patience and practice, work their way up to Calculus and Functions in Grade 12.  Workers in the trades are put through a long and thorough apprenticeship programs.  So why do we want to see a formal competitive game at age 6 and expect quality?

In addition to my U13 and U17 boys, I've had the pleasure of running sessions for 5 different teams over the past 2 weeks, ages 9-15, male and female.  Hard working kids who love to play, but technique was in need of work all around.  Not a criticism, just an observation.  All these teams have coaches who work hard and set up busy programs, but they, like all of us, have players who don't play soccer on their own or with their friends.

For those looking to have more players crack the upper echelon the truth is simple: our technique is not good enough.  Kids need more time with one-ball/player, more time playing free soccer to become more creative and less emphasis on formal competition at too young an age.  We also have the wonderful job of playing catch-up for the time on the ball they are NOT getting at the playground.

We can't expect players to effectively combine with 2-3-4 teammates on the field if they can't confidently pass or receive a ball.  We can't expect them to work through a tough situation if they were never given free, un-coached time to play among themselves.

When technique becomes less of a pre-occupation,  the player has more freedom to make decisions in a game situation.  He can pick the right option because he is confident he can execute. An artist who can competently execute many techniques with their brush can paint anything.  You can draw this parallel with any profession.

As a country, at the younger ages, we need to stop coaching the team and start coaching the players.  Most young players do not have the confidence and technique to execute team tactics.  They're not ready.

Remember.  No technique, no tactics.

P.S.  This applies to every sport.