Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Do our kids "love" the ball?

Coaching Soccer Canada
I was at a FIFA Grassroots Workshop in 2012 and one of the first slides displayed a quote:  "Where there is a child and a ball there is happiness"

My use of the word "love" usually revolves around people, not things.  We all know a soccer ball is not just a "thing".

You often hear and read about how young players need to build a "relationship with the ball", sessions revolve around "ball mastery", how we express ourselves through what we do with the ball and becoming intimate with the ball.  What does all of that mean?

Basically, to me, it means that you and the ball truly understand each other.  It goes where you want it to go, not the other way around.  The movement of the ball accurately represents the idea you had during a game.  It means anywhere, anytime, anyhow, you can control the ball.  Pressure becomes easier to handle because you are not fighting with the ball while making a decision.

In Canada, there are kids who supposedly play travel soccer, but they never touch a ball unless they are with their team.  When I guest coach I sometimes ask the players who has a ball at home and shocked at how many do not.

You can love the ball and still not be a very good player.  That happens all over the world.  But, can you be a very good player and not love the ball?  I don't think you can.  Too few aspiring players spend enough time on the ball and it shows.  There are schools of thought that say top level professional players would have touched the ball at least one million times before the age of eighteen.

One million.  1,000,000.  If you did that before your 18th birthday, that means 152 touches per day since the day you were born.  If you started at age 5, that would be 210 touches/day.

While most of our kids are with a ball for 90 minutes 2-3x/week, children in Panama, Honduras, Mexico, Jamaica and all over CONCACAF are playing morning till night from a young age.

And we expect to win?