Friday, November 22, 2013

Show Some Respect: I have a License (Part 1 of 2)

Employees pay tribute to former district engineer, Vols coaching legend
Scott prefers orange pants when he stalks the sideline

Scott has a whistle and he's not afraid to use it:

So you probably know by now that Correspondent Ed and I have joined that elite group of soccer dads and wannabes who have officially acquired a coaching license.  The "E" license to be precise.  Which my wife is quick to point out is situated between "D" and "F."  But, as I maintained throughout high school and college, letter rankings are overrated. 

I found the course nothing short of a revelation.  From the enthusiasm and knowledge of the instructors to the number of attendees, I was impressed and humbled.

Right away we tackled the age-old question of why so many of America's best athletes abandon our beloved game of soccer.  In these pages it has been posited, and supported by many, including myself, that as children get older the "money" sports of football, basketball and baseball suction away the very best athletic talent by dangling the dreams of riches and fame before impressionable eyes.  However, it seems our uniformed instructors came armed with statistics.  Specifically, the United States loses 30-35% of youth soccer players between the ages of 12 and 15 primarily because they lose interest because the game is no longer fun because they can no longer complete due to a lack of fundamental technical skills.  Sorry for the repetitive "because," but when cause so clearly leads to effect, it must be highlighted.

We’ve all seen the big fast kid to whom all the other players are forced to boot the ball [Ed. Note: Tony Pulis' side, anyone?].  Well, it seems, that big fast kid moves on to football or basketball when he can no longer beat everyone of the field because they have all caught up to his athleticism, or at least closed the gap.  Aside from the physical and psychological aspect of the game, technique and tactics are critical.  Unfortunately, far too often, the former is emphasized over the latter, much as short-term rewards are emphasized over long-term growth.  The inevitable, and unenviable, result is a declining ability to dominate play and win.  As others gain skill, the big fast player withers into lesser sports.

And what is skill?  Why, skill can be defined as “technique under pressure,” chorus our finely uniformed instructors.  That being the case, skill is what affords players a degree of comfort on the ball that is more and more necessary as the children get older.  And, not surprisingly, skill is what we should teach because as the game gets faster and more complex, players must think and execute more quickly.  For 9 to 12 year olds, comfort on the ball should be the aim of almost every drill.

Unfortunately, as I have witnessed time and time again in recreational leagues coached by nice, well-intentioned dads, comfort on the ball takes a back seat to this cool corner kick play we should all work on.

This is farlieonfootie for November 22.  RIP, former US President John F. Kennedy.

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