Fun or Fear?

What motivates young players?

In a recent issue of Soccer Journal magazine Terry Michler wrote a compelling article titled “Fun or Fear? What motivates young players?” The article has provoked some serious thinking amongst the coaching world. Mike Freitag our State of Colorado Executive Director of Coaching also felt compelled to share his thoughts on the article in the states recent issue of Goal Post Scripts, The official publication of Colorado Youth Soccer.

In a recent blog, I wrote about mental toughness, in which I explained how kids feel undue pressure from coaches, teammates, and more often their own parents when it comes to performance. I explained how this pressure results in them quitting before their soccer career ever gets an opportunity to really start. “Seventy percent of the 20 million children who participate in youth sports will quit by age 13 because of bad experiences- damaged feelings of self worth- frozen by fear of making a mistake” Terry Michler

We need to ask ourselves as coaches and mentors how are we measuring success? If the answer is by wins and losses and how many trophies you can dust off at the end of the day, you may be the reason why the statistic is as high as seventy percent.

Recently I was on my way to our U-17 girls gold State Cup game and as I walking past a couple of fields that happened to be at half time it was easy to hear exactly what one particular coach was saying to his team. The players were no more than 5 yards from their coach, seated on the ground; however the coach felt compelled to stand over and scream at his players. I stopped to watch, as most people that were around me did. He continued to point at one particular player, asking her repeatedly what she was doing on the field. My first thought was, obviously she wasn’t doing what the coach wanted her to, to warrant such a verbal attack in front of her peers at half time. I decided to watch a little of the second half to see how this player would respond to her coaches delivery. The response wasn’t what the coach was looking for; the player seemed riddled with fear of making a mistake and in fact did make mistake after mistake which cost her a one way ticket to the bench.  I began to ask myself if the coach had changed his delivery would that player have gone out on the field with the confidence needed to succeed.

“Training in the early years is heavily focused on outcomes (winning) rather than the process (overall development).” Terry Michler I agree that we as coaches need to value the process, not the product. If we can do this the process will last much longer than the product, which will result in more people paying it forward and giving back to the game in a constructive way long past their playing career ends.

Jayme Halsey – Assistant Director of Coaching


About FCSC / Arsenal Colorado

The Fort Collins Soccer Club strives to advance and foster the game of soccer among individuals of all ages by promoting sportsmanship, leadership, service, education and opportunity to the community through soccer.
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