Sports Psychology

Soccer Development Versus Winning

In their publication "Foundations of Sports and Exercise Psychology," Robert Weinberg and Daniel Gould explain the critical factors contributing to early withdraw from sports are a lack of enjoyment, excessive pressure and an overemphasis on winning. In fact, if you ask young soccer players for reasons why they enjoy playing soccer, “winning” isn’t even in the top 10 most common answers. As adults, we hijack their experience to satisfy our purposes.
All too frequently, games represent the “big stage” and are overhyped by parents and coaches. For instance, listen to pregame “pep-talks” and you’ll too often hear coaches saying things like: “This team is really good, you guys are going to have to bring your A-game if you want to beat them.” Or, “Remember, if we don’t play smart out there, they’re going to punish us.” Or, “If you don’t work hard, I’m going to sub you out.” Or, “Last time we played them, they beat us on a bad penalty call. We owe them this time!”
The great majority of young soccer players already want to do their best; they don’t take the field with the plan of playing poorly. The research is clear: these types of pregame talks actually inhibit young players’ performances by pushing them beyond their “sweet spot” level of arousal.

The Magic of Small Sided Games

I see a lot of coaches running the crap out of their players before, during, and after training. I can understand every now and then doing such grueling, NTF (not-that-fun) kind of work with older players, but what about younger players?  A study on Spanish elite youth players, average aged of 13 years old,  showed that small sided games are as effective as interval training for maintaining aerobic fitness in elite youth soccer players.  

Praise, Correct, Praise In Coaching Youth Soccer Players

As beautiful of a game soccer is, it comes with bumps, bruises, losses, bad performances, plateaus, etc. It is not a matter of if, it is when.  Players need to be prepared for these set backs and to develop autonomy in their mental toughness.  The players who go on to do great things are not the ones who need to ask everyone and their mother how they played. The great ones learn to water the flowers of their own self belief.