How a Soccer Star is Made
Originally published: June 2, 2010 in the New York Times
Written by: Michael Sokolove
We wanted to take the time to express to you WideWorld’s coaching philosophy as it pertains to developing youth soccer players. Often, we might hear arguments that indoor soccer creates bad playing habits, or that players should play without boards to better learn the game. While boards are not a part of the outdoor soccer game, playing with boards in an indoor environment serves a very important purpose: it keeps the ball in play.
Please see the attached link above and note in the third paragraph the following statement: “As I came upon them, they were competing in a series of four-on-four games on a small, artificial-turf field with a wall around it, like a hockey rink, so that balls heading out of bounds bounced right back into play.”
The Dutch soccer club, Ajax, is generally considered one of the world’s top youth developmental programs. We wanted to point this out not to say that playing on a hockey rink makes players better, but that players get better through repetition when they work on a good habits. Indoor soccer, then, becomes an advantageous environment compared to an outdoor field where the ball might roll out of bounds several times a game.
In training youth players, repetition is integral in developing strong players. Even on a boardless field, if a player continues to “boot” the ball and does not practice controlled touches, they will not develop as players. However, if a coach emphasizes control of the soccer ball and preaches technique and skill development, youth players will improve. If you then add boards to the mix, repetitions increase, and thus you increase the potential for a player to improve.
Please keep this in mind when considering your playing options as a youth player and coach.
Thank you for reading,