Soccerstoriesbook's Blog


WINNING BY NOT WINNING, NECESSARILY

Youth Technical Director Claudio Reyna recently unveiled the U.S. Soccer Federation’s new coaching curriculum for coaches of players ages 5 through 12 during a meeting of youth coaches and directors at the Nike International Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.

The key principals of the curriculum:

          1.  Development over winning.

          2.  Quality training (arrive prepared, keep players focused and active).

          3.  Age-appropriate training .

          4.  Have fun and inspire your players.

To download the curriculum, go to http://www.ussoccer.com/Coaches/Coaching-Education/Zone-1.aspx  [April 21]

Comment:  Development over winning.  What a concept.

Said Reyna, the long-time U.S. captain who made 112 international appearances from 1994 to 2006, “Our players are naturally competitive–we don’t need to ramp that up anymore.  The whistle blows, our kids want to win.  That’s one of our strengths and we’re proud of that.  But if we’re manipulating and thinking winning over development, we’re making a huge mistake.  We’re shortcutting the development of players.  Our aim is to produce skillful, creative, confident players.”

Reyna also made reference to FC Barcelona’s youth program, quoting one of its most illustrious graduates, Spain and Barca playmaker Xavi: “Some youth academies worry about winning.  We worry about education.”

No. 1 is required reading for any coach of U-13s, especially those who are being paid to do so.  While youth sports in America is plagued with a win-at-all-costs mentality, soccer here needs to be the one that recognizes that any trophy awarded for a youth championship is nothing more than a tin pot.   Kids aren’t paid to win, the professionals are.   And really, what would any youth coach in this country prefer to have:  a collection of those tin pots or to say that he helped develop the next Claudio Reyna, or Landon Donovan, or Abby Wambach, or …  Xavi?

Players like that are the ultimate trophy, and they’re on display for years after they’ve parted ways with that coach.