Put The Fun Back Into Youth Soccer

3687 words - 15 pages

   Abstract:  Youth Soccer has recently evolved into a fiercely competitive arena.  More and more children are leaving recreational leagues to play in highly competitive select leagues.  While select sports are a valuable resource where children can learn how to socialize and  become self motivated, children who start at young ages, ten and eleven, can suffer psychological and physical damages.  A child's youth sporting experience is directly influenced by the attitudes, sportsmanship and behavior of their parents and coaches.  Parents and coaches who pressure their children to be the best and not play their best are responsible for the high teenage drop out rate.  By eliminating the "winning is everything" attitude, looking at the effort put forth by individual players and holding parents responsible for their actions we can return the game to the children.



Youth Soccer has evolved into a fiercely competitive arena.  More and more children are leaving recreational leagues to play in highly competitive select leagues.  Select leagues are made up of teams, which players must tryout or be selected to play for.  I had the unfortunate task of being an evaluator at such a tryout.  Fifty ten-year-old boys had come out for a three day tryout in which forty five of them were placed on three teams.  Cuts were made on the field and for those boys who had made a team it was a very exciting, but for the five boys who were cut it was absolutely heartbreaking.  Had the children been older they might have been able to deal with the disappointment better, but for most of them it was their first real experience with public "failure".   Select leagues have the potential to teach and promote important life skills such as hard work, dedication, and healthy competition. However children beginning at early ages can suffer psychological and physical damage. The pressure to be the best can harm children who are at such an impressionable age.  A child's youth sports experience is directly affected by coaches and parents and their comments, sportsmanship, attitudes, and behaviors. 


            The idea of  "select" or "all-star" leagues is in direct contradiction with the philosophy under which youth sports were started.  The American Youth Soccer Association, ASYO, was founded in 1964 on the principle that everyone plays and that the teams should be balanced (Engh 36).  Select soccer teams hold tryouts in order to place the best players on one team. The tryouts themselves can be stressful and devastating for those who get cut.  For many children this is their first experience with organized competition and not making a team can cause them to think that they aren't good enough and that they've failed.  The  kids who don't make a select team their first year at tryouts may never tryout again because they figure they weren't good enough the first time around.  What ever happened to the " if at first you don't succeed, try, try again" mentality? ...

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