Today’s post is by SoccerFIT partner Tristan Tillette. Tillette serves as Director of Performance at Elite Sports in Birmingham, AL and On-Line Training Director of AthleteFIT.com
This is the first post of the OUR GAME series – discussing the physical, technical, and psychological development of our youth as it pertains to the rest of the world.
As a performance trainer, speed guy, fitness coach, etc. I frequently hear from my soccer coaching compadres speak about “touches.” “take a touch”, “first touch”, “two touch”, and “our kids don’t TOUCH the ball enough.” This last statement begs my question – are ALL touches created equal??? Is a juggle the same as a dribble? Is a pass equally as important a reception out of the air? Simply stated touches are great but….what should our kids be doing? In American soccer, we try to keep-up with the Jones’s…or more appropriately the Guardiola’s or Ferguson’s. Well our governing body, U.S. Soccer has finally given us the answer.
U.S. Soccer has raised their commitment to youth developmen over the last few years. Their Player Development Summit last month was the culmination of countless hours of work by our National Staff and particularly Technical Director Claudio Reyna. Reyna’s presentation to 150 Soccer coaches & directors (who are driving youth development in this country) came equipped with a training manual – The Curriculum. This document is U.S. Soccer’s age-appropriate development program. The manual is full of diagrams, charts, graphs, and anything else a youth coach would need to appropriately train a team in any age group. Quite frankly – it’s awesome! My question is this …..Where do we go from here? How do we turn this vision of La Masia American into a reality. The answer is quite simple…PLAY WITH PASSION!
As I watch games around the world, it is evident that the Brazilians love to play, the Argentines love to play, and the Spanish live to play. This love and passion is part of their culture – It is ingrained in them! In the U.S., we typically see our opponent as “the other team”, “our rival” , etc. In the case of competing against the world at their game, our opponent is us. First step – We must make their game our game. Our kids must love the game the way they love other sports, other activities, going to movies, playing on their new IPAD2. We must (as parents & coaches) inspire them and provide them with every opportunity within reach to be successful and to not only pursue their passion but also to play with passion. So I challenge myself as soccer coach, soccer dad, soccer guy and you as well to ignite the passion in our youth and make it a reality. In order to excel, our players must lose themselves in the game…the world’s game…our game!
Stay tuned for our next post from the OUR GAME series.