July Bulletin 2023 | Page 6



Myths & the volunteer coach

It happens every few years . It seems that every “ soccer dad ” generation needs to be educated . The United States still is a generation or two away from its volunteer youth coaches having played the game in high school , club or college .
We need volunteer coaches . We need coaches who have played the game . We need coaches who understand the teaching principles of the game . We are just not there yet .
The new volunteer coach must be educated about small-sided games . Most of you reading this understand why small-sided games are so important to the development of the youth soccer player . But , unfortunately , not all youth coaches understand the necessity and benefits of smallsided games .
A new volunteer coach runs to a bookstore and buys a soccer book ( clearly not “ The Soccer Coaching Bible ,” produced by the NSCAA , now United Soccer Coaches ) and reads it cover to cover . This is great . The new coach wants to do what is right and wants to help the kids on the team . The problem is that most soccer coaching books are written for older players and teams , not young players , so the rookie coach insists upon using the 11v11 format . The reasons ? Here are some of the myths that new volunteer coaches believe .
The real game is 11v11
That ’ s true . But the 11v11 game is not suited physically or mentally for players under 13 ( US Youth Soccer recommendation ). The field is too big , the ball is too big and the players do not get a chance to touch the ball . For bigger , stronger and faster players , it is fine . They will touch the ball , play hard and have fun , but the smaller player has no chance . The fewer players on the field , the more often all players will touch the ball . One of the most-often-used activities in an NBA practice session is the 3v3 full-court game . You can ’ t hide when you play 3v3 basketball . You must defend , attack the goal , run the court and touch the ball . The same is true with small-sided soccer games .
It ’ s not “ real soccer ”
In order for our players to learn soccer , they must play real soccer . It is important that every six-yearold understands the importance of the left back position . It is important for the player to stand there for the entire game and never touch the ball , but they learn to play left back . But seriously , we cannot afford soccer specialists in this country . We need players who can play the game . Smallsided soccer forces the players to play and learn the game .
6 | Soccer Journal +