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Build a Soccer Champion in Your Own Yard

Updated: Apr 2

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Have you ever marveled at youth soccer matches, spotting a few players whose skills simply shine? Watching them weave through defenders and execute flawless shots can leave anyone in awe.

This phenomenon isn't exclusive to soccer; all sports have their stars that capture our attention. As parents, we're eager to see our children excel too, but where do we start? How can we foster their development? Surprisingly, the answer might be as close as your backyard.

The Common Thread for a soccer champion

Take Tiger Woods, for instance. Why mention a golfer here? Because his journey is universally recognizable and provides valuable insights. Throughout his early years, his father, Earl, served as both his coach and mentor. Despite Earl's military career and not being a professional golfer, his passion for golf and his son drove their backyard sessions. This mix of shared moments and skill development played a crucial role in Tiger's growth.

Such dedicated practice, full of fun and challenges, is a common factor behind many soccer greats. This example serves as a blueprint for parents.

Parents Are the Key

Ask any notable soccer player about their early influences, and most will credit their parents. The SoccerU series was created with this in mind, highlighting the critical role of parental support and backyard play in nurturing talent.

Every evening, I see parents and their children at the local fields, engaging in skill-building sessions. These moments are pivotal in a young player's development.

Even former Division I college players attribute their success to parental involvement. But how did these non-professional soccer parents assist their children? Let's dive deeper.

Developing Players

Imagine a young soccer champion player needs to master 75 core skills, ranging from various headers to managing pressure. Yet, during a typical season, they might learn only a handful of new skills, rarely practicing them enough to achieve mastery.

Lack of Time

The biggest challenge for coaches is time. Group training can't cater to individual needs, and personal coaching is rare. The limited hours per week simply aren't enough for comprehensive skill development.

As a result, many players reach middle school or high school without having refined their technical skills. This oversight can hinder their competitive edge as they age.

Thousands of Touches

Charlie Cook of Coerver Training USA shared insights on skill mastery. Observing a player effortlessly control a long pass, Cook emphasized that such skill comes from relentless practice, not innate talent.

Head to the Backyard

It's up to parents to become the coaches, learning and teaching the essential skills their children aren't getting elsewhere. But where to start?

Frustration Watch

Young players can quickly get frustrated. It's crucial to keep sessions enjoyable and driven by the child's interests, blending learning with fun.

Get Involved

In the U.S., the decline of pickup games means parents must fill the gap. The back yard becomes more than a training ground; it's where bonds are formed and memories made. Remember, they're children first. Celebrating their efforts with a simple treat can make all the difference.


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