Updated: Apr 15
One question we hear all the time from parents is,
When will it "click" for my player?
Why aren't they as good or better than their peers yet?
Soccer parents are reasonably concerned and want to know when the time will come that their soccer player's game takes off.
We believe the video below will help answer these questions for you. Then after the video, we hear stories from other collegiate or soon-to-be collegiate players talk about their journey to play at a higher level, what it took for them, and how you can use their stories to help your youth soccer player reach their goals.
First watch the excellent video below from Coach Mike Keating of Captain Elite to understand more about why players develop at different speeds, how to accelerate that process, and when it will be YOUR SOCCER PLAYER'S TIME TO SHINE.
What is the biggest source of stress for the player and the parent?
Bigger than playing time? Bigger than tryouts? Bigger than showcases?
I received an email recently from the mother of a u14 boy titled, “Is it too late?”. She felt they missed the opportunity to develop him since many of his friends were getting better faster than he was.
The father of a u11 daughter told me, “She does not see the field and totally misses the best passes.” He told me he keeps trying to get her to be more aware but… “she just doesn't get it”. She's a young kid of 10.
I spoke to a u15 girl beginning the recruiting stage who constantly holds herself back and is so much better than she plays, according to her parents.
What all these stories have in common is a misunderstanding of Player Development that wreaks havoc on the player’s confidence, the parent's stress level, and contributions they make to their teams.
The first problem in these stories is a constant comparison to others as if we are all made the same.
Let me be clear…we are not made the same.
The second problem is the belief that there is a set age where the child should be taking off. Is it 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18?
There is no set age, but I will say, do the right things in the elementary and middle school years, and by the time they are 16 they’ll be set up for long-term success.
The kids get the worst of the stress of development. They know they're missing some things in their development and they feel their parents’ worries.
“Chase, what’d the coach say after the game? How do you think you played? That team any good? How come you lost to them? You think you played your hardest, Chase?"
What makes it worse is they may see others who don't do any extra training at all getting all the praise and attention.
When I was growing up I was told to work hard and I’d be successful. They taught that development is like an upward arrow. The truth is this is a nice picture but it does not work this way at all. A quick web search shows how others attempt to explain it (not an upward arrow but a squiggly line that eventually goes up). While I think this is a bit more accurate it does not give us anything we can do with it.
A few years ago working with my daughter I came up with a very simple idea looking at the 4 dimensions of Player Development: technical, tactical, physical, and psychological.
I call it The Clicking Point.
If every player develops on these four dimensions, what I know for certain is that no two players develop at the same time or in the same way on all four. No 2 on the entire planet! We think we are just like our friends and should develop just like them, but we are not.
If we draw this in a chart it will look something like this…
Technical is time with the soccer ball. It is cumulative; which means the hours you put in working on the ball outside of club adds up until you get to the clicking point and then they act like a multiplier to rocket you upward.
There will be times when you see no improvement even for weeks. Stay with it! Practice with proper technique and focus will always benefit you in the long run…Always.
Tactical is understanding the game. It is also cumulative, but learning game concepts is much easier when the child reaches the high school years. Don't expect a 10-year-old to understand much beyond the first pass. Their cognitive reasoning has not developed yet.
Physical…this is one of the biggest differences among us. Early bloomers. Late bloomers. Steady plodders. We are all different.
For most of us, our genes kick in in strength, speed, and conditioning where our training begins to pay off around 13, 14, and up. If you don't do any strength, speed, and conditioning in your 14 and older soccer player, talk to a trainer or watch your Inbox for my talk on it.
Psychological… this is emotional maturity and social intelligence. Work ethic, passion, discipline, motivation, mental toughness. Lack of it often presents itself in players who shrink in competitive situations like training and games. These are skills that can be learned and are one of the greatest divides between parents and players.
“Why don't you play more aggressively”, says the parent. “I am!” says the player. This player clicked at age fifteen. Before that, they were labeled as not having certain important traits to make it, when in fact, they were developing perfectly all along. It's just that coaches, parents, and even the player could not see it yet.
I interviewed Heather O'Reilly after winning the Olympic Gold and she said her clicking point was 13 after doing so well at ODP. That's pretty young but Heather is likely one of the top athletes in the world in her game.
For one of my own kids, it was sixteen when she started getting select high-level team invitations across the country. What's important to understand is that you are not like anyone else.
Focus on what you can control… your technical skill. You will know it has clicked for you because you and others will be surprised at your development in such a short period of time.
They’ll say things like "Wow. He's a natural.” or “Amazing! She developed overnight!” which of course is totally wrong.
You were quietly developing in the background, out of sight, plugging away at your individual training, and applying it to your team over many weeks, months, and years. Then it came one day that your Physical and Psychological maturity converged with your Technical and Tactical and you reached The Clicking Point and became a new player and a new person!
Let me repeat.
It will come at different times and in different ways for every one of you!
Let me leave you with a quote from Abraham Lincoln, “I shall study and prepare myself and someday my chance will come.”
He was underestimated and failed more times in his personal and political life than any of his peers but he stayed the course and he changed the world.
Now…what are you going to do?
Join our next round of High-Performance soccer training courses today and start working on what you can control...your technical game. Captain Elite offers soccer training courses that you can do at home in soccer dribbling, first touch and passing, and striking. Courses are offered for beginning soccer players as well as advanced levels. Go HERE to learn more about our soccer training courses and start today!
Now let's hear from a collegiate soccer player and also from a golf collegiate commit talk about how they were able to prepare to play athletics at a higher level while still in their younger years.
Let's first hear from Jordan Fiorani, who is a former Captain Elite soccer player, a current Captain Elite coach, as well as a collegiate defensive men's soccer player at Roanoke College.
Jordan Fiorani Roanoke College Men's Soccer Player
Me: "What were some of the things you and your parents did when you played soccer as a youth player to get better and how did these things help along the way to make sure you were on the right track? Were u always motivated to train on your own, watch soccer, etc. and if not, how did you get interested?"
Jordan: "As a whole, I was motivated to train but that doesn’t mean there weren't days it was a struggle to start, so, I followed the 5-minute rule of just starting and doing 5 minutes. Before you know it I finished a whole session.
Jordan: "Watching soccer is like many other sports except it is on literally every day and past games can be watched on YouTube. I was motivated to watch the game by selecting a favorite team/players that I would consistently watch like it was my favorite basketball or football team."
Me: "Did the Captain Elite training give you any tools to make goal-setting and staying on track with your soccer training any easier? We've talked about how many kids drop out of soccer but you stuck with it! I'm hoping your ideas on your success-to-date will help other parents who are struggling to get their kids to commit to soccer training at home."
Jordan: "Captain Elite makes goal setting easy by making you commit at the beginning of each 5 or 10 weeks. You see your goals and progress every time you log in which builds the connection between training and achieving goals. Captain Elite is extremely helpful to younger soccer players by providing easily-measured goals through time or reps completed and providing information on how realistic your chosen goal is. The SMART specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound method is not only valuable to soccer and sport but to anything you set out to achieve in life. Captain Elite is soccer training but more important, preparation for the daily battles of life."
Jordan Fiorani, Captain Elite Soccer Coach, at our Summer Soccer Camp
Me: "Wonderful! How did your parents play a role, if any, when you were young in motivating you to train soccer?"
Jordan: "Parents would encourage and support me in training by timing drills or giving reminders. Reinforcement from parents works with rewards for training primarily at a younger age (my brother this was successful), then as players enter High School, ownership to train us transferred almost entirely to the player. The main things a parent can provide is support and not to be overbearing because it risks killing the players love for the game."
Now let's talk with Reagan Waggoner from Alabama who trained with Captain Elite as a young soccer player. Reagan has incredibly switched her game to golf and is committed to play D1 golf at Samford University.
Reagan Waggoner D1 Golf Commit and Former Soccer Player
I love talking to Reagan because she's always been mature beyond her years, even as a young soccer player attending our soccer camps. I caught up with Reagan to speak with her about what guided her soccer training at such an early age.
Reagan: "I have always been fairly self-motivated, but goal setting definitely improved my motivation.. along with the five laws and moral principles that reminded me who I am and why I do what I do. The goal sheet was super helpful for that, and though my goals did evolve with time, they kept me focused and reminded me that I work not just for results, but for character and moral excellence as well. It’s about the progress, not just the destination!"
Reagan is speaking about Captain Elite's 5 Laws of Player Development as follows:
#1 I am responsible for my development.
#2 I am extraordinary at the ordinary.
#3 I am a student of the game.
#4 I am a hard worker.
#5 I am thankful.
Reagan: "My parents have always been very involved but also hands-off.. it’s my game and not theirs. I think that if they had pressured me on how to train or when or what, I would’ve felt a lot more pressure and not had as much intrinsic motivation. They supported me and made it possible in every way to work toward my goals, but they also knew that it was my game and encouraged me to pursue that independence.
It was never a struggle for them because they provided the tools for achieving my goals rather than the formula. Their goal was always to help me achieve mine materially (I.e. success in soccer at different levels) but more so through character: how can I live with excellence? They supported that pursuit whether through soccer or other means. Still, they always helped me have the training tools needed to go after my goals of playing at high levels."
Captain Elite October Bash Soccer Camp 2015
Above you see Reagan dressed in black and her mother helping us get ready for our indoor soccer camp we call the Halloween Bash. Reagan: "I felt so much motivation from that independence and pursuit of character - training is about so much more than titles or achievements; it is the development of hard work and responsibility as well. I continued to pursue it because I love excellence and I am made to work toward excellence in whatever I do. My parents definitely emphasized that excellence is not just about the material goals I wrote down, but the 5 laws and other principles I committed to as well!"
We hope you enjoyed learning tips from current and former soccer players and about the different points in their lives when they reached their own Clicking Point. We also heard how Reagan and Jordan used Captain Elite's soccer training at an early age to help realize their dreams by setting goals, fueling their motivation, and using their parents to help in the process.
Now…what are you going to do?
Join our next round of High-Performance soccer training courses today and start working on what you can control...your technical game. Captain Elite offers soccer training courses that you can do at home in soccer dribbling, first touch and passing, and striking. Courses are offered for beginning soccer players as well as for advanced levels. Go HERE to learn more about our soccer training courses and start today!
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