Player Development – Breakin’ it Down with Burk (Episode 3)


Last week in Breakin’ it Down With Burk (Episode 2), we discussed how the competitive side of youth soccer is, to a certain degree, unavoidable. Players want to win. In this week’s episode, we will be discussing Picking weeds or planting flowers with our players.

Breakin’ it Down with Burk (Episode 3)

The next time you are in a youth soccer game environment, listen to the coaches’ and parents’ comments. Think about how many comments are teaching young players to fear risk:

“Don’t play around with it.”

“Never up the middle.”

“Get rid of it.”

“Just kick it.”

Picking Weeds, or Planting Flowers?

When we place children in this environment, we teach them that avoiding a mistake is more important than trying something new. When we strive for the unattainable goal of mistake-free soccer, or “perfection,” we are more concerned with picking weeds than planting flowers.

On the value of mistakes and the dangers of “perfection.”

What happens to children when their fear of making mistakes is greater than their desire to learn? Is the game still fun? When the soccer environment is focused on creating risk-averse players, our players experience anxiety and self-doubt.

They may be afraid of the ball coming to them, and their priority when they receive the ball may be to give the burden to someone else, not to try a new skill or identify the best pass. If we ask young players to be perfect, we set them up for failure and add to their anxiety.

Instead of creating environments where mistakes are dreaded, encourage your children to try new things. One of the best ways children learn is through trial and error. By attempting new moves and creative passes, young players learn from the game what works and what does not. Encourage your young player to be brave and try new things!

Will some mistakes lead to goals? Probably! But in an environment where mistakes are cherished as learning opportunities rather than feared, young players learn to take the initiative and become better players.

Try this with your player next time they have a game.

Before the game:

“I’m so happy I get to watch you play today! Is there anything new you’re excited to try in the game?”
Engage with your child when they answer so they know you are involved in their soccer journey.

After the game:

“Did you get to try (new skill/pass/etc.) in the game today? How did it go?”
No matter how they answer, be supportive and encourage your child to keep trying and to listen to their coach as they continue to learn and try new things!

By encouraging our young players to be brave and try new things each week, we are planting flowers and teaching our children not to be afraid of making mistakes but rather to learn from them.

Interested in learning more about being the best soccer parent you can be? MSI is proud to partner with the Soccer Parent Resource Center to share content with every member of our club.


Check out this interview with clinical psychologist Dr. Brad Miller about soccer performance anxiety

Learn more about the History and Values of MSI Soccer Inc.

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