This summer has been called the "Summer of Soccer"!
From June until August, there are many important soccer tournaments being shown world wide; with some of the best players in the world showcasing their talent on the biggest stages. With the EUFA Champions League crowning FC Barcelona champions last month, the Women's World Cup Final this Sunday and the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup starting July 7th, there is more than enough soccer for every fan in the family. So why does this matter to young soccer players? Shouldn't athletes be outside actually playing the game of soccer instead of being glued to a television? While television (and video games) can be detrimental in large quantities, watching televised and live matches can help players develop important aspects of their soccer development; including educational, social, enjoyment and more!
Educational Aspects - Watching professional soccer matches help in two ways; 1) Understanding and recognizing technical/tactical lessons covered during practice/games and 2) Help players find professional athletes to emulate on the field. This past season, I tasked my u12G team with watching 20 minutes of professional soccer a week as well as writing a 5-6 sentence paragraph describing what they saw. Each girl was to watch for techniques covered in our training, describe what teams did well/didn't do well and their overall impression of the match. In hindsight, it was one of the best additions to our team's development this past season! Watching professional allowed the girls to take what we discussed in training and to see it being actively applied at the highest level. The result? By the end of the season, those players that watched each match and wrote their summary with a critical approach saw much improvement on the field and in training. The ones that just wrote the assignment to get out of weekly fitness? Unfortunately, they didn't see much improvement during the season. Why is that? When challenged to look at the game outside of a personal perspective, you are forced to watch the game develop; especially if you can look at it objectively instead of as a "fan". Can your players see the shapes formed during the game? Can they see what players are doing when they do not have the ball? How do they work with their teammates? Additionally, after watching so many matches over the season, I started hearing players discuss why they liked a certain professional over another; defending why their athlete's style was "better" than another. They also started trying to emulate their favorite stars while developing a style of their own; basically "creating ownership" of their game of soccer!
Social Aspects - Watching professional soccer matches is a great social skill building event. Whether going with teammates to watch the Columbus Crew play or watching the Women's World Cup together, you start to see young athletes bond over their common love of the game. That same u12G team that I coach got together to watch the US vs. Nigeria match a couple weeks ago. While my team is a vocal group, you wouldn't believe the energy from the girls watching their favorite US Women's National Team players on the field. If a foul was mis- called, they argued with the ref. When a goal went wide, their reactions were in disbelief. If an opposing player tried to cheat..... I'm sure you can imagine that reaction! From a coach's perspective, you could see the girls' becoming passionate enough about their sport to evoke such reactions; all while growing closer as a team. Which in the end is a crucial aspect of successful soccer development!
Love of the Game - Lastly, watching professional soccer gives players the ability and hope to aspire to play like their soccer heroes. Seeing players taking their game to the professional level across the globe is something every player should respect and hopefully aspire to. While not every player will make it professionally, the dare to dream needs to be there for everyone. Soccer is such an amazing sport but it doesn't end once your competitive playing days are over. Our goal should not only be to develop players for success while playing but more importantly for their future after playing. How can we help players see the beauty and intricacy of the sport so that they fall in love just like we have? The future growth of the sport in our country depends on the passion of the up and coming generations..... and it is our job to help them develop "The Love of the Game" for themselves!
In the end, this summer is an exciting time for players and fans alike. Our Women's National Team has the opportunity to earn the top title in womens' soccer (FIFA World Cup Champions) and our Men's National Team has the opportunity to win their regional title as well. I challenge each and every one of our athletes and their families to take time this summer to watch the game of soccer for what it should be - the Beautiful Game! From all of us at Quick Touch Soccer Development (QTSD©) - Happy Fourth of July and Go USA! --------
If you have any questions about how personal training may help your athlete to further develop their technique AND understanding of the game, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org! More details are also available on our website at www.QTSDsoccer.com.
**Picture credit to USSoccer.com**