Elite Training. World Class. Superior Striker. Elite Academy. Whether a parent or coach, if you are involved in the youth soccer, you have most likely noticed how many different "Elite" team, academy and training options there are available. You will find academies, private trainers, club and college scouts all promoting their ability to make your son or daughter a “World Class” or “Elite” athlete. But with so many options, how does a family decide on the right training program or club for their athlete? This article is not necessarily about who is right and who is incorrect in regards to training programs or clubs. That part of soccer lends to the beauty of the game; with different training & coaching philosophies competing against each other to see who wins. What this article is about is helping families and athletes be able to make the right choice for YOUR athlete in the over saturated marketing environment we currently live in. The dictionary definition of “Elite” is: elite. adjective representing the most choice or select; best: ex. an elite group of players. So if a player or program is considered elite, it should be the absolute best ..... but best of what? Does that mean the best in a city? A region? A country? Who decides the "Elite" status and is it backed up by results? If everyone is considered "World Class" or "Elite", then what does that actually mean? There was a recent study on communication that investigated the overuse of words and what that led to. The study was investigating the word “amazing” and how the constant use of it actually devalued the meaning. For instance if someone called a Netflix show “amazing”, was it really amazing or just enjoyable? What the researchers found was many people use the word “amazing” to promote extreme excitement for things that were mediocre or normal. The interesting aspect was the more test subjects used “amazing” in their daily communication, the less value the word actually had. Something that originally meant “surprise and awe” was actually over used and diluted.
So what can families do? The answer is simple and yet not easy. Education is needed and seeing the bigger picture must be constant. Families MUST educate themselves and learn what is being offered to them. Is the training being offered on par with what the program/ coach is advertising or is it fluff marketing? Are they getting a great training experience AND education for their investment? Find out what a program is going to offer that sets it apart from the rest. Ask how invested a trainer will be with your athlete; not just on the soccer field but as a developing person. Find out if the training techniques are being taught and if they are reflective of modern soccer.
In the nearly decade of coaching I have been involved with, I have seen:
Non ECNL players get recruited to D1 programs
ECNL and MRL players get recruited to to D1 programs
Players that were cut from their high school team commit to collegiate programs
Families spend more money in a season to get a college scholarship .... than what the actual scholarship was worth (frustrating)
Players commit to professional teams; both domestically and overseas that did not play for a "Top Elite Academy"
Players commit to a top level program or Academy only to burn out a season later due to the stress and cut throat nature
Players earn playing time with their national program after ascending through ODP, the id2 program or Development Academy
The point is not to give the thumbs up or down to development academies, "Elite" training programs or competitive leagues but rather to stress that families must educate themselves and objectively approach their child's soccer development. The key IS NOT the "status" of a club, the promises a coach may give or the "Elite" title used. Although not easy to find, the key is to find the coach/trainer/program that will invest in you fully to develop and make sure you reach your potential. It will take time and research to learn where your athlete will learn, develop and flourish properly. But the end results are very much worth the investment in time and effort! Personally, we love when athletes and families ask why we coach the way we do at Quick Touch Soccer Development (QTSD©). Our very specific approach to training has a pretty interesting back story. Just like an athlete’s development, we are constantly developing, testing and learning about the best ways to help our athletes improve in every aspect of soccer (and life!). At the end of the day, in a world full of marketing, parents and athlete must be educated to be able to make the right decision for their athletes development. It take a bit of time but in the end, you will have the comfort of knowing you made the right decision for your athlete and family!