I’ve taken the approach in the past with the two recreation soccer teams I coached (at the U5 and U7 age groups) that I was trying to teach kids for future play of the game and introduce them to a sport they might play for a long time. I wanted to build fundamental skills and start their brains in action to truly understand the game a few small steps at a time.
I discounted game results, and looked for kids to build their skills over time to win matches.
But is this a big fairy tale? Are the kids interested in learning or interested in winning?
At one hour of practice a week and and one match per week, none of these kids will probably progress to even a high school level player if they continue in the Recreation track for many years. Even with the practice time expanding in the next age group to two one-hour sessions – I can’t expect that any of them will progress to significantly higher skill levels.
So is a delayed payoff of future skills and knowledge worthwhile (knowing that attrition will knock out some or all of the players out before age 16) or should I as a coach do as much as possible to win matches now (even using means that might not be in the best future interests of the players)? Will the payoff of a win offset reduced on-field happiness?