What should your expectations be as your athlete starts a new season or starts a new sport?
A season of soccer at the U5 and U6 level at our club is about twelve hours of practice and five and a half hours of games. When 50/50 substitution is used, each player plays about two and three-quarters hours of game. Assuming they play fall and spring, there are thirty hours of soccer played per calendar year rising to 36 hours at U7 and U8.
Compared to other activities your child pursues like school (1,260 hours per year), Martial Arts or Music (3 lessons a week for 150 hours per year), Church (52 hours a year) or Television (730 hours a year for kids watching two hours a day) it’s a very small amount of time.
Realistically, even if the best coach or teacher is available – how much can be taught and mastered in 36 hours per year?
What about athletes starting from zero knowledge and experience in their sport? Without knowledge of the basic rules, objectives and flow of a sport it’s an even more difficult hill to climb to learn the sport.
My own progression in sports has been aided by time investment and repetition.
I’ve run more than 400 miles in the last year, which totals more than 50 hours on the road.
In Soccer, I’ve played more than 30 matches in the last year and invested at least two hours a week of solo time with the ball in my front yard. I’ve also watched two to four matches a week on Television – everything from MLS to the Premier League and International matches. Time was well invested analyzing and understanding how to defend and how players work together.
We’ve conditioned our kids to expect to complete tasks in a short amount of time because we think we can only expect a small period of their attention. But we begin to treat the sport as a singular task – and don’t address the smaller chunks of knowledge and skill needed to get there.