My two sons are enrolled for the first time in our club’s skills enrichment program for recreation players. The goal of the program is to provide an additional, hands-on training session with a professional coach and expose the kids (and their families) to the skills needed to progress into Academy and Select teams.
During the course of the session, the coach introduces several new ball maneuvers which are practiced several times in practice and usually progressing to 1v1. After each practice, the kids are told to practice their moves away from practice at home.
My kids regularly will get out and play soccer with me at home in the evening. But they would rather get out and play 1v1 or 2v1 with me than specifically practice skills. (While they could practice the skills in 1v1 with opposition – they are still early in the stages of learning skills like Scissors, Cruyff, and sharpening their turns. They need a lot of touches.)
Thursday: Do you want to practice your moves?
Friday is our team practice.
Saturday and Sunday: Do you want to practice skills?
Monday: Do you want to practice skills tonight?
Tuesday: We need to practice skills.
And every night I was met with some polite resistance and insistence on something they would rather do. Finally, today, on the day of the training – I left a list of the skills for them to work on after school.
On the way to the field we discussed it.
My thoughts to them:
“Today was the last time your Mother will take you outside on Wednesday afternoon to have you practice your skills for Coach Jeff. You will need to decide how important playing soccer is to you during the other six days of the week.
“If it’s less important to you than the computer games, the iPad, the Wii, or watching Phinneas and Ferb episodes, then that’s fine. We won’t repeat signing up for the added training.
“Sports is not a consumer activity. You can’t just show up to the practice and game, and that’s your entire experience with the sport. It’s not the same as going and watching a movie – where when it’s over, you leave, and that’s the end of your involvment. Are you a participant or a consumer? Or do you put the extra time in to any activity and become a creator?”
I think my older son understood where I was coming from with this. During the course of training tonight, they both saw a big improvement from introduction of the scissor to successfully completing it several times. (Neither is close to eclipsing Lionel Messi with on-ball deceptive technique, but the 30-50 iterations of the skill saw improvement.)
I’m hoping through the discussion we’ve changed the path they take this week.