In the Fall, I noted that my sons were living on the edge of being consumers and participants on their soccer team and with soccer in general.
Both were in a place with soccer that they didn’t pick up the ball between practices and didn’t work on their skills for their Fast Track training regularly enough to improve. They enjoyed practice, and they enjoyed their match – but they were not investing time in playing away from the confines of the team.
With three weeks of practices and matches left in our Spring season, I can stay that both have moved themselves solidly into participants and often are creators.
Evan (soon to be six years old) has been really well engaged with improving himself in Soccer – or just playing more, even if it’s by himself. He will go outside with a ball and work on dribbling and juggling, or find me to play 1v1, passing or any other skills he can think of.
Aidan has also improved himself. We worked on Saturday afternoon after his game – he wanted to help me prepare for my match on Sunday. He came up with some drills for us to run.
When they get together, they’ve started playing more 1v1 against each other. I sometimes join them as a neutral player that they can pass and receive from.
It’s a really positive step to see both of them take.
I think there’s a wide range of contributing factors that have helped move to this step.
Pickup Soccer through the winter months and during Spring break was a big step for both of them. It removed each of them from the “spectacle” of youth sports and placed them into an environment where neither was a dominant player but that both could learn from older players.
The interest that the Premier League and Champions League matches in recent weeks have brought to our home has also been a factor. While both have been watching at least parts of matching, it gives a lot of inspiration to dreams and conversation. Just like my brother and I would play the World Series when we would play baseball as a child, my kids are playing Chelsea versus Barcelona (Drogba versus Messi) in the front yard.
Finally, I think both see themselves in some shape as a leader on their soccer teams. In both cases, they are among the leading scorers on their teams. Evan has taken to helping some of his newer teammates on his U6 team with skills work. Both have a firm understanding of the sport’s rules and during practice take on a leading role in scrimmages for restarts and disputes.
As a Dad, and a Coach – it’s rewarding to see. It gives me a lot of confidence that they can move on to be coached by others and even participate in our club’s Academy to higher success. While I don’t claim that either will be the most talented player on their team – they are already taking steps to convert work ethic into on-field performance.