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  • Writer's pictureCoach Kokou

Win Now, Lose Later

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

Why this Formula is Hurting Youth Soccer in America!

It’s beautiful watching parents on a Saturday morning cheering their kids on and high fiving each other every time a goal is scored. It’s quite the party and that’s the way it should be. Parents should really enjoy the game and support their kids when they score a goal and win. On the flip side, they should also cheer and enthusiastically encourage players on when they try something new, and take risks, if it costs them the game. The huge focus on winning at all costs is killing the game!

Winning is killing the future of soccer and wasting parents’ money by requiring parents to spend more than they should just so their children can be on a "winning" team. Everyone wants to win, but ultimately the kids will lose later if coaches only focus on getting wins. Don't misunderstand, we love to win, we play to win, and we teach a winning mentality. However, we would rather have our young players get the chance to be creative on the field, try new things and get comfortable using the skills we teach them, even if they lose at lot of games in the process. The young years are the most pivotal and foundational years for development. Ongoing opportunities to try new things, be creative and even to fail in games, gives kids the skills and confidence on the ball that they need in order to win by the time it really matters. For the sake of our players, parents, and the beautiful game we love, at World Class Premier, we believe winning should not start becoming a priority until the children reach the Under 13 level.

Many coaches will not be honest enough to tell you this, but there’s a formula to winning at the youth level. The formula is: discourage kids to be creative and demand they make no mistakes; don’t allow the kids to control the ball and pass in their defensive third of the field; and only allow the one or two more technical players to dribble and shoot to their heart’s content. If your child is not that special player, then he or she is told to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. Your child, therefore, becomes a specialist at getting rid of the ball and you instinctively cheer because he/she is kicking high and far. The team wins for now, but your child loses later when winning actually starts to matter. If your child doesn't develop the technical skills and understanding of the game when they are younger, they won't become a well-rounded player as they get older. More importantly, they won't have the fundamental skills that allow them to excel at and enjoy the game for the long run. Is that what you signed up to pay for? Hopefully not. Don’t you want your child to learn the right techniques and develop the correct ideas regarding the game? Don't you want them to keep getting better every single season and continue loving the sport for years to come? I know World Class Premier does!

Studies cite that 70% of kids quit sports by the age of 13 due to burnouts, the sport not being fun anymore, and too much pressure from parents and coaches.

The win now and lose later syndrome is sweeping kids within the ages 6-12, their parents that understand absolutely nothing about the game, and coaches and clubs that are solely looking to grow their business. Ask any parent how their son/daughter’s team is doing and you will hear one of two answers; they are winning all of their games and will probably go undefeated and their coach is great, or they are not very good, they are losing a lot of games, and the coach is playing some players he or she shouldn’t be playing.

Do you see the problem? At the Under 7 or 9 levels, we are judging our kids’ development based on whether their teams are winning or not. Instead, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my child mastering the game?

  • Is my child developing the right technical skills and growing as a player?

  • Is my child being taught the correct fundamentals to continue developing?

At World Class Premier, we believe there is one additional reason players quit early - lack of preparation. Many coaches are not preparing kids to succeed when they reach the age when winning actually matters. In soccer, technical skills and game intelligence become the difference makers as you get older. Player development and mastery of the game must replace the “winning is what matters most” mentality parents find themselves cheering for on Saturday morning. Development is first and, in time, once the kid's have more practice with the style of play and fundamental skills, the wins will come. Do you remember the scoreline of your early games in your sport? Do your parents? On the flipside, the development, skills, and mindset, you hone in those foundational years sticks with you for life!

At World Class Premier, we refuse to adopt this formula. Our philosophy focuses on developing and preparing our players to win when it actually starts to matter. We understand development takes time and patience; patience from parents and coaches to allow the kids to make mistakes and learn from them. On Saturday mornings, we should be focused on seeing our kids execute techniques and plays learned at practice during the week, knowing that when kids are taught the right techniques and are encouraged to worry about developing in those areas rather than on winning, everyone eventually wins in the end. Remember, winning at the right age could mean catching the eye of college coach or higher level. The only way to get there is to focus primarily on development in the early years.

Kokou Assigbe, Director of Coaching

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