Can the United States Progress in Youth Soccer? The United States has been known to be an international super power for the past several decades. Whether it is industry, politics, economics or technology the United States has led the world in innovation. This also proves true in the world of sports. The United States consistently performs extremely well when playing on the international stage. A prime example of this is basketball. The United States has taken the gold 14 times since the sports inauguration to the Olympics. In fact, the United States has earned the most medals out of any other country and has beaten the runner up –the Soviet Union- by over 1400 medals. It is safe to conclude that the United States is a dominant force when competing in global competition. One glaring exception to this otherwise undeniable truth is soccer. In the past 80 years the U.S. Men’s National team has reached the World Cup quarter finals stage once. Since then we have had major technological breakthroughs such as the television, cell phone and the computer. The country has even sent a man to the moon. However, when it comes to a task that could be seen as easy as kicking a ball in a net, we can’t even compete. How is this possible? The United States National team has access to the best equipment, the best facilities and the newest developments in both sport science and nutrition. How can we still be trumped by other teams around the world, one must ask themself why is this? The problem as with all problems must be solved at its roots. The lack of experienced coaches at the very lowest levels of soccer, the youth level is our greatest weakness. The solution to this is the academy style of soccer. We must take a hard look at how we are educating the youth athletes at the lowest of levels. The country needs to emulate the already proven method of molding youth done in countries that are competitive on a global scale. Using the academy style training model youth coaches can develop the nation’s youth players so that the country can take its place on the world podium. For years the nation has not had a set curriculum for the development of its youth players. For many of the nation’s current youth coaches, soccer was not an option when they were young as it is a fairly young sport in the United States, in relation to other countries. Most coaches from the Generation X era, not having played soccer are mainly just volunteer parents with no soccer experience. Phil Barber, a former professional soccer player even goes as far to say that these parents are youth soccer’s biggest problem. In his article Barber states, “Why is it that parents, who should be setting an example, see it as being acceptable to abuse referees, officials and members of the opposition clubs? Can’t they – or won’t they – see that the examples they set will shape their kids lives?”
These so called coaches have adapted techniques from other more commonly played sports such as baseball, basketball and football. These philosophies are mistaken Sam Snow explains the need for a good coaching philosophy.
“A coach’s philosophy has an impact on daily coaching procedures and strategies. A coach's philosophy is actually a very practical guide. coaches.” (Snow 48)
This approach is neither practical nor effective in understanding the coaching of soccer. More traditional sports differ in both the way they are played and the mentality required in order to play the sport effectively. Soccer, is constantly in motion thus requiring different tactics based on the constantly changing position of the ball, where each player is in relation to teammates and position of the opponents that are on the field as well as what part of the field the play is taking place (Barnes). Tactics change based on these actions creating multiple decisions that one needs to make, resulting in any number of even more possible decisions. In order to make good