When you have a group of young players in your club there are many factors that steer you away from focusing on fundamentals. Here in America, travel soccer is very expensive, parents are paying thousands of dollars and can’t help but want their kids to win. The players here have very few idols in the game, names like Messi and Ronaldo are what get shouted around. Not many kids watch the game so it’s hard for them to have seen players with less flare. The MLS doesn’t quite help much, you don’t get to see a master class from a holding midfielder week in and week out. You may get a glimpse of old man Pirlo, but how can you convince a kid not to strive to make runs like Messi?
As a coach, you should be able to recognize talent and personality. There are players that were born to take on other players, players that can sit back and read the game and players that are willing to run until the last whistle. It’s important you put these players in the right positions on the pitch to teach them growth. For example, a really fast player in American youth soccer is almost always a forward. Told to stand on the last defender and wait for a through ball to run onto. Limiting the players touches in the fast paced game environment and ultimately stunting the players growth. A player like this could benefit from playing some time defensively to learn the read the game, moving up to the central midfield to learn how to keep the ball under pressure from all sides.
The point I’m making here is that us coaches need to balance winning and growth, the club’s success is gauged on not just how many titles they win, but how many quality players they produce. Your focus needs to be on developing the players fundamental skills, from footwork, passing and overall soccer IQ. There is no better marketing for a youth soccer club than putting a D1 College or Pro player on their website and saying “He’s one of our own!”