This past Sunday, the U9 boys had their first open inter-squad scrimmage of the season. This after taking an 8 week break from soccer altogether. The boys were deliberately put into different positions to try-out their talents somewhere outside of their norm. Other area boys joined the scrimmage to get some time in. On top of all this, several of the boys grew in height by an inch or two. All of these challenges looked like a recipe for a train wreck of a game.
Instead of a fire drill, Sunday's scrimmage was probably the best display of tactical play I have ever seen from these boys. Possession up the middle was sharper than expected as the center midfielders did an outstanding job quarterbacking the play on the field. Chemistry quickly developed among the boys on both teams creating multiple touch sequences prior to shooting on goal. The shots on goal were rockets. I could tell that the boys were embracing the off hours shooting practice being offered. This looked like a team of boys who have progressed considerably from the time off this Summer.
How does that happen?
It is abundantly clear that an exclusive focus on soccer may not be the answer after all. The secret to your child's success in one sport actually comes from practicing other sports. Baseball camp, basketball camp, golf camp and lacrosse camp gave my son a good boost in his confidence at that first practice.
Laterally training is especially important for a developing child. While it is important to their physical development, it works even more on their ability to better interpret various game situations. Baseball helps your child learn how to instinctively position themselves in a variety of plays (i.e. grounder to short, pop fly to the 3rd baseman). Basketball helps develop a faster thought process with in a higher speed of play. Lacrosse and soccer are VERY similar in how the game is approached tactically, except that one uses a ball and stick. Golf? Really??? Absolutely! Golf teaches lessons to a future soccer player. Have you ever been forced to hit out of the woods or play an imperfect lie? Golf teaches a soccer player how to overcome adversity. Not every transition is going to be played from "the middle of the fairway". The player learns how to think his/her way out of trouble. If you combine the aspects taught in these other sports, the mental approach to soccer suddenly becomes less of a challenge.
Parents, if you have a son or daughter that loves the game of soccer, do them a favor. Give them a chance to train laterally through other sports. It helps tremendously. Sure they may like that other sport. Remember, having fun is also part of learning these sports. Every sport is just a game.
If they end up liking that other sport so much that they quit soccer altogether, then perhaps they may have been pushed too hard to excel at soccer tot he point of burnout. Remember. Kids like fun. Keep it that way.
As for my boys, I cannot wait to see how this season rolls out. Will they outperform the 14-2-2 record they compiled a season ago? Maybe not, but based on Sunday's practice, that final record may not matter nearly as much as how well the boys overcome their moments of adversity, something that will have been taught to them through lateral training.