The conversation of development over winning in youth soccer is a complex topic.  The two approaches can be combined to find the ultimate success on the field for players and coaches.  In order to create a quality player and team, a coach must focus on developing the right techniques and knowledge of his or her players at a young age.

By focusing on development a coach will produce a certain style of play in their players and teams.  It’s easier to create winning teams when the players and coaches are on the same page of what their end goal really is.  There may be a few bumps in the road early on, but if the team truly buys into what the coach is trying to develop in them, they’ll have an ultimate long term success.

Winning helps reinforce any coaching points.  If a coach is going out and trying to do the right thing by developing his players, but they continue to lose it will bring up skepticism not only in his players, but also in the coaches mind as well.  If a team becomes accustom to winning all of the time it’s important for the coach to stay positive even when they do lose.  No matter the result of the game there are always coaching points that can be reinforced in the following training sessions.  At a young age kids tend to have a tough time stepping back from a game they lost to still take away any positives that were on the field.  A coach should always bring up what needs to be improved upon from a loss and also the positives that he saw from his players.  At a young age it’s important to leave the players on a positive note and wanting to come back to training to improve, and not leaving them in fear with low confidence.

It’s important to keep reasonable expectations on players and coaches.  There are many different variables in a season that can lead to a team’s “success”.   Even though a team has gone undefeated in a season doesn’t mean they were successful.  If they aren’t developing a certain style of play they may have just been mis-flighted and played weaker opponents.  Same is true for a team that doesn’t win a game all year, but are developing a certain style of play over the course of the season.  In the long run the team who has an actual plan of development will have a greater success rate.

Andrew Tarantino - 11th November 2016