Sunday, March 13, 2011

Soccer players need to be confident to develop leadership skills

From the Evansville Courier Press, March 13, 2011

In a recent conversation with a soccer coach at a youth soccer academy, he referenced how important it was to teach players how to be problem-solvers.

Where the concept of being a 'problem-solver' is referenced a lot at various levels of coaching soccer, it really applies to all facets of your life. The ability to make choices is the difference between being successful and a failure, both in sport and in life.

I'm amazed at the varied degree of problem solvers I see on the soccer field, and the reality is that your best players are the best decision makers and problem solvers on the field. Whether it is choosing whether to dribble or to pass, to pass or to shoot, or to press or get back deeper on defense, you have to be able to make the right choices.

It is also interesting to relate the best decision-makers on the field to the best problem solvers off the field. In most cases, you tend to find a parallel between the two. I think 9 out of 10 times, the ability to solve problems on the field is fostered by parents who encourage their children to make decisions and choices off the field, too.

There was a great article posted recently on All Pro Dad that was titled '10 Ways to Teach your Children to be Problem Solvers'. Their 10 items are summed up as:

* Don't be a Helicopter Parent: Give your child some space. Whatever age they are, allow them to make decisions and not to be afraid to make mistakes. I always get nervous when meeting with a recruit and his family, and after asking him a question, his mother or father answer.

* Encourage creative play: Do your kids build with blocks? How about building a fort from whatever you have lying around the house? Kids learn by playing. Make sure their play involves challenge and requires imagination. Eventually, problem solving becomes its own reward.

* Dealing with road blocks: Opposed to solving your kids' problems, offer them reasonable challenges, and allow them to create a solution.

* Provide multiple potential solutions: Whenever possible, facilitate decision making. Make sure your kids don't routinely avoid making tough choices because you automatically issue an easy way out for them.

* Make problem solving part of the home culture: Make solving tough challenges fun. We all run into problems, so why not make family challenges with a positive attitude simply the way your household operates.

* Read problem-solving stories: I once sent 'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost to our team at the University of Evansville, and encouraged them to read between the lines. It's not Sci-fi or a mystery, its common sense.

* Try projects together: The more your child sees you in action, problem solving step by step, the more of a problem-solver your child will become.

* Learn basic problem solving steps: Teach them to identify problems (not finishing homework, not packing lunch, sleeping too late) and help them discover solutions they can handle, and then congratulate them when they succeed.

* Allow children to experience failure: If we're unwilling to see our children fail at a task, then we're unwilling for our children to learn. Once they learn to not to be afraid to fail, they will then create great success.

* Routinely ask your kids for help: Make sure children understand that you respect their capacity to solve problems. Practicing making decisions is the same as practicing shooting on goal or taking batting practice — the more time you take to develop those skills, the more instinctive they become. The best decision-makers that I have been around on the field tend to make pretty good choices off the field, too.

Whether you are a coach or a parent, work harder in helping children around you become better decision-makers. Not only will they become more creative players, but they'll be more independent and well-rounded young men and women, too.

1 comment:

  1. A confident player will always perform better than a player low on confidence. The quality of really feeling confident and believing in your own ability is something that really is incredible. Thanks a lot.

    Soccer Training For Kids