What’s The Emphasis For US Youth Soccer? Player Development Or Winning?

youth-playersWhat defines proper player development? Wins and losses or players developing their skills?

We’ve covered this topic before – two years ago, in fact.

At that time, a U.S. Soccer spokesperson said, “Our approach is to reduce the idea of winning trophies and concentrate more on the development of the players.”

In a recent interview, Chris Moore, CEO of US Youth Soccer, said, “In the final analysis, the number of wins and losses shouldn’t matter as much to a coach as setting standards for success and, in turn, allowing kids to set realistic, achievable goals for themselves so that they’ll have the inner drive to succeed and win.”

Sam Snow, Director of Coaching for US Youth Soccer, echoes those sentiments: “When the outcome of a match is more important than young players having the chance to perform, then a coach must take a step back. It’s the drive to win at the detriment of the players that is a problem in youth soccer today.”

These thoughts are pretty consistent, and when combined with U.S. Soccer’s new development initiatives, proper youth player development seems to be on everyone’s mind.

US Youth Soccer’s Mixed Message?

Recently, Moore, along with administrators from multiple US Youth Soccer State Associations, attended a conference presented by GotSoccer, a software vendor used by these associations for select administrative needs.

GotSoccer also produces youth team rankings which many parents follow closely. Their rankings tool is one of a half-dozen similar systems.

US Youth Soccer and some of its member state associations put themselves in an interesting situation – promoting proper player development while supporting a software provider with a team rankings system that emphasizes a win-at-all-costs mentality that completely undermines player development.

Common Conversations

Imagine a scenario where a parent wants to win a particular game at all costs to increase their team’s ranking while a coach is more concerned about proper player development.

How many times does this play out nationwide over the course of the year? Thousands?

Is it fair to put a coach in that position?

What do you think? By associating with GotSoccer, are these associations sending mixed messages to its coaches and parents? Is the goal proper player development or a better team ranking?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Player Development, Rankings, US Youth Soccer

Kris Baker

Kris Baker is the President of Demosphere and has been serving the Youth Sports Community since 2006.