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The Soccer Sidelines

131 EpisodesProduced by David DejewskiWebsite

Join Coach Dave on the sidelines as he brings you in on what’s going on behind the scenes and the stuff that really matters in youth sports. Understand the game, development, and ways you can support your young athlete at home!


#47 – Commitment Through Youth Sports

What is so Important About Commitment?Commitment makes The Soccer Sidelines "Important Stuff" list across all categories: parents, players, coaches, and volunteers. Commitment is a basic building block of the foundation for every youth athlete and is something that each member of a community - from parents and coaches, to organization leadership and volunteers - all have a responsibility to model and promote. If you're wondering - how can a volunteer influence a player's understanding of commitment, just consider the volunteer who fails to show up for an important job like washing team pinnies. Every player will literally be clothed in the stench of a failed commitment. Don't think they won't notice that some adult didn't follow through on their commitment to wash those pinnies. Commitment is something that is so ubiquitous in the youth sports environment, that we often fail to recognize it as an important actor in the shaping of our player's character. Commitment as a PlayerFor many players, youth sports may not be their first exposure to the concept of commitment, but it may be the most profoundly personal experience with it. The first time a youth athlete experiences lactic acid buildup in their muscles usually comes with being physically and mentally tired, they may be surprised when coach tells them to get some exercise to help them feel better. Players get a chance to practice commitment every day in youth sports - in both big and small ways. From getting out of bed on time to feeding and hydrating themselves, to supporting team mates, players start to understand the meaning of being "all in." They stand a much better chance of absorbing this message if we are intentional about communicating it - both at home and on the pitch. Youth sports may be the first environment where players get to exercise their commitment to something bigger than themselves. Committing to a team, to fellow players, to their own development as a way to support their team as opposed to as a way to make themselves look better, or to the game of soccer in general are all examples of this extra level of commitment in action. I recently had an opportunity to ask a few of my high school aged players about commitment and what they are committed to. A small group of my players did not register in time to get placed on my team. In one case, the player said he registered, but didn't. The second case, Dad wrote me a note asking for his son to be placed back on my team. In the third case, the player wrote me a note explaining why he missed registration and why he wanted to play. In all three cases, I was looking for clues as to what the player was committed to and how committed they are.  The first player just faded away. It seems that the registration process was too hard, so he gave up trying. The second player was absent as well. His dad was doing all the talking so I got no sense of what the player is committed to. The third player wrote me several paragraphs about why he was late and why we was trying to get back on the team after registration had closed. To paraphrase his comments, they were about being committed to himself and his own fun. I was looking for evidence of commitment to his team mates, to his coach, or to the game of soccer - I only found commitment to himself and the fun he thought he would or would not have. I can tell you as a coach and as the President of a Club, if a player shows up with a commitment to his team, the sport, his team mates - in short - something bigger than him or herself, I would move mountains to support that player. When all I see or hear in terms of commitment are proxy commitments from parents (who may want their kid to play more than the kid does) - when I see a half effort and then a fold, or if I see the main commitment is selfish, I'm not terribly motivated to go above and beyond. Now, I might still help, but it's the kids who show that they have commitment to something greater than themselves who really g...

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