Three Stages in Youth Soccer Development
Many youth soccer coaches complain that they have players who hang-on-to-the-ball too long and are afraid that they will end-up becoming ‘ball-hogs’. There is no need for them to worry because all players go through ‘three stages’ in their development. Top players go through the stages more rapidly than average players and some players just simply get stuck. The stages of development are:
- Dependent Stage (Coaching tip – Need for patience)
- Independent Stage (Coaching tip – Need for repetition)
- Interdependent Stage (Coaching tip – Need for freedom)
Players in the Dependent Stage have little or no soccer background. They need others to learn from and the coach may become just one of the ‘others’. Coaches with players in this stage must be very patient and allow the players to fail their way to success as they attempt to mimic what has been presented.
Players in the Independent Stage believe they have the skills, knowledge, background, etc. to win ball games for their team. They feel that unless they take on the opponent and beat them the team cannot win. You will see a ‘selfish’ type of play from Independent players who many times are tagged with the title: ‘ball hog.’ Players who continuously keep the ball will eventually learn that ‘hanging on to the ball’ may not be the solution to the team’s success.
- They will get tired during the middle or toward the end of the game – we know what happens to technique when one gets tired.
- They may get injured since opposing players will find a way to strip the players off the ball.
- They may be double teamed if the opposing coach knows what he is doing.
- Their peers may let them know verbally or physically (no passes to them) that they are hurting the team effort.
All of these negatives (and more) will lead ‘smart’ players to conclude that: There is a time to dribble, A time to pass and A time to shoot…!
Players in the Interdependent Stage the top stage, which takes many years to reach, realize that it takes everyone on the team to have a successful game/season. The few players who make it to this stage will have taught themselves (learned) that it is better to pass the ball to the outside in the Defending-third. That it is better to look for through passes in the Midfield-third and to dribble for a shot (on a Farpost goal) in the Attacking-third. In all cases they must feel very comfortable in hanging on to the ball (ball-hogging) until they find a better option. In the meantime let them have some FUN in this current stage which may be frustrating for you but a great time for them! 🙂 Your FUNdamental, Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien)