#65 – Competitive Youth Soccer

Competition is a natural ingredient in the process of strengthening hearts, minds, and bodies. Without competition and struggle, we miss out on valuable opportunities. The question in this episode is: Why do we compete? What's the end game? Is it to play on the world stage or is it to create stronger healthier adults? In this show, I discuss two valid perspectives: youth sport as a way to compete globally, and youth sport as a way to create strong adults in whatever field they chose. In the end, the answer you like best is up to you.

Life without Struggle Makes us Weak

Struggle is sometimes seen as a bad thing. The reality is: without struggle, we would all be weak. We struggle against gravity every day - perhaps the simplest and most obvious form of struggle imaginable. Astronauts deprived of this simple form of struggle lose bone mass and become weaker. When they return to earth, they have a hard time even standing up and walking around. 

Competition in youth sports creates a struggle in a controlled environment. Kids of similar size and skill compete against one another. They're strengthening one another at an important time in life. They're strengthening their bodies, their minds, and their hearts. If they're allowed to struggle and compete in a safe environment, they come out winners no matter what the scoreboard says. 

What's Your Reason for the Struggle?

I think we each answer this question in a unique way. For me, I don't suspect I'm going to push many of my players onto the world stage to compete in the World Cup. If it happens, it'll be a great twist of fate and a stroke of luck. But it's not my real why. For me, strengthening kids to become solid good citizen adults is the end game for most. As one who grew up in the business and work world, I know how valuable people who understand teamwork, sportsmanship, respect and empathy are. I know many who have a good grasp of these characteristics got them from competition as kids in youth sports. 

It's a fun mental game to ask and answer the question for yourself: why youth sports? To have fun is great, but is it enough to have fun or is there something more to it? 

Progress over Perfection

I frankly don't care if my players win every game or win any game. As long as they make progress and come away from the sports experience understanding how to make progress in life, then I think we've done our job. Self discipline, perseverance, a drive to succeed, an understanding of the power a team can bring to problem solving... all of these are worthy pursuits in the youth sports environment. 

Daniel Workman's Podcast - Soccer Works

I've linked to the podcast that Daniel Workman has produced below. He has strong opinions about the purpose of you soccer. His reason is tightly coupled to our ability as a nation to compete on the world stage. I don't disagree with Daniel and I recommend listening to his thoughts about US Soccer. 

I also think that if he's right, it's more important than ever to be clear about why we're doing what we're doing. If we're doing what we're doing with these kids to produce World Cup players, then we may need to change our focus to work more on the national structure issues. If, like me, you see value in what we're doing despite the fact that most kids aren't going to get to play in the World Cup, then be clear about that too. 

I recommend you have a listen to Daniel's show and form your own opinion. Share your opinion with me, of course at podcast@thesoccersidelines.com. I'd love to hear it!


  • Workman, Daniel. Danielworkman.com, www.danielworkman.com/soccer-works/. Podcast Program
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The Soccer Sidelines

Soccer Dad, Coach, and Club President who is devoted to developing kids and their families. With a diverse background in leadership in other settings, David is focused on empowering parents, players, and coaches to focus on the stuff that really matters in youth sports.