August 24, 2011
What we can learn from Europe about developing mental stamina in youth players.
There’s no doubt elite youth soccer is on the upswing in the USA. More kids are playing than ever before, leagues are thriving through better coaching and our professional teams are benefiting from our ever-improving infrastructure.
Physically, technically and tactically, the U.S. is closing the gap on countries where soccer – or football – is the national sport. But how do we achieve that fourth crucial element that’s critical in taking America to the next level – mental fortitude?
In Europe and South America, a culturally-rooted, well-developed system nurtures talented young players, carrying them from youth academies to the pros. Training is intense, designed to create seasoned professionals over a period of years. There’s grittiness to the competition – these kids want to make it. Badly.