With summer ablaze and recent World Cup fever stoking inspiration, youth Soccer fields are sites of athleticism, friendships and fun. But for some parents, soccer has also become a source of tension. In 2014, soccer teams that were affiliated with the Ontario Soccer Association (since 2017 known as Ontario Soccer) eliminate score-keeping and standings, and also restrict travel, for athletes under 12.
In so doing, the association essentially remove competition from games involving players under 12. The shift was part of what was called a long-term player development strategy. Some psychologists have argue that a focus on skill development may be more beneficial than competition for children in sports before age 10. They say this shift lets children develop the necessary spatial cognition and other motor skills need to successfully navigate the complexities of rules and how to play competitively.
National soccer team
The OSA said eliminating competition for the early stages of athlete development is proven globally and incorporates well establish holistic approaches. In a communications video, John Herdman, who formerly coach Canada’s women’s national soccer team; also now Canada’s men’s team and who is British discuss and promote the changes.
The OSA argue that moving away from an over-emphasis on competition; would mean greater skill development and athletes having more fun overall, a better athlete experience. In turn, this would mean retaining athletes and building success at elite levels. The association also said the changes; would mean lifelong engagement in sport and physical activity for more kids, instead of a situation where some younger kids are drive out; because coaches focus on building the fastest and biggest teams and on star players.
Second, the changes coincide with a shift in societal values. Staff and volunteers are shape by social norms, personal experiences and their own contexts. Parents are key influencers of policy because they make the decision to enrol their children in sport and play a role in whether kids continue. Parenting styles have change and parents frequently are more involve in their children’s lives.
Children in sport
But some parents have frustrate by the change; because one reason they enrol their children in sport is the life lessons that can be gain, including learning how to deal with losing and disappointment. Our research on the changes to OSA under-12 soccer note significant resistance from parents in particular. Parents lamente that competition; so including score-keeping and standings, are an integral part of soccer.
Experts have also argue against the removal of competition. Jean Cote, a professor of sport psychology at Queen’s University who researches youth experiences in sport; hence argues that competition is essential for positive youth development. He agrees children before age 13 should have few, if any, travel obligations. But he argues no evidence exists that eliminating score-keeping will boost participation; also that a focus on long-term skill development takes away the fun from competition.
Changing how a sport runs means appealing to many people who are invest like coaches, parents and participants and managing their concerns. As youth sport continues to develop and change, past ways of doing things should be debate and challenge in order to create the best possible sport experiences. This process will require reflecting on what society expects youth to gain from sports; also how conflicting values can be addressed.