Soccer is the most popular sport in almost every country in the world. That is unless you live in the USA where football, baseball and basketball are more popular. As a soccer coach the problem is therefore how to get youth players interested in playing soccer rather than the other sports.
Firstly we need to look at the reasons as to why other sports are more popular than soccer in the USA. One of the main reasons is spectator appeal. Local football, baseball and basketball are televised and promoted in every major city in the US. Young athletes watch this and associate with their heroes. Another reason is the money available in the professional game is much more in the American sports than in soccer. As a result, more young sports players aspire to earn their living with a high income in the American sports.
Not that soccer is a poor mans sport. Wages for soccer players around the world are now on the increase. For example 2 of the best soccer players in the world Christiano Ronaldo and Robinho are reported to be on $200, 000 and $320,000 per week respectively. David Beckham who plays for LA Galaxy is also high up there with the top soccer player earners. Although the interest in soccer is growing in the US among young sportsmen, the sport cannot compete as yet with the publicity, advertising and hype of the American sports.
The question is how to persuade young players in the US that soccer is the best sport to enter. Here are a few good reasons:
Soccer is a sport that any player can play and be successful in. As in football where physique and size is a major factor, in basketball where it is very advantageous to be well over 6 feet tall, any player can be successful in soccer no matter what size or physique a player has. Big and strong players can find positions as defenders, midfielders or forwards. Small players can find positions as forwards and wingers and develop skills to be successful in these positions. Slower players can also find positions, especially in midfield. There is a place for everyone who has the desire.
The involvement in the game is much greater in soccer than it is for other sports. In football there are so many stoppages in the game. Some players like the kickers may only have very limited involvement in the game. In soccer, even if your team does not have the ball, everyone has to hustle back to defend. Even the forwards have to defend from the front. Defenders when not defending have to support the midfield and forwards.
Soccer is very fast paced with almost continuous involvement. Basketball is probably the most similar of the American sports to soccer, the biggest difference being the size of the court to the field.
As well as speed, strength and stamina, skill is of the utmost importance in soccer thus producing an athlete with more rounded attributes. At youth level you will often find that youth soccer players often excel in the other American sports.
A good way to get youth athletes more interested in soccer is to get them watching high-class professional games on TV. The English Premier League is probably the best to watch as it is fast paced with a high skill level. Many of the best players in the world play in this league. There are several TV stations that show these games like Fox Sports World.
Also it would be good to get prospective youth soccer players to go to a few of their local college soccer games or semi pro games if there is a team in the area,
And then there is that magical feeling of scoring a goal with the goal celebration to follow. Soccer is certainly on the increase in the USA. The game produces leaders with more all round ability than the US sports. Success in soccer can lead to worldwide acclaim as players like Brad Friedel who plays in the English premier league has shown.