U10 Program Statement

NASA U10 Program Statement

 

NASA has a number of priorities to satisfy when it comes to making team determinations but the overriding priority has to be interests of the children who participate in the program set within the context of their ongoing soccer development and NASA program goals.

 

Win/loss doesn’t necessarily equate to success

The US Youth Soccer Association coaching priorities for the younger age groups are all concerned with the development of the ‘game within the child’ and not the building of a power-house team. For example, most U10 tournaments offer only participation awards to young players and not championship trophies, and, in fact, many tournaments do not even record scores

for these age brackets. In order to receive tournament approval from the Massachusetts Soccer Association (MYSA), the sponsoring organization is required to make the U10 program a friendship event where standings are not tracked and playoffs are not held for the participants.  At this age, winning/losing is not as important to your child as the ice-cream after the game. A better measure of success over the course of the season is by what percentage did each player improve and how many positions on the field did he/she get to try.  Developing each player individually will naturally make the team, or any team they go on to play for, better.

 

Why break up a successful team?

Remember the development of the individual player is seen to be more important to us, at NASA and elsewhere, for these younger age groups. It is actually better for the morale of the kids (and also the parents), as a whole, at this age for us to have two 0.500 teams rather than one that mostly wins and another that mostly loses. A team winning all of their games is, in reality, playing opponents who are not going to force them to improve their game, which will in turn stifle player development and reduce the number of coach-able moments. What motivates a child to listen and learn if they win all of their games, and by empirical reasoning, know enough already?

 

Past experience has also shown us that a player who looked relatively good at age 9 or 10 can be very average at 12 or 13 (and vice-versa, of course). So even if this team were kept together this year it would likely be broken up later on by other external factors. The fact that the kids are used to this because it happens to them at the end of every school year as they get their new class room assignments, is something we should remember.

 

Ongoing development – team balancing

Experience has shown over the years that balancing ability across younger developmental teams (and all of our U10 teams are considered to be in this developmental category) leads to a measured improvement in more players over time.  For instance, if you create a team with a group of players who are more accomplished than some of the others, those who may be less gifted seem to imitate them remarkably quickly. Also this approach does not appear to negatively impact the better players, unless they become too focused on winning. 

 

We will often try to balance the player numbers between multiple teams in an attempt to give everyone a good chance of maximum playing time and to make sure each team is sufficiently staffed.

 

What are we really striving for?

We must always try to balance our goals for our children with their desires, happiness and, to a large degree, reality. We have a duty as parents to keep an overriding sense of perspective on our children’s involvement in youth sports. Many of our younger travel players may not reach the standard required even to play soccer in high school for instance, however many of our older players do. There are many ex-NASA travel players currently playing soccer at the college level and many in our system at the moment who will do so if they decide to continue playing in the program.  A soccer player is not made in a year, but over many years of controlled development usually playing on many teams for many different coaches.

 

In conclusion, please try to keep that overriding sense of balance and perspective that will enable your child to enjoy their soccer experience whatever team they are playing on in future.

 

 

 

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