When it comes to the development of young soccer players in the United States, many parents and coaches come to that proverbial fork in the road, and are unsure what path to take. Most parents want their child to try many sports, yet are faced with the harsh reality of high participation costs, nearly year-round commitments required to have a place on the team, and the fear that if they do not have their child specialize, he or she will get left behind.

Internationally, there are three traditional paths to becoming an elite soccer player. Each path has positives and negatives, and exists as a reflection of the soccer culture in each country. For the good of the game in the United States, though,we need to have a serious discussion about blazing a new path which will help us not only produce the most elite players, but the next generation of coaches, referees and lifelong soccer fans.

Watch to video below to see me discuss the three traditional paths to player development, and how a new American path will not only help us develop a larger pool of talented players, but a new generation of coaches, referees and fans of the beautiful game.

Please share your thoughts, comments and questions below.


Côté, J., Baker, J., & Abernethy, B. (2007). Practice and play in the development of sport expertise.Handbook of sport psychology, 3, 184-202.

Ford, P. R., & Williams, A. M. (2012). The developmental activities engaged in by elite youth soccer players who progressed to professional status compared to those who did not. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13(3), 349-352.

Tayara, K. (2014) The Path to Expertise in Young Football Players.

If you would like to read the original version of this article that I wrote for SoccerWire.com, please click here.


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