When I was the Director of Coaching for a Florida soccer club a player arrived late for practice and I asked him why he was late? He replied that he had just finished cross country practice. While I walked around observing the different practices I noticed he was leaving practice before the other players and I asked him why he was leaving practice early? He told me he was playing club lacrosse and had to attend lacrosse practice! I am not sure if he ever became a great lacrosse player or a great cross country runner but he, certainly, never became a top level soccer player.

Parents ask me all the time, “How many different sports should my child play?” With so many choices and so many sports vying for the top athletes it is hard to give an easy answer. The best answer I have been able to come up with is to play a team sport and an individual sport….a choice that should be made by the time an athlete is 13/14. As well as developing self -reliance individual sports like golf and tennis are sports which someone can play for their entire life.

It is clear at a coaching school which of the adults in attendance never really played soccer as a child or came to it late in life… because their ball control and demonstration ability are so awkward.

When it comes to skill acquisition the fact is that soccer is a very difficult sport to master if the more intricate skills are not mastered at an early age. I have noticed at coaching schools that the standard of play has improved – due to the fact that we have had an explosion of the sport in the ‘80’s and 90’s and now have a generation, or two, of coaches who have played the game.

Most of the indigenous American sports, basketball, baseball, lacrosse and American football are hand – eye coordination sports. My take is that hand - eye sports skills are easier to acquire later in life than

eye – foot coordination skills which is what soccer is all about. Soccer skills must be acquired early in life as they are so difficult to master at a later age. Playing multiple sports can be good insofar as many of the movement skills do translate to soccer – but soccer skills themselves need a lot of refinement

Anyway, that is my take on multi - sport athletics.

Enjoy your coaching,

Jeff Tipping

Admiral Soccer – Technical Advisor.