Right Academy. The Shooter or The Target.

by Satyajit Sadanandan | July 5, 2019
Powerful Secrets To Maximize Your Child's Soccer Talent

Even casual soccer fans may know about Andreas Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez. Both came through the renowned La Masia academy and were key to FC Barcelona’s recent success. But here’s what even many hardcore fans don’t know. When they were at La Masia academy at twelve and fourteen, they had not won anything. Not a single trophy! At eighteen and nineteen years old, they had lost more matches than they had won. But they went on to win many trophies for club and country including the World Cup and the Champions League.

And they are not exceptions in this aspect. The World’s best soccer academies never focus on winning at youth level. Young players who stand out are fielded in higher age groups and challenged to ensure maximum progress. And these academies don’t highlight youth tournament wins. They know the real prize is when the players graduate to elite senior football.

Unfortunately, this is not common knowledge. And Parents frequently take wrong decisions while choosing an academy for their child.

But, as shown in the previous three articles, selecting the right academy is vital for player development. And parents often make this choice based on wrong considerations like:

  1. The winning team must be the best one, or
  2. Being the best player in the team is ideal, or
  3. A good coach must be the one who screams a lot 

Smart Sports Parenting Tactics For Your Child

There are several factors that need to be considered while selecting an academy.

Obviously, the most important point is that each player is different and what works for one player may not work for another. So there is no one-size-fits-all ‘ideal’ academy that will suit every player.

That being said, here are some basic pointers you can use to filter academies for your child:

  1. Playing Time
    • Match time is essential – bench time is not productive.
  2. Team (and Competition) Quality
    • Your child needs to play in a team that is equal to or slightly superior to his or her current ability.
    • If your child is the best player in the team or among the top players in the League, then he or she is not getting enough challenge to improve.
    • If your child is playing in a league that is very one-sided then it may be time to consider better alternatives where the competition is more balanced.
    • In the above scenarios, he or she is probably a benchmark for weaker players – good for them, but not for him/her.
    • Make sure your child is the hunter, not the hunted.

The right team and league are where your child is not the stand-out player. Rather there should be better players that he or she can learn from and use to progress. This is why when a player is very good at a particular age group, it is important to move that player up – one or two years at least.

However, one needs to make sure that the physical differences are not overwhelming. Otherwise, the player can end up learning the wrong techniques to cope up with physically superior players. Techniques that would be hard to reverse as time passes. Good coaches and academies will know this though and ensure it doesn’t happen.

The trouble is that most Players (and Parents) are clueless when it comes to knowing where they really stand in comparison to their team or competition. Especially while selecting the Academy. An independent assessment and benchmarking will enable the player and parent to take the right decision.

Key Takeaways

  • Selecting the right academy is vital for your child’s progress.
  • The right team and league are the one where your child is appropriately challenged.
  • Independent assessment and benchmarking of the player will help in making the right choice.
Powerful Secrets To Maximize Your Child's Soccer Talent
Powerful Secrets To Maximize Your Child's Soccer Talent

3 comments on “Right Academy. The Shooter or The Target.”

  1. How to select right academy. They all try to pitch as if they are the best. In Mumbai there is no academy which have well trained coaches like foreign clubs. In this case how to select which one is good for long term. My Son is 11 months and I would like to make him professional player so that one day he can represent his country (INDIA)

    1. Thank you for reaching out Aslam.

      There are good and bad academies everywhere. You can use some of the tips I have shared to find out a good academy in Mumbai. A web class is coming soon where you can get much more insights.

      While Mumbai may not have a high density of great academies unlike in more soccer-advanced countries, please keep in mind that the quality of academies and coaches at the grassroots level in many soccer-rich but economically-poor nations of Africa and South America is not too great either. Simply because the good coaches also need appropriate compensation. Still, these countries continue to produce World-class players while India doesn't. Why? Because there are many other even more important factors for success than just a good coach.

      Unfortunately, 99.9% of parents believe that finding a good coach is enough. And as a result, their child gets only 5-10% benefit compared to what they can get if all the important elements that exist in EVERY place are utilized. More on it later.

      With regards to your son, 11-months is still quite early to look at structured coaching. Please refer to my reply to your comment on the other post (https://smartsportsparenting.com/blog-soccer-practice-how-much/).

      Best Wishes!

  2. The article gives me clarity on choosing an academy. My son has been playing for a academy in Chennai and representing them in the AIFF youth league for the last two years. His game has improved but he is a pretty shy and introverted and this is affecting his game. His coach prefers the agreesive alternative. Don't clubs work on the personality part of a player. Also how do I get trial for my son in La Massage Academy.
    Sunil Mukundan

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