Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Tips for the Camp Counselor
by Joe Addison, July 17th, 2008 8:30PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  youth boys

MOST COMMENTED

By Joe Addison

In this day and age, soccer camps come in all sorts of shapes and sizes: skills camps, indoor camps, fun camps, and team camps. And for better or worse, I've worked at all of them.

What I've found is that regardless of packaging, advertising, and the number of coaches with British accents milling around, the camps are all essentially the same. Kids really couldn't care less what they are there to "accomplish" because, in the end, all they want to do is play.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in specialized skills camps that promise to turn your child into a master dribbler or the world's deadliest finisher. The problem is that kids normally aren't willing to devote much of their time to drills. Before long, you hear the usual, "Why can't we do something fun?" or "But we want to scrimmage!"

In my experience, it's best to let the kids run loose at the beginning of each day, let them mess around in a game without restrictions. Of course, this is a bit risky for the counselor.

I used to work with a guy who thought it was more important to be friends with the campers than it was to teach them anything useful about soccer. Without fail, I would see him running around the field with a child on his shoulders, shouting something about a "Free Piggyback Company."

This sort of counselor is a problem on a couple of levels. His antics rile up the campers to an unruly level of hyperactivity, so when it does come time to do something instructional, the kids ignore directions and clamor for more piggybacking.

Furthermore, being the "cool counselor" is a double-edged sword. Yes, it's important to establish from the beginning that you're a friend and that camp is about having fun. But piggybacking can also undermine your position as the disciplinarian. Kids simply don't listen to you because you've placed yourself on their level. And when it comes time to be a little harsh, it's a disaster.

My preferred method of interacting with the kids is to make fun of myself. On the first day, I'll introduce myself as G.I. Joe or a former "American Idol" winner (complete with a song). This gives me the players' attention and also allows for a few disarming laughs.

With the campers hopefully realizing that learning some new things about soccer might be a little fun, we jump into a few games and then progress on to the instructional stuff, which I try to work in surreptitiously.

I add a few small things to the games. Players now only have three touches with the ball or must make five passes before shooting on goal. I sometimes require one of the players on a team to do a move before a shot can be taken.

My objective with these additions is to get kids to work on their game without thinking it's a chore. And at the end of the day, I'll sit them down and say, "Did anybody notice a difference between how we played in the morning and in the afternoon?"

The hope here is that the players start to make the connections themselves and associate positive, fun soccer with things like trying out new moves or quick passing.

Working at a soccer camp is the ultimate balancing act. Keeping kids well behaved, providing entertainment, and actually teaching them about the sport. You have to do it all.

But as long as you remember that the kids are there to have fun and that playing a game of soccer is the most enterprising thing to do, you should be in pretty good shape. Just don't start your own piggybacking service.

(Joe Addison, a senior midfielder at Amherst College who played his youth soccer in the Richmond, Va., area, is spending the summer as an editorial intern at Soccer America Magazine.)

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Girls vs. Boys: U.S. Soccer's Development Academy dilemma    
Generalizing about genders is a precarious venture, especially when one side is making assumptions about the ...
France routs USA at U-19 tourney    
After opening the Copa del Atlantico tournament in the Canary Islands with a 1-0 loss to ...
U.S. Soccer Development Academy adds 56 clubs for U-12 division     
Fifty-six clubs will join the U.S. Soccer Development Academy at the U-12 level, which the DA ...
Birth-year registration: The transition is upon us    
Will my child be changing teams? Will she be playing "up" if she stays with her ...
Three 14-year-olds picked for U.S. quest to reach U-17 Women's World Cup    
Seven Californians were named by Coach B.J. Snow to the USA's 20-player roster for the 2016 ...
Reffing in foreign languages: Even a few words can make a difference    
Unfortunately, English is the only language that I speak fluently. Immigration from Spanish-speaking countries has grown ...
U.S. Soccer's slate of coaches on boys side almost complete    
Shaun Tsakiris, previously U.S. Soccer Development Academy coach at Northern California club De Anza Force, has ...
FC Dallas makes quarterfinal run at Copa Chivas    
Founded in 1994, the Copa Chivas in Guadalajara is one of the world's premier youth tournaments. ...
Wilmer Cabrera on closing gaps, kids loving MLS and Bradenton    
Wilmer Cabrera, a member of Colombia's 1990 and 1998 World Cup squads, moved to the USA ...
U.S. U-17 boys open new Residency Program with 32 players    
The 32 players attending the U.S. U-17 boys national team Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida, for ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives