Affectionately named, the first annual Puddle Cup concluded this last weekend and we had a blast!
The idea was simple: a coed 4v4 tournament at our own Soccer Central, open to all of our Select Winter players under age 12. The objective: give the game back to the players!
The only involvement the coaches had was to divide up the teams and make the schedule. Players ran their own games. They picked their own formations and positions, ran their own substitutions, and talked about improvements at halftime.
Not only was this format terrific fun for the 30 players that made it out, but it served as a vital part of their player development. Whether called street soccer, a sandlot game, or a pick-up game, this form of soccer provides players with an opportunity to learn the game on their own—through their own experiences.
There are plenty of articles that highlight the importance of street soccer for fostering creativity and tactical growth. And except from the 2012 US Youth Soccer (USYS) Player Development Model highlights the key benefits of street soccer to be:
- Lack of psychological distress for game results except from the players themselves.
- Opportunity to play with and against a variety of players, each of whom present different strengths and weaknesses which help individual and group improvement.
- Opportunity to take chances with new skills and ideas.
- Opportunity to play with variations of the number of players and size of the field which enhances tactical growth.
- The ‘street soccer’ environment requires players to think for themselves which allows the chance for anticipation players to evolve.
Ask those that were there—it was fascinating to see the different team strategies forming throughout the day. Some teams pressured high up the field, others sat back and defended, and others sat way back. Some teams tried to pass through the other team while others found that dribbling worked best.
We want to thank everyone that made this event such a great success: the parents for being positive and encouraging, the volunteers for all their gracious time, our staff for putting this all together, and, of course, the players, for continuing to inspire us all.