Interested and motivated players make activities a breeze. Storybook Soccer creates just the right connection between activity and focused rest and resonates in the mind of kids. All the while, they are improving the base line actions to successful build on in the next age group (6 years and up) during increasingly fine tuned skill building.
Attract, develop and retain players in the foundational age group, the base to your soccer pyramid. The bigger and finer tuned the base, the higher the peak.
Coaches finally receive what they ask for and need. Give coaches the materials that ensure their success with the kids and parents
Create a fun and engaging coaching staff for the future
All stories were created with simplicity in mind.
In our experiences, kids as young as 8 years old can read and conduct the events,
with adult supervision of course.
Expand your coaching staff at the introductory level with this insightful and developmental tool
The experience of players and parents in the 3-5 age group has a direct effect
on the long term health of a soccer program or club.
The foundation of your soccer pyramid will determine how high you are able to build.
A consistent, caring, fun, cooperative and developmental program allows you to set the tone for age appropriate activities and methods at the earliest age group.
There is a time and place for 3v3, 2v2, and 1v1 game play to begin just as there is time and place to start 7v7, 9v9 and 11v11. The right time is when they are able to be generally successful and grow. There are consequence for kids who are pushed too quickly are apt to develop seeds of competitive anxiety and stress issues, instead of acting on time and allowing the player to feel confident about their growth. All Parents must learn that there is a time and place for everything in the youth development process.
Our eyes also tell us that there are children of 5 years+ that are ahead of the curve and should move to 3v3 play. Some will be able to keep up and some will not. Those who can't should be moved back to the non competitive program instead of missing a whole developmental cycle. Of course they will just need another season or year before they will be able to handle it and grow.
Many recreational directors and coaches who are tasked to lead or prepare material for the age group do not have a formal, extended background in early childhood education, developmental psychology and youth soccer combined.
With this, at a fundamental level most clubs and directors simply don't know what to do with players who aren't capable of reason, control and who aren't ready for 3v3 play.
At its worst clubs only allow 3v3 play at 3-5 years old and therefore, kids as young as 3 are being rushed and treated as 6 year olds although they are in no way ready psychologically or physically ready. Other programs who haven't gone to 3v3 play further hinder development by cutting activity time to, in some cases 30 minutes, once a week.
We all know inexperienced, young or undereducated parent volunteers are needed and utilized to lead the age group without any real development system. They absolutely do have the best in mind and even maybe some education experience, but are left normally outnumbered and judged rather than given any real tools or plan from the club itself. The #1 complaint from coaches of this age group is that they receive no real coaching support or truly usable materials. Most if not all programs rely on games such Red Light Green Light that we played 30 years ago. Truly not good enough for today's world of soccer.
In general, this lack of focus and understanding of the needs and abilities of the youngest kids results in a shaky and moving entry age group. It is clear soccer clubs lose players every year at the entry level due to faulty setup and programming as well as the unrealistic dynamic it sets right off the whistle. Oh well they say, turn over just happens, can't be helped. Yes it can!
The entry age group of a club is the very foundation for the future and must be give more attention, expertise and consistency.
Actual game play at the 3 - young 5 year old age group is not recommended by insightful education experts, educated soccer directors/experts or child development psychologists. The US prides itself on the use of educational and safety experts when determining its policies for children. For example, the US leads the world on banning heading for kids who have yet to physiological development due to its obvious dangers. England and the UK has recently followed the US lead.
Soccer experts in the US and even more specifically, direct experience tells us:
SMALL SIDED 3v3 GAME PLAY LACKS TRUE INDIVIDUAL ORIENTED DEVELOPMENTAL FOCUS FOR MOST IF NOT ALL 3 - YOUNG 5 YEAR OLDS
Our eyes tell us that even with small sided 3v3 play, the youngest of the age group (3 - young 5 year olds) rarely can even touch the ball in a 3v3 game and ultimately run aimlessly and become frustrated and disappointed. The game is reduced to 1v5 with all players trying to take the ball from "teammates" and "opponents". There is no actual passing, nor should there be, except by further developed players who are told to by parent coach. This all results in the adults exuding intensity but nothing resembling soccer or focused development is actually occurring. Many people refer to bumblebee soccer and laugh and throw their hands up in the air and say this is all that I can do or can be done. Not true.
Deeper thinking tells us the 3v3 game play setup regularly puts 3, 4, young 5 year olds with older psychologically and physically dominant players. This is simply unsafe for kids in the youngest age group who lack motor control, experiential decision making and psychological control as base traits. We know collisions are regular from every angle and no real enforcement is consistent as these young players haven't fully formed memory and have to be re educated every activity. Kids forced into early 3v3 play are conflicted between the verbal and non-verbal intensity of the parents/coaches/older siblings and good decisions setting up a dangerous environment. Head collisions at this age group with 3v3 happen with regularity over the course of the up to 3 years for some kids. This occurs even with programs that group players by year and is just as dangerous for the above reasons.
From a pure psychological perspective, the 3v3 game play setup, creates and an adult like pecking order for the entry level age group. It sets up and encourages over confident and sarcastic behaviors for the most developed and normally oldest kids in the group which is prevalent in recreational soccer. This can and does create a basis for cycle bullying as well as creating unrealistic, exclusion oriented, over confident parents which directly effects young players attitudes as they become more concrete thinkers. These parents are set up to have difficulty when their player is challenged and is now the underdog at the next age groups.
For education purposes, PARENTS need to take to heart that your player will go through underdog years, meaning less developed, and the overachiever year as they age up into new age groups. It works this way in recreational programs, competitive youth clubs, high school, college all the way up to the professional level and national team level. It is one consistent element you can count on in the process and is what creates a rhythm as your player age up. In a two year age cycle, the first is the underdog year and the second is the overachiever year. In a four year cycle, think hs or college, it is three years of underdog years and only one overachiever year. Think it though, if your players is a bit further advanced now and If you anoint your player as the best now or anytime in their development, it can lead to negative outcomes. A player through their college years has any more under dog years than overachiever years. They will always need to know what it is to be the underdog role and being accepting of it when faced with various challenges. Teaching a player to always respond to mental disappoint is the most important quality you can give to your player. To successfully reach the higher levels a player must intrinsically love the game and rely on it for comfort even while disappointed with success rates of themselves and teammates. Success in player development in general relies on it.
Conversely and rarely spotlighted is that this early competitive state creates under confident and self defeating behaviors for the youngest at formative age groups. If you extrapalate this experience to soccer or any sport they have natural talents for, it makes you develop concern. Most importantly, Negative experiences at early ages can lead to the worst case scenario and that is non participation which can can have negative mental and physical health consequences. Children who are anointed as not good athletes or even "spacey" (you know the creative thinkers) at young ages is the biggest letdown of the current leaders and program developers.
On the large scale, it begs the question if diminutive, intelligent and creative Messi would have connected with and played soccer in the US with all of the sports options on the menu?
Many of the youngest "players" cannot understand the concept of team, teammates, opponents, field boundaries or even a direction. This age group is easily distracted, enjoy the idea of saying no, is interested in dominating the attention of coach and cannot do any one thing for very long. The 3v3 competitive game play setup does not provide an environment for the entire group of players to develop a strong interest or motivation to identify with the game.
This cannot be overstated; Any coach who pretends to tell you the potential of any player prior to puberty is simply guessing and honestly gaming people to enhance personal power. It doesn't take an expert to see who are the fastest kids and those who have further developed physical control. Using this basis to predict top future players at 9 or 10, prior to puberty is folly. Everything changes as players grow and until players grow into their "adult" body, no one can be sure of the athletic or mental outcomes. Instead our focus should be on guaranteed inclusion, individual based, age group appropriate development and save judgment of potential for the teen years when its accurate and it matters.
It is fair to say that the 5th year is the conversion year to more concrete thinking for most kids. There are 5 year olds mentally and physically ready for 3v3. The recommendation is for kids to move up from a non competitive based program into the 3v3 program at age 5. Some of these kids will want to stay as they are further developed and ready for it. However we know some of those kids won't be ready and will be excited to return to a non competitive based program. Your program needs to be flexible to allow for this back and forth movement, until a player is ready to be successful (speed and decisions) in 3v3 play.
Ultimately, full scale 3v3 at the entry age group is not a plan to intelligently develop a fragile psychologically and physically limited group of kids as a whole. So what do we do? We can't just give up on them and throw them into fire, instead we need to think and plan in a better more modern way.
The youngest players need a program to connect them to the game and American culture without competition, pressures, intensity and emotional highs and lows of adult game expectations. Kids of this age have enough of their own. They aren't emotionally ready to successfully deal with these swings in addition to their own.
Following the first half of the 5th year of development, most kids become further conceptual, have better emotional control, and can understand what their actions.
Developing self-motivation by loving soccer will always come before physical and competitive development. This applies to 3 year olds to full adult professionals. Just ask Messi or your favorite professional athlete. Its this love that sustains them when real competition and potential competitive anxiety comes into play.
Storybook Soccer is the first program available nationally, specifically for soccer, that treats the youngest "players" in the right way. It works to stimulate their brains and body and connects them to American soccer without inappropriately throwing them into competitive games. There is a time and place for everything and competitive game play generally begins psychologically at 5 years old, some not until 6.