A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
The Right Response
By Greg Bach
Growing up, Elli Reed did what many young soccer players do when they make a mistake during a game: drop their head and beat themselves up over it.
But Reed, the super talented defender for the Seattle Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), figured out quickly that making an errant pass or mishandling a ball is all part of the game.
All players make mistakes.
And they’ll make them early in games; in the final minutes; and everywhere in-between.
It’s those players that learn to move on from them that will excel and thrive, just like Reed has.
“Growing up I struggled with that exact same thing so I totally know what kids are going through,” Reed says. “But I learned that soccer is a game of mistakes and that no one is ever going to have a perfect game.”
So when those miscues occur – and they will – how are your young players going to respond in the heat of game action? And how are coaches teaching them to respond?
“It’s more how you react to those mistakes that people are watching for in tryouts and things like that is what I’ve been told,” Reed says.
If coaches are telling their players that they’re watching for their reaction and response to the mistake think about how that frees the child to perform without the fear of making a mistake.
And how fired up they’ll be to respond in a positive fashion when they do happen.
“If you make a mistake go win that ball back and focus on the next pass and things like that,” Reed says. “So that’s what I would tell younger girls is to keep their head up and learn from those mistakes and not dwell on them. When I make a mistake what I tell myself is just connect on my next pass and then build from there.”
MULTIPLE MOVEMENTS, MULTIPLE BENEFITS
The Park City, Utah native got her athletic start in – you guessed it – skiing.
“I was pretty much skiing when I could walk,” she says.
Besides hitting the slopes and of course playing soccer, she also played t-ball, swam and ran, among other activities.
“I dabbled in everything,” she says. “I think that’s really important growing up just to kind of learn and do different movements as it helps develop you in different ways. So I’m really glad that I played a bunch of different sports along with soccer.”
Those youth memories also are accompanied by a family that cheered and supported instead of pushed and pressured along her journey.
And what a difference that made.
“After games my parents were always like ‘If you want to come to us and talk about things that’s great’ but they were never the ones to initiate that conversation unless I wanted it,” Reed says. “Sometimes I would love to talk about the games and other times I just needed a couple hours to decompress.”
She loved having them there on the sidelines of her youth games and even now, as a professional, it means just as much to have their presence and support in the stands.
“I remember as a kid seeing them on the sidelines always made me so happy and my brother was always super supportive,” she says. “Even today when they get to come to Seattle for games and I look up and see them in the stands it just makes me feel happy so having my family there at all my different sporting events has been pretty special.”
She excelled on the basketball courts and soccer fields of her youth, and the lessons learned all the way through her collegiate playing days are used often in the high-pressure world of live television
Oakland A’s bench coach Mark Kotsay, who played 17 Major League seasons and has coached youth baseball, on helping kids embrace playing the game with a great attitude and giving it all they’ve got every time out
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