Vince Lombardi once said “football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.” A player who possesses these qualities will succeed in the game and a person seeking them can find them on the field. There is no coincidence that soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Enrolling your child in a soccer camp is not just a step towards physical fitness; it’s an initiation into a real world education.
In many ways the soccer field is a miniature replica of the field where we play out our daily dramas. It’s a stage where natural talents shine and personality flaws are magnified for all to see. Team dynamics reflect the wider set of social dynamics applicable in school, work and family situations. And the experiences in soccer camp can shape and influence psychological behavior and intangible skills as well as tangible sport prowess.
Somewhere to belong
Many studies point to sports as a source of self confidence in children. It can be difficult to successfully navigate the social obstacles of classrooms and school hallways and being part of a soccer camp can give them a sense of being grounded in an otherwise chaotic environment.
There’s no “I” in Team
Every person has a unique constitution and learning to respect and leverage personal differences leads to mastery in sports, business and relationships. Practicing teamwork in a soccer camp will familiarize your child with their own strengths and weaknesses. It will help also him or her see that great things can be accomplished when you set aside your ego and work together as a team towards a common goal.
The art of losing
There is much to be gained in learning how to lose. It’s easy to spot the people who have never mastered this craft – they are immature, self centered and lack big picture perspective. They always need to have the last word and are poorly equipped to respond to the speed bumps that are inherent in the ebb and flow of life. Happiness is an elusive butterfly for these individuals, only appearing when circumstances are perfectly in sync with the script of their internal fairy tale. It’s more than just being able to gracefully admit defeat, it’s about having the mental elasticity to accept and validate opinions that are different from your own. The rigidity of a person who can’t handle loosing makes them snap like a twig when things don’t go their way. The inevitable cycle of winning and losing which is introduced to children in soccer camp sows the seeds of resiliency and flexibility in their minds.
A soccer camp may be one of the earliest points in a child’s life where he or she is being relied on by others. Each person is an essential part of the whole and feeling too lazy to attend practice will affect everyone on the team. For the first time, decisions and actions must be examined from a broader vantage point that includes more than the individual. Children that grow up in a comfortable home where all the basic needs and more are taken care of rarely have the chance to feel needed. Being a part of a team is a good preparation for what’s ahead in terms of personal and professional expectations. It teaches organization, punctuality, and attention to detail – all essential competencies in successful living.
What is that force within that inspires us to run faster and practice harder to reach our goals? Intrinsic motivation and a desire to tirelessly push the limits separating us from our personal best are qualities that are seeded at a very young age. Soccer camp coaches are trained to instill values of determination and persistence into students in a gentle, supportive way. Drills are designed especially to hone the different skill sets essential to the game. Each child is gently guided to identify his or her own limitations and then surpass them. A soccer camp gives children a safe space to practice setting goals and then experience the thrill of achieving them.
Physical exercise is an undisputed benefit of soccer camps, but the soccer field is much more than a place to sweat and build muscle – it’s a training ground for the game of life.
This article was written by John Winthrope, who believes that a joining a soccer camp in sunny California will be a great learning experience for your children.