Spirit of Competition
Coaches should also encourage healthy competition on their team. Soccer is a sport, and athletes need to understand that there is a healthy level of competition that serves to push athletes further and motivates them to fulfill their potential. Coaches can show this level of competitiveness through competitive drills that support all athletes and by praising athletes who may not finish first but who exhibit valuable social and personal skills on the field.
Youth soccer is also an excellent way to promote healthy living in young athletes. Soccer is a sport that requires physical superiority to be successful. Athletes must have exceptional endurance and strong hearts to handle the running around during a game. They must have highly developed eye-body coordination and distance perception. They also must have strong muscles to propel the ball across the field and to remain balanced during moves that might knock inexperienced players down.
Coaches should encourage athletes to live healthily by showing them what strong bodies can do for them in soccer and in life. Strong hearts lead to long, healthy lives and strong muscles prevent degenerative diseases and improve quality of life overall.
Nutrition also plays into healthy living. Athletes cannot be successful if they are feeding their bodies ineffectively. Muscles will not grow as strong and bodies will not have enough energy to perform if athletes feed them poor foods. Coaches can encourage good habits by providing athletes a list of healthy foods that will help them perform at their best, such as lean protein, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables.
Youth soccer is about so much more than participation in a sport or learning basic soccer skills. It educates athletes on how to interact with peers and authority figures. It encourages problem-solving skills and helps athletes learn to cooperate and share. It also promotes healthy living for life, which coaches can augment with short educational pieces about proper nutrition and exercise. Finally, youth soccer helps athletes develop a healthy sense of competition, which they can use for success in other areas of life.
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