With passion comes excitement. Anyone who has a hobby will tell you about the great lengths they go to get improve. For example, my husband recently became interested in PCs and has since tried to learn everything he can about how they are built and the best hardware and software. Many, like my husband, want to be better or learn more about something they find enjoyable -that's human nature. Think about your own life. Is there anything you enjoy doing that you've sought out resources or opportunities to get better?
Sometimes, depending on the interest, getting better at something can come with challenges. Take, for example, team sports. Organized team sports have enthralled the planet's youth for centuries. In fact, wrestling is thought to be the first organized sport based on historical records. Moreover, polo was believed to be one of the first organized team sports appearing around 2,500 years ago. Clearly, sports have played a large role in our planet's history. Organized team sports are an integral part of our culture, which explains why many find them an attractive option as a hobby.
Moreover, there are many benefits associated with team sport participation, including increased academic performance, better problem-solving skills, physical health benefits, increased self-esteem, and more. Despite the continued popularity of organized team sports, the world shifted almost two years ago with the rise of COVID-19, which left many people, who once enjoyed team sports, left to solitude. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs released a statement indicating the shutdowns associated with COVID-19 have left many youth without a physical activity outlet, resulting in stagnated social development and reduced well-being. Many of those benefits cited have been blunted by social distancing, but for young athletes, their outlet has also been taken away, which creates further distress.
One of many sports that faced sudden restrictions due to COVID-19 was soccer. With the restricted soccer training and limited soccer coach access training became difficult, if not impossible. Social distancing prevented team sports from continuing. Weekly soccer practice came to a screeching halt as lockdown commenced and interaction between people diminished. Without regular soccer practice and scheduled games, those who were once active soccer players stopped, and lost valuable ground. Two years later, we are in a better place but still not relinquished from the restricted hold COVID-19 has on us. COVID-19 has left us all with a bitter taste of isolation and has forced us to consider how the world can operate in the midst of social distancing standards. As we consider soccer training specifically, we must consider the advantages and disadvantages of in-person coaching.
Advantages of an in-person soccer coach
After lockdown, soccer players quickly recognized the challenges they would face in their skill progression without consistent, structured soccer workouts. A soccer coach provides consistent soccer lessons geared towards honing skills and making players better - something avid players crave. The soccer practice is structured through experience; the coach knows what has been historically effective and implements those drills into the soccer workouts. Similarly, the soccer coach can schedule individual soccer lessons to work hands-on with a player to help them meet their soccer goals and become a better player. With private coaching sessions, coaches can identify a player's strength and help them harness that into their ultimate soccer skills.
Additionally, a coach can help set realistic goals. If a player hopes to become the best soccer player in the world but lacks the motivation to practice, a coach can help set realistic goals and act as a motivator. Moreover, players who wish to pursue soccer as a career or a way to earn a scholarship would benefit from an experienced soccer coach's connections.
Disadvantages of an in-person soccer coach
The COVID-19 lockdown has made it abundantly clear why in-person soccer coaching is flawed. Aside from the social distancing guidelines that shut down many soccer lessons, there are other issues with in-person soccer training which have been overlooked for years. Soccer training often occurs at the same time and same day every week or every other week. While consistency may work for some families, life can be unpredictable. Whether it's pop-up doctor’s appointments, someone in the house is sick, or lack of transportation, those regular soccer workout times can be more challenging than helpful for parents.
Additionally, while COVID-19 has allowed many to transition to work from home jobs, it, unfortunately, didn't eliminate the need to work a full 40 hours each week. And some people have recently resumed working from an in-person location. Between traffic and time limitations, in-person soccer lessons can put a strain on families. Moreover, weekly soccer lessons can be pricey, and many have either lost employment or taken a pay cut which can impact a families' ability to afford to give their child adequate soccer training opportunities. But, how do you tell a child that their favorite leisure activity is too inconvenient for the family to continue?
What is the Alternative to in-person Soccer Practice?
Taking away someone's hobby is not the answer, and luckily there are options to continue with football training (another common name for soccer) and manage a busy and financially limited lifestyle. The year 2021 has brought us many great advancements, including an AI-powered football training app. While there are a variety of sports training apps and video tutorials available online, none have had the capacity to fully replace those advantages found within an in-person soccer coach. However, there is now technology available that does what an in-person coach can do at a reduced cost without reducing the quality. One such app is called Playform, and it uses a camera to detect a soccer player's skills and then provides a performance analysis. The app provides players with a comprehensive assessment of their strengths and weaknesses and then offers customized soccer workout plans to help improve areas of deficit. Essentially, it's a virtual coach, but the coach is AI.
Many major sports affiliations are on board with the rise in sport's technology. The Aspen Institute has approved the rise in technological advancements in sports training. They cited increased equity as a benefit of the increased technology as anyone can have access to a personalized football training regimen. Children who come from families who are financially limited, have multiple work obligations, or have siblings who also have hobbies are no longer limited. As we stated at the start of this article, with passion comes excitement. Everyone who has a passion for something should be given the opportunity to explore that passion and enhance their abilities to succeed. COVID-19 has stripped away nearly two years of social encounters that we won't get back, and for kids, two years feels like a lifetime. If you have a young soccer enthusiast in your life, we encourage you to check out Playform as an option to reduce the scheduling chaos but enhance your child's excitement about their passion.