Why Soccer Starts At Home With Parents – A Chat With Tom Byer
A game changer in player development — and a proven concept if you look at the trajectory of many of the greatest soccer players …
Tom Byer’s Soccer Starts At Home is a game-changer — A revolutionary approach to developing better soccer players in America.This is what Harvard Medical School’s John J. Ratey, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
Most parents have a natural desire to help develop their child’s mind and brain — Byer’s approach is to harness this effort and combine it with the
Tom Byer Soccer Starts At Home is really not a complicated idea.
Byer wants to reach out to parents before their kids start playing organized soccer in America. Byer, who has been connecting the dots in youth soccer
“The all important entry level of the game — we do not get it right,” said Byer.
The success rate for kids who have soccer’s basic building blocks taught to them before they join their first team is much higher. According to Byer, the gap between young ‘elite’ players whose parents have worked with them and average players who are signed up for soccer without previous contact with the ball is enormous.
“The gap is the size of the pacific ocean.”Tom Byer.
“The level of youth soccer coaching in America is quite good,” said Byer. “We need to stop pointing the riffle at the coaches — the level doesn’t shine through because of the abilities of the players. The soccer coaches in America are ten times better than in Japan, the problem is the level of the players.”
Parents are the game changer.
It is very clear from most people’s perspective that we need a structural change. Byer’s approach often evokes images of a stark image of revolution when in reality it is focused on adding a super important primary layer. How many kids go off to kindergarten without ever having held a book?
“This isn’t rocket science.”
One of the problems in our country is that coaches tend to look at parents as adversaries, forgetting, for example, that Ronaldo’s engagement with the ball started at home, as did most of today’s super soccer stars.
From Byer’s perspective, many problems in American youth soccer would be eliminated if we engaged the power of mom and dad — galvanizing the parents to help players learn at the younger ages.
“Not only is it a revolution, it is a revelation — Tom’s belief that in order to improve a class or team, you must raise the lower level rather than develop the high achievers is wisdom I never expected to find in a book about soccer,”said Professor John J. Ratey, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry Harvard Medical School
Byer believes it is too late to try to change the cultur of soccer in America focusing on the people already playing the game. To start developing a new culture, Byer prefers to focus on families who have not started in youth soccer yet.
A few years ago, Tokyo-based Byer set up a pilot program in Seattle, working with the Seattle Sounders and Washington Youth Soccer Association to roll out a Soccer Starts At Home program to get parents helping their young kids, ages two-years-old to five-years-old to develop basic soccer technique. Funded by U.S. Soccer’s Innovate to Grow fund with $75,000 and $25,000 from the Washington Youth Soccer association, the idea was championed by Sunil Gulati, a man known for being instrumental in developing the world’s biggest game in America.
Gulati, the former President of the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) from 2006 to 2018 saw the value in Byer’s approach but after Carlos Cordeiro won the election and became president, support from America’s governing body of soccer waned.
While this pilot program did not last long enough to prove its potential, Byer is launching a new partnership to roll out Soccer Starts At Home with Houston
Will it work? Three of America’s best players, Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, and Christian Pulisic all acknowledge they had their first start at soccer at home.
While there are many obstacles to overcome besides a perception issue of who should be anointed in the role of early player development, logic does dictate this would benefit player development.
Byer also believes that youth soccer in America is often too expensive and would like to see the pay-to-play system changed but recognizes the problems in youth soccer are systemic and the challenges to developing players are not restricted to finances.
“While we constantly hear that youth soccer is too expensive, we are failing both the rich and the poor kids, although in two distinct ways,” said Byer who believes that the parents who pay thousands of dollars every year to youth soccer organizations are also being failed.
If you look at Byer’s success rate, and the many countries that have sought his advice and respect his approach, one would obviously want to try Soccer Starts At Home. Especially as parents are always looking for activities to get their kids away from screens.