Between The Posts Ep. 6: Seeking Perfection & It's Impact On Identifying Youth Talent In Modern Soccer

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 coaching education for soccer coaches and parents of goalkeepers and field players geared towards the facts around the pressures facing youth keepers and players

Original Air Date: June 06, 2018

Host: Tyler Vaughan With Guest Zach Duda


Topic: Seeking Perfection & Its Impact On Identifying Youth Talent In Modern Soccer

General Stats:

- Perfectionism is increasing over time: A meta-analysis of birth cohort differences from 1989 to 2016. 2 out of 5 children today were considered to display perfectionist tendencies.

- Journalist Amanda Ruggeri writes for the BBC, “Perfectionism, after all, is an ultimately self-defeating way to move through the world. It is built on an excruciating irony: making, and admitting, mistakes is a necessary part of growing and learning and being human. It also makes you better at your career and relationships and life in general. By avoiding mistakes at any cost, a perfectionist can make it harder to reach their own lofty goals.”

- According to Anxiety BC: Perfectionism robs our children of the youth sports experience and develops long-term anxiety that can be damaging to the brain and body. It also teaches our children to have an unhealthy view of the world. “Perfectionism is not about having high standards, as some argue. It is about having unrealistic ones.”


- What is the most common mistake coaches and recruiters are making?

- Where do you think this idea of the Perfect Player has come from?

- What impact do you think this may be having on soccer development in the US?


- Even players nowadays think they need to be the perfectionist athlete. This is an athlete who has attached his or her identity to their achievements, or lack thereof. And being perfection focused instead of process oriented can be the downfall of many a young athlete.

- In today’s game we are all flooded with social media, TV, and brilliant highlights of feats of perfection, but, what happens when young players begin to strive for the TV version of someone else?

- Are we losing true talent at the individual level because players are making decisions not based on circumstances but instead what they’ve seen on TV?

- How can Coaches encourage players to remain play within themselves


- As a parent and coach, it can be frustrating, heartbreaking, and even at times a bit embarrassing watching your athlete struggle and act out after a mistake.

- “The will to compete is great, but not when one loses sight of the process, and is only focused on outcomes.”

5 Tips For Parents

1. Communicate honestly and openly with your child during unemotional times. Address the symptoms with him or her and define the problem.

2. Help your child to turn the perfectionist thoughts into process thoughts. Instead of looking at the outcome or product, the frame of view should be in the process. What did you do well in this process? How else could you have done it?

3. Praise and encourage our children based on effort, not outcomes. If we only celebrate the wins or praise the outcomes, they begin to think that is what matters most. They think they are only valued when they do well, and that winning is what matters. Instead of saying “Nice goals today,” say “all that extra work you have been doing after practice on your shooting really paid off today, didn’t it?”

4. Use celebrities from their sport as examples to give your child a different perspective. Michael Jordan has openly talked about the thousands of game-winning shots he missed. How many strikeouts did Babe Ruth have? How many shots did Abby Wambach take and miss on the big stage? Every sport has numerous athletes who have failed and learned from it or recovered from it.

5. Be a model of excellence seeking for your athletes. Be willing to make your own mistakes. Then be willing to admit you made them and laugh them off so your child sees how to properly handle a mistake. Children learn so much more by watching us.

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