Why talented youngsters fail to make successful careers in adulthood
By The Soccer Club of East Africa (SCEA) | Sun 26 Nov, 2017 10:29
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There so many instances when all stake holders at respective talent identification and development (TID) centers expect certain lads to make appropriate transitions into high quality elite players in adulthood and play pro soccer.

The lads are even selected, assessed and accorded special or extra soccer education with hopes that they continue developing appropriately into elites in the future. However, a significant number fail to live up to the expectations.

Early v late bloomers

Moreover, factors like early specialization, poor coaching and instruction programs, motivational and mental attitude, early bloomers versus late ones and inadequate social support turn out to affect negatively raw soccer talent between the ages of 15 and 19 years into not becoming successful soccer professionals.

Between the ages of 15 and 19 years, a significant number of youngsters with hitherto identified soccer potential drop out of playing the game. Among the many causes for the increased dropouts are poor programs and instruction. Youth soccer programs not founded on the four corners model of talent development (technical and tactical soccer skills, physiological, psychosocial and mental or character formation) offer limited opportunities for players to maximize their potential. 

Without a holistic soccer education (based on the four corners model), the development of the most talented as not only soccer athletes but also as good future citizens will lag behind. Moreover, when talented young players perceive the kind of instruction they receive to be inappropriate, their intrinsic motivation to train and learn new things in soccer tends to dwindle hence leading to increased dropout cases and subsequent failures over the course of time.

Self – motivation

In continuation with the point of motivation, young soccer players should be self- motivated and have good mental attitude towards their development as not only athletes but also people. Developmental soccer programs that do not treat young athletes as people in the first place do not offer a balanced approach upon which to base their development.

The variances in development and unique individual characteristics call for flexible, non- linear, non- directional and dynamic approaches (concerning individual developmental needs, maturation and methods of instruction) in working with youngsters. Unless they remain passionate, self- motivated and disciplined, talented youngsters with feelings of unmet individual needs will get bored and eventually drop out of training.

Supporting the point above, unmet individual needs would relate to the aspect of early and late bloomers in soccer development. The latter with less qualified anthropometric attributes, physical strength and speed at the earliest stages of talent development ( TD ) always tend to be ignored in both trainings and on match days with instructors, parents and fans preferring the former with more qualified physique and speed respectively.

Playing time

Yet early bloomers may be shinning and thriving in early TD specifically due to physique, speed and advanced age unlike late bloomers who have to continue playing and honing their technical and tactical soccer skills over the course of time.  That is if early bloomers do not drop out due to less playing time accorded to them in preference to the big and athletic players.

Consequently, by 19 years, late bloomers who have been working smart and hard over the years can thrive at the elite or adult level in comparison to earlier bloomers putting in less effort in honing their technical skills but thriving on physical prowess. Thus, they (late bloomers) will naturally be inclined to drop out in case they are not making expected headways ahead of the early bloomers whom they thought of being less talented at tender ages of TD.

Early specialization, inadequate social support and opportunities could lead to prospective talent becoming unsuccessful between the ages of 15 and 19 years. When children specialize early enough, their respective soccer talents suffer dramatically. Because they are yet to experiment by involving themselves in multiple sports that would help them hone good multi/ bilateral movement skills. Such skills are not only the building blocks for competitive sporting but also significant in the neuro- cognitive muscular development of young soccer athletes.

Early specialization consequences

Additionally, early specialization in soccer may lead to over training at tender years consequently resulting into overuse injuries and body wear and tear that forces some talented players to burn and bow out of the game. Combine that with inadequate psychosocial support (from coaches, parents, peers, schools and significant other) and the rate of unsuccessful youngster elite players increases in adulthood. Moreover, limited opportunities to learn and grow as both athletes and people, compete appropriately and try out with teams playing at the professional level have a bearing on the unsuccessfulness of young soccer players in the future.

Conclusively, the most talented crop of young soccer players does not manage to develop through all the ranks to become successful professionals in adulthood. Inadequate psychosocial support and or inadequate opportunities for development interfere with the transition for elite youngsters into professional soccer players.

Additionally, challenges of early against late bloomers, early specialization, motivational and mental issues besides poor instructional programs prohibit talented young soccer hopefuls from making careers as professional soccer players in adulthood.

The Soccer Club of East Africa (SCEA)
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