Featured Player: Takumi
We are proud to present Takumi as our newest Featured Player! He has taken his game to the next level with iSoccer, and is a great example for every young player who is looking to have more fun with the ball:
Age: 9 – Lives: Madison, WI – Club: Wisconsin Rush – iSoccer Level: Blue, 6.8
- He works on his iSoccer skills all the time, and says that in games, “I feel more calm and feel like I have more fun.”
- His message to other players about iSoccer: “You guys should try and do this ’cause it’s really fun and you get better and better each day you do it!”
- On weekends, Takumi, his older brother, and his parents all practice iSoccer as a family: the parents count and the kids try to raise their scores.
- In only 5 months, on the iSoccer Six, Takumi went from a 5.5 Green Level to a 7.3 Brown Level!
If you or someone you know has what it takes to be the next iSoccer Featured Player or Team, send videos and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can post them to www.facebook.com/isoccer.
Good luck, and have a great season!
The iSoccer Team
Quick Tip: iSoccer for Busy Coaches and Parents
One of the most common things we hear from coaches and parents around the country is that they don’t have the time or expertise to do the full iSoccer assessment. So here is how, in just a few minutes each week, anyone can use iSoccer to motivate players:
Let players know what they will be doing next week, and encourage them to practice that skill and assess themselves at home. Be sure they have all registered for free at iSoccer.org where they can log scores and do more on their own.
So remember that iSoccer can be used in easy, simple ways that get players excited to spend more time on the ball!
Good luck and have fun this season!
Applying Video Game Psychology to Practice:
How to Make Skill Development Exciting and Effective
By Scott Leber
Most kids love video games, they always have. Even in the days of Atari and Nintendo, kids were glued to the screen for hours to beat the next level or earn a new cool weapon. Now that screen can fit in your pocket or cover a wall, and games are flashier and more interactive than ever. Grabbing a soccer ball and heading outside faces some stiff competition these days.
But instead of lamenting technology’s often sedentary influence on kids, why not learn from video games’ appeal, and apply it to something like soccer?
The following 10 steps outline how to make practice more like a video game, in turn motivating players to spend more time with the ball. After all, improving sounds hard, but not if you make it a game!
Before moving on, let’s agree that at a minimum, to improve technique, you need:
- Increased time with the ball
- Efficient use of time with the ball
- Intensity and effort during time with the ball
- Keep it simple: Video games are easy to understand – so are toe taps and dribbling a figure 8. For young kids, complexity in practice can often detract from the real goals (A, B, C above).
- Give objective feedback: In a video game, if you mess up, you die, start over, ect. It’s simple, and a very easy concept for kids to grasp. Acheiving a high score is objective, unlike much of the feedback given on the practice field. So make it black and white.
- Set a clear goal: If you beat a level, you get to go to the next level. Set clear technical goals for players to either reach, or fail to reach.
- Failure is accepted: How many times do kids start a video game level over before they beat it? Make it clear to players that they aren’t expected to reach a goal on the first try, but should keep trying until they do so, which creates:
- Repetition!: There are people out there that can grab a Nintendo controller and fly through Mario Brothers without thinking, even though they haven’t played it in years, because of the hours they spent as a kid. Now picture a player doing that on the field with scissors moves and their first touch…
- Add time constraints: What happens in video games when time starts running out? Intensity and work rate go up, and players push their limits. Use this simple psychological motivator in practice.
- Deliberate problem solving: In a video game, a player gets to a point where they cannot continue until they master the skill necessary to move forward. Use this same concept in technical training to isolate and focus on weaknesses.
- Celebrate improvement: Congratulations always feels good when you earn something! Create a team of achievers.
- Recognize improvement: Whether public or private, recognition is powerful. Think leader boards, high scores, most improved or awards ceremonies.
- Foster healthy competition: It starts with a player competing against themselves to get to the next level, but when applied to a team dynamic, these steps will help create healthy competition around improving technically, instead of just winning and losing.
Technical development is the most important aspect of the game for young players. By tapping into game psychology, and learning from video games, we can motivate kids to get off the couch and go spend time with the ball. Not only will they be doing something healthy and fun, they will be improving as soccer players as well.
iSoccer provides the structure and rules to the game – now its up to coaches, parents and teammates to take it to the field. Follow all or some of the steps above, make it fun, and reward improvement to add a new dimension to practice that takes technical training to the next level!
Quick Tip: Season Kick Off
Whether you use one or two of the iSoccer Skills, the iSoccer Six, or the full Skills Assessment, the beginning of a season is the best time for an assessment for a few reasons:
1. Set a baseline for the season.
Take a Skills Assessment at the beginning and end of (and during!) a season to get an accurate picture of how effective your season is, in terms of individual improvement, not just winning and losing!
2. Get more comfortable on the ball.
No matter their age or ability level, every player can become more comfortable with the ball. Make technique a priority this season and see the results on the field!
3. Coaches and Parents: Make skill development a game this season.
Use the iSoccer Skills Assessment to create a “Game within the Game” this season. Start by assessing players early in the season and then recognize and reward improvement along the way. The more creative you get with how you recognize and reward players, the more fun iSoccer becomes!