Why Making Mistakes Should Be Encouraged in Youth Soccer

A Call For Making Mistakes

We are taught from an early age on that it is a bad thing when we are making mistakes. In school, we get points taken off when we make a mistake in an exam. At work, a mistake can cost huge amounts of money. TV and magazines only shows perfection. And many coaches yell at players for making a bad pass, or missing a shot.


Mistakes Mean Growth

Here is one of the biggest problems in developing young soccer players. In the developmental process, making mistakes is a crucial part of getting better. Players can only improve their game, when they are constantly challenged, and put in new situations. The new environment will automatically force the players to make mistakes. Making mistakes means that the players are trying to get better. Especially in soccer, perfection is impossible. Even the best players in the world, players that get paid millions of dollars to play, only average about 92% pass completion per game. If we don´t expect professionals to be perfect, then we definitely should not expect that from our young players either.


No Chance for Bad Habits

Especially in a training environment, mistakes should be encouraged. However, it is important to correct mistakes on the spot, so bad habits have no chance to develop. A player making a bad pass under pressure for the first time is okay. A player making the same bad pass 20 times in a row might be a sign that a bad habit is developing, and it is up to the coaches to correct these mistakes, not by yelling, but by showing alternative solutions to solve this situation.


Making mistakes is inevitable in a game. The ability to deal with defeat is what defines character. As Silvester Stallone famously said in one of the Rocky Movies: “It ain´t about how hard you hit. It´s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Many players tend to shut down after a mistake, rambling on the situation in their heads for the rest of the game. Because of that, they are not able to focus on the next situation, and their game turns horrible, all because of one bad pass or missed shot. It is not about the mistake you make, but how you react to it afterwards! That is one of the mantras we are communicating to our players. After your player lost the ball, it is important to work back and win the ball collectively.


So next time your players makes a mistake, don´t beat on them, that´s a sign that they are learning!