The Youth Soccer iPad Syndrome

Next time you’re at the field watching some youth soccer on a lovely Saturday morning, take a look around…

Look for the family with younger brothers or sisters who have to wait around while their older sibling plays.

If you get lucky (not really), you’ll notice a weird thing happening… You’ll notice something that is a modern phenomenon.  You may just notice the younger siblings getting bored.  After a while of getting bored you’ll notice they start to bug their parents and start complaining.  You’ll notice that from this the parent will eventually get annoyed and irritated.  I mean frick, “I’m trying to watch little Johnny play while his younger brother little “billy” is getting on my nerves which is distracting me from the game at hand.”  And then, just then you may notice something that to the untrained eye goes unnoticed.  In fact it’s so subtle that it takes a little bit of training for you to realize: “DANG! This is not normal, this is a new phenomenon that the world suffers with” (at least in countries where technology is common (read: most countries)).

You see, you may notice the parents (without really thinking about it) will eventually “cave,” and hand Little Billy an iPad.


Why of course to shut them up!  They want Little Billy to get distracted on the iPad so they can continue in peace watching Little Johnny play.  They want Little Billy to get distracted playing the latest app game on the iPad so he doesn’t bother them anymore.

And guess what?

It works…

It works like a dang charm.  And that’s unfortunate really…  Cause now, you have a dilemna where Little Billy learns not (Yoda talking) to entertain himself.


Instead, Little Billy knows that the second he gets bored he can complain and there’s a good chance the amazing white shinny object with a magical screen will be handed to him.

And now in the process you’ve taught him how to NOT entertain himself.  You’ve taught him that he can get away with complaining.  That he doesn’t have to find a “solution.”  That he does not need to go be creative and make do.

That instead he can just make you (the parent) cave in…

“Just give him the iPhone with the games so he shuts up and we can enjoy some piece…”

And the funny thing is that this is no different than how we do soccer development these days.  Instead of letting them play and figure it out for themselves we ALWAYS micro-manage…

We always tell them what to do during games.

We always make sure they bring their water bottle.  We always make sure they didn’t forget anything.  We always run onto the field when they cry.  We always hold them by the hand.

And we always hand them the iPad when we should be letting them get bored so they can learn that NOT everything will be solved by someone else.

Instead, I must be creative and figure it out for myself for once.  The same thing that applies to taking the easy way out by handing them the iPad applies to coaching.

Sometimes you gotta let them lose and stop micro-managing.

Sometimes you gotta back off.  Sometimes you gotta let them play street soccer and stop telling them what they should and shouldn’t be doing.

A new report just came out confirming this actually.  It states it quite boldly.  It says something along the lines of:

Being bored is good for children – and adults.  This is why.

Soccer development is a whole lot more than just what you do with your kid inside a soccer field.  If you continuously solve things for your kids OFF the field than they will struggle figuring it out on the field as well.

And conversely it also applies on the field.

Don’t always figure it out for them.  Let them make mistakes and don’t make them feel bad about it.  Them making mistakes is good!  Them figuring out a way to be creative and problem solving is better than just ALWAYS handing them the iPad.

Do kids need to be tech savvy?  Heck yeah…

Sadly I have to point this out cause I know certain opiniated readers who never read the whole article will scream out something along the lines of “This is ridiculous, kids need to be tech savvy and you’re telling them not to be!”


I’m saying moderation!

I’m saying don’t always give them the solution and hold their hand.  Give them lots of times where they figure it out without you giving in with the old iPad solution.



Let me know below if you see this happening lots

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