The topic of Free Play comes up over and over again when our top players are interviewed and asked about how they experienced the game as a child. Whether it be pick up on the blacktop, free play times orchestrated by clubs, futsal games or additional technical training at one of the numerous such technical training facilities around the country, the importance of free play to development can’t be ignored.
In this video clip from the Soccer Parenting Summit 2016, (now available at the SoccerParentResourceCenter.com) Kelley Pulisic – mother to Christian Pulisic, discusses the role free play had on Christian’s development.
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I had to say that there's probably a correlation between you and Mark's experiences, whether or not it'd be as soccer players, but just as athletes, and having some perspective on just this is a long-term process. They're eight, he's nine, he's 12, whatever. He's got a long path ahead of him in order to develop. So I think sometimes for parents, if they don't have that perspective, it's confusing. Those are hard decisions to make or even to think about.
And I think kids need to be kids. Sometimes they just need to come home, do their schoolwork if they need to, and just go play. And if they choose to play at the court with friends, basketball, soccer, whatever it is, then it's just free play. But it's not in their brain that someone is coaching, coaching, coaching, where it's so demanding on them. They could just go have a kick around. And that's so much more fun. Big kids, little kids.
It's kind of what he did in England, a whole lot of. They'd go there themselves and they'd just play and there was no coaching involved and that wasn't, I don't think, overdoing it because that was play, not soccer training. But got a lot out of it, but we didn't tell him to do that. He could have chose any sport over there. But I think that really is key, just not pushing so much. Let the kids be kids.