How young is too young?
When I first started coaching Jordan, he had just turned four. My husband thinks four is too young for team soccer, and I defer to him in most things athletic since he was the high school football player while I was the short kid picked last for kickball. Anyhow, Jordan used to run around in circles singing and giggling at the practices and games. He would wander off the field, his grandmother yelling from a distance.
Fast-forward. Jordan is five, and he made the absolute play of Saturday's game. Yes, Albert and Ethan had goals, of which I am very proud. But in the last minute, when our goalkeeper strayed out of position and the other team's forward took a point-blank shot, Jordan flew back to the goal line and scooped the ball out with his foot. It was a sophisticated play by a kid who seriously gets the game.
I like to think of those early seasons as conditioning, as "pre-soccer." The result is indisputable (although my husband will still say, "wait until he's five.")
Marlene Sokol, Times coach
P.S. In response to some of the comments below, here's a picture of Dillon (the blond-haired one), taken when he was three! But Dillon is the exception to every rule. Usually I won't even consider coaching a child that young.