My latest piece for Soccer America drew some good feedback from people at all levels of the game. That’s always gratifying, but it’s especially nice in this case because I was writing about something I feel kind of strongly about.
Rethink the typical youth player pathway by replacing the pyramid
Check any soccer club's website or some of the presentations at the United Soccer Coaches convention, and you'll see a…
It also overlaps with the business I’ve just launched, Soccer Site Doctor. Check out the site, and you’ll see that a meaningless “pathway” pyramid is one of my pet peeves.
Diagnose and cure whatever's ailing your club's online presence so you can better communicate with your current…
The typical pyramid services no purpose. You don’t need to tell parents that a future pro player will start as a U-Little and progress through age groups to MLS or the Bundesliga.
Instead, turn that pyramid into something that shows you care about everyone who walks onto one of your practice fields and that you want to prepare them to make soccer a part of their lives, whether they’re the next Matthew Hoppe or Becky Sauerbrunn or will coach their kids in 20–30 years.
No, I’m not a graphic designer, though I used a few subtle design principles here that I can’t tell you because I’d be giving away too many secrets. The biggest problem with the graphic is that it’s too busy. If you were to do a graphic like this, you’d want to have explanatory text accompanying it so you’re not trying to cram so many words in one rectangle.
But this graphic conveys what it’s supposed to convey. Unless your club is set up only for elite athletes, you need to show that you have all these programs. Even if you’re only fielding one superstar team per age group, like a lot of European clubs do for some reason, your “pyramid” should actually be a pole.
Canada, though, has a much better graphic.
That graphic includes categories such as “Train to Compete,” “Competitive for Life,” and “Active for Life.” I’m working on the latter.
So if you’re responsible for a soccer club’s website, the graphics above should give you a sense of how to improve on a pathway pyramid that’s inaccurate and exclusionary. If you’re just interested in conceptualizing soccer development, this will hopefully help you picture a better way.