Many of us in the colder states are beginning to train and play our games indoors at million dollar facilities. When I was growing up this wasn’t even an option, you had to put on a dozen layers and tough it out in the cold. Today, indoor training is expected at premier youth soccer clubs, like soccer was never played during the winter in years past. While I have many issues with playing indoors, I’ll keep it short and offer up three:
1. The most important soccer is played in the cold. Plan on winning a high school state championship anywhere above North Carolina? High school soccer begins in August and ends in November, states don’t postpone playoffs until it warms up again in April. Want to play college soccer? It’s most likely you will be seen by a coach at a college showcase, with the biggest ones occurring from November through March…not exactly the warmest months. Teams should be training outdoors so it’s not a total shock to the system once they get outside for the meaningful games.
2. It builds character. I’m not saying that soccer in the cold is my favorite weather, but I do a lot of things that I don’t exactly enjoy. How you deal with tough situations and the commitment you show to your team and to improving yourself when it’s not easy is what makes you as a player. Anyone can play when things are going their way, but what kind of player are you when your team’s down a goal with 10 minutes left in the freezing rain? Do you throw in the towel or drive your team forward? That decision isn’t made in the moment, its already determined by the player you’ve been in the months, weeks and days leading up to that moment in the game.
3. Technology mixed with clothing. There’s a reason the founder of Under Armour has gone from selling shirts out of his trunk to being one of the leading athletic apparel companies in the world….the stuff works. Gone are the days of the $2 knit gloves I used to wear, now millions of dollars are spent developing gear to keep you warm even when its freezing outside. So don’t give me this its too cold outside for my kid to play when they are taking layers off 10 minutes into training.
The main reason I have a problem with the new indoor training facilities is because all they do is raise the cost of playing soccer. It can cost hundreds of dollars to use an indoor field for an hour, but somehow these places claim they are in it for the kids benefit. When the cost of playing soccer significantly deters a kid from participating, its time to reevaluate your involvement in youth soccer or admit you are really in it for the money. In the end, all any kid really wants to do is play the game they love, inside or out…its adults who find a way to make that difficult.