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Bird1812

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With the possible exception of some die hard local US football fans (particularly those that see good athletes moving to soccer).....

 

Another quote from Scoachd which brought to mind a recent conversation I had with a strength and conditioning coach.  He himself has a background in baseball and lacrosse.  I believe he may have been a high school baseball All American and went on to college where he majored in kinesiology.  After graduating he played baseball in Holland of all places, but got to see some of the physical training done at Ajax.  He currently teaches phys ed and also coaches youth baseball, football and lacrosse in addition to doing fitness training.  He seems to hold a high opinion of soccer players and coaches noting that youth soccer coaches seem much more educated than their counterparts in other youth sports.  He also noted that the majority of the youth athletes coming to him for training are soccer players, both male and female, and that they seem to have the best work ethic about their training then any of the other athletes with whom he works.  But it is his most recent comment that caught my attention.  In his opinion, soccer is now getting the best young athletes.  On the boys side, prior to high school, these athletes are all playing soccer and as a coach for other sports, he is upfront about wanting to lure them to his sports.


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JohnR

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I could hear an argument that soccer is getting more than its share of the white athletes, and of course of the brown/Hispanic athletes. It's definitely not getting a lot of the African-American athlete, who of course is typically the top dog when it comes to footspeed -- a critical element of athleticism.

 

So I would say that U.S. youth soccer is getting plenty of very good athletes, certainly good enough to compete on the world stage (how is Italy or Argentina better off with this regard?), but it would be a stretch to say that soccer is getting more than a moderate % of the best athletes in the U.S.

paulee

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We may be getting the best athletes early on, but with the boys, by the time they get to jr. high or HS, they are playing football or baseball or basketball.  The girls tend to stick with soccer, though.


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Bird1812

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Originally Posted by JohnR

I could hear an argument that soccer is getting more than its share of the white athletes, and of course of the brown/Hispanic athletes. It's definitely not getting a lot of the African-American athlete, who of course is typically the top dog when it comes to footspeed -- a critical element of athleticism.

 

So I would say that U.S. youth soccer is getting plenty of very good athletes, certainly good enough to compete on the world stage (how is Italy or Argentina better off with this regard?), but it would be a stretch to say that soccer is getting more than a moderate % of the best athletes in the U.S.

I don't know whether this makes any difference to the discussion or not, but the coach in question is African American.  And I think his point is that these kids are currently with soccer first, at least in our area, unlike when he was growing up and they played traditional sports. 


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scoachd

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Originally Posted by JohnR

I could hear an argument that soccer is getting more than its share of the white athletes, and of course of the brown/Hispanic athletes. It's definitely not getting a lot of the African-American athlete, who of course is typically the top dog when it comes to footspeed -- a critical element of athleticism.

 

So I would say that U.S. youth soccer is getting plenty of very good athletes, certainly good enough to compete on the world stage (how is Italy or Argentina better off with this regard?), but it would be a stretch to say that soccer is getting more than a moderate % of the best athletes in the U.S.

I think soccer is starting to attract more young black athletes as well.  They tend to be more suburban than urban and certainly nowhere near the percentage of better white athletes but their numbers are increasing.  Some like Winslow Jr. will go back to playing football, but others like Zach Thorton (both have dads that were former NFL players) will continue to play soccer.  If the money increases for soccer, more will continue to play because soccer rather than move over to football.  Soccer has a heck of a lot more action than football were you spend a lot of time standing around in practice to play for a very short amount of time one day a week.

 

Also because soccer is also a game of endurance, the advantage of speed is not as pronounced as it is in football.  This is why the Argentina's, Italy's, Turkey's, and Korea's can all be competitive to teams and players from West African backgrounds but wouldn't have a chance in American football where short sprints with plenty of rest make pure speed paramount.

JohnR

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Originally Posted by scoachd
Also because soccer is also a game of endurance, the advantage of speed is not as pronounced as it is in football.

True, but to me the bigger factor is that the attributes for succeeding at soccer are more nuanced than with football. In soccer the slowish can succeed at multiple positions (D mid, A mid, forward, center back), and the smaller player is widely welcomed. Those players can succeed because of great touch, insight/positioning, and/or mastering one particular skill (passing or finishing). Whereas with football, it's largely power/speed combo, aside from quarterback, and some vision required for running back/receivers.

 

So the upshot is, 100% genetics (power/speed) can accomplish so much in football, whereas with soccer it's only a starting point and a starting point that can pretty easily be trumped unless the athlete brings other things to the table.

 

There are Nigerians playing in NFL who discovered the game at age 18. But there are not people of any nationality who are playing high-level professional soccer who discovered the game at age 18.

thomsj

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Might be the chicken or the egg Bird ... Know a basketball coach that says he doesn't like the game (soccer), but he says that his best all around athletes always seem to be soccer players.


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MikeS

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Just to be contrary - show me a soccer player that can withstand 30 or 40 NFL type hits by guys like Zach Thomas or Jason Taylor and still be in top athletic form.

Some soccer players fall down from a simple touch.


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Bird1812

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Originally Posted by thomsj

Might be the chicken or the egg Bird ... Know a basketball coach that says he doesn't like the game (soccer), but he says that his best all around athletes always seem to be soccer players.

 

Was that an intentional pun? 

 

I got the distinct impression that this coach enjoys working with the soccer players more than other young athletes.  On more than one occasion he has mentioned how the soccer players seem to understand the importance of the fitness work with him while football players in particular seem to think their  physical ability is enough to get by.  Of course, this is only the opinion of just one coach, but after discussions that American soccer players are soft, I thought it important to point out.  From what this coach says, it is kids in other sports who whine about the work he asks them to do. 

 

Now it is just possible that the fact that he works with girls who play soccer has influenced his opinion toward the sport.  The girls who will go to work with him are usually the more motivated players while the boys in all sports in general may be more average kids.  Also, his experience outside the fitness room is geared to male athletes as he teaches at an all boy prep school, so working with female athletes is definitely a novelty for him.

 


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robo2011

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In my junior high the sports getting the top athletes are I believe as follows:

1 football

2 basketball

3 soccer

4 cross country

5 baseball


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JohnR

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Quote:
Originally Posted by robo2011
In my junior high the sports getting the top athletes are I believe as follows:

1 football

2 basketball

3 soccer

4 cross country

5 baseball

 

In many areas of the country, baseball has fallen off the athlete radar. Not everywhere -- I think good athletes still play baseball in Southern California, for example -- but in many places. In our town, nobody who can move plays baseball. I guess that you could say that the sport gets a lot of good athletes in the sense of big, strong, hand/eye coordination, but the kids can't run. If they could, they would play football, basketball, and/or soccer instead.

 

robo2011

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Agreed, it only made my list because it existed


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playtough94

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At my school all the best athletes play football and basketball.  Some also play baseball or track, but not many good athletes are in cross country because they are all drawn to football.  At my school soccer mostly gets the kids who aren't fast enough for track or hate running.  There are a few kids like me who just play one sport because they love it, and not because the girls love it.

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thoughtsoc

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I would think that basketball players are the best athletes, as the sport utilizes more of the total body.  Endurance, speed, let strength, jumping, upper body strength, hand/eye coordination.  It amazes me that the top professional players can play 30 minutes or more, sometimes on back to back nights. 

 

American football, on the other hand, leads athletes to specialize a bit.  Quarterbacks, linemen, receivers, etc., all have somewhat different physical and athletic requirements.  Of course, the same could be said of guards and centers in basketball.

 

I would also think that basketball attracts the best athletes, along with football and baseball, because these are the sports with the greatest financial incentive in the U.S.  Basketball discriminates a bit based on height, though, and football based on height and weight.  So, I would think some of the best smaller athletes choose soccer.  I know that's one reason why I encouraged my son to play soccer rather than football or basketball.

geneseo

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...soccer is now getting the best young athletes. 

 

 

 

 

I think someone has been drinking too much kool-aid.  Or, they may get them when they are young but they sure aren't around when they start to mature.

 

 

 

 

robo2011

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Can anyone dig up any information on which professional sports have the players with the longest life expectancy?

I bet football is pretty low on that list!!


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GHMANEGER

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It is more or less like saying painting got the best artists.

wrong by definition.


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AFB

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There must be some reason I cannot understand we this notion appears - of soccer either not having, or now getting, the "best athletes".  It is like an excuse that is offered for poor performance.  We do not have the best athletes so of course we do not perform as well as countries that supposedly have the best athletes playing the sport.

 

It is pure tripe for a number of reasons.

 

First, there is rarely a "best athlete".  There are various somatypes, http://www.bikebfat.com/diet.html, some of which work well in some sports, but not in others.  To suggest that one sport or another has the best athletes is nonsensical.  

 

An example - Sometime in the last century when I was in high school I ran cross country and wrestled.  The football players and the cross country runners had a feud that bordered on hatred.  They would would try to catch us and beat the life out of us.  Of course, they never caught us, and in try to run us down they often collapsed and puked their guts out.  They could out lift me, however.  Who was the better athlete?

 

In wrestling I would compete against many of these same football players - the line backers and offensive back field.  They could beat me (out point - never pin) in folk-style, but my superior leg strength let me dominate in Greco/Roman style.  Who was the better athlete?

 

To suggest, as Mike does, that soccer players could not take the hits, is something I would expect from a parent who has not played the game.  I have watched NFL players come out to play soccer and they sometimes cannot take the hits - they are too used to the protection of the pads.  A soccer player plays in an intentionally unbalanced position so they can go over easier and save their knees and ankles.  Going over easier does not mean they are not physically able to take the punishment.  If you have doubts about this, feel free to come out with us and play and be sure to line up in the wall come free kicks or enter my box when I am playing goal keeper.

 

If you want comparisons of who is a better athlete all round, why not search out the sports that have an all round competition - the decathlon and gymnastics are two that come to mind. 

 

When my son was in high school his school district had the decathlon as an event for the best track and field athletes.  Eight large high school entered representatives.  Though many football players tried to be their school's representative none ever made.  Of the eight, six were soccer players, one of which was my son.  There were better athletes at throwing the shot, discus or javelin.  There were faster sprinters and those that could pole vault higher.  But, all round, the soccer players did better.

 

In the 1960's ABC hosted a sports competition where they invited the best All Stars from a number of sports to compete in various events.  Events included long distance running, rowing, sprints, archery, and a host of other sports.  The events were telecast over a ten week period.  The two times soccer players from the NASL participated they won the overall competition.  After that they stopped inviting soccer players.

 

I have no doubt that in many parts of the country the clearly better overall athletes who could play soccer or football or lacrosse - those that would win decathlons - gravitate to football or a sport other than soccer.  I see the same here in the more rural communities.  It was true in the suburbs 15 years ago, but no more.  It is certainly not true with girls sports where soccer seems to have no lack in this regard.

 

Be wary of taking anything you see as a local feature and assuming it is national in scope.  I would also be wary in disparaging any sport.  Baseball may not seem to require as much pure athleticism; however, think of how strength aids in home runs, of Bo Jackson playing left field and throwing a "strike" from the warning track to nail a runner at home, or of Michael Jordan struggling in the minors.  Baseball rewards quickness and hand eye coordination more than other attributes, but the other attributes help a great deal. 

 

There is no doubt that being a superior athlete - having extraordinary strength, agility and speed - are helpful in soccer, football and a host of other sports.  But, like baseball, there is much more than simply pure athletic talent that is necessary to survive at a high level.  The game requires great balance, years of technical work, quick and flexible thinking and more.

 

To suggest that we are not successful because the "better athletes" go to other sports is to misanalyze the environment and players. 


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WillieB

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So are we suggesting that there is a one size fits all athlete?

 

Don't different athletic disciplines require different athletic qualities?

 

Does a 100m sprinter require the same athletic qualities as a marathon runner?

 

Does a long jumper require the same athletic qualities as a hurdler?

 

I could go on.

 

Soccer requires more than athleticism, it requires skills in addition to athleiticism.  Pure atlheticism alone will not make a player a soccer player.

 

Maybe the problem in the US is that you equate everything with athletic ability and forget about the rest.  Keep doing so and the gap between yourselves and the rest will get even wider.

 

 


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mzbrand

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AFB

To suggest that we are not successful because the "better athletes" go to other sports is to misanalyze the environment and players.



I disagree. Athleticism can be a huge (although by no means the only) factor in soccer. In the US there is neither the financial nor social motivation to keep the best motivated and gifted players.

And don't discount playthough's last comment. For boys, what the girls think is going to be a big factor in motivating them to switch to a popular sport. According to my recently graduated daughter soccer is still not considered a real man's game, although I suspect that its reputation is improving.

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