Some youth coaches have players who hate to run laps so much that it keeps them from coming to practice. But others say their athletes need to run to build stamina and conditioning, an integral part of the game.
What's a coach to do?
In his weekly column, John Ouellette, the national coach for the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) said running laps isn't necessary because "it doesn't replicate the physical challenges posed by a soccer game, it wastes time that could be spent with the ball, and running laps isn’t fun for the kids."
His last point is key: Running, a joyful and natural part of childhood, is too often used as a punishment. Instead, he suggests having the children play small-sided soccer--two against two or three against three--so they're always in the middle of the action. While working on skills, they run more without realizing it.
"There are so many ways to keep players moving and improving their aerobic fitness while getting touches on the ball that you don't need to resort to running laps," he said.