I always enjoy the preseason tournaments as it allows me to get out to watch a lot of games in a fun, competitive setting. I get an opportunity to watch/track players who I have had the pleasure to coach, train, and compete against and see their development over the years.
The one theme that has remained constant is that players change as they get older - Some players get better, some players get worse, some players play the same way (but everyone else changes around them).
The Big, Fast, Athletic Player
The big, fast, and athletic players tend to always stand out at u9. He/She scores goals, dominates in defense, and helps his/her team win games. But fast forward a few years, this same big, fast, athletic player who has NOT changed and chosen to play the same way using his/her athleticism, size, and speed usually does not find the same success at the next stage of the game. Everyone else around him/her has become as fast (if not faster), grown just as big (if not bigger), and just as athletic (if not more athletic).
The Creative, Technical Player
The players that are most fun to track are the creative, technical players at u9 who may not be the biggest or fastest on the field, but are willing to work hard to improve upon what they have control over - their technical skills and understanding of the game. These are the dangerous players at the next level of the game, because they have grown a little bit and they have become faster, but the one piece of their game that truly stands out, is their technical ability and tactical understanding of the game.
The Hardest Working Player on the field
The players that always seem to be the most successful at the next level are the players who work hard and strive to ALWAYS improve upon their game. At a young age, these players know that they are not the most talented nor are they the most athletic, but they always work hard to get just a little bit better. The hard working player attends every practice, every optional event, and trains on their own outside of team practices. These players usually find themselves playing for regional/national teams at the next level of the game.
An athletic player, who works to improve upon all aspects of his/her game, and works harder than any other player to accomplish his goals and continuously improve; These players are the Cristiano Ronaldo's and Steven Gerrard's of the future.
But you dont have to be big and fast to be successful in the game of soccer, just look at Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta - they only have the latter two traits :)
Just something to think about….
Director of Youth Development
Prince William Soccer