WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Local soccer company Metro NY Legends is ready to kick off its soccer clinics throughout Westchester County this fall.
Coach Josh Pransky, who will lead several of the clinics, says Legends' approach is quite different from the one used in recreational leagues.
Each Legends coach is trained in developmental psychology, developmental physiology and early education, he said. They also have coached or are currently coaching at the college level. Pransky himself is in the process of earning a graduate degree in exercise science.
Pransky said specialization and training separate Legends' coaches from their rec league counterparts. He will not spend an hour teaching 7-year-olds team drills because, he said, they won't understand them. Instead, he focuses on individual skills such as dribbling and shooting.
“They understand, ‘There’s a ball. I want to play with that ball,’ ” Pransky said. “I can sit down and give a dissertation to a bunch of 7-year-olds on the 4-4-2 soccer process, and they’d look at me and stare."
Pransky said positive reinforcement gives kids the confidence to try maneuvers on their own.
“When the kids have confidence, they become creative,” Pransky says. “It’s really rewarding, but it’s really cool to actually see it work.”
Pransky drew a clear distinction between the Legends philosophy and the culture in which every child gets a participation trophy.
“There’s a difference between patronizing the kids and saying, ‘Hey, good job,’ and saying, ‘That was okay that you messed up. Try doing it this way.’ ”
The Legends league in Kansas City, which has been up and running for more than two decades, has produced more than 45 state championship teams, 15 national championship teams, 400 college scholarships and 40 professional soccer players in both Major League Soccer in the United States and in European leagues.
But soccer is only part of the teaching process at Legends, Pransky said, because those numbers, though impressive, are just a small percentage of the children who participate in Legends.
“If we’re only teaching kids soccer … we’d be failures," Pransky said. "We’ve got thousands of kids that have no interest or are not good enough to go anywhere with their soccer careers.”