Tag Archives: Free Play soccer


How a Soccer Culture and Environment developed Jazmin Cardoso into a creative soccer player


Jazmin Cardoso, courtesy www.gomason.com

In episode 23 I am joined by my incredible and inspirational cousin, Jazmin Cardoso. Jazmin will discuss how the soccer culture and environment around her shaped her development. Jazmin is a gifted soccer player with an infectious smile and personality. During the podcast Jazmin takes us on her journey which began by imulating her older brother that played soccer with his friends. Because she was younger and couldn’t play yet with the boys, she would juggle a ball on the sideline. At 7 years old Jazmin immigrated to the United States and began playing soccer with neighborhood boys. Eventually her brother and cousin noticed her passion and ability and signed her up for a recreational league.

At only 9 years old her talent was seen by several parents that had children playing at a local club. They quickly convinced Jazmin to play on their team. From that moment, Jazmin took the local soccer scene in Harrisonburg, VA by the horns. She quickly set out to break records and take her high school to new levels, and eventually landing at George Mason University. Today we get a chance to examine the journey and path that took Jazmin Cardoso from a little girl dribbling on the sidelines, to leading D-I college soccer programs and getting call ups from the Mexican National team.

Jazmin discussed how she fell in love with soccer and recalls watching the world cup with her brother. She saw the passion he had for the game and it quickly grew on her. The culture and environment that surrounded her would shape her view of soccer forever.

Jazmin developed not only by practicing with a team, but also playing with friends. She discussed how she would go play with friends outside formal training hours and even after youth soccer games. It was never over.

Even though Jazmin never had “professional” training, she was already ahead of other girls in the club who had been training under coaches. This demonstrates the power of Free Play. She credits the hours of free play for developing her into a creative player on the field.

Jazmin Cardoso (in white) Courtesy www.gomason.com

Jazmin Cardoso (in white)
Courtesy www.gomason.com

Jazmin discussed a very important topic regarding player development. The decision to specialize. She explained that she spent most of her time playing soccer, which she was more committed to, but also played other sports like volleyball. She never viewed the thousands of hours she played soccer as “specializing” because she loved doing it and it wasn’t always training with coaches. She explained that she loved playing so much, she would go play pickup games after playing travel games.

One of her lowest points in soccer was after leaving New Mexico State, she had to sit out a year. Going into her junior year she was not playing as well. For the first time in her life she was sitting on the bench. She discussed her feelings and how she overcame that obstacle through perseverance.

Jazmin was asked how she would improve her player development if she was 5 years old again. She stated that she would do the same, go play outside, get as many touches on the ball as possible, watch games, and try new things to make mistakes and learn from them. What a great answer.


Jazmin’s bio at New Mexico State http://www.nmstatesports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=1900&ATCLID=204773086

Jazmin’s bio at George Mason University http://www.gomason.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=25200&ATCLID=205056141


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YSE Episode 3: How a soccer environment developed Pepe Perez


Summary: In Youth Soccer Evolution Podcast, Episode 3 Jose “Pepe” Perez takes us on his youth soccer development journey. He discusses how “Free Play” and the soccer environment in his home helped him excel without ever receiving “professional training”. Pepe never played on a travel/club soccer, and only played one year in High School, yet he has reached a level that few players get to experience.

How the love for the game was passed on to him by his father and siblings. His environment was “soccer”, he is thankful and credits this environment for his success.

Pepe shares what he would do today if he had a son and what development model he would implement to maximize the development.

Pepe tells us about the highs and lows in his young career and how he almost gave up on his dream of playing college soccer. He shares how he kept his dream alive by continuing to work hard and taking advantage of the opportunity when it was presented.


Lake Michigan College Soccer

Pepe’s email for questions or comments

Pepe is a perfect example of how critical “free play” is to children. As parents we jump ahead and attempt to make our children professionals before they learn to love the game. I can’t stress it enough, kids must first love the game before they want to get better. If you force them to grow up too fast, they will burn out. We have to remember that soccer is a GAME. It’s a game played by children and adults, and we as adults, parents, and coaches should not force them to play OUR game. The kids need to play THEIR game, and that is FREE PLAY, not deliberate practice or pressured competitions. Once the child learns to love the game, he/she will seek to improve on their own, and that’s when we can maximize their development when they come to us asking questions and are interested in the answers. This is the way the top players in the world developed and we need to stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

Remember, keep giving kids opportunities to play with different balls, different surfaces, barefoot, with shoes, and against different opponents, make it FUN! Futsal is always a fun way to get kids playing.

Any feedback, questions, comments are appreciated at




YSE2: Part 2 with Ted Kroeten from JOTP, Youth Soccer Player Development

In the Second part of the interview, Ted explains the difference between the Acquisition and Deliberate Practice Phases in youth soccer development.

But first, thank you so much for all the positive feedback regarding Ted’s interview. We will continue putting out great content for additional resources and inspiration to all of you that want to make a difference in the lives of young footballers.

Show Notes:

In episode 2, it is the 2nd part of the interview with Ted Kroeten from joyofthepeople.ORG, this is a CORRECTION from the first episode where I mentioned that it was a .com URL.

Ted continues discussing the acquisition phase in youth soccer development. He jumps into comparing the difference between the acquisition phase and the deliberate practice phase.  You can get more information about the Deliberate vs Aquisition model at joyofthepeople.org

Free Play Balls




Keys to Free Play Model

Acquisition period must be pure, be very careful when implementing.

Don’t move out of acquisition period too quick and don’t move into the deliberate practice phase too quick. Be patient.

Create High Motivation technical problems for kids during training sessions

Ted discussed his ideal Youth Soccer Player Development Model

5-6 year olds need to stay home and play with parents, organic development.

7-9 years old, play with friends, 2 v 2 and 3 v 3, move away from concrete stage of development; play as much as possible, as close as home as possible, barefoot with different balls, get introduced to Futsal balls.

11-12 years old, start deliberate practice, but continue free play, watch others, 20 hours of free play a week. See the model used by JOTP at joyofthepeople.org

Free play until 16, Pele, Cruyf, and Maradona played close to home and they turned out ok.

Rice and Beans program at JOTP