If you’ve been lucky enough to earn a spot on the youth reserve team of a professional club, maybe you’re wondering what life is like as a player on a youth reserve team. Unfortunately, having passed the football trials does not guarantee that you’ll make it to the top. Most players on youth reserve teams never make it to the first division and end up being released.
Less than 1% of soccer players who attend football trials are selected to play on the youth reserve team of a professional football club.
The students must meet both athletic and academic demands while on the youth reserve teams, and the players barely get a chance to rest while they try to balance their training and their studies. Often, teachers and coaches overly tolerate poor academic performance so that players can focus more on their improvement on the pitch.
This raises another problem. What happens to players who neglect their studies while playing on the youth reserve team and don’t end up making it as professionals? These players aren’t prepared for a life outside of football and many players in this situation become depressed as they try to figure out how to get back on track academically.
We’ve discussed the importance of mental toughness at football trials. At trials, players must face competition among teammates and the possibility of rejection from coaches. Life on a youth reserve team requires even more mental toughness as the pressure of performing up to coaches’ standards continues from week to week.
And, competition among teammates remains, especially when new players arrive. Players immediately begin to think that the new addition to the team could be their replacement. New players could be treated poorly or not receive the ball during matches for a time until they earn the respect and trust of their teammates. Of course, such respect is not guaranteed.