Building a Youth Soccer Team: From “I” to “We” 



Building a Youth Soccer Team: From "I" to "We"

In the journey of building a successful youth soccer team, there comes a pivotal moment when the “I” must transform into “we.” At the highest level, this shift is essential for achieving greatness. Carlo Ancelotti, the current coach of Real Madrid, exemplifies this transformation, demonstrating the power of unity and collective effort. Throughout his career, he has shown how embracing a team-first mentality leads to extraordinary success.

As a parent watching three kids move through various youth soccer teams, it is noticed that many teams are driven by an “I and me” mentality. New players are often viewed as threats rather than assets. This self-centered approach contrasts sharply with the team-oriented mindset that Ancelotti has championed throughout his career at the highest levels of the sport.

The Power of "We" in Team Dynamics

At the youth soccer level, the focus is frequently on individual performance. Youth soccer players are often concerned about their positions, playing time, and personal accolades. This mentality can create a fragmented team environment where new players are seen as competition rather than contributors. However, as players advance to higher levels, the importance of teamwork becomes increasingly apparent.

Carlo Ancelotti: The Maestro of Team Unity

Carlo Ancelotti’s success as a manager is rooted in his ability to foster a “we” mentality. Ancelotti’s calm demeanor and exceptional communication skills create an environment where every soccer player feels valued and integral to the team’s success. He listens, understands, and nurtures his players, building a cohesive unit that thrives on mutual respect and support.

Ancelotti’s approach is particularly evident in his management of Real Madrid’s star-studded squad currently and dating back even to AC Milan. Despite the presence of a group of the best soccer players in the world, he maintains a harmonious team dynamic. By prioritizing the collective over the individual, but by also prioritizing the individual over the team, in different ways, Ancelotti leads his team to the Champions League Titles.

Quotes from Top Players

Carlo Ancelotti’s ability to connect with and inspire his players is reflected in the high praise he receives from some of the greatest footballers.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo

“Carlo Ancelotti is a great man and a fantastic coach. He has always been calm and knows how to manage the team perfectly. His tactical knowledge and human qualities make him one of the best.”

  • Luka Modrić

“Ancelotti is more than just a coach; he is a mentor and a friend. Even as I age and play a different role in the team, he makes me feel valued and important. His ability to unite us and bring out the best in each player is truly remarkable.”

  • Sergio Ramos

“Ancelotti has a unique way of understanding players. He knows how to balance between being a tactician and a friend. His trust in us builds our confidence, and that’s why we perform our best.”

  • Karim Benzema

“Playing under Ancelotti has been a pleasure. His respect for players and his ability to make each of us feel essential to the team’s success is what makes him an extraordinary coach.”

The Transition from "I" to "We"

Transitioning from an “I” to a “we” mentality is not always easy. It requires a fundamental shift in perspective, where players understand that their success is intertwined with the success of their teammates. This shift is often driven by strong leadership and a culture that values collaboration and mutual support. This is a difficult hurdle to jump or bridge to cross for most.

Lessons from Youth Soccer

In youth soccer, teams often struggle with this transition. Players are focused on standing out and securing their place, leading to an environment where new members are seen as threats. However, successful youth soccer teams learn to view new players as valuable assets who can contribute to the group’s overall success.

Parents have witnessed this dynamic firsthand. Youth soccer teams vary widely in their approach to new players and team cohesion. Those prioritizing teamwork and collective goals tend to perform better and create a more positive environment for all players.

Ancelotti's Formula for Success

Carlo Ancelotti’s success can be attributed to his ability to see beyond individual talents and focus on building a unified team. But that is way too simplistic; it’s his skill in connecting with players as people and creating trust with them that allows for growth and movement toward a ‘we’ mindset. Ancelotti, the person, allows for an environment where players feel supported and motivated to give their best for the team.

Ancelotti’s approach contrasts with managers who are locked into an “I and me” mindset. By fostering a culture of mutual respect, he helps his teams achieve remarkable success. This leap into valuing and caring for others is a critical component of top-level winning. 


The journey from “I” to “we” is essential for building a successful soccer team. Carlo Ancelotti exemplifies the power of a team-first mentality, showing that true greatness is achieved through unity and collective effort. His career serves as a reminder that at the highest level, success requires a leap into the value and care of others.

For youth soccer teams and aspiring players, embracing a “we” mentality can lead to not only better performance but also a more fulfilling and enjoyable experience. By focusing on the collective good, teams can create an environment where every player feels valued and motivated to contribute to the group’s success.


How can we make youth soccer teams function better as cohesive units?

Youth teams can function better as cohesive units by developing a team-focused mentality. Coaches should encourage open communication, teamwork, and mutual respect among players. Regular team-building activities and emphasizing shared goals over individual achievements can help create a cohesive team environment.

How can amateur players feel that their success is intertwined with the success of the team?

Amateur players can feel connected to the team’s success by promoting a culture of support and inclusivity. Coaches should emphasize the importance of each player’s role in achieving team goals. Recognizing and celebrating team achievements, not just individual performances, helps reinforce the idea that everyone contributes to the team’s success.

What steps can be taken to encourage youth soccer players to reach out to and support new players?

To encourage youth players to support new teammates, coaches can facilitate icebreaker activities, assign mentorship roles to experienced players, and promote a welcoming team environment. Emphasizing the value of teamwork and making new players feel included can help foster positive relationships within the team.

How can coaches manage conflicts between players on youth soccer teams?

Coaches can manage conflicts by promoting open communication and conflict-resolution skills among players. Encouraging players to listen actively, understand different perspectives, and find mutually agreeable solutions can help resolve conflicts constructively.

What role do parents play in supporting youth soccer team dynamics?

Parents can support team dynamics by encouraging sportsmanship, respecting the coach’s decisions, and fostering a positive attitude toward both wins and losses. Attending games, showing enthusiasm, and providing emotional support can also contribute to a positive team environment.

Did you find this useful?