Harbaugh is the counterintuitive outlier in a sport that breeds conservative thinkers. In that way his unlikely embrace of soccer is perfectly Harbaughian. It’s something that seems preposterous until you think more about it, at which point it makes so much sense that you start to question why it took so long for others to figure out... “I think every American boy should play soccer till the eighth grade,” Harbaugh said. “Then they should play football. American football.”
He explained to recruits that soccer can help them with their footwork, coordination, balance, conditioning and spatial awareness. Those traits are quite useful to a quarterback required to throw on the run while surveying the whole field as 300-pound linemen attempt to spear him.
“It’s one of the best sports that a young person can play getting ready to play football,” said UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who worked under Harbaugh
.. The famously intense coach said he wanted to see quarterbacks compete against each other as much as they possibly could. They could field baseballs. They could peg each other with dodgeballs. They could even play soccer. “You can’t just compete in throwing all day long every day,” Fisch said.
.. It turns out many of the NFL’s star quarterbacks are former soccer players.