Single-Digit Soccer is a book that will make youth soccer parents and coaches laugh, then push for change.
Youth soccer at this age (9 and below, hence “single-digit”) is fun. And funny. There’s no shortage of fun stories to tell, and I put a couple of them in the excerpt in SoccerWire.
But we also get into more serious topics. U.S. Soccer is trying to step up its game so we’ll have better players emerging from youth soccer. Yet the most obvious solutions aren’t always the best, and in the unique landscape of the United States, they’re often counterproductive.
So that leads us to some of the topics Single-Digit Soccer covers:
1. When do you start travel soccer? In most cases, we’re starting far earlier than development-minded coaches want. U.S. Youth Soccer actually says we should be holding off past the Single-Digit years. We’re obviously not.
2. Help! I’m coaching! What do I do? The book steers you to some good information online and reminds you that you can’t coach 6-year-olds the same way you’d coach 16-year-olds. It also gives you some fun prototypes to consider. Are you The Superfan? The “Fun” Coach? Mr. Passion? Take a look and take your pick!
3. How much do you emphasize winning? None. That’s the short answer. But it’s really hard to drill it in people’s skulls. And, at times, I see a few reasonable exceptions.
4. Are we inclusive? Or are we driving kids away from the sport because it costs too much, is too elitist (especially at too early an age), and stresses vague long-term interests over just making the dadgum game fun for kids to play?
5. Should we be doing more “free play”? Yes, though it’s sometimes a challenge when you don’t just have fields sitting around for the whole neighborhood to race out play pickup games. The book offers some ideas.
6. When should we teach … heading? Team tactics? Diving like Robben? The first two are addressed in the book. Not the third. Shhh. It’s a secret.
7. Why do we have so many different organizations telling us different things we’re supposed to be doing? The follow-up question: What do you do about it?
If you’re still unsure whether to sacrifice that Starbucks latte and buy Single-Digit Soccer instead, check out the excerpt at SoccerWire, my other contributions to SoccerWire, and my Single-Digit Soccer posts here at SportsMyriad. If you want to know more about me, check duresport.com to see much more of my writing and my work history.
You can also get a sense of Single-Digit Soccer from this short video:
The book will be available in paperback sometime in September. Electronically, it’s available now from the store of your choice: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, Scribd, Page Foundry/Inktera and Oyster.