Single-Digit Soccer: The elite-industrial complex crushes all

Why do we play youth sports? We’re here because you’re looking for the BEST of the BEST of the BEST, SIR! “Your boy Captain America here … to find the BEST of the BEST of the BEST, SIR! … with honors.” But a funny thing is happening with the race to the top. A lot ofContinue reading “Single-Digit Soccer: The elite-industrial complex crushes all”

Single-Digit Soccer: The bond of a rec team

My U12 House league team finished its season on a chilly, windy Saturday morning, completing a four-team mini-tournament with a win on penalty kicks. After the game, the parents gave me a photo book. The joy of the season was on every page. Each player had a couple of pictures and a comment or twoContinue reading “Single-Digit Soccer: The bond of a rec team”

Single-Digit Soccer: The challenge of finding a properly challenging level

The book Coaching Outside the Box: Changing the Mindset in Youth Soccer has a chapter with best-case and worst-case scenarios for moving up and facing a tougher level of competition. The best case is a nice tale of a U11 boy named Liam, technically proficient but small in stature, who is invited to play up oneContinue reading “Single-Digit Soccer: The challenge of finding a properly challenging level”

Single-Digit Soccer: Time for parents to raise their voices

No, no — not talking about parents raising voices during games. We need to be restrained and supportive. If someone shoots video of you at a game and posts it on YouTube, it needs to be one of those videos that gets about 10 views, not something picked up on Tosh.0 or headlined “CRAZEE SOCKER MOM LOLOL!” WeContinue reading “Single-Digit Soccer: Time for parents to raise their voices”

Single-Digit Soccer: Dave Barry on the role of the parent

Dave Barry, who married a soccer writer, offers up some classic “it’s funny because it’s true” answers on soccer parenting: Q. What is my job, as a parent, during a soccer game? A. Your job is to yell instructions to your child and the other children on your child’s team. Q. Should I make anContinue reading “Single-Digit Soccer: Dave Barry on the role of the parent”

Single-Digit Soccer: What we don’t talk about

You have a great practice plan. You’ve read three different coaches’ takes on the exercises you’re doing, so you know all the points you’re trying to get across. Then you spend half of practice trying to get kids to pay even the least bit of attention. We usually don’t talk about this sort of thingContinue reading “Single-Digit Soccer: What we don’t talk about”

Single-Digit Soccer: These issues matter

On the same day that The Huffington Post ran my piece on Myths Every Soccer Parent Should Know, I saw a cover story in a local magazine (Arlington Magazine, to be specific) in which author Jenny Sokol casts a skeptical eye on the whole business of “elite” or “travel” youth sport. Problems can arise when youthContinue reading “Single-Digit Soccer: These issues matter”

Single-Digit Soccer: Is softball different?

It’s official — U10 sports are front-page news. Granted, the Vienna Connection isn’t The Washington Post. It’s a weekly community paper. And there they are — the Vienna Stars, national U10 softball champions! They won the Virginia title and moved on to beat teams from Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Illinois. The team hasContinue reading “Single-Digit Soccer: Is softball different?”

Single-Digit Soccer: Requiem for the Ajax academy?

Perhaps this is a leap of logic — a thin correlation between two items that aren’t quite related. Maybe so. But when you look at Dutch soccer today, it’s easy to spot two things that, related or not, have gone wrong. First: The Netherlands national team is an utter mess, now looking less likely toContinue reading “Single-Digit Soccer: Requiem for the Ajax academy?”

Single-Digit Soccer: The definitive word on Germany

How do they do things in Europe? As we saw with birth-year age groups, perhaps not what we think. Single-Digit Soccer makes multiple references to a terrific piece from The Guardian (disclaimer: I’m now writing a bit for the excellent UK newspaper) on the way Germany revamped its youth system after falling short at Euro 2000.  Today, The Guardian hasContinue reading “Single-Digit Soccer: The definitive word on Germany”