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 of people are dropping out. ESPN’s Tim Keown has a good spleen-venting piece about this phenomenon: This is the age of the youth-sports industrial complex, where men make a living putting on tournaments for 7-year-olds, and parents subject their children to tryouts and pay good money … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: The elite-industrial complex crushes all
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 two about the season and the team. One player even had a message for the people who hand out coaching licenses, telling them they should just hand me whatever license I was seeking. (I’m halfway to the D.) Some teams in our league have been together, more … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: The bond of a rec team
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 one age group for one or two games by a caring coach who lays out the pros and cons, then makes it his decision. The worst case is a depressing story of a U9 girl named Sally, who is on a low-level travel team but interested in doing … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: The challenge of finding a properly challenging level
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!” We need to raise our voices on the issues of youth soccer. We need to let coaches and clubs know what we need if we’re going to keep entrusting them with our kids. Coaches are probably still thinking this idea sounds like an utter disaster. That’s … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: Time for parents to raise their voices
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 an effort to educate myself about the rules and tactics of soccer before I start yelling instructions? A. There is no need for that. As a parent, you have a natural intuitive understanding of the game, which you should share with the entire world by constant … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: Dave Barry on the role of the parent
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 thing in any coaching clinics or licensing classes. We get the occasional good tip — all I remember of my original F license class a few years ago is that the coach should face the sun so the players aren’t squinting at him. That’s why I’m happy … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: What we don’t talk about
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 youth teams are run with the competitive mentality of a professional sports franchise, says Bowes, who lives in Arlington. That’s when teachable moments tend to get lost. “I always laugh when a coach pulls a player out of a game [as punishment],” he says. “If you’re … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: These issues matter
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 has two players from Great Falls, one from Lansdowne, one from South Riding, one from Leesburg, one from McLean, one from Warrenton, one from Bristow, and one from across the river in Potomac. Oh yes … and one from Vienna. (For those who don’t know NoVa … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: Is softball different?
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 to make a Euro field that seems to be welcoming everyone else on the continent. Second: How is the vaunted Ajax academy doing today? On a message board I frequent (for local parents), someone recently dug up a 5-year-old NYT profile of Ajax as a frightening … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: Requiem for the Ajax academy?