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?
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 has an excerpt from a forthcoming book on German soccer called Das Reboot. The only information I saw in this excerpt that contradicts the previous Guardian piece — the reboot actually started before 2000. Everything else hits and expands upon familiar themes, though the excerpt takes a while to … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: The definitive word on Germany
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 … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: What is this about?
You can now read Single-Digit Soccer on the electronic device of your choice. The paperback edition hit a snag. I’ll keep working through it, and it should be ready in September, hopefully in early September. If you have not yet read the excerpt posted at SoccerWire, take a look. To celebrate the release, I’ve posted a video giving people a quick intro to the topic: Enjoy, and please order on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple or Kobo. Update: And it’s also available on Scribd, Page Foundry/Inktera and Oyster. Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: The video (and official release date)
Should coaches of really good players from U9 to U19 pay attention to Single-Digit Soccer? Until time freezes and no one ages, yes. U10s have a funny way of growing up to be U16s. And while Single-Digit Soccer casts a wide net over everything — rec soccer, semi-serious travel soccer, TOPSoccer and extreme travel soccer — there’s plenty to hold the elite coach’s interest. One major issue for these coaches: soccer’s dropout rate. Here’s Kevin Payne, who has dealt with elite players as an MLS executive and continues to do so in his role as U.S. Club Soccer CEO, sums it up: At … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: Why elite coaches should care about being inclusive