Single-Digit Soccer: Keeping Sanity in the Earliest Ages of the Beautiful Game, published in August 2015, is the culmination of several years of research and interviews attempting to answer questions about soccer development, sportsmanship and simultaneous burping.
The goal is to bring everyone — administrators seeking future national team stars, coaches carving out a niche in the chaotic U.S. soccer landscape, know-it-all coaches, and befuddled parents — together to figure out how to make soccer fun and productive for everyone under age 10.
- Curriculum confusion: Academy drama, new field sizes and the biggest issues facing U.S. youth soccer | FourFourTwoTags: clips 2017 youth soccer fourfourtwo yoso
- Single-Digit Soccer: NSCAA convention presentation (abridged) – Duresport.comTags: clips soccer youth soccer 2015 nscaa yoso
- Dure: U.S. Soccer’s birth-year plan is shortsighted, helping coaches, not kids — Soccer WireTags: clips soccer 2015 youth soccer soccerwire yoso
- Soccer: For U.S. Soccer, it's a matter of style - ESPNTags: clips soccer youth soccer 2011 espn geso yoso
- Dure: Mapping the chaotic youth soccer scene — Soccer WireTags: clips soccerwire 2016 youth soccer travel yoso
- U.S. Soccer needs to step up and talk with us, youth groups say — Soccer WireTags: clips soccerwire 2016 youth soccer yoso
- What will come from U.S. youth soccer organizations’ detente? — Soccer WireTags: clips soccerwire 2015 youth soccer yoso
- Youth Sports: For Everyone or Elites? | HuffPostTags: clips huffington post 2015 soccer youth soccer yoso
- Bribery scandal’s lesson: Athletes get free passes (also, MIT is a jock school?)Being a parent opens your eyes to a few things. You realize how far the USA lags behind other countries in family leave and child care, which is a grossly unfair burden in particular on moms who want to work. You see that youth sports are fun up through, say, age 8, and the whole… Read More
- RSD short: A meditation on losing and coachingIt’s safe to say the last weekend of the season was familiar and yet unexpected. But I’m not just going to mope about it. I’m wondering if we can find any larger takeaways in all this. In other words — it’s not my fault, it’s U.S. Soccer’s. Sort of. (Really, it’s mostly luck.)
- Re-organizing Northern Virginia leaguesFirst, a quick announcement — because I’m writing for Soccer America now and have a book in the works, I won’t have many posts and podcasts over the winter. But I wanted to take care of something I’ve been trying to do for a while, and it’s a case study of what can be done with a… Read More
- Exciting news and a meditation on the mercy ruleI’ve been lucky in recent years to write for a publication I’ve long loved, The Guardian. Now I’m lucky again to write for a second publication that sustained the small U.S. soccer community in the pre-Internet era and continues to be a vital source of news and perspective … Soccer America. My debut piece is… Read More
- RSD podcast: How the ref shortage makes things a little amusingIf I sound out of breath, it’s because I reffed six games this weekend.
- NPSL turnover and why we need youth clubs to build up, not vice versaStop what you’re doing and read the excellent SocTakes analysis of turnover in the NPSL. … Are you back? OK. If you’ve followed lower division soccer over the years, you know this isn’t a recent phenomenon. Go back and look up the names in the old A-League on Wikipedia, where some kind soul listed each… Read More
- A Recreational/Most Travel Soccer Manifesto (updated)A couple of years ago, I wrote a Recreational Soccer Manifesto for SoccerWire. At the time, I was focused more on the younger age groups, having just written Single-Digit Soccer, and I was pushing the idea of having no full-time travel soccer (just All-Star tournaments and other interclub matchups) for kids under age 12. But I did… Read More
- RSD short: Funny stories from youth soccer, then less funny news on USSF and NASLA few texts for today’s podcast: About the “Play/Practice/Play” model of coaching About buildout lines Mike Woitalla interview with UnSocCo’s Ian Barker Compass Football (Jason Davis, Nipun Chopra) summing up NASL response to previous episode Brian Quarstad on 2010 Pro League Standards Quarstad again on 2011 struggling to get D2 sanction Quarstad yet again on… Read More
- Referee diary: Unexpected tripleheader and an unbelievable goalMonday morning My body is yelling at me as I sit in front of a lower cabinet, scrounging for first aid supplies. An ankle wrap and some tape for the “Compression” part of the “RICE” treatment for Achilles pain. Something to put on a blister on my toe. I’ve also snagged the aloe vera, as… Read More
- Who goes from Academy to USL?Three coincidental bits of reading today (for two of them, thanks to Jason Davis for mentioning them on today’s show): At The Athletic, Will Parchman ranks all 23 MLS-affiliated academies. At SoccerWire, Charles Boehm has news of a new D.C. United partnership and a nice pyramid graphic showing players progressing from these partner clubs to… Read More
My interest in these issues grew in 2011, when I covered the unveiling of the U.S. Soccer curriculum for ESPN.com. I was also starting to coach my two sons on their soccer teams, so I was getting a look at youth soccer from two perspectives:
- “We need to prepare our kids to play like Barcelona so we can win a World Cup.”
- “Coach, can you tie my shoes and tell that other kid to stop kicking the ball?”
I hope my writing will serve as a reality check for well-intentioned youth programs, and I hope it will help parents make informed choices in the chaotic supermarket of available clubs and leagues. I track ongoing stories such as the Development Academy and U.S. Soccer’s divisive rollout of age-group changes.
My work and the book stirred some interest among people who care about youth soccer. I spoke at the 2015 NSCAA convention on Single-Digit Soccer, and I was asked to make my notes and my slides available online. I did two more presentations in 2017, including one on parent coaches.