Youth soccer

sds-cover-widgetSingle-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.

The book is available electronically at AmazonBarnes and NobleApple and elsewhere. The paperback edition is available at Amazon or at your local bookstore if you go in and demand it.

Selected clips

Recent posts

  • RSD short: Funny stories from youth soccer, then less funny news on USSF and NASL
    A 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 […]
  • Referee diary: Unexpected tripleheader and an unbelievable goal
    Monday 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” […]
  • 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 […]
  • U.S. Soccer coaching education: One foot forward, one foot firmly stuck in the mud
    U.S. Soccer just unveiled its new grassroots coaching modules for 7v7, 9v9 and 11v11, making it much easier for parent coaches to learn what they need to know for working with players who will go […]
  • High school soccer participation: Good news for a change? No, but …
    After all the gloomy talk of declining youth soccer participation rates, we got a bit of promising news this morning — high school soccer participation rates are up. (HT: Soccer America) Naturally, I’m going to […]
  • My assistant ref debut
    Is 48 too late to debut in yellow? I guess not. I was the AR2 for two U14 boys tournament games this morning. Everyone there was a little shaken at the outset because, in the […]
  • RSD short: On Twitter and Cordeiro
    Today’s podcast sums up why I’m boycotting Twitter and goes into a bit of detail about today’s Guardian story on Carlos Cordeiro’s first six months, particularly Pete Zopfi’s “functional unification” idea. Just to clarify: I’m […]
  • Biobanding and the Little League model
    One of those sudden brainstorms — or at least a brain-quick-bolt-of-lightning. The recent USSF (from England) “biobanding” initiative is similar to the Little League model I once proposed. The common thread: Let players progress on […]
  • A pro academy and a rec program
    “We all start as recreational players.” I’ve been saying that for a while, and I’m not alone. Whether it’s a suburban U5 program with parents and size 3 balls or a kid joining a neighborhood […]
  • Repealing the birth-year mandate and other obvious moves
    Some of the initiatives U.S. Soccer has rolled out over the last 10 years are well-researched and sensible. Restrictions on heading the ball are simply a safety issue, and coaches should be able to adapt […]


Publix clip

My interest in these issues grew in 2011, when I covered the unveiling of the U.S. Soccer curriculum for 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:

  1. “We need to prepare our kids to play like Barcelona so we can win a World Cup.”
  2. “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.

Full clips by topic: youth soccer, coaching, parents


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