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

  • Re-organizing Northern Virginia leagues
    First, 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 rule
    I’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 amusing
    If 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 versa
    Stop 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 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 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 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” 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
  • 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 on to become elite players, travel players, adult rec players, youth coaches and fans. It’s an important — … What?… Read More
  • 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 throw some cold water on this. But the survey is still interesting on several levels. The number of high school… Read More

History

Publix clip

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:

  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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