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.
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.
Today, youth soccer comprises a good bit of my Soccer America coverage.