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

  • Upcoming coverage/career plans - Mid-major announcement to start with: Ranting Soccer Dad now has its own site. I’m not married to the design yet, but it should stabilize in the next few days. This site and podcast will be my top work priority for some time to come. I’m even planning a related book. Stay tuned. Ranting Soccer Dad deals primarily with youth soccer, but it ties into everything in the soccer world — U.S. Soccer politics, the national teams, the pro leagues (men and women), etc. Even if you think you’re not interested in youth soccer, check it out. You’ll find some interesting …
  • Spirit season recap and a post-Vegas anti-cynicism rant - In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, the Ranting Soccer Dad podcast opens with a few thoughts on why we shouldn’t give up on changing people and society as a whole, either on something relatively trivial like youth soccer …
  • Is youth soccer doomed to suck? - Flying solo on Ranting Soccer Dad this week and wondering whether there’s any way youth soccer can be a positive experience. Making an inherently zero-sum game (winners and losers) a good experience is a challenge, and from what I’ve seen, U.S. Soccer and today’s youth coaches aren’t up to it. Convince me otherwise.
  • How do we raise soft, tattooed millionaires? Alexi Lalas on RSD - Alexi Lalas is a Soccer Hall of Famer. He’s also an entertainer, with interests in music as well as riling people up from a soccer broadcast studio. So when he rips the U.S. men’s national team as “soft, tattooed millionaires,” …
  • Podcast, Ep. 10 – Ronnie Woodard on women in coaching, youth soccer madness -   Tennessee Soccer Club’s Ronnie Woodard is a legit women’s soccer pioneer — first scholarship player and goalkeeper at Duke, one of the first wave of women’s soccer players to move into the coaching ranks. She has coached college and elite youth teams, winning 2016 NSCAA Coach of the Year honors, while launching a consulting business for college prospects. We talk about what’s keeping women out of coaching (10:20 mark) and what’s better or worse in youth soccer today (25:00). Then I rant about my youth soccer weekend (coach ejected!) and some upcoming Ranting Soccer Dad programming.  
  • Podcast, Ep. 9 — Girls’ Development Academy with Travis Clark, plus a soccerpolitical rant - The podcast starts this week with a bit of a political rant. The news on DACA is hard to ignore, and we’ve had some ongoing overheated arguments in the soccer community. The Travis Clark interview on the Development Academy starts around the 9:25 mark. A few landmarks: Will the NWSL affiliates dominate? (19:45) DA vs. high school (25:00) Can we tame the chaos and still have multiple development pathways? (30:30) A few clubs to watch in the DA (38:45)

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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