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The Soccer Sidelines

The Soccer Sidelines

Author: David Dejewski

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The Soccer Sidelines podcast is about bringing parents, players, and coaches together around the most important aspects of the youth sports experience – and we don’t mean winning games.

Youth sports empowers us to create thousands of teachable moments in the context of a 15-year development window. Kids are open to learning and development in a youth sports environment – physically, mentally, emotionally, and in terms of core character - between the ages of 3 and 18 years old.

The goal of this podcast is to promote enjoyment of the game (and youth sports in general) and to make the most of the gift that Youth Sports gives our families. We hope to help parents, players, and coaches to make the most of the time we have together, and to build a solid platform from which our kids will launch into the world of adulthood.
124 Episodes
Human history is like a book with many chapters. Every generation writes their piece and leaves their mark. Some chapters are uneventful and boring. Our chapter is not. The early part of the century brought us the Spanish Flu, the Golden Age, World War I, and the Great Depression. The middle of the century brought us World War II, the Holocaust, The Desert Fox, Vietnam, America's first orchestrated coup of a foreign country, Woodstock, free love, and bell bottoms. The later part of the century brought a break from the Gold standard, the S&L crisis, The Tax Reform Act, NAFTA, Desert Storm, bank failures, Cabbage Path Kids, and the a presidential impeachment. So far, the 2000's have brought Y2K, 9/11 , more Desert Storm, more coups, global warming, the 2008 mortgage crisis, another impeachment, BREXIT, bank failures,  the Patriot Act, and most recently, a black swan called COVID-19. COVID-19 is unique in that it has profoundly impacted the entire world and it was utterly unexpected by world leaders, markets, or working citizens everywhere. This one event is likely to leave its mark on the world for generations to come. Our kids and grandkids will be talking about the Global Pandemic. We're making history, and the decisions we make and actions we take now matter. The World is Changing for "Good"Of course, we see lots of bad stuff going on. First off, a global pandemic that has the characteristics of COVID-19 is bad. Being locked up in our homes and restricted from socializing is bad. Not being able to work and bring in income is bad. But you don't need come to this show to talk about the bad stuff. It's everywhere. Even where things are not that bad, the fact that humans generally don't like change amplifies the bad in the changes we're experiencing. It is possible to find some good stuff if we look. For every negative, there is a positive (and vice versa), because nature exists in balance. I've listed at least five things that are changing in our world. I suspect each of these things are changing for good. Of course, I recognize that they will change again sometime down the road, but there are some things that exist in different form before COVID-19 and after COVID-19.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageFive Ways the World is ChangingSocial Distancing and the behaviors discovered and refined during social distancing are here to stay. We're not going to stay 6 feet from one another forever, but we will be thinking about vectors of transmission and about new ways of connecting will stick around. Technology is taking amore prominent role in our lives. The learning curve for adoption of some technologies like video conferencing is forced upon us. This will mean more of this technology in the future - along with the behaviors (like telework) that are enabled by these technologies. We're finding community again! Community becomes a lot more important when we need one another. At times like Global pandemics, information exchange, social outreach, and appreciating one another are all going up. The environment is getting cleaner! People are seeing fish in the water in Venice! The sky is turning blue again! The fact that we're not rushing around so much as the world is changing is having a positive effect on the environment. Families are being stress tested. Some families are buckling under the pressure, but many families are finding new ways to appreciate and support one another. Always two sides to every coinOne the one side, we're seeing the negatives of the fact that the world is changing: forfeiture of human rights and privacy, death and pain from disease, financial ruin for many families and small business owners, etc. On the other side, we can find gratitude in having a family, in finding new ways to connect, and in appreciating one another like we used to!
Having a global pandemic on the loose is a scary thing under any circumstances, but limit social interactions and keep people from congregating and we're facing double trouble! Humans tend to raft together in times of crisis. This behavior kept us alive when we came down from the tree and faced off against predators. People all around the world are asking themselves: what can we do during the COVID-19 crisis? In this episode, let's talk about some of the cool things going on and maybe stimulate some  thinking around how we can weather this storm a little easier.  What we're facing The challenge isn't just with the virus. There are financial implications for everyone. There is social isolation at a time when humans are used to coming together. There is a lack of exercise options, major changes in routine, fear mongering on the TV, and kids who need our positivity at a time when positivity seems to be in short supply.  Add to this genuine concerns that people have  for loved ones who may be in a higher risk category, and the situation becomes all-pandemic, all-the-time discussions - which leads to fatigue.  The multiplicity of the challenge means a range of secondary effects like depression, getting out of shape, and emotional damage caused by stress. Not great for strengthening the immune system! Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page Some cool things people are doing As we wrestle with the question, what can we do during the COVID-19 crisis, some thought leaders are stepping up and making a difference in our communities.  Lauri Lane from the Potomac Soccer Club is bringing professional soccer players online to interact with kids in the club.  Steve Knapman from the Potomac Soccer Club has created a season-long development program that kids can do from home.  John Dingle from Soccer Source 360 has his kids doing landscaping jobs and making their home look beautiful.  Rick Watts of St Mary's Soccer Club took his camera, a tripod, a ball, and his son out back to record a series of exercises that kids from his club can do at home.  Each of these projects bring fitness, connection, and value into an otherwise dark situation. Local leaders all over the country are stepping up to do their part and help community keep life going! What can we do during the COVID-19 crisis? Ask yourself and really think about it for a few minutes each day: what can we do during the COVID-19 crisis? Think about this question in terms of yourself (it's important to be a little selfish and give yourself the gift of fitness and stress relief), in terms of your family, and in terms of your community. If you can think of and implement just one idea - good or bad - you might not only make someone's day better, but you may inspire others to do the same. The biggest super power that humans have is community! Please share! I want your idea to help inspire others to try the same. Our community here at The Soccer Sidelines is growing every week. It's full of smart, caring, motivated people who might just pick up your idea and make it real in their community. A little sharing goes a long way.  As you think about what we can do during the COVID-19 crisis, remember that there are lot's of us who would love to know (and maybe try) some of the things you're doing to keep fun in the house!
When bad news is filling our air waves and social media apps... when we're locked in our homes, faced with empty shelves, overflowing with toilet paper, and feeling a little down, we sometimes need to look at the bright side. In this episode, let's talk about the positives of a global pandemic!Making Lemonade out of LemonsLife throws some bitter stuff at us sometimes. Whether we're playing soccer and get a bad bounce in a pass or we're sitting at home avoiding public gatherings during a global crisis, the skill of making lemonade out of lemons gives us power. It allows us to tap positive energy, be creative, and quench our thirst for life - hardships and all. This year, we're suffering form a global response to a new virus that seems to be infecting every country in the world. It's a bad flu, basically. It's called COVID-19. And it's triggered fear, uncertainty, economic hardship, and frustration around the world.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page What are Some Positives of a Global Pandemic?It might seem strange to think there are positives of a global pandemic, but there are two sides of every coin. The side we chose to see can make all the difference in our ability to cope and persevere when things get hard. Our lives are being disrupted. Is disruption always bad? I am arguing that it's not always bad. Sometimes, a disruption in our regular routine is exactly what we need to reset. Sometimes downtime is productive. Sometimes, not fighting traffic can be a gift. Assuming you chose to see the positives of a global pandemic, here are some things we might talk more about:Extra manpower and incentive for Spring CleaningRead more booksSee family again when they're home from schoolTake a pause from hectic everyday life and reflect on what really mattersBipartisan politics have no place in a global crisisGet projects one that you've been putting off - ordering product for renovations, SEO, building a courseFewer cars on the roadA realization that we still need one another The best of us are popping out and offering to help neighbors: shopping, food and TP drives, running errandsPeople are getting educated on medical basics like washing hands, transmission vectors, etc. The general IQ of the television we're watching is going up, less mindless entertainment and more contentOur resilience is showingThe best in people comes out in the worst of timesMany interesting and key conversations are teed up for us to have with our kidsHave More Positives?I don't think this list has to be exhaustive for the point to be made. There are many positives of a global pandemic. To see them, we simply need to look. I've got comments open on this show's Website, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter. Have you got a few extra minutes? How about sharing a positive that you've experienced (or will experience) as a result of this global pandemic? Personally, I think this kind of conversation is a nice needed break from the regular stream of news the networks are continually sharing.
If our goal is to deliberately expose our kids to Character Development coaching this season, then we need an actual plan. We can't leave it to chance that our kids are going to understand the hidden life lessons youth sports teaches. Teamwork, work ethic, perseverance, sportsmanship... these are all multi-syllable words to kids without concrete examples. In this post, I'm going to walk trough an actual 8-week character development coaching program that you can print out and put to work in your club in about a week. If you're not a coach, listen in because this isn't just about coaches. If you want your kids to understand the lessons and remember them, the lessons need to be called out and rewarded. This episode will give you more to celebrate than a scoreboard win. We will discuss the what, the when, and the how of coaching Character Development in a standard single season of youth sports. Let's talk about it. Getting StartedThe program I've laid out in this session has a communication component, a fundraising component, a reward component, and a method for getting it done during an actual eight or ten-week season. For the big picture program overview, please see episode 119 titled Have-a-Ball Character Development Program. Episode 119 describes the 7 steps to follow to set a program like this up. I include some costs and budgets, communication, and source of funds recommendations. In this episode, I'm fast-forwarding into an 8-week soccer season and lay out the pre-game, game day, and post game activities that coaches and parents can follow and support across your entire club in order to make this character development program work. I'm including a downloadable .pdf in the show notes for this episode, so you can have a tangible copy of the program, including recommended coaching questions and a section for reflection after each character lesson. If you're worried that you already have your hands full with trying to teach the basics and you simply won't have time or bandwidth to be deliberate about coaching character development, then this is where I promise you the program is really simple. I'm using standard coaching methodology you should already be familiar with. The only thing you need to add are a few meaningful questions (I provide some concrete examples), a reward mechanism (like a custom game ball or a patch or a mention in your organization newsletter), and the discipline to follow through each week with what's laid out. If you can do these three things consistently, you will no longer have to guess about the lessons your players are learning. You'll know exactly what you're doing and when.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageThe Character Development Coaching Program On One PageWe have to keep it simple. One page is all you need to understand the full 8 weeks of a program like this. Most of what we'll be doing is stuff that's already happening every day - most of the time without being recognized. All we need to do to be intentional about Character Development, is to drop some key questions as seeds, keep our eye out for emerging behaviors, and reward them. Whether you chose to use a custom ball as I did in Have-a-Ball, you give out patches, or you simply recognize players in a public way, the important part is that you make Character Development a deliberate part of your youth sports experience. You can download a copy of my one-page 8-week Character Development Program by simply telling me which email to send it to. Simply tell me where to send it. The WeeksI've divided the season up into 8 weeks - each with their own Character theme: Work EthicTeamworkAccountabilitySportsmanshipRespectEmpathyCouragePerseverance Each of these character themes have a definition, weekly pre-game activities to incorporate into practices, pre-game (practice day) sample questions, Game day activities, and a place for your own comments and reflection.
We need practical ways to bake character development into our youth sports programs. In this episode, I talk about one that I recently implemented in my own club and some of the ways that you can implement a similar program in yours. Being Intentional About Character DevelopmentDevelopment is a long game. It's not something that gets done in one session and it's not something that is already baked into and coaching licensing programs that I've taken yet. It's one thing to say that a character development program is already a natural byproduct of participating in youth sports, but it's another thing all together to say that we are being intentional about it. Sportsmanship is going to be learned by kids through participation in youth sports, for example. But the word Sportsmanship can be preceded by "good" or "bad." Kids are going to learn good sportsmanship and/or bad sportsmanship. Which is the one we want them to learn? How about respect. Kids will learn about respect for the Rules, Officials, Opponents, Teammates, and themSelves (ROOTS). But what will they learn? If yelling at referees is allowed, for example, then on the point of respecting referee's, the message is "we don't have to." The key to good coaching is being intentional about development. Whether we have a plan for developing foot skills and set plays, or a plan for developing transferable character skills, plans matter. Plans converted into action matter more. Let's talk about being intentional about practicing a character development program, and what that might look like on a soccer field.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageCatch Them Doing Something Right!In the book, The One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, the authors talk about this concept of "catching them doing something right." It's a play on words and it's meant to highlight a management approach meant to get the most out of employees, but I've found the concept works great on a sports training field. Basically, it requires us to know what we're looking for in terms of examples of positive behavior, then go on the hunt to find and reward that behavior. In practice, this concept behind this is pretty simple. Let's say we want to develop a players first touch into space. We build up a session plan with that theme and by the final open play activity (where you're no testing for knowledge), you notice a player who had a bad first touch has improved their first touch into space. Well, bingo! That's what you were looking for! You post practice huddle might include specific praise for that player, mentioning the action you noticed as evidence of improvement. Giving praise in a public way accomplishes two big things: The player you're speaking with and about will know that you were watching and that you care. It'll make them feel good about themselves, and probably provoke a smile. Everyone in earshot (players, other coaches, officials, and/or parents) will know what you're developing and can play an important role in supporting or promoting that development. The entire ecosystem is on notice, after your praise, of what really matters in your environment. Have-a-Ball Character Development ProgramWhat follows is a seven step process for putting your Have-a-Ball Character Development Program into practice. This takes some coordination and some pre-planning, but it's not that complicated.  Step 1:Partner with a company that can provide custom balls that kids really want Step 2: Partner with parent and or local businesses to "sponsor" your have-a-ball character development program. This means they provide the financial support you need to purchase the number of balls you need.  Step 3: Purchase 1-2 balls per game for the upcoming season Step 4:Segment your season into themed weeks. For example, Week 1 = Hard Work, Week 2 = Teamwork,
On February 12th, 2020, the players association representing the men's national soccer team made a public statement that sends shock waves through the United States soccer community. If we are to believe the statement they made, it effectively draws back the curtain on previously confidential negotiations between the United States Soccer Federation and its professional players. At best, this statement hints to the inner workings of United States soccer and suggests some ways in which leadership can improve the system. At worst, their statement cripples trust and condemns our system as deeply flawed. At the very least, it draws people like you and I into the debate around discrimination and fair pay. Let's talk about it.  A Tipping Point (The Lawsuit from USWNT) On March 8th, 2019, the United States Women's National Team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer in federal court. This lawsuit, case number 2:29-CV-01717, is a class action complaint, 25 pages long, brought by current and former members of the US Women's National Team with the help of the legal firm Winston & Strawn LLP. It alleges violations of the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The USSF discriminates against Plaintiffs, and the class that they seek to represent, by paying them less than members of the MNT for substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the MNT. USWNT The lawsuit "seeks an end to the USSF’s discriminatory practices, and an award to make Plaintiffs and the class whole, as well as to provide for liquidated and punitive damages and all other appropriate relief."  It might help to understand this dispute as one between employers (USSF) and labor (the USWNT in this case). The WNT is presenting themselves as employees of USSF, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. They represent that they receive pay and a series of benefits from USSF such as coaches, trainers, nutritionists, doctors, massage therapists, etc. To give you some context around staffing, at the USSF annual general meeting (AGM) on the 14th of February, USSF revealed that the USWNT has a staff of 35 people caring for 23 players.  In addition to staffing, the class action reveals the USSF provides other benefits like deciding the number of games that will be played, where they will be played, practice fields, locker rooms, game surfaces, exercise equipment, scheduling times, transportation, and more.  The WNT claims that USSF provides centralized management and control, that the women require equal skill, effort and responsibilities as their male counterparts, and that the women have "Achieved unmatched success in International soccer leading to substantial profits for the USSF as employer."  Some stats the WNT cite include three World Cup titles and four Olympic Gold Medals. They point out that they were three-time winners of the U.S. Olympic Committee's Team of the Year Award, and Sports Illustrated's Athlete of the Year. They're ranked number one in the World, a position they've held for ten out of the last eleven years.  They claim to have generated "substantial" revenue and profits for the USSF. This is a claim I questioned as I read through the materials in preparation for this show. As President of a 501(c)3 nonprofit myself, I know it is not legal to generate profit in the pure sense. For your information, what we might call "profit" in the nonprofit world is usually classified as "retained earnings." In other words, money generated must be recycled back into support of the mission - something I may talk more about at another time.  There are several references in this class action to "profit," "net loss," and "net profit" that I hope can be better clarified with the help of an actual nonprofit accounting professional.
None of us are perfect parents. Let's talk about a parenting and work promotion tool that is within your reach. Improve your parenting and your career!
This episode was inspired by another great sideline chat. This one was between myself and a soccer day on the side of our futsal court last weekend. His son is looking at playing for more than one soccer team at the same time in the Spring. He was asking me about it & it reminded me of you, of course. You should hear what we talked about.  We talk a lot about multi-sport kids and the advantages kids can have by rounding out and improving their overall athletic IQ, but how about those kids who love soccer and want different experiences from different levels of competition and/or different groups of friends?  What is a Multi-Team Kid Both my son and daughter were both multi-team kids. They played for more than one team each season. My daughter played on two teams at the same time. My son played on three. They got something different from each environment.  A multi-team kid is a kid who plays for more than one team in the same sport at the same time. Many of you should be cringing when I say this, but it's not uncommon. It's also not without its risks. What follows will be a discussion about some of those risks, the rewards, and what families and coaches should consider when dealing with multi-team kids.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page Why Would Kids Play on More Than One Team?  A lot of it comes down to friends. Kids have friends on other teams that play in other leagues. They connect with one another in school. They say things like "You should come play with us. We have fun!" Kids hear about different styles, different experiences, and they want to go where their friends are and try new stuff. This is all very natural.  Other reasons to play on more than one team might be to find new challenges. Many kids love to play in a relaxed environment where fun and friendship rule AND in a more challenging environment where a crispy through pass is received by a competent player who can use it to the team's advantage. I'm not saying that either is more or less fun or that there are not competent players in recreation or classic programs. I'm merely pointing out that there are multiple reasons why players might like to play on more than one team.  For some, it's about exposure. Though I fear this is too often more of a marketing gimmick to attract parents willing to pay big bucks, than it is an actual opportunity to be scouted. Clubs, coaches, or parents move kids from platform to platform hoping to find the right platform so their kid can have the best chance of being discovered. While discovery is possible, see my episode describing US Soccer's alphabet soup for reasons why this might not be the best strategy.  Considerations As a coach, I want to be clear right out of the gate that playing on multiple teams in the same sport in the same season has risks. It can be made to work, but there are things we need to think about. Going down this path will require additional communication and in some cases, checking with your medical professionals.  So what are the risks?  Overuse Injuries: rest and variety are important to the human body. Injuries occur when we perform the same task over and over again. Running too much can lead to shin splints, tendonitis, hip pain, back pain, and even fractures. An exclusive focus on one sport (one set of similar actions) doesn't allow other supportive tissue structures to form. This, combined with repetitive stress placed on the same structures without adequate rest can result in injuries. These can be serious enough to take a player out of the game - or worse. It's important to avoid overuse injuries.   Confusion: at the younger ages - below 13 - specialization really shouldn't be the primary focus, but for 13 and above, kids are starting to identify with positions and will begin to take deeper dives into those positions in terms of what skills and attributes those positions need. The coach often has some input as to where players fit toge...
Gender Bias in the Game

Gender Bias in the Game


I was minding my own business, eating my lunch alone at a table when two women asked to join me at my table. The conversation that would unfold for the next hour or so went way beyond my expectations.Before I went to this convention, I thought that gender bias in the game was mostly as a thing that didn't have any real effect on my life. Today, I can't stop seeing it everywhere - I mean everywhere. In this episode, I want to talk about women and gender bias in the game and in life. What is gender bias and how is it affecting not only the women in our world, but the men, our children, and the entire game. I don't know if this episode is more for my men or women listeners, but I promise you, it's worth paying attention to. Let's talk about it. What is Gender Bias?Unfair difference in the way women and men are treated.Understanding the definition of Gender Bias is easy. But I think actually understanding and appreciating gender bias in real life and the effect that it has on us - men, women, and children alike - is a whole other ball game. I've known the definition of gender bias for years. But as with most hot button issues, I didn't think it applied to me, so I honestly just considered it one of those many social problems that someone else was better at dealing with. I was wrong. As a manager of employees, I felt like I always stood ready to address a gender bias or sexism issue if it ever came to my attention, but it rarely showed up explicitly. When it did, I was there to do my part in dealing with it, but honestly, I thought it was another of those issues that the media and social pressures were blowing out of proportion. There is so much noise about groups being unfairly treated these days, they're enough to make anyone curl into the fetal position and cry uncle. So... I live my life and put the noise on ignore. Again, I was wrong.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageMy History with Female Gender BiasAs with most things, I think it's useful to know where I'm coming from when I talk about this. My perspective is likely different from yours because my exposure has been different. I'm a 6'2" man who's had many successes in life. I've climbed to the top of several career ladders. I have a great family. I don't fear walking alone at night. And I have had what I believe are many healthy professional relationships with women employees, peers, and supervisors over the years. My mother is a feminist. She grew up with four older brothers in New York, and from the stories she told me, her life was a testosterone heavy environment. My uncles were scrappers. Gender inequality affected her profoundly, and to this day, she and my sister are pretty adamant about the idea that whatever men can do, women can do better. To them, it doesn't matter what. Women can pretty much do anything better than men. As a boy and later as a young man growing up, the continual refrain became pretty annoying actually. I felt like I got it already and wondered what they wanted me to do about it. I never felt like pay inequality or glass ceilings made sense. I won a lot of work related awards and I've been beaten by women who were clearly better the job than I was and genuinely celebrated their success. As a Treasurer and member of the board of directors for a fire department I was a member of as a young man, I was the lone voice advocating for two women to join the department in the late 80's, early 90's when women were boxed out of the fire service.I spent a lot of my life working in operational environments, and I treasured having a female partner. I'll talk more about that in a few minutes, but to me, male/female partners were more balanced; a yin and yang working together in harmony. I was medical operations and I found that we reached and connected with more humanity together than we ever could as single sex teams. I felt that gender bias was not my problem.
I'm trying to find way to deliver perhaps one of the most important life lessons that youth sports can teach. I want to help people transition from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. In this episode, I'll explain the differences between the two, how they each manifest on the pitch and in real life, and share some ideas I have so far. I want your input here, so if something I say strikes a chord with you, please use one of the many avenues I've given you to connect with me at Let's talk about fixed vs growth mindset and how each of these can have profound consequences on our own and our children's ability to succeed in youth sports and in life. Why Two Mindsets?Very simply, I'm referring to a body of work done by a Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, Ph.D in a book titled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  If you have not read her book and you find what we're talking about today interesting, I welcome you to use the link I put in my show notes to pick up a copy and read it. That link is my Amazon Affiliate link, so you'll contribute like five cents to the show, but every penny counts. Dr. Dweck's work really resonated with me because after being exposed to the concept, I was immediately able to see the two mindsets in my own two kids at home, and in the kids I was coaching on the field. I tagged myself as a growth mindset kinda guy, and found her work provided me a very useful mental framework that I could use to categorize just about everyone in a few short minutes of getting to know them.Understanding fixed vs growth mindset is really about understanding how people view themselves. Do they see the world as a fixed immovable object that they need to navigate, or do they view themselves as in control over creating the world they live in? Once you know how people view themselves and the world around them, you have a vital piece of information in hand regarding how they are going to respond to challenges. As a parent or as a coach (or as a manager), it's important to know where people are so we can get a better sense of what we need to work on in order to help them realize their full potential. From there, we can tailor our own behavior, tone, what we talk about, how we talk about it, etc in such a way that appeals to the people we're trying to connect with. It also helps with patience if we understand where certain behaviors are coming from.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageWhat is a Fixed Mindset?The first mindset she calls a "fixed" mindset. She will go into much more detail in her book, but at a high level, those with a fixed mindset are likely to believe that they are who they are. They came into this world with a set of skills, personality, character, and intelligence, and they need to discover it. The key here is a focus on discovering what is already there. If people with a fixed mindset discover that they are good at something, they run with it. It's great! If, on the other hand, they discover that they are not good at something, they "know" to avoid it. They wonder with every new experience: "Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?..."If you've coached kids with this mindset, you'll know that it takes a lot of effort to convince them to get on the ball at home if they need improvement. They assume they're not good, so there isn't a lot of point in working at it. Many with a fixed mindset would rather move on and try something new - to see if they're good at the new thing. If they are, they pursue that. If they're not, they take a personal hit to ego and keep searching for the thing they are good at. Fixed mindset players and adults are, in my opinion, more challenging to work with. Coaches want players who are "coachable." This means that they take criticism, suggestions, and feedback,
Crisis of Trust

Crisis of Trust


Sure we have bad sideline behavior, but should we blame parents? What else is at play in our world today that might lead to poor sideline behavior?
Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!


I don't think I could have anticipated in 2017, that three years later, you and I would be celebrating our third holiday season together. Whatever your favorite way to celebrate the holidays are, I'm hoping that for you it's full of family, good health, giving, and gratitude. There are a lot of ways to celebrate the holiday season, but I think they all serve to recharge our batteries for the Winter season ahead. Let's come together with our loved ones, bask in the warmth of a fire, warm food, good company, and memories I hope are positive for you. If you have memories that are not so good, let's do something to make one good memory this year we can build on next year. Parents doing piggyback to their children in countrysideFor me, I'm grateful for all the stories, tweets, emails, phone calls, and sponsorships that bring us together around the stuff that really matters for our kids and our families. As a listener of this show , you reaffirm your commitment and inspire me every week to spend the 5-8 hours it takes to produce a show and deliver it to your mobile phone, home listening device, or computer. I'm in this more than 110 episodes now. I'm finally starting to get comfortable. I'm making more and more contacts with you, and I'm starting to see some momentum build up around the things that we talk about every week. I'm not alone. There are great people trying to make a difference all around. Just check out my followers on Twitter. I've seen some really great stuff there, and I never thought I would be on Twitter or or like the kind of interactions I see among my Twitter followers. We're going to take a break for now and spend time with family. I'm hoping that you're doing the same. Please enjoy the holidays! This is the stuff that really matters! Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageTalk with you again when we return!
Individual development vs organized team sports - let's explore swimming vs soccer and the ways we support our youth in each environment.
Crafting your soccer experience have a place in the future of youth soccer. Imagine the stuff you want without the stuff you don't need. #nopaytoplay
How do you get from wherever you are in the youth soccer ecosystem to the Olympics, a National team, or a professional team? How do you make the most of your experience and come away happy that you participated? As simple as this question should be to answer, it is anything but simple. The array of options and thousands of spin offs that exist today are confusing even to those in the business of youth soccer full time. In this episode, I am going to confuse you temporarily while I lay out the scope of the Alphabet Soup problem, then Im going to try to simplify some things so you can sleep tonight. I apologize in advance for the spaghetti network of nonsense I'm going to throw at you, but if you can tough it out, my hope is that you'll have a better picture of the US soccer landscape and maybe make some more informed decisions about the future for your kids as they(and you) explore this awesome sport. Let's Back Up and Take it From the TopAt the top of the soccer pyramid is the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Under the Umbrella of FIFA, 3.6 Billion fans from 200 countries participate in one of six "Confederations." It was founded in 1904; headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland; and is governed by an elected president, a senior vice president, a secretary general, and 7 vice presidents. They are elected by the FIFA Congress which consists of a member from each of the associations that are part of the organization. The total number of participants is 25. They make the top strategic decisions like which nation will host the World Cup - which is held every four years. The Congress also has committees like the finance committee, fair play committee, ethics, rules, and referees. The six confederations include: Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol (CONMEBOL) - the South American confederation with 10 members and founded in 1916 in Argentina.   The Union Des Association Europeenes de Football (UEFA) - mostly the European region with 55 members and founded in 1954 in SwitzerlandThe Asian Football Confederation (AFC) with 47 members and founded in 1954 in ManillaThe African Confederation (CAF) with 56 members, founded in 1957 in Sudan Oceania Football Confederation  (OFC) - the Pacific Island confederation with 1966 after Australia and New Zealand were rejected by the AFC. Australia left to join the AFC in 2006. And the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) with 41 members including the US, Canada, Mexico, and others, founded in 1961 in Mexico City Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageInside the United StatesSince this is a US-based podcast and I am part of a leadership team that runs an affiliate member of US Youth Soccer, I'm going to deep dive into the US system. Just know that the US is one of 41 members of CONCACAF - though it could be argued we're one of the biggest players in this confederation.  The US became an original member of CONCACAF on September 18, 1961. A bit of background you should know about is 1. the US didn't always follow FIFA 100%. That changed in 2010 and we now follow FIFA. 2. Canada, Mexico, and the United States are hosting the World Cup 2026. The last time we hosted a World Cup, the MLS was born, so many in the US are expecting positive disruption in the US Soccer Landscape in the next 5-6 years. United States Soccer Federation (USSF)At the top of the United States soccer pyramid is a 501(c)3 nonprofit governing body; headquartered in Chicago, Illinois; referred to as the United States Soccer Federation or USSF. It was founded on April 5th, 1913, and acquired provisional FIFA affiliation on August 2nd, 1913. The US became a full member on June 27, 1914. USSF also has a relationship with the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee. Under US Youth Soccer,
Flame out or burn on for a lifetime of passion for movement, teamwork, and healthy living? This seems to be an essential question facing young families today - even though most hardly think about it. Personally, I think sports (and support of sport) has a place in our lives from early age on through geriatrics. Let's be real... It's more fun at any age to do something physical in the context of games or group fun than it is to grind away at the treadmill day after day. Given what we know today about the statistics of youth sports, it seems we can do better at keeping kids interest in sport. Let's talk about some numbers, some conclusions, and some recommendations that you can put into play today. Photo by: Jarek Tuszyński / CC-BY-SA-3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]The Youth PictureThere are a lot of sports to choose from. Cheerleading is up 18.2% from 2008 with 775,000 kids playing. Track and Field is down 10% from 2008 with 307,000 kids participating. Soccer is down 3.3% from 2008 with 2,200,000 kids playing. While many sports are down from 2008 participation levels, many others are up - with a huge exception: kids are leaving at earlier ages. The average age of last regular participation for the game of soccer is 9.1 years old. 9.1 years old!! Kids turning 9 are just starting to get introduced to the real game. Why are these kids leaving before they ever really get started?!Across all sports, kids are leaving by average age of 11. Just a few years ago, it was reported that 70% of kids in the US were leaving youth sports by age 14. Now it's 11?! What the heck is going on? Are these kids not having fun anymore? According to the latest Aspen Institute's Utah parent survey - reportedly not.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageWhat is Going On?!The top reasons cited in the reading I've done include the following:Specialization too early. Kids just want to play and have fun. Even if they're good at a sport, most kids want a chance to play other games. Multi-sport kids last longer in youth sports than single sport kids. Something to think about as we pull another few thousand bucks out of our pockets for super clubs and sexy uniforms. Too expensive. Cost is a factor. When mom and dad are always talking about how much youth sports costs (cause it costs a lot!), it puts pressure on kids. Youth sports becomes a job with expectations. They get plenty of that from schools. They don't want more from their play activities. Pressure from the sidelines. Speaking of pressure, let's face it... our sidelines are becoming a nightmare. Parents and coaches yelling like they're going to have a stroke if their kid doesn't win, or pass, or stop the ball, or make perfect set plays, or get's knocked down in the run of play. We all want our kids to be successful, but making mistakes and learning is a huge part of the youth game. Unforgiving sidelines make that impossible. Kid's don't want that. Professionalization of youth sports. When youth sports become more about winning games and entertaining the sidelines, well... you've heard me talk about this a lot in the past. The game ceases to be about the kids. This is their time. Sidelines need to leave them alone to enjoy their time. And It's Not Just the KidsI'm a coach, an administrator, a 501(c)3 board chairman, a parent, a business owner, and a podcaster. I can speak from experience. Sometimes, I've had enough and need a break. Everything except for my business revolves around youth sports - from January to December. I'm sure you can relate! When we're running every weekend to get kids to games and swim meets. When we're working in the off season to secure permits, take inventory, repair equipment, set strategic direction, execute contracts, etc. etc. etc.; a rainy day might seem like a blessing. Vacations are too few and far between even when we're NOT involved in youth sports.
In this episode, we continue the dialog about bad apple officials, introduce some practical ways we can be intentional about coaching character, and share a warning story about a lawsuit against a JV baseball coach that dragged on for 7 years and cost $75,000 for telling a player to slide into third base.More Bad ApplesA continuation fro last week's discussion, a listener writes in about his experience as a coach with a bad referee, an assistant coach's bad behavior, and parents that ultimately threatened the refs in the parking lot. This story serves to highlight the need for higher quality communication between parents, coaches, and players. When communication breaks down, assumptions get made, and feelings get hurt. Let's keep the dialog going! Share these shows with your community and help the rest of us keep the dialog going.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageRewarding DevelopmentHere are a couple of ideas you can use to help make coaching character intentional: 3x5 cards with development goals written on them. In this case, we pass out cards to parents on the sidelines and ask them to help us track stuff that actually matters (beyond the scoreboard). Listen to the show to see where I got the idea from and how we might use it. Ages 3-18Have-a-Ball. In this idea, we purchase game balls for every game in the season. We segment the season into weekly themes. Each week, we publish the theme of the week to coaches and parents. At the end of each game, we bring coaches and players together and give the game ball to the player(s) who best represent the character subject for the week: respect week, sportsmanship week, teamwork week, empathy week, etc. Ages 9 and above. Suing Coaches for CoachingThe article in the resources section below is a must read. Imagine coaching as every other coach does. A player gets hurt during a game, and you spend the next 5 years + $75,000 in legal fees to ultimately secure an innocent verdict. Your crime? As a 3rd-base coach, you told a player to slide into 3rd base. The player took a bad slide and broke their ankle. That break turned bad so parents sued. What might this mean for youth sports in general? What might it have meant if the coach was found guilty? How manny more lawsuits would end up in court - tying up coaches and clubs for years - simply for making a call as a coach that parents didn't agree with? What can we do to improve communication and discourse around youth sports? ResourcesPoliti, Steve. “He Told a Kid to Slide. Then He Got Sued.” He Told a Kid to Slide. Then He Got Sued., 12 Nov. 2019,
We have good eggs in every community and bad apples that ruin it for everyone. In this episode, we talk about listener-provided examples - one of each.We have stories like this going on all over the world. I would love it if you sent me one or two that I can use on the show. This stories inspire people or serve as warnings, and they keep the focus on the stuff that really matters in youth sports!A positive example of a coach strengthening 5-year-old players with encouragement Bad ApplesOur first story came from a tweet earlier this week. A listener of this show wrote me:"I’d love your thoughts on this. Today, I experienced a broken child because a referee was saying negative things about him during the game; one statement in particular that he was trash. What would be your response? How should this be handled?Dr. Timeka Cline​​ - Principal of an Elementary School in GeorgiaHow ridiculous is it for a referee to call a player "trash" in a game.  I know many referees who would find this a violation of trust and respect. I can't imagine any adult considering this acceptable behavior. This referee need to be reported to their Assignor and to league officials. In the episode, I describe my full advice to Dr. Cline.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageGood EggsEvery community is full of good eggs. There are many more good eggs than bad apples. In this case, a soccer parent from my own club wrote me with the following:"David,A few weeks ago, our 5-year-old son Christian, had a rough game day. He felt like he couldn’t get to the ball, thought nobody wanted to play with him, he kept saying “I can’t do this”. My husband, Christian’s older sister, and I kept cheering him on, asking him to keep trying, to help his teammates because they needed him, to no result. He looked really sad, he cried, it was just a bad day. His coach was incredibly patient and observed, tried to engage him as much as he could. Christian wasn’t responding to it. That coach never gave up on him even for a second. He showed compassion, encouragement and understanding, and finished that day still showing Christian that he was an important person there. It just wasn’t a good day after all, but we thanked him so much for trying so hard to help.We know kids are resilient, but nobody wants to see their kid having a sad day. The following weekend, it looked like that same coach was ready for Christian. We noticed he put some strategies into practice that were really engaging. He had Christian (and all other players) doing designated tasks such as kick starting a few different times. He was fun, funny and also addressed the players by their names. They loved their goal celebrations, and there was Christian, at this time running, passing, and scoring, with a smile on his face. He looked confident, happy, and all because that coach, that volunteer coach, put a lot of energy into helping him, and was able to bring him out of his little limbo. We naturally thanked him again, to which he responded “See? Much better, right? I knew he would”.I wanted to bring to your attention how much our family appreciates that volunteer coach. Each family has their our stories, the behind the scenes, the challenges, and having that one person, a volunteer, who legitimately believes in your child, will always have a major impact. Not only on a Saturday 5-year-old soccer game, but as he grows and builds his character based on the impression that coaches like his coach left that day. (See attached picture - the coach with the team - Christian is on the far right) (See photo above)With gratitude,Ty"
This episode is about winning more youth soccer games. Everybody wants to win, right? So how specifically do Clubs, coaches, and teams ensure the wins? Continue on with me as we explore several ways in which you can win more games. These are tips and techniques that I have personally witnessed and are widely in use, but rarely talked about for the gotta-win club, gotta-win coach, and gotta-win youth soccer parent. Go Team!What is Winning? Winning youth sports games and in life is top of a lot of American agendas. And why wouldn't it be? If we have to spend all of the crazy money we spend to get on a youth sports team, to pay for our coach, on all the gear - and let's not forget about all the time we've invested in driving to practices and games, team parties, and sometimes messing up the car with other people's sweaty, dirty kids when it's our turn to car pool. The investment we make better pay off. Do you agree? We better see some wins on the scoreboard or we as well have saved our money and played in some Rec program or not played at all.In this episode, I'm going to share a number of ways that you can win - starting next season or even next game. If winning is your thing, then this episode is for you. These are practical tips. This is not pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking. Let's jump into the stuff we need to know and do right now.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageFirst Things FirstThe first thing we need to do to win more games is to set our sights firmly on winning. Having a bigger number on the scoreboard than our opponent needs to be front and center. There are multiple ways to accomplish that larger number, so we have to forget about this Kumbaya campfire marshmallow development nonsense. It's a numbers game. We have only so many kids in our community. We need to find the best ones, get them on the field, teach them how to win, and take our show on the road to bring some butt kicking to anyone who tries to stand in our way.Go the extra mile.  Games are good to win. In fact, we MUST win, but winning games is not enough. We have to remember the big picture. It's about winning consistently. We need to string wins together to make our winning track record. We need to climb over the corpses of any other team in our way as we climb the standings ladder. At the end of the season, our names will be on the trophy. If Johnny, Sam, or Jane can't cut it, bench them. Let's face it, I don't drive the kind of car that I drive to the parking lot every Saturday so we can go home a loser. We come from a winning family. We drive a winner's car. We pay winner's prices to play.  We play on winner's fields. Have you see our uniforms? Those are winner's uniforms, baby. Race car stripes down the sleeve because we're fast like race cars. If you don't know me and have never heard this show before, then hopefully, you're shaking your head, getting ready to turn off this bonehead, and go listen to something else. But you know this story is real. It's happening every day across America in youth sports. And if I want to attract parents to pay obscene amounts of money, I'm going to dangle the golden carrot in front of you. I'm going to convince you that your kid is a winner when he or she is on one of my teams. We're awesome together - especially when you pay a few thousand dollars to buy awesome stickers for the back of your car. Yeah, I may be acting out the worst among us, but there is truth between my sarcasm. The truth is: if we want to win games, we need to put winning over development. As a coach, there are plenty of games I could have won. I know how to win games. It's not hard. I don't even have to have good players. I just have to play against teams that have players who are worse than mine. It's all relative, right? Let's talk about a few other ways that I can win youth soccer games. I hope you can appreciate sarcasm. Gotta Look Good!
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