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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.
108 Episodes
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Alphabet Soup in US Soccer

Alphabet Soup in US Soccer

2019-12-0300:54:19

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 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, it is home to the Olympic Development Program (ODP).
Burn Out in Youth Sports

Burn Out in Youth Sports

2019-11-2500:24:26

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 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/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, https://www.nj.com/slide-trial/.
Good Eggs and Bad Apples

Good Eggs and Bad Apples

2019-11-1100:17:45

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!
Twice this week, I was asked by parents - each from opposite sides of the country - about how to improve the competitive mindset of their children. One dad is father and coach of a 7-year old in California. The other is a mother of a 9-year-old in Maryland. In this episode, I will share the questions and their context and do my best - with the help of a couple of friends of mine - to address these listener questions. There is a lot of stuff in this episode, so make yourself comfortable while we explore the question of aggression, confidence,and the competitive mindset. Self Confidence word cloud hand sphere concept on white background.Setting the Stage with The QuestionsFirst of all, shout out to listeners of this show! You always inspire the best episodes with your questions and comments, so thank you for sharing! Don't sleep on the SpeakPipe integration I have with my Website at https://thesoccersidelines.com/connect/. SpeakPipe a cool tool that I pay for that gives you a simple press-to-talk button on your mobile device or computer where you can leave me voice feedback, ask questions, etc. I can't think of an easier way to communicate. My first question came last Sunday at 10:30 PM Eastern from Paras. Paras writes from California:Hi,I am a dad of soccer kid who will be 7(born Nov 2012) years old next month.. I played lot of soccer and other sports in Asia during my school days. I today train my son and is also in U8 academy at local club in California.. My son skills, strength and pace is good for his age.. Besides U8 ,I enrolled him for a rec program for 2011/2012 , which was for two months at local club just to get games exposure . I noticed in these games that he was not aggressive (positive aggression) which may be because his cognitive is in developing phase ... He has a feeling that older kids will be hard on him and do something negative.. The club should have conducted the games for U8 only rather than 2011/2012..  His games with U8 kids are good.. Can you please share your experience on how can kids develop the mindset to overcome this? I am using strategy like watching with him European soccer leagues and talking /discussing with him about how players are being strong with the ball, soccer drills, motivation.Paras Tiwari The Soccer Sidelines Listener CommunityMy second question came to me in person during one of my Culture Walks this weekend. Culture Walks, you may recall from very early episodes back in 2017, is what I do as Club Officer to walk the sidelines of my games every weekend, evaluate coaches, connect with parents, and in general support and maintain our club culture. Conversations from my Culture Walks inspired this show. This soccer mom in this case is wife to one of our assistant coaches, very involved with multiple sports with her kids, and generally active in the youth sports community. She asked about her 9-year-old & was wondering what she or her husband can do to improve their child's "aggression" on the pitch. Her child plays in a recreation league, in an age band that included 9 and 10-year olds, and has played for a few years in our Academy program for younger players, ages 3-8. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageUnpacking the IssuesParas' question is actually several great questions, relevant statements and assumptions rolled up. They deserve some unpacking as we dig into what's going on here. First for context, we're talking about a 6-year-old player. Per United Soccer Coach standards, this is a Stage 2 player. Next, we're talking about a child born in the 4th quarter of the year. See last week's episode #102 about Relative Age Effect (https://thesoccersidelines.com/relative-age-effect-in-youth-soccer/) to understand more about why this is important. His son will son be 7. His player has a mixture of academy and recreation games experience and Dad noticed that his son is not as aggressive in the game environment as he...
Relative Age Effect in Youth Soccer is a bias that highlights the attention we give towards winning vs development. At its worst, it can be cheating
Travel tournaments can be full of excitement and fun. What are the pros and cons of travel tournaments for our players and families?
Varsity Soccer Mixed Bag

Varsity Soccer Mixed Bag

2019-09-3000:27:53

I'm hearing some variation of this over and over again: "My kids looked forward to playing varsity soccer in high school, but they (or we) have been disappointed with the experience." Why? In this article, let's explore the downside of the varsity experience and what we can do about it. The Varsity Experience SummaryWhere we live, our Varsity players play 12 games in 6 weeks. After tryouts, selected players get a few weeks of preparation, then a rapid fire schedule of games and practices. There are playoffs at the end and teacher-coaches along the way. Kids play in front of their peers for school pride. Wins are lauded during the school day. Losses lamented. Cheer leaders turn out to fire up the crowds and all manner of fast food is sold, along with $5 tickets to get in. Games are lunchroom, hallway, and even the occasional class time discussion. In other words, varsity sports are very much part of the fabric of the school and everybody knows about them. To get on a varsity team is a big deal. Cultures for each sport evolve each year. Everyone knows the "Lax boys," the "soccer players," the "football players," and the swimmers. Everyone knows how the various teams are doing, and even if a student is not a player on a team, it's often school yard conversation about what happened at the last game, who beats who, and what players are the play makers. To be on a varsity team in high school means a certain amount of celebrity. Youth sports in high school is meant to be "an extension of the classroom" with a focus on developing "the whole child." In our area, this is made clear through pre-gam announcements before every match. Have a listen to this:Listen to this opening announcement from earlier this week.Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageChallenges Faced By High SchoolsOut of the gate, I have to admit that although I coach and parent kids of High School age, I am not a High School teacher or coach and I am not privy to the internal politics and budget constraints of high schools in general. I have some very specific experience that I am extrapolating to a bigger picture. My experience as the coach of high school players, as a father of high school students, as the host of this show who reads and listens to feedback from listeners, and the weekly reading I've done on the subject (found in the show notes for every episode) informs my opinion. My opinion doesn't represent every situation. Your situation may be different from what I describe here. These issues are in no particular order: Staff ShortagesI spoke with athletic directors, coaches, and teachers from several schools. They are unanimous about the fact that there are not enough people around who are willing to coach. At least not around here."We're lucky to get anyone to take the job. It pays $15/hour. It takes up a lot of time. And it's a thankless job that comes with a lot of parent hassles." said one person who I spoke with two weeks ago. I heard similar comments from several different people in the last two weeks. I got a sense from those discussions that "we'll take anybody. "I want to be clear about something. I'm not saying that if somebody steps up and takes a job that no one else wants, that the person who stepped up is somehow lesser quality than the person who wins a job that has stiff competition. I'm a fan of taking on jobs that nobody else wants. For the right person, these kinds of jobs are pure opportunity gold. When a hard working, creative, visionary type person steps up and takes on a job that nobody else wants, they often have an opportunity to turn it into whatever they want. The right kind of person can break paradigms, overhaul an antiquated system, bring value beyond anyone's imagination...However, when someone takes the job to avoid doing another job, just because they need the $15/hr, because they're not qualified to do anything else,
The job of being a coach requires men and women who pursue this craft to know the kids they're working with. Different age groups have different needs. They have different communication styles and differing abilities to understand the game, one another, or even instructions given them. Most coach's training programs parse development into physical, mental, emotional, and psycho-social buckets. Today, I'm going to talk with you about age-appropriate mental development. Lest you think this knowledge is just for coaches, I assure you that if you're a parent, you'll benefit as well. I personally believe that every parent would benefit from coaching training & if such a thing as a license to have kids ever became a thing - let's hope it never does - but if it did, I would want parents trained in coaching kids at all ages. The stuff we learn as coaches is stuff that often takes parents years to figure out. We learn the hard way as parents and the stakes are highest with our own kids. A coach works with all types of kids, at all stages of maturity. There are Stages of DevelopmentBefore we start talking about mental development, it helps to be able to frame it in terms of the ages I'm talking about. I base the stages of development in this article on the United Soccer Coaches Player Development Diploma Course. If you're a coach and have a deeper interest in this material, courses taught by United Soccer Coaches het two thumbs up from me. Understanding development across a continuum of 15 years from 3-years-old to 18-years-old not only helps a coach or a parent relate more effectively with kids, but it helps to make the experience more fun. It's frustrating to kids when they are shown material that is too advanced for them. It's boring to kids when they are shown material that is too young for them. Find that goldilocks perfect practice session is a whole lot easier when you understand the development needs of each age group. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageLet's Look At Mental Development in Each of the Five StagesIn the toggle table below, I share some thoughts about each age group within a development stage. My thoughts are by no means exhaustive on the subject. In fact, I'm thinking I could do a separate podcast for each of the elements we consider, but for this one, I'm going to stick as closely as possible with mental development. It's really impossible for me to prevent some bleed over into psychosocial or even physiological aspects of development, because they do affect mental development, but I trust you'll have patience. Stage 1 Kids (3-5-years old)Young players at this stage have short attention spans. They are starting to understand visual instructions, but they tend to do better with concrete demonstrations of what they are expected to do. While many are still "parallel playing" an unaware of team dynamics like passing and group movement, they are starting to become aware of one another and the fact that other people have ideas and emotions. Kids at this age are beginning to become more cautious. They understand there are things in the world that can cause pain and they proceed accordingly. They have wonderful imaginations and can be super spontaneous and creative. In our program, we disguise "lessons" in the form of games. To teach movements like hopping, we might have them pretend they are bunny rabbits escaping from a fox, or we might work on coordination by playing body part tag with a ball (When I say Crumpet, touch the ball with your elbow!). Stage 2 Kids (6-8-years old)Kids in this age group still love games and imagination. Their attention span is becoming a little longer but it is inconsistent. They can focus on one task longer (not as many changes in activities). These kids talk a lot and ask a lot of questions. Their interests change frequently. They learn quickly. They like to try new activities,
Support the ShowFinishing in the game of soccer is a string of a complex series of actions and thoughts that end with a net rattle. The finishing mentality follows a flow, from the goalkeeper and defenders through the midfield, to the player taking the shot. Each player in the chain processes a three-part Do loop over and over again in the course of a single attack. As coaches and parents, we can strengthen our player's ability to process the game and bring an effective finishing mentality to the game.The Finishing Mentality Extends Well Beyond the Opponent's Third(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Danielle Johnson)Some might say that a good finish starts in the back field. In the context of game day, I would agree with this. A good finish is a flow that's built up from the back field - payers reading cues in their environment, making decisions about those cues, and acting on them based on how they interpret those cues and how they judge their own abilities.  I would take it one step further back from the game day field though and say that a good finishing mentality starts well before game day. It's something that is made of interpretation skills, confidence (or lack of confidence), and abilities as developed in family and player units both on the pitch and off. Every player carries whatever they have with them - both good and bad - into a game. If they believe it's okay to make mistakes, to be the person who doesn't score, and that they can be creative without judgment in front of their family and friends, they are much more likely to to the right thing or attempt seemingly impossible acts of creativity and courage. If, on the other hand, they are judged as not being worthy unless they sink an asteroid ball into the back of the net, dribble through 5 defenders, or take an over-the-head bicycle kick shot into the upper corner off the cross bar, they're not likely to rise to the occasion. What we do and say in practice, how players interact with one another and come to learn one another's cues, and what we say to players at home - they all make a difference when it comes to that game day shot on goal. Get the first part right, and kids can be kids. Get it wrong and they can choke on pressure or fail to find their own confidence.  PLEASE: support the show and/or join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageThe Finishing Mentality is About More than Kicking a Ball in the NetA great finishing play requires a string of thoughts and activities pulled together in concert. Capturing the ball, supporting ball movement, re-capturing the ball, timing pressure and runs, creating space for teammates to run the ball through - all of it is part of the finishing play. Every player - on the ball or off the ball - is contributing in some way to a good finish or a miss. Assuming you accept this to be true, the question becomes: what can we do before game day to support the finishing mentality? It's not all on the coach, on the player, or on the parents. It's on all of us in the player's ecosystem. Think I'm zooming out too far? Consider how a player might play in light of a recent family crisis. Don't think coaches notice that stuff? Of COURSE we do.Finishing also includes reading cues from the environment, interpreting and making decisions about those cues, and acting on those cues in a way that either contributes to the finish or detracts from it. Teaching players to read cues, to make good decisions, and to frame the context of their actions is something that takes time and practice. It also takes support from home. A Lesson from EVOC ClassEVOC stands for Emergency Vehicle Operator's Course. I used to teach this to police, fire fighters and EMS personnel when I was int he military. It may seem like an odd thing to talk about in the context of a finishing play in soccer, but it has relevance. While teaching professionals how to drive in high pressure / high adrenaline environments,
My team came to me two years go with the goal of playing varsity soccer. Today, my team makes up half the varsity bench. They didn't pay thousands!
US Youth Soccer Standards

US Youth Soccer Standards

2019-08-1900:23:26

There is a good reason to standardize the training environment for kids in their development years. Do you know what the US Youth Soccer standards are?
Support the Show and our MissionDealing with loss in life can be a profoundly life-changing experience. Learning to deal with loss on a smaller scale before the big life-changing losses affect our lives is a way for us to learn some basic things about staying positive, turning negative experiences into positive ones, and more. In this post, I share some deeply personal experiences that have changed lives and how they relate to lessons we can help our kids learn on the youth sports field.Image by mohamed Hassan from PixabayLearning About Loss in a Scale Model of LifeIf you've been following this show for any length of time, you know that I consider youth sports to be a proxy for real life. Youth sports are a safe place to learn essential life skills. The lessons learned in this environment are lessons that really matter when life serves us much harder losses later. This past week, my 17-year-old daughter and her friends lost someone dear to them. A friend to some. A boyfriend to one. A mirror of their own mortality for all of them. In this sad real-life situations, lessons learned earlier in teamwork, friendship, coming together to overcome challenges came into focus. When kids learn how to deal with life's hardships early, they are much better equipped to deal with them when they inevitably arrive.PLEASE: support the show and/or join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageA Personal Story Dealing with LossI fell in love with a young woman when I was in college. It was a comfortable relationship. We both found comfort at the end of the day in one another's company. We shared pizza,  hours of overnight conversation, and a bond that I believed deep down would lead to marriage at some point way down the road. Everything felt right with her. She and I would always be close. She was killed in a car accident on the side of Dannemora mountain in New York. Her death had a profound effect on the rest of my life. I was fortunate enough to find love again, but the journey I set out on soon after she died lasted for a very long time. I became a volunteer fire fighter, an EMT, a Navy Corpsman, and set out to put myself as close to death as I could get - to save as many lives as I could, and at some level, come closer to being there for the woman I wasn't able to be there for on that cold day in November. Making Lemonade out of LemonsThe rest of my life was created through a series of decisions. A lot of good came from this loss because I chose for good to come of it. I suppose I could have easily gone the other way and never realized the joy my family brings me or the good things I've done for others. [tcb-script type="text/javascript" src="https://rch.evsuite.com/player/aW1hZ2VzLWFuZC13b3Jkcy5tcDQ=/?responsive=1&autoResponsive=1&container=evp-TOE3OBJI8D"][/tcb-script]Learning Starts YoungThere is a big difference between losing a loved one and losing a youth sports game, but many of the fundamentals are there: How do we react and process loss? How do we lean on others (or not) when we face difficult times? How do we empathize with others (or not) when they are down or need our help?We teach our kids how to deal with life in layers. With each new level of complexity, our kids learn to process wins, losses, good times and bad. They learn about the essential ingredients that go into making good citizen adults. They watch other adults for signs of volunteerism and community focus, for how they treat other adults, and how they should react to life themselves when they are older. Youth Sports Provides the Perfect Training FieldIf you cold create a safe space where kids can be exposed to the range of emotions and situations they will be exposed to later in life, and you made it a fun and healthy place to hang out, you'd have the youth sports environment. Careful planning and management of the youth sports space gives us a unique and powerful way to teach life lessons - including dealing with loss.
Passing the Microphone

Passing the Microphone

2019-08-0500:05:59

I've spent the last two years and 90 episodes talking about the stuff that really matter in youth sports and hoping to help you understand and appreciate the game and better support your player(s). Now it's your turn to connect here: https://thesoccersidelines.com/connect/Your challenge is to use any of the connect options and tell me a story about your life! Tell me about your athlete, your team, your club, or your own youth sports experience! If you can't think of anything to say about someone else, tell me which is your favorite from the last 90 episodes and why. I can't wait to hear and read your story and get to know more about you! PLEASE: support the show and/or join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageResourcesConnect via PatreonConnect via SpeakpipeConnect via TwitterConnect Via FacebookConnect via Email
It Takes a Team to Win

It Takes a Team to Win

2019-07-2900:20:12

It's Easy to Support this ShowYou would not dream of suiting up and taking on the New York Giants by yourself. I don't care if you're the biggest and strongest dude on the planet. You're going to die. Literally. I have found in my lifetime of working in corporate America and in business that the same is true off the field as it is on the field. No employee or CEO is going to survive long in business without a team. The stronger the team, the better chance the individuals on that team have of winning. Strength of a team comes from places few people know to look. If you've never considered where to look for team strength, you may be surprised by some of the things I'm going to say today. For experienced coaches and business people, get ready to smile. In this episode, I hope to shine a light on a few things that most people don't consider important. However, those in the know understand that without this, your chances for success go down a lot. Join me for a few minutes as we talk about the whole team and why you're important - no matter how popular or well known your contribution is. You're ImportantAs a listener and maybe as a Patron of this show, you're important. It doesn't matter if you have a background in soccer or not. What matters is your desire to contribute and your willingness to be part of a team that is working together to bring value to the community. I've had some interesting discussions this week. In one case, a fellow by the name of Richard reached out to me via email and text. He's a long-time, 30+ year coach and former President of the Club I am currently President of. He's coached at high schools, at colleges. He's run our club for a couple of years, and he carries a lifetime of wisdom and passion for players and the game that is refreshing for me to experience. I think anyone who has invested real time and energy into developing kids is infected with the desire to do more. It's just so satisfying to see the effect we can have on the world when we choose to give to others. Coaching is all about helping people to realize the best version of themselves., and when they do, and we're lucky enough to witness it, there is little else that compares to that feeling. Despite the huge value that Richard brings to the world, he was President at least three President's ago. Coaching has changed. Community demographics have changed. The competitive landscape has changed. And I certainly bring an emphasis to the Club on both the business back end - as an investment banker and consultant to other businesses, I naturally gravitate towards the infrastructure, to risk mitigation, to creative financing, and to long term strategy that I don't imagine many people really care about. But I love it! Richard and I were sharing perspectives - both old and new - when I noticed that he looked a little out of his element. Website conversion rates, using a financial statement to get a picture of operations, and creative financing techniques are not just not something he had reason to dig into in his former roles. You can't blame him, right? Most people will die a happy death without ever having explored these subjects, but they are a real and regular part of my vocabulary and thinking. I got the sense that he was almost apologetic that this wasn't his thing. He clearly has a ton of value to bring, but in different ways. My brain jumped the rails a little during our lunch conversation. I was at first a little surprised by what i saw in his face, and I brought the conversation where this episode is hopefully going to bring you and I. You. Are. Important. PLEASE: support the show and/or join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page​​Support the Show You Are HereLike players on a soccer team, once kids get old enough to have mastered the basics, and start  specializing - we're talking about around age 14 - everyone has a different role to play. A good team doesn't have 22 Strikers.
Youth sports in the US is dying, not because the business model isn't working, but because it is working too well. It's drawing in $17 B at what expense?
Reliability In Youth Sports

Reliability In Youth Sports

2019-07-1500:13:47

If you think coaches are not paying attention in youth sports, don't. They are. Things like being reliable matter. If you think I'm talking about just consistently hitting a crispy seam pass through defenders, I'm not. I'm talking about a players ability to make an honor commitments. Seemingly little things matter: being late to practice or games, not keeping promises to show up at a special events, failure to follow through with a promised email or not responding at all. Players need to learn how to sweat the small stuff, because if it comes down to two players: one who's always reliable, communicates well, and follows through - or one that doesn't - the one that is reliable gets the money. Let's get behind the scenes and learn what's going on with the people who support our players. Reliability by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock ImagesBeing Reliable In Youth SportsFor young athletes, being reliable is one of those things that youth sports provides great opportunities to learn. I think most coaches would agree that we don't expect kids to understand the importance of reliability right away. Learning this lesson is something that moms and dads can help with a lot - once they understand the opportunity and know how to tap into it. By the end of this episode, you will. More importantly, you'll know why it's so important for our kids! They may be missing out on some great opportunities for silly reasons. There are many ways to define reliability in youth sports. Being fit and being able of running the full period of a game is one way. Fitness is something all coaches are looking for. It's also something that isn't going to come entirely from the practice or game environments. After say, ages 12 or 13, if the only fitness a kid gets is at practice, they're going to fall behind. Having reliable skills in a game environment is another way. As a coach, I've had players I know are consistent on the field and some who seem to bring a different player every game. I've heard some players tell me they're going to do something in a game and I've watched with delight as they did it. I've had other players tell me they're going to do something in a game and I've gone home afterwards wondering why they said that. Reliability is important and coaches come to rely on certain players to anchor the team strategy or informs the playing formation. unreliable field players need contingency plans. A coach might find themselves thinking: if this player is on today, then A. If they're not on today, then we need to do B. Reliable players on the field make a pretty big difference in the overall experience. Now you may have expected me to say something about reliability on the pitch, but what I'm about to say when we come back may come as a surprise. Don't worry when you hear this. The good news is that moms and dads can have a direct and profound effect on player reliability on the pitch and off - in youth sports and in real life.  Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageReliability Off the Pitch in Youth SportsCoaches are looking for solid people for their soccer teams, but let's not stop there. Employers are looking for solid people to work for their companies. See where I'm going with this? The youth sports environment is a great learning environment. Kid's will do well to do their best to learn reliability while the adults supporting them are still understanding about mis-steps. Employers are not so forgiving. The reality is, coaches can lose patience too. This should never be in the sense that players get lesser treatment on the soccer pitch, but there are a lot of things that happen off the pitch that are affected by player reliability. It's well known in the coaching community that coaches tend to go above and beyond for players. We spend so much time thinking about and working towards making players successful, that when we see a good chance to help someone, we jump on it.
Imagine yourself sitting at a table. You're at a nice cafe in Paris. You're drinking a cup of fresh brewed coffee, eating your favorite breakfast and watching people walk by. People watching can be fun. We all do it. All the different sizes, shapes, colors, personalities, voices... it's not a half bad way to spend a morning in Paris. Imagine someone you know walks by. You know their family, their dog, what they do for a living, their sense of humor. You know a lot about this person. You think they're funny. They have a signature move you've seen a hundred times. The whole feeling of the scene changes, right? You expect something. Maybe you rooting for their success and want to hear what brought them to the city of love.You just transitioned from passively watching a sea of people to jumping emotionally into that sea. You're invested now. There is a story here. Watching a soccer game is similar. You can be a passive spectator, or you can get so much more out of it. Today, I'm going to help you get more out of the game. I'm definitely going to help you appreciate this latest Women's World Cup. Let's talk about it. Watching the Women's World Cup 2019I have to give a shout out to Volkswagon this year for sponsoring a series called "One Nation. One Team. 23 Stories." You can find this series on Youtube spread all over with other "related videos" sprinkled in between, or you can just go to this week's episode of The Soccer Sidelines and find them all stacked neatly together in my show notes. Yes... I did that for you, and I hope you appreciate the effort. If I'm being honest, I really enjoyed the process. It took me some time, but each video in the 23 video series features a personal interview with each player that runs right about 3 minutes long. What that means is that in a little more than an hour, you can get to know the personal back stories and see the individual personalities of each of these World Class Women soccer players. The interviews are low key. The give the feeling of being up close and personal with each player. And I guarantee that you'll see the Women's National Team in a whole new light when you're done.I started collecting these videos for you before the game against Sweden, then I watched the Sweden game and found myself rooting for our women in a way similar to the way I've only rooted for the youth teams I've coached. I wanted Rose Lavelle to do well and I felt inspired myself knowing that she was inspired by her youth coach. I wanted Crystal Dunn to believe in herself as a player and have the world show her how much she means to the game. I wanted Ali Krieger to love and enjoy her comeback story. I imagined Tierna Davidson dreaming about being an astronaut and wondering how she must feel now playing soccer on the world stage. If you're a coach, you know what I'm about to say. When you know the personal stories of each of the players in front of you, you're watching a lot more than the score board during a game. You're rooting for the people and their personal stories. You want each one of those players to be successful and you realize that success means something just a little different for each one.The games I watched in the lead up to the Women's World Cup made me literally stand up - I couldn't sit down. When Kelley O'Hara got hurt in what I assume was a concussion on Sunday, I felt like I should be running out onto the field and picking her up - as I've done so many times with my own players. It is gut wrenching to know that a player you know as more than a jersey number got hurt. What I'm trying to say is this: whether you're watching a youth soccer match or a professional game, the more you know the players as people, the more likely you are to: respect the game and the empathize with the people playing it  (that goes for referees too!) walk away from each game with more than a scoreboard win or loss  enjoy a much deeper personal emotional ride with every touch in a g...
Skills, fitness, physicality... It's all important. And it's often an athlete's Character that helps them make the cut. Character matters.
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