Check out the weekly blogs

Online education from US Youth Soccer

Clubhouse

US Youth Soccer Intagram!

Check out the national tournament database

Sports Authority

Play Positive Banner

Marketplace

Wilson Trophy Company

Happy Family

Olive Garden

Nesquik - The Taste They'll Love

Capri Sun

Print Page Share

Parents Blog

Susan Boyd blogs on USYouthSoccer.org every Monday.  A dedicated mother and wife, Susan offers a truly unique perspective into the world of a "Soccer Mom". 

 

The Good Ol’ Summertime

Susan Boyd

Memorial Day weekend symbolically, though not meteorologically, indicates the start of summer. Here in Wisconsin, unfortunately, we citizens plaintively are still hoping for spring. I drove by our subdivision pool today and saw that it was all set up for the Memorial weekend opening in a display of pure optimism. Of course, we are slated to have temperatures in the 50s and thunderstorms. Typical. Nevertheless, once the weekend passes, kids exhibit the end-of-school wiggles, poster board shortages appear as projects are due, and parents begin the panic about how to occupy the kids for three months. Summer is coming despite the temperatures, and we need to think about how we will spend it.

Many youth soccer families know that summer can be crazy with practices, games and tournaments. Often kids will find themselves playing in state leagues, regional leagues, ethnic leagues, and as guest players and possibly even attending a soccer camp. Families can drown in the summer soccer schedule. I speak from experience, having two sons who played all summer long nearly every day for most of the day. It was a full-time job just shuttling them from field to field, keeping the various uniforms straight, and coordinating their complex schedules. While they loved playing, I always felt they were missing out on some of the other summer fun stuff with extended family and non-soccer peers. We learned after a few summers that we might need to scale back just to allow for unscheduled play. There were three areas to consider:  1) discovering other enjoyment for the summer 2) learning to say “no” and take time out 3) letting go of the guilt of not being the super soccer family.

Long before summer, we got together as a family to decide how we’d spend the season. We considered all the possibilities – grilling on the deck, swimming, doing “splash day” at the neighborhood pool, fishing, trips, camp, and significantly, other sports. We discussed the various soccer leagues and teams they could join, looked at their schedules, and decided which ones we would forgo in order to have the time to pursue other things. It was difficult because the boys had a passion for soccer, but they also loved to just bike ride and swim, play baseball, and build forts in the woods. They also enjoyed family trips that weren’t attached to a soccer tournament. It might just be a short excursion, but it was a time to connect without the distractions that soccer matches can create and the intrusion of dozens of other players and their families. One summer the boys really wanted to go to baseball camp rather than soccer camp. They loved exercising a different sports brain and set of muscles, although Robbie got frustrated with the pace of the game. By participating in some of the summer activities centered at our community pool, the boys connected with friends who weren’t soccer players and who weren’t even necessarily athletes. They got to joke around doing Marco Polo, learned to do flips off the diving board, and spent some long days on the beach of our lake waiting for a nibble on their fishing poles. It absolutely defined the “lazy, crazy days of summer” for them.

Since we carved out time in the summer for other things, we had to say no to a few soccer opportunities. Bryce and Robbie were popular choices to guest play on teams participating in the explosion of summer tournaments and leagues. They were always flattered to be asked and felt pressure to help out. When you’re a tween and people are telling you that you’ll make the difference in the team winning or losing, it’s difficult to put aside the pride and say no. Likewise, there were several teams that wanted the boys to join them for their summer leagues. They did join a city Hispanic team every year because they enjoyed that competition, which had a festive aspect to it. Extended families attended with picnics. One mother on Robbie’s team always made a big pot of pork tamales for every game, which we all looked forward to. People set up stands that sold replica uniforms, mostly from Mexico, but also from several South American teams. These were surprisingly inexpensive, so the boys became supporters of various Mexican clubs that they still follow. On the other hand, they would sit out local teams that played in other city leagues in order to preserve the time to just be kids. We would also occasionally miss a game or a practice for the teams they did join. We never did that during the fall and spring seasons, but summer was special.

Which brings me to the third point, not feeling guilt. I am a firm believer in commitment. I think children need to learn to be responsible to others and to persevere when things get tough, but we discovered that taking on too many projects in the summer made such commitment a true burden that infringed on just having fun. Two of my grandsons play summer sports and my daughter and her husband insist on them attending every game and practice to the exclusion of other enticing options. I absolutely admire the lesson they are teaching, but I worry that the kids miss out on things. This summer we’re taking our other grandkids to Disney World and wanted to take these grandsons as well, but their sports schedule didn’t allow for it. I understand their position. It took me a while to realize it, but ultimately the memories of family events will be stronger than those of grueling practices and dusty games. Therefore I learned to shake off that deep conscience I had concerning commitment to allow for some wiggle room. We parents can feel tremendous pressure to join in often and regularly, and made to feel oppressive guilt if we decide to opt out occasionally. Every summer my father took six weeks off and we drove as a family all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico for a month and a half vacation. There were seven of us packed in a station wagon, the kind with the last bench seat facing backwards, and no air conditioning because my father never spent a dime on “frills” including a radio and white wall tires. We usually camped in a huge tent he had sewn himself from two tents. While I didn’t enjoy putting up and breaking camp, I remember fondly every one of those trips seeing every state at one time or another. We had fights, naturally, and occasionally got bored, but then we’d arrive at a glacier in Montana or a cave in Kentucky and all was forgotten. It was those memories that ultimately informed my decision to take the time every summer to make different memories than how many goals were scored or who won the tournament. We did face opposition from the families who definitely piled on the guilt, but it was important to step aside from the sport we all loved and that dominated our lives the other nine months and just breathe a different air.

However, you decide to spend your summer I can only advise that you make sure it’s exactly the break from the pressures of school that your kids want. We can’t let summer slip away with our children feeling they never tasted pure freedom from obligations. Europe has the right idea where most countries take the month of August off, even the soccer teams. Shops, museums, and restaurants close, and families flock to vacation spots in the mountains or on the Mediterranean. One summer when Bryce was 13 and Robbie was 12, the boys got together with the other boys on the court and built an elaborate, albeit shaky, series of skateboard jumps that they placed along the roadway and attempted all kinds of twists and tricks. One afternoon they were so involved in the project, improving the jumps with more wood and nails then leaping over and over to achieve some perfect form that I just didn’t call them in to get ready for practice at the fields. We just blew off practice, and they played until there was no more light, then had the idea that we parents should turn our cars to face the street and illuminate the course with our headlights. We all sat out in the warm summer evening, laughing together, clapping at particularly good moves, and just enjoying the time as friends and neighbors, cutting it off reluctantly after an hour so as not to run down all our batteries. The boys still talk about that night. It’s those kinds of memories that are important and should on occasion supersede the responsibilities of soccer.

Comments (0)

 

Qualities of a Good Coach

Sam Snow

Coaches often bounce ideas off one another to deepen their own understanding of various soccer topics. A topic that recently came up among a group of very good youth soccer coaches was, what are the top five qualities of a good coach?  Here are some of the responses:

Tom Statham, Academy Coach at Manchester United FC

A coach must:

  • Care about his players
  • Be able to connect and communicate
  • Treat people with respect
  • Have knowledge of the game
  • Create an environment of enjoyment and learning


Tom Goodman, Technical Director at NEFC

  • Sense of Humor
  • Knowledgeable (teacher)
  • Ethical/Moral/Honest
  • Encouraging
  • Respectful
     

Darren Bowles, a Regional Manager at the FA

Good coaches:

  • Create and maintain an environment which encourages the players to learn and love the game
  • Show that they care for their players
  • Have a sound knowledge of the game
  • Try to keep things clear & simple
  • Treat everyone with respect
     

Chris Panayiotou - Developmental Director of Coaching Virginia Rush Soccer Club
C - confident and confidence builder

O - observer, organizer 

A - approachable, always learning 

C - continually growing, competent 

H - hard working, humble and honest 


Vince Ganzberg, Grassroots Advisor for U. S. Soccer
Adding on to your COACH pneumonic: 

O - other-centered

C - care, checks for understanding

Then one quality is a coach who can transfer knowledge into understanding.
 

Paul Shaw, Coaching Education Director - Virginia Youth Soccer

  • Have character - without this, you are done.
  • Soccer acumen - current and is always seeking (coaching education-soccer and outside of soccer; seek different experiences etc...)
  • Teaching skills - always a work in progress as our culture changes, must adapt.
  • Sense of humor - LOL.
  • Imagination - the coach who can "paint/create/sculpt" in different environments has longevity and inspires.

 

Ruth Nicholson, Founding Partner and IAF Certified Professional Facilitator – Club Development Network
 

  • The ability to be a member of a team of adults supporting players (coaches, parents, administrators, etc.), as well as to lead, teach, and inspire a team of players


Dr. Roy Patton, Director of Soccer Genius USA

For the coach of young adult players:

  • Maturity and experience-business and media savvy
  • Ability to build consensus - internal / external
  • Ability to use jurisprudential argument and to be consistent
  • High level of coaching experience and coaching ability
  • Be an excellent and relentless recruiter.
     

US Youth Soccer

Good coaching and coaches at the u6 to u10 ages :

  • Open the door to a lifetime of soccer
  • Lay the foundation of:
    • Fair Play
    • Game sense
    • Healthy lifestyle
    • Skills
  • Create the environment for players to establish friendships through soccer
  • Guide players learning to interact with others:
    • Teammates
    • Coach
    • Team manager
    • Referees
    • Opponents
    • Spectators
  • Guide parents on their child’s soccer journey
  • How to be a guest at the kids’ game
    • Off-the-ball habits
    • Commitment
    • Punctuality
    • Responsibility
    • Nutrition/hydration
    • Proper sleep/recovery
  • Teach leadership, communication skills, how to cooperate, how to compete, how to share
  • Coach must lead by example:
    • Control emotions
    • Verbal & body language
    • Be a good sport

 

From the Oregon Youth Soccer Association
Judging a Good Coach

  • A good coach is someone who knows winning is wonderful, but is not the triumph of sports.
  • A kid’s coach is someone who goes to work early, misses meals, gives away weekends and plays havoc with family schedules so he or she can help out a group of youngsters.
  • A good coach is someone who stays half an hour or more after practice to make sure every one of the players has a safe ride home.
  • A good coach is someone who rarely hears a mom or dad say `Hey thanks’, but receives a lot of advice on game day.
  • A good coach is someone who makes sure that everyone gets to play.
  • A good coach is someone who teaches young people that winning is not everything, but still lies in bed at night staring at the ceiling wondering whether he or she might have done anything differently to have turned a loss into a win.
  • A good coach is someone who can help a child learn to take mistakes in stride.
  • A good coach is someone who sometimes helps a child to develop ability and confidence that sometimes did not exist before.
  • A good coach is someone a youngster will remember a long time after the last game has ended and the season is over.

Comments (0)

 

The 50/50 Blog: 5.14.15

Stickley

Learn a little about CR7
 

Unisport visits the hometown of Ronaldo to learn a little bit more about his soccer origins.

 


 

Add another trick to your freestyle arsenal

 

 


 

Gedion Zelalem

 

Gedion

Great to hear Gedion Zelalem is cleared to represent U.S. Soccer. Here's an article on his youth days from last March. Read more here.

 


 

U.S. Open Cup

 

Open Cup

See all the scores from yesterday's U.S. Open Cup games. Find them here.

 

5050_660x100

Comments (0)

 

Not Easy to Say Goodbye

Susan Boyd

When kids first start playing soccer it’s all about friends and fun. Six-year-olds aren’t thinking about World Cups and professional teams. They may not even be able to name a single soccer player of note. But they love getting out on the field, screeching and running with their buddies. Eventually, they also enjoy the thrill of scoring a goal, high-fiving everyone, and then rushing to the sidelines for a treat after the game. There’s something pure and special about those early years in soccer when the only stress might be getting to the fields on time. Unfortunately, as kids grow so do their differences to the point that eventually friends have to make difficult choices between staying together or leaving. In some cases they have to say goodbye because friends have developed faster in skill or passion and move on to more intense teams, or our kids may be the ones moving on. In other cases, the decision to change teams is driven by finances. When it comes time to separate, no matter the reason, it can be traumatic. How do we decide as a family whether or not to make that break? And should we do it, how do we help our children cope with losing their friends?

The most common reasons for kids to leave a sport are boredom and developing a stronger interest in another activity. It should be an easy choice to quit under these circumstances both for kids and parents, but friendships complicate the break. There’s a strong tug to stay in a safe circle of peers where kids feel accepted. Although we might think this is primarily a female situation, the reality is that boys can feel just as insecure about leaving a circle of friends. Often, boys’ status is established in athletic terms, so even if they hate playing a sport they may be reluctant to give it up. We parents worry about peer pressure, but peer status can be just as powerful and therefore just as detrimental to a child’s development. Kids can make fun of kids who quit teams. This behavior can stem from their own feelings of abandonment from someone they thought was a loyal friend. As parents we need to let our children know that they can’t take a friend’s departure personally. It’s not meant to slight them or diminish the quality of their friendship. It can be difficult to accept that assessment, especially if they have played together for several years. And friendships do end when such a large chunk of children’s free time is spent away from each other.

Parents may also discourage their children from quitting a team due to the same powerful peer influences. They want their kids to be part of the “in-crowd.” I always urge parents to require that kids finish their commitments. Some wise coaches have stated that if you quit now you’ll quit things all your life. So parents should insist their kids finish a season. But if a child shifts focus and wants to try something different, then we shouldn’t stand in their way. Not all kids are meant to be athletes. Certainly kids should continue to participate in physical conditioning, but that may not be on an organized soccer team. Studies indicate that kids who feel comfortable pursuing their favorite interests ultimately have more confidence and self-esteem. While being part of the popular group can be satisfying, it’s less so when kids are ingratiating themselves into the mix. They can feel more like outsiders that way than when not in the troop. However, we also have to be sensitive to friendships.

The nature of growing up means that kids grow apart in interests and skills. But other factors intervene in disrupting friendships. Kids move often these days. My grandsons have lived in four different communities in two different states for the course of their sports life. They’ve had to reestablish themselves each time on teams and in situations where coaches already know and trust certain players. They gave up good friendships in those moves and lost some time when developing as players. However, they also learned patience and humility in those situations. Kids are resilient, so they do make new friends, but there can be pain as friendship dissolve. That can also happen when parents don’t have the means to keep their kids in expensive programs. Those are tough decisions for everyone involved. But ultimately the solvency of the family is worth more than the ego boost of being in a top program. I can name dozens of Robbie’s friends who went on to play college soccer without the benefit of being in expensive clubs. Bryce played in a Serbian club where the cost was only $150 a year plus whatever costs were associated with tournament travel. The club tried to go to tournaments within driving distance, but also that were college scouting tournaments. Writing letters to coaches and providing game film beforehand did entice a number of coaches to come check out games at these tournaments and five players on the team got offers. So parents shouldn’t feel that if their child has talent they are thwarting that talent by not putting their child on a top level club team. However, these decisions can mean that friendships get strained and even broken. Parents need to be ready to help facilitate the continuation of friendships if possible or sooth the loss of a friend.

The most painful way that friends can be separated is when one excels more than another. It’s difficult to be on either side of the equation. We expect that once kids get closer to high school age that they will face the dilemma of either being selected or not for their friends’ team. We hope they are better equipped to handle not only the possible disappointment of being rejected but the ensuing disconnect from long-term friends. However, more and more clubs decide to create powerhouse teams as early as age 10. If our children are among those being “recruited” there can be a great deal of resentment from other teammates and parents. And if our kids aren’t selected there’s disappointment intermingled with leaving friends. It’s a difficult quandary. While we want our kids to have the best opportunities if they are skilled enough to take them, we also recognize the inherent unfairness of the practice and the detriment to friendships. This is happening at an age when teams are supposed to be talent neutral until they could be selected at U-11. Robbie’s club decided to create a U-11 team from two U-9 teams that had a number of strong players. We parents were skeptical until we were assured that with the larger roster at U-11 no kid would be left behind. However, it didn’t happen that way. One boy and one boy only was left off the roster. We protested, but his parents were so hurt they decided to leave the club. These were supposed to be his friends, and now they had betrayed him. The episode casts an ugly light on a fact of youth sports – friendships can shift abruptly and unpleasantly. The longer kids stay in the sport the more this scenario will play out. Giving up the comfort of a community even if being promoted can be difficult.

The good news is that with social media it’s easier for kids to stay in touch and maintain friendships. Robbie regularly texts with his friends from various clubs. He only played a year at UC-Santa Barbara but he has strong friendships with teammates from there, returning periodically to California to visit with them. On Bryce’s recreation team, the players were classmates and neighbors, bonding strongly. However, one boy was not athletic at all and quickly fell behind. His mother was distraught because she saw the handwriting on the wall. She didn’t want him to be, as she considered it, ostracized by his lack of athleticism. But he was extremely artistic and she herself was an artist. Eventually she realized that he was happier in creative pursuits, and he even expressed to his mom that he didn’t like soccer. Leaving the team meant he did leave the group of players, but several of them continued their friendships with him because they shared other interests, attended school together, and met at the community pool in the summer. In fact, in middle school Bryce reconnected with him because they both loved making videos and spent one summer creating a film using several of the former teammates as actors.

Friendship can be fluid, but can also be an influencing condition for many kids and their parents. Sports teams are meant to create strong bonds among players, and those bonds may signify a social status as well. Therefore leaving a team for any reason becomes problematic when it comes to psychological impacts. If someone is cut from a team, there’s not only the loss of the companionship of teammates but the sense of failure and inadequacy. If kids move on to a higher level, they may feel the loss of the support system they had, guilt over leaving, and harbor a lack of confidence going into the new arena. As parents we need to be sensitive to how losing a team can affect our kids and be willing to listen to their concerns. We can also help them continue to foster those relationships by having kids over to share popcorn and a movie or just hang out. The parent network can be invaluable at times like this. Keeping in touch with the parents of old teammates allows us to facilitate the kids maintaining the friendship. Don’t forget old teammates when making the invitation list for a birthday or summer pool party. Letting kids express frustration without interjecting our opinion can be invaluable in diffusing bad feelings. Likewise we need to be open to them making other choices and not making popularity a deciding factor in how our kids move forward. Putting pressure on them to stay on a team for social reasons can thwart passions they should be expressing and they will undoubtedly eventually find their friends abandoning them anyway. They are young for such a short time, they should enjoy it with friends as long as possible.

Comments (0)

 
 
 
usyouthsoccer.org