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Coaches Blog

Sam's Blog is a bi-weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Coaching Director for US Youth Soccer.


Your Child's Playing Future Is At Stake: Part II

Sam Snow

Let's assume that anyone who is given the title 'soccer coach' by the local soccer association is qualified to work with children. But, is he/she good enough to work with your child?

You will not know that answer unless you have a one-on-one meeting with the prospective coach. I urge you to insist that the coach meet with you before the season begins.


  • Get to know each other on a personal basis
  • Freely and fully discuss your mutual needs, concerns and expectations

Your child's coach, if you are not aware, is a very influential person in your child's playing future. The stimulation and support he/she provides can instill a desire to play soccer for years to come. Conversely your child's interest in playing may decline and playing for its own sake can be sacrificed. Therefore, it is extremely important that you find out, before the season begins, if the coach will be able to create a learning environment that is also FUN for your child.

Segments & Illustrations were taken from my book: FUNdamental SOCCER –GUIDE

Your FUNdamental,

Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien)

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Your Child's Playing Future Is At Stake: Getting Started

Sam Snow

We tell our children, "Do not talk to strangers!" And then, we turn around and hand our child over to (in many cases) a total stranger. We justify our actions by assuming that this 'stranger' is qualified because he/she has been given the title 'soccer coach' by someone in the local soccer association. Someone who is a stranger to us but they have been approved by the local soccer board a board consisting of yet another group of strangers. Strange!!!

It is your duty, as a parent, to take the time to get to know as many of these 'strangers' as possible before handing your child over to them.

Ideally, the local organization should make your task easier by holding a 'Mandatory Parent Introduction Night' prior to the season. During this function the local soccer board members introduce themselves, describe their duties, give their interpretation of the goals for the organization and give you instructions on how to communicate with them throughout the season.

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Begin judging if your child should become involved in soccer by observing and listening to these leaders. You must feel comfortable that the board's overall goals and your goals, for your child, are compatible. Help yourself by taking into consideration the number of times words such as 'children, fun and development' or 'winning, trophies and travel' are used. Then, make a conscious decision if the environment proposed fits the standards you want for your child.

Segments & Illustrations were taken from my book:



Your FUNdamental,
Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien)

- Emeritus Director of Coaching - California Youth Soccer Assoc. 1979-2012
-? Author - Internationally Published FUNdamental SOCCER Books Series
Producer - highly acclaimed ‘9-Step Practice Routine’ DVD.
Clinician at:

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Soccer Books

Sam Snow

Books on soccer usually have adult fans in mind or adult coaches. There are only a few books on our sport that have children as the reader audience in mind. Playing the game is the most important piece in a young soccer player’s journey to learn the game. Next comes being coached well and given support by the player’s family and friends as he or she goes through the ups and downs in a soccer career. The final piece is watching the game played by superior players and reading about the game. The IPlay Soccer Series for parents, kids and coaches offers books for kids to better understand the beautiful game  I recommend the books for young players to read for their enjoyment and the soccer lessons to be learned. Please read this blog entry to learn more about this new and wonderful resource for all of the young players you know.

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Developmental Changes: Actions Speak Louder

Sam Snow

The Player Development Initiatives that have been put forward by the USSF have begun implementation to varying degrees across the country. At this point in my region of the country, the PDIs have received a mixed review with mostly positive comments about the theory behind them. The problem will mostly come in the implementation at the local level. Will soccer organizations take this opportunity to buy fully into the development of players over the short term results? Actions will speak louder than words when the PDIs are fully implemented.

One of the opportunities that clubs will have under the new PDIs is to rethink the annual tryout cycle. Already this spring, clubs in my area have begun tryouts for the 2017-18 season. The overarching idea is to select the best possible players and “cut the dead wood”. While this is a regularly practiced tradition, it is not a very developmentally centered one. Development is a longer than one year project, especially when dealing with 10 year olds and younger. However the PDIs allow clubs an opportunity to act with development in mind. With the incremental two year cycle on increasing the size of the field/number of players, biannual tryouts could become the new norm in the soccer world. By taking this step, clubs would be more committed to the development of a player by making a two year commitment to her or him. The players would be under less pressure to perform as an individual in a short window. This change would also cut down on stress related to tryouts and possibly cost as many clubs hire evaluators for tryouts. Although there has been an adjustment in the age classification of players, player ability is not particularly year specific. This two year commitment could allow young players to transition into the “veterans” and leadership roles in their second year at 7v7 or 9v9. Leadership is one of the very human qualities that makes the game more about people and less about results.

The youth soccer world has largely turned into a business where money is not the only currency, players are as well. They are often treated like commodities to be traded, valued and devalued based on their performance. These developmental changes have the possibility to change the way that we view our job as coaches and club administrators from talent day traders to mentors. Although the PDIs are soccer based, there is an inherent dedication to the child rather than the result that runs throughout the initiatives. While soccer skills are an interesting endeavor to be pursued in the short term, the percentage of players who will play professionally is so low that the intrinsic parts of the game (resilience, teamwork, etc.) are much more important. In a two year window with coaches who are focused on the development of the player, those intrinsic components of the game have a greater chance to emerge.

The actions of those in charge of our young soccer players will be the truest indicator to their intentions. If development is truly the focus, then youth soccer will change in the next few years. If not, then no amount of rule changes will affect the present soccer culture. The WHY behind someone’s actions will eventually ring true. 

Pete Huryk, Author & Speaker – youth soccer coach in New Jersey.

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