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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.

 

Parent Programming

Sam Snow

Recently, I was in Tennessee to teach a National Youth License coaching course along with Tom Condone, Tennessee State Soccer director of coaching, and Mike Strickler, Florida Youth Soccer director of coaching. Last Tuesday, I was able to visit with parents of Under-11 players with the Collierville Soccer Association, which is just outside of Memphis. Tom Condone and Dale Burke, Tennessee State Soccer executive director, made the trip too. The three of us, at the request of the club executive director Paul Furlong, were able to speak with the parents, the club director of coaching and a couple of the club administrators. The club has recently initiated an academy approach with the Under-11 and younger age groups. The parents had some concerns on this approach providing for sufficient competition for the kids to further develop their soccer talents. We spoke with them on the stair step approach to proper player development and age appropriate competition. The folks asked good questions during the meeting and we had a positive dialog. Here are some of the comments from the club members which they shared after our meeting.

Tom,

I would personally like to thank you and Sam Snow for coming to Collierville and presenting the youth module to our Under-9 through Under-11 parents.  I believe it was very educational and that it hit home with many of them that were in attendance.  Also, I would like to have you come here once a year and present this information to our new, up and coming parents.
Once again, thank you for your time and efforts with parent education.  I have added a few emails below from some of our managers who attended and are in the process of passing on the information they learned.

Regards, Shawn Loth
Junior Lobos Director/Director of Club Training
 


Shawn,

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed the seminar Tuesday night.  I appreciate the efforts made by all involved at CSA to coordinate a visit from the directors of US Youth Soccer and Tenn. State Soccer.

I was able to understand the importance of learning proper technique, striving to play well, and most of all to have fun playing the game for 9, 10, and 11-year-olds.   We have to be responsible, as parents and coaches, to teach these kids that winning is not the only thing that matters.  We tend to ask the question "Did you win?" or ""Did you score?" instead of asking "Did you have fun?"" or "Did you play your best?" and "Did you have a positive impact on the game and your team?" 

They suggested that players not be cut at this age as they are still in the "developmental" stage.  This can result in more than one team, i.e. A, B, and C teams.  With this said, every child should get equal playing time.  Each team should be equally matched.   

One thing that struck me was tournament play.  They recommend playing "in state" such as friendlies.  Set something up that will allow you to get there and back in one day.  Little Rock would be okay as they are only a couple of hours away.  It's not necessary to travel long distances for tournaments at this age.

I used to think that if a coach sat on the bench and didn't interact with the players on the field that he/she didn't care.  The coach is a teacher.  He/She has given them the tools through practices, training, etc. to make decisions on the field for themselves and for their team.  Games are learning experiences.  Everything the players have been taught, experiences they have had from an early age, it all comes together and clicks at the age of 26, 27 or 28!!!!  I wouldn't have guessed that this would be the age they will peak. 

Encourage your child to play!!!!  Not just soccer.  Grab a basketball and shoot some hoops, ride a bike, climb a tree (although that one scares me to death).

They have documents, guides, etc. from both websites that can be very helpful to the parents and players.  "Best Practices", and "The Vision" document were a couple that were mentioned in the meeting.

US Youth Soccer -
www.usyouthsoccer.org
Tennessee State Soccer - www.tnsoccer.org
Proud Parent, Theresa


 
Shawn,

I wanted to thank you for setting up the parent education seminar on March 9th for our Lobos parents.  My husband and I attended the meeting and found it informative and insightful.  I gathered a lot of helpful information during the meeting and have researched several of the websites that were mentioned.  I will be passing on the information to our team parents that were unable to attend the meeting.  I feel that it is very important that all parents hear the proper perspective regarding youth player development.  One key point that I gathered from the meeting was the Under-6 through Under-12 player should focus on the process of playing instead of the outcome.  Another point is that building technical skills at a young age is key to having a successful player at an older age. 

I will pass on what I've learned to other parents in the program and I hope that we are able to have additional seminars of this nature.

Thanks, Sonja
Lady Lobos Manager
 
So the director of coaching and executive director of a State Association, along with the national director of coaching, made a six hour round trip for a one hour meeting to make a difference for a club and the players therein. Join in with us on this team effort to improve the youth soccer experience!
 

Technical Directors Meeting

Sam Snow

I'm writing this week from Franklin, Tenn., where Tennessee State Soccer technical director Tom Condone and I are teaching a National Youth License coaching course. This is the third course of the year with at least 16 more on the schedule throughout 2010.  I highly recommend taking this course to anybody involved in youth soccer.

During the 2010 US Youth Soccer adidas Workshop in Fort Worth, Texas, we conducted the annual meeting of the US Youth Soccer State Association technical directors. This has been happening now for seven years, and it is a time when we continue our own professional education and discuss matters pertinent to the youth soccer landscape. Dr. John Thomas, 43 State Association technical directors and I attended the meeting this year.   Joining us from US Youth Soccer were Larry Monaco, president; Kim Goggans, senior marketing manager; Mike Linenberger, head coach for US Youth Soccer ODP Boys Region IV; Todd Roby, director of communications; Platini Soaf, head coach for US Youth Soccer ODP Girls Region IV and Rob Martella, director of operations. 

Every year members of the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) Coaching Department meet with us. Attending this year were Asher Mendelsohn, Kati Hope, Roberto Lopez, Mike Dickey, David Rubinson and Juan Carlos Michia. We are always fortunate that Jeff Tipping, director of coaching for the NSCAA joins us for this meeting, and a special guest this year was Robin Russell from the UEFA coaching department. It is quite rare in most of the soccer world for coaches and administrators from four different organizations to meet together to work on youth soccer, yet in America this is an annual event. Gradually, the teamwork for the good of the game is improving.

From past meetings we have produced the State Technical Director's Operations Manual, the US Youth Soccer Modified Rules for the U-6, U-8, U-10 and U-12 age groups, Positions Statements and the Player Development Model. The Modified Rules are posted on USYouthSoccer.org and are taught in the USSF Grade 9 referee course. All of the State Associations use the Operations Manual. I will be happy to share with you the Positions Statements, just drop me an e-mail request. The Player Development Model is due for executive review at the March 20, US Youth Soccer Board of Directors meeting.

A new item discussed at this meeting was the revision of the USSF ""E"" License certificate coaching course. That work is underway and is being lead by Mike Dickey with USSF, along with several State Association Technical Directors. You should see the revised course delivered by your State Association by this time next year.

As I mentioned, each year we also have a bit of professional development for those attending this meeting. This year we were very fortunate to have Dr. Don Kirkendall deliver a presentation on the FIFA 11 +. Dr. Kirkendall is a member of FIFA-Medical And Research Center (F-MARC). F-MARC, established in 1994, is an independent research body of FIFA uniting an international group of experts in soccer medicine. The mission of F-MARC is to protect the health of female and male soccer players on all levels of skill as well as to promote soccer as a health-enhancing leisure activity. Dr. Kirkendall gave a very good and detailed presentation on The 11+ - a complete warm up to prevent injuries. US Youth Soccer is promoting this aspect of training within the Olympic Development Program. You can learn more about the program via this link: http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/developing/medical/the11/.

The final session at this meeting was with Asher Mendelsohn, director of referees, coaching administration and Development Academy programs for USSF. He delivered an update to the coaches in the USSF Player Development Pyramid and the focus now turning to Level 1. Level 1 of the pyramid is the U-6 to U-12 age groups. This is a long-term project to improve the grassroots soccer experience across the nation. There's open dialogue happening with USSF and US Youth Soccer on the topic, which is very encouraging. Perhaps one of the concepts from the USSF ""Y"" License is taking hold. That concept is that if we take care in the beginning the end will take care of itself. Let's focus more of our resources, including talented coaching, to the preteen age groups. From that new focus we will retain more players in the game and then produce more quality players too.

There's a growing sense of collaboration between US Youth Soccer, USSF and the NSCAA. Care to join us?
 

Vision

Sam Snow

I recently sent a coach a copy of the Vision document which gives facts on youth soccer player development and how we can measure improvement.  He had this to say after he had read it.

"Thanks for the article. I believe very strongly that coaches are incredibly influential in the lives of each and every player. We are not there to merely teach them how to pass and dribble, but more importantly, [know that] soccer can be a vehicle in which to teach life skills and characteristics that will enrich their lives and their future. Most players do not have the opportunity to play professional sports. It is therefore imperative that personality traits have been developed that will set them apart, and aid their growth as a teenager and then as an adult."

Here are a few samples from the Vision document.

Indeed how do we measure player development? Too often in America a professional sport model is used in measuring youth sports success. Youth soccer is not immune to this misapplied standard. For soccer the situation is made worse by a desire of many adults to use measuring tools from other sports. In fact, it is maddening to many adults that soccer is not as black and white as with some sports in judging successful play. Many team sports played in our nation are statistically driven and coach centered. Soccer is neither of those! Indeed, just like the Laws of the Game, our sport has many shades of grey within it.

The analogy can be made to a youngster's academic development in preparation for work in the adult business world. While the child is in primary and secondary school the corporate world measurements of success are not applied. Those business assessments are not yet appropriate because the school-aged student does not yet have the tools to compete in the adult business environment. The knowledge and skills to be a competitor in business are still being taught and learned. This holds true in soccer as well!

If you would like to receive a copy of the Vision document then just drop me a line and I'll be glad to send a copy to you.

Well now, it's off to the 2010 US Youth Soccer adidas Workshop.  This is an annual exchange of information for coaches, administrators and referees.  And then of course, the stories we can all tell about our life in youth soccer.  I hope to see you in Ft. Worth, Texas this week.
 

Workshop in Fort Worth

Sam Snow

Next week the 2010 US Youth Soccer adidas Workshop will take place in Fort Worth, Texas. This annual convention for coaches, administrators and referees offers a wonderful opportunity for the 900,000 administrators, coaches and referees (most of whom are volunteers) to come together in one location to exchange information and ideas on youth soccer in the U.S.

Most folks who attend likely don't realize the work that goes into pulling off such an event. Planning begins several years ahead with the selection of the city and venue for the event. Many factors go into the selection process including the spaces for demo sessions and classes.

The nitty gritty for each Workshop begins a year out and, of course, picks up pace as we get closer to the opening day. The host State Association where a Workshop is held is a key player within the team that makes each Workshop a success. The State Association promotes the event with its members, gets volunteers to assist with a multitude of tasks, and through its clubs, gets the players for each of the demonstration sessions. The quality of each Workshop is credited to the host State Association and the US Youth Soccer staff. The national office staff puts in hundreds of hours to drive an event that is a service to our referees, coaches, administrators and members.

I'd like to give you some insights to many of the first-rate presenters who will be available to you at the 2010 Workshop & Coaches Convention in Fort Worth. For our coaches, referees and administrators, there'll be sessions that will educate and inspire. We'll have sessions for the technical development of mainstream players, select players and special needs players. The presenters include the US Youth Soccer Technical Department. Alongside us in the coaching tracks are Jeff Tipping, the NSCAA director of coaching; Dr. Don Kirkendall from the University of North Carolina and FIFA's Medical Assessment and Research Centre; Gary Williamson, technical director for North Texas Soccer; Dan Gaspar, head coach for men at the University of Hartford and goalkeeper coach for the Portugal Men's National Team; Oscar Pareja, FC Dallas director of player development, plus many more outstanding American coaches.

For our colleagues in officiating and administration, some of the top class clinicians are Larry Monaco, president of US Youth Soccer; Rodney Kenney; Alfred Kleinaitis; John Kukitz, chairman of the Soccer Start Committee; Todd Roby, US Youth Soccer director of communications; Dr. Dan Freigang; Charlie Kadupski among many others.

With help from many of the North Texas soccer clubs, we'll have on hand some wonderful young players to assist the coaches in showing you the best in the craft of coaching. Plus the very popular Kick Zone for local players to come and try out their skills. FC Dallas players will join you there!

Did I mention the Awards Gala with the presentations of the Dr. Thomas Fleck Award, Coach of the Year honors and more? There will be exhibits, meetings, sharing of information and experiences along with new and old friendships. Join us for a fabulous time with those who support and guide youth soccer in our country.
 
At the Workshop there's something for everyone!  The sessions are first rate and aimed at the needs of youth soccer. Check out the sessions and clinicians here.