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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.

 

US Youth Soccer ODP Europe

Sam Snow

I am in Germany to assist with tryouts for US Youth Soccer ODP Europe. On October 3, I watched the FC Astoria Walldorf U-16 match and attended the U-19 Bundesliga FC Kaiserslautern versus Karlsruher SC. match. 
 
I toured the FC Kaiserslautern training facilities where the US Youth Soccer ODP Europe teams train once per month. The facilities for training are impressive with four full-size, grass fields, two full-size, artificial fields, a small, sand field for beach soccer, pendulum poles, two soccer tennis fields, a soccer volleyball field, numerous goals of various sizes, a half mile running trail, a weight training room, locker rooms and a basketball court. 
 
The facility is something we still lack at our youth soccer clubs; that being a dedicated training area. We have a lot of game field complexes and on many of those our teams train.  But few, if any, of our clubs have a dedicated training facility with all of the tools to develop the players. This fact must be a consideration as we continue to build soccer facilities.
 
On October 4, I taught a U-10/U-12 Youth Module coaching course. We had 27 coaches attend the course. Some of the coaches work with US Youth Soccer ODP Europe and most who attended the course are coaching in youth services for the United States Army. This is the first time that most of the coaches had been through a US Youth Soccer course. 
 
We had class sessions and field sessions with the coaches and then they had the opportunity to work with U-10 and U-12 players. The players were from the FC Astoria Walldorf club. So it was interesting having American coaches speaking in English while coaching German kids. Fortunately, we had four coaches in the course who are fluent in both languages and they helped to translate. The U-12 kids did pretty well with understanding the coaches since they study English in school. Everyone had a good time and the kids had big smiles all during training as they played in game-like activities. The course candidates will receive their certificates from Maryland Youth Soccer.
 
Yesterday, I met with Oliver Brandt the Director of Coaching for the FC Astoria Walldorf club. He gave a presentation on the Dietmar-Hopp-Jugendforderkonzept project. The project funds seven facilities across the country. The sports played at the facilities are football (soccer), handball, golf and ice hockey. The children who participate at the facilities are not only trained in their sport but also receive tutoring in academics each day, when they turn seventeen they receive a mentor who gives them career counseling. The athletes participate outside the club too with interaction with the elderly, disabled players and cultural exchanges. The intent of the project is to develop the whole person not just the athlete. They are looking to grow good citizens as well as sportsmen and women.
 
Today, I leave for London to participate on Wednesday in the Leaders in Football conference at Chelsea F.C. On Thursday, I will attend a similar conference for Leaders in Performance. That conference will also be at Chelsea and will include soccer, basketball, ice hockey, tennis and cycling. I will have more for you next week on the two conferences and the final US Youth Soccer ODP trials in Bitburg.
 

Priorities of Coaching No. 12

Sam Snow

From the Position Statements of the 55 state Technical Directors:
 
PRIORITIES OF COACHING  No. 12
 
We recommend the prioritization of events by coaches:
·         Objectives are identified and a season plan is developed that balances training, competition along with rest and recovery.
·         The interest of the player must be dictated by the quality of scheduling and the choice of events.
·         Entering all the possible competitions/tournaments available can have a long lasting negative impact on basic skill and fitness development.
·         A systematic approach will maximize the chances of achieving peak performance by bringing players to peak form for important competitions and minimize the chances for over-training, over-use injuries and burnout.
·         We recommend at a minimum the following training session to match ratios:
  • U6-U8                          1:1
  • U10-U12                      2:1
  • U14-U19                      3:1
·         In order for an athlete to adapt (improve technical, tactical and psychological components) there must be periods of low intensity activity or complete rest interspersed with periods of high intensity activity.
·         "More is not better."  Quantity alone does not improve quality; soccer should be a test of skill not survival.
·         Practicing or playing in matches where players are "going through the motions" due to fatigue or lack of interest reinforce bad habits and retard development.
·         Sound nutrition and ample rest allow for more rapid recovery from intense activity.
 

Position statements No. 9-11

Sam Snow

From the Position Statements of the state association Technical Directors, three Statements concerning the early play to must win environment throughout youth soccer:

Festivals for players Under-10 No. 9
                We believe that Soccer Festivals should replace soccer tournaments for all players under the age of ten. Festivals feature a set number of minutes per event (e.g., 10 games X 10 minutes) with no elimination and no ultimate winner. We also endorse and support the movement to prohibit U-10 teams from traveling to events that promote winning and losing and the awarding of trophies.

State, regional and national competition for U-12s No. 10
                We believe that youth soccer is too competitive at the early ages, resulting in an environment that is detrimental to both players and adults; much of the negative behavior reported about parents is associated with preteen play. The direct and indirect pressure exerted on coaches and preteen players to win is reinforced by state "championships" and tournament "winners." We therefore advocate that, in the absence of regional competition for Under-12s, state festivals replace state cups. We also strongly recommend that with regard to regional and national competition the entry age group should be U-14.

Tournament Play No. 11
                We believe that excessive play at competitive tournaments is detrimental to individual growth and development, and can serve to reduce long-term motivation. Do not multiple matches being played on one day and one weekend have a negative effect on the quality experience and development of the individual player? Further far too many playing schedules include so many tournaments and matches that there is never an "off season." We believe that players under the age of twelve should not play more than 100 minutes per day, and those players older than thirteen should not play more than 120 minutes per day.

-             We also recommend to tournament managers and schedulers:
-              The players should be allowed ample rest between matches.
-              That all tournament matches be of the same length and that no full-length match be introduced during play-off rounds.
-              Kick-off times allow players a reasonable opportunity to prepare for competition. This encompasses rest and recovery, nutrition and adequate time to warm-up and stretch after traveling a long distance in addition to taking into consideration extreme environmental conditions.
 
 

Youth Soccer Month and TOPSoccer events in Connecticut

Sam Snow

Over the weekend, I traveled to Connecticut to work with state Technical Director Austin Daniels on a Youth Soccer Month event at Southern Connecticut State University and a US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer coaching course. Both events were well attended successful events.
 
For the Youth Soccer Month event we held a clinic for about 60 kids and we had the very capable assistance from a number of the of the university's women's soccer team and coach Bob Dikranian. We were able to meet with the parents as well as train the players for a fun-filled afternoon.
 
Yesterday, we conducted the US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer coaching course for 45 coaches from around the state. We also had over 25 TOPSoccer players join us for the practical session at the end of the course. Connecticut Junior Soccer Association has a healthy and widespread TOPSoccer presence and those involved are now better equipped to coach the players in their clubs. The hope is that the course will enable more clubs to refine or begin TOPSoccer programs. The TOPSoccer coaching course is now in its second year of offering and the hope is for more state associations to take a lead as Connecticut Junior Soccer Association has done to deeply impact the soccer coaching community by offering the course several times a year. For more on the TOPSoccer course, listen here to Daniels.