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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.

 

Sideline Performance

Sam Snow

The message below from the club executive director was brought to my attention by the chair of our risk management committee. I think it is worthwhile for youth soccer coaches and administrators to read.

Thought you'd enjoy this message by David Carton, executive director of the Discoveries Soccer Club that he sent to all of his club's membership. If we had all of our clubs taking this positive approach, our players' development would be so much more.

Bob Brantley, chair of the US Youth Soccer Risk Management Committee

Executive Director Update

Parents,

I am writing this address with a great degree of disappointment.

While the players have kicked off the 2014/15 season showing great promise, our on the field performances have reached some new heights. Players are meshing well, coaches are pushing and demanding, and the balance between development and results is showing the correct synergy to allow the players and staff to arrive at the training pitch with excitement and hunger.

Unfortunately, it has been our sideline performance which has been below par. Since the start of the season, we have witnessed some of the most unpleasant, needless, and disrespectful displays of adult behavior in recent times. It is without doubt, that competitive team sports can teach kids lessons that are hard to find elsewhere; teamwork, accountability, responsibility, discipline. But none of these lessons supersede the most important lesson the game can teach us, and that is respect.

Every team I have been involved in, from Rec to Academy, from College to Pro, I try to instill three messages to each and every player, all revolving around this theme. Respect for the opposition, respect for themselves, and respect for the game.

Unfortunately, this message gets lost when a child hears his/her parent, the most important person in their lives, their supposed personification of influence and guidance, illustrating and demonstrating the kind of disrespectful behavior we have seen this season.

These developments have prompted me to address some truths listed and outlined below;

- We do not lose games because of refereeing! Football is a continuous, free-flowing game and regardless of how qualified, experienced or certified a referee is, players influence games far more than referees. In other words, when we lose we need to be accountable.

- Winning and losing is not life and death! We are all competitive, we all want to walk away victorious, but it is not the end of the world if we don't! The lessons we learn in defeat far outweigh the lessons we learn in victory. Development is a process that takes time. Look for the positives, and address the negatives as opportunities to improve. In other words, defeats are opportunities to improve, victories are opportunities to be humble.

- Asking for an opposing player to be booked/red carded is disgusting! Screaming for a referee to brandish cards to opponents lacks class and degrades us as a club. Referees are encouraged to act as educators to young players, not disciplinarians. The next time you decide to ask for a card ask yourself how you would feel if it was your child.

- Attending a game does not empower you to criticize another player! Each player is doing their best. There are many reasons for a young player to underperform, do not assume that it is from a lack of effort or talent. Ultimately, all parents want their child to have a positive experience. Do not be the negative agent for another child's experience.

- If you think you can do better, send me your resume! Sideline coaching is an epidemic that inhibits and confuses. If you feel that you can do a better job than your coach then apply for a coaching job. 

- Your child looks up to you, reflect a good example! Bellowing and screeching like banshees is not a good example. The nature of soccer is that mistakes can be immediately rectified by responding positively to setbacks. Teach your child to get on with it, and not look for someone to blame!    

Essentially, all our members need to remind themselves that they are ambassadors for our club. When you registered for Discoveries Soccer Club, you signed up to represent the values and standards that we deem acceptable. I have written before that wearing our crest is not a right, it is a privilege. It is an opportunity to continue the hard work so many others have done before us, which allows us to have such a club. A club steeped in history and tradition. A club that presents a primary purpose to represent its members with respect. There are greater lessons to learn than just drills and tactics, and these are the lessons that are more important to me than any trophy or State Cup.

To address this issue I will be scheduling a Parent Education Seminar with South Carolina Youth Soccer DOC Greg Valee in the next few weeks. I will also be arranging a Parent-Referee Seminar hosted by MLS Referee and DSC Parent Jeff Muschik. Details for these events will be released ASAP.

It is not my intention to isolate any incidents as we do not want to treat the symptom, but cure the cause. I now implore all of our members to introspectively reflect on how they feel they represent our club. Please take two minutes of your time to watch the clip below, and ask yourself...Is this me??

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz6xZ3lhM_M

Thanks for taking the time for reading this message, the public perception of our club is very dear to me, and as I said in my annual address, my job is to pave a way for all players under my watch, but it is also to do so in a way that is loyal to what so many greater than me have achieved over the past 30 years of our clubs existence.  

Dave Carton, Executive Director - Discoveries Soccer Club

Comments (2)

 

Perspectives of Opposing teams

Sam Snow

As the Monty Python skit used to say, and now for something completely different.

A Tale of Two Benches on Play-Off Day

by Roy Patton

Beautiful pass, lovely curved ball, you beat two defenders,

sweeper and all

Kick him, harass him, get in his face, they’re making you run all

over the place

 Fantastic turn, your man was real tight. That’s the best move I’ve

seen all night

Chop him, trip him, somehow stop him. Don’t look at me, just

get on top of him

Great first touch, superb control. Keep it up, you’re on a roll.

Stand on his foot, tug on his shirt. Remember I showed you all

kinds of dirt

Wonderful dribble, great turn of speed. That’s the soccer that

U.S.A. needs

Get fired up! Be really intense. Hammer that ball out over the

fence

Congratulations, you played a great game. Let’s come out next

year and do the same

We won! We won! I’m 11-0. There’s not much about soccer that

I don’t know

You are more than a coach. You’re also a friend and that’s why

we hate to see this season end

Coach, it’s over. Here is my gear. I’ll probably play football or

baseball next year

Comments (1)

 

Player Development...To What End?

Sam Snow

Here’s a type of question that comes my way now and then at club meetings.

So much of Youth soccer seems to be all about improving the player. To what end? This model plays into supporting an infrastructure of paid coaches and trainers and tournaments with an increasing amount of burn-out on the part of the kids we work with. So few kids will see a slot on an Olympic team or a professional bench, yet this is the Holy Grail kids are expected to aspire towards. At the same time, just dumping the kids onto a field with a ball and some nets is just a form of kick ball. What purpose should organized youth soccer serve and where, in your opinion, should the balance be? On a less esoteric note, what should parents of a young child look for in a municipal program; i.e., Parks and Rec. or a local travel club?

Is not our objective to improve players?  Whether that objective is accomplished by volunteer coaches or paid coaches the end must be the same – player growth.  Our goal is to help each player with whom we work to develop within the game of soccer.  Some of those players will be lifelong amateur players, some will become college players, a few will make it to the pros and of those some will play internationally.  The point is to keep all of them in the game at one level of play or another.

Yes, I would agree that just ‘dumping’ kids on a field may be kickball.  But with a few older players thrown into the mix it then becomes a pick-up game.

From the National Youth License consider these two sport models:

blog 1

 

blog 2

 

I think what we want is a blend of the two models.

To the question of “… what should parents of a young child look for in a municipal program, i.e. Parks and Rec. or a local travel club?” the answer is mostly the same for both scenarios.

  1. A mission statement/philosophy that guides the organization
  2. Qualified staff
  3. A curriculum for development
  4. A sound business plan
  5. Safe infrastructure
     

After that it becomes a matter of price point and time that the player’s family is willing and able to invest.

Comments (0)

 

Players First Movement

Sam Snow

My very good friend and colleague Logan Fleck had a saying about quality coaching, “It’s easier to say no than go. It’s harder to teach go than no.” A part of coaching/teaching ‘go’ is to know when as the coach to let them go. High quality soccer performance by players moves through many mistakes in order to grow to a consistently good performance. Coaches of youth players, and the parents of those players, must let the youth player work through trial and error. This is an important part of the learning process. The coach should guide the players through that process, but not micromanage them. Over-coaching precedes timid play. This is what coach Fleck was alluding to in that it’s hard for some coaches to let the players go. So if you want your team to be good, I mean really good, then you must let them make some mistakes as they learn the game. Most of those mistakes will happen in training sessions as you teach them go rather than no. But some mistakes will happen in a match and once in a while it will cost you a goal and perhaps a loss. The price is a part of growth within the dynamic game of soccer. Coaches who teach no instead of go will win some matches at the youth level, but once the game is at a higher standard the team that coached no will become a ‘no go’. Let me share with you some of coach Fleck’s thoughts on the matter.

“This message is a reminder of the face-to-face or phone conversation that I’ve had with colleagues of my frustration at watching a high level educated coach use the directive approach (telling the players what to do numerous times during the game). Instead of quite bluntly allowing the players the opportunity to figure it out on their own. This did not occur once but many times and I observed young players (13-14 year olds) being moved around as to where they should be and what to do the majority of the time. We can all argue about coaching moments, but when they become a running commentary as to where a player should be – we (coaches) have crossed the line. To me this is not only hindering player development but, in my mind, is abuse. We (coaches) interject what we want the players to do and they just follow the yelled out instructions. Bull! I was privileged to have been coached by some of the best coaches in the country. Who with great patience and understanding knew that the game is and will always be a player’s game. Those coaches taught me the most important thing about soccer, which was to possess the confidence to make my decisions on the field and to take responsibility for the game. Let me pause to thank them all again.

No, over-coaching is not a new problem – but this particular event occurred at a very high level and I hate to think that our Founding Fathers of soccer in this country would feel good about this being the end result of contributing a lifetime of effort to the education of coaches in the country. I would like there to be proclaimed a ‘Shut Up For Soccer Day’! The day would entail all coaches (and parents if they so choose) but most decidedly us coaches to not yell anything at the players or referees for one game – on the same day nationwide. The coaches will enjoy, observe, analyze and/or suffer in silence while the game is going on. This I know is like asking the entire country to quit smoking simultaneously, however I do believe we can and will make our point and more importantly show the respect for the players that our coaches showed us back when we played the game (and enjoyed it as well).

This topic is one that touches all of us and I simply want us to do our part to continue to keep soccer a player’s game. Many of you knew my father, Dr. Tom Fleck, and were present during his acceptance speech upon receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the NSCAA. He focused his speech on two points. He stated clearly and categorically that the award should have been given to all of you who make the game what it is today. His final point was in regard to the children who play soccer, LET THEM PLAY!

This problem of over-coaching youth soccer players has reached epidemic proportion that is as detrimental as smoking and obesity are to their health. I feel this issue of over-coaching young players can kill our game.”

It seems to be appropriate that during Youth Soccer Month we should undertake the Players First Movement.

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