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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


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??

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



Soccer Father in Columbus, OH said: I like the article, but have to disagree with your comment about asking for cards. It is the referee's duty to keep the match safe and cards exist for a reason. I have seen many matches where one player consistently tries to injure (so sad that this happens) or uses excessive force over and over, is verbally warned more than once and never carded. The really sad part is that many are coached to do so until they draw the yellow, and will continue to escalate to see if the ref will step up and control them. I am all for let them play and understand that soccer is a physical game and applaud a good clean hard challenge, but there are rules in place to protect our players, the game officials need to exercise them accordingly. Player safety should be our number 1 concern, and if a ref allows for unsafe environment they need to hear about it. Most professions have a strong evaluation process in place, a system of checks and balances that weed out the unqualified, but this does not exist within our leagues for refs. I understand they are not making a lot of money, but what they are choosing to supervise (our children) is very important and there should be a better system in place to remove those who do not take that job seriously. I applaud good officiating and will always thank the official the takes control of the game and is consistent.
31 January 2016 at 6:50 PM
David Di Pinza in Wildomar , CA said: This season I have heard a lot of abuse, encouragement of rougher play and the usual comments that show that the persons have never read the Laws of the Game let alone attended a rules clinic. Be that as it may, I have cautioned only two coaches and sent away zero parents. Why? Maybe I am just too thick-skinned, lazy or jaundiced after 25 years of officiating to think that it will do much good. Then again, I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of times each weekend that I hear: "Good call," "Sorry" or "Quiet down, coach, I touched it last." Or in one instance, when I had truly blew an opportunity for advantage to play out and had instantly admitted it and the aggrieved team wound up losing 20 minutes later, I was amazed that the losing coach said nothing about it after the game. That was true sportsmanship: Game over, learn your lesson, move on.
13 October 2014 at 11:39 PM
Janine Brown in Norfolk, VA said: I agree with you wholeheartedly - my motto as the mother of a U11 soccer player is to basically watch the game - cheer once in a while, say "good job" to both sides when something good happens, and try really hard to ignore the ridiculous behaviors of idiot parents I see around me. We have to teach respect for the game by respecting the officials, the coaches, and the other team.
13 October 2014 at 6:46 PM

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