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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.

 

Water

Sam Snow

Water - 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. {This likely applies to half the world's population.} In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. One glass of water shuts down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study. A lack of water is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue. Preliminary research indicates that eight to ten glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers. Drinking five glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%, and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer. Water also transports nutrients, oxygen and waste products throughout the circulatory system and is necessary for bodily functions. Everyone should drink at least six to eight glasses of fluids daily.

Fluids are an extremely important part of a soccer player's diet. You need fluids to regulate your body temperature and prevent over-heating. Drinking more fluids rather than fewer can help prevent over-heating. Fluids can include water, juices, or sports drinks. If large amounts of sweat are lost during soccer training and competition, you may become dehydrated which can cause poor performance and increase your risk of heat-related illness. By the time you're thirsty, you've already lost important fluids and electrolytes and might be dehydrated. So remember to stick to the golden rule – drink before, during and after activities. Drinks with caffeine are diuretics and cause the body to excrete fluids rapidly.

Coaches should never deny a request for water. Replacing lost fluids is critical. Cold water is best. The body absorbs cold fluids FASTER than ones at room temperature. A fluid's sugar content and volume also affect how quickly it is absorbed. When it is your turn to bring drinks to the match bring 10-K, Quick-Kick, Gatorade or other drinks that will replace the electrolytes in the body. Do not give your players salt tablets. Replacing fluids, not salt is important. Even if the weather is cool, your players will need plenty of fluids to ward off the chances of dehydration. Bring water to all outdoor activities year round to insure a happy, healthy and active year for your players.

Even mild dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic tactics, and difficulty focusing on the match or on ball skills.   A 1% loss of water from the body causes a 10% drop in performance levels. Soccer players should drink fluids before, during, and following training and competition to reduce dehydration. Frequent urination is a better sign than thirst that you have had enough to drink.

When you play soccer you work up a sweat! That means you're going to lose fluids fast. Research shows that if you put those fluids back, you feel re-energized and can keep playing. Remember these guidelines when preparing to play. Based on your size, you may need to drink more—but always drink until you're satisfied—and remember to take a few extra gulps for added power.

                Before a match: 4 to 8 ounces
                During a match: 4 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes
                After a match: 16 ounces

Drink plenty of fluids like Gatorade and water the night before and the morning of the match to keep well hydrated. The faster your body can soak up fluids, the quicker you will be re-energized and back in the match! Research shows that a sports drink like Gatorade puts back the fluids and electrolytes you lose during training or play. Consumption of fluids or foods containing moderate levels of carbohydrate and salt will help you recover from training and/or competition.

A simple way to determine how much fluid to drink is to weigh yourself before and after a workout or match to find out your ""sweat rate."" The weight loss will be almost entirely the amount of fluids that should be replaced. Drink at least 16 ounces for every pound you lose during activity. Also take the pinch test. Put your hand in front of you (palms down) and pinch the skin on the back of your knuckles. If you are well hydrated, the skin should snap back when you let go. If it stays pinched for several seconds, you may need fluids.
 

Meetings

Sam Snow

How to Encourage Participation
Too many soccer volunteers spend too much time at too many meetings. Here are some ways a leader can cut down on inefficient meetings.
Begin the meeting on time. The more you do this, the easier it becomes to get people there for the start. Have minutes and agendas available as attendees enter, do not waste time passing them out. Ask people to review them before the meeting begins.
Introduce new people, and tell why they are there.
Review and approve minutes---but do not read them aloud. Presumably, all attendees can read.
Review the agenda; revise it if necessary. Each agenda item should have a time frame allotted to it. Emphasize that you will be sticking to each time slot.
Encourage participation by recognizing each speaker. Do not allow one or two people to monopolize discussion. Do not allow the discussion to wander. Be assertive in cutting people off, and moving items along.
Be directive. Intervene to ask clarifying questions: Is this a request for answers or a call for a vote?
Handle questions. If answers are unavailable, delay action and appoint someone to gather the necessary information for the next meeting.
End the meeting by having people leave with a sense of accomplishment. Review actions taken; highlight accomplishments; review what is to be done, and by whom. Arrange the next meeting time and place, then formally close with a word of optimism. And do so on time.
Participation by more than just a few people should be encouraged at meetings.
 
 

Communication

Sam Snow

Communication between state associations and the soccer clubs around a state is of critical importance.    Continual improvement is necessary for soccer to prosper in United States. All aspects of communication are equally important. 
 
Further the communication must come not only from the state association to the clubs, but also from the clubs to the state association. The clubs that will need the most help with communication are the smaller ones who do not currently have paid administrators and/or coaches. The clubs with employees still need assistance and guidance, but not quite as much as the clubs run 100 percent by volunteers.
 
Here are ways that the state association and the local soccer clubs can improve communication with their members.
 
-News Releases – TV, radio and print
 
-Newsletter
 
-Bulletin board at the soccer fields
 
-Voice Mail telephone service
 
-Semi-annual coaches meetings at the club
 
-Annual referees meetings at the club
 
-Annual one day workshop for team managers held locally at the club
 
-Internet - website and an e-mail account.
 
-Monthly faxes with news and information on upcoming events
 
-Clubs, as well as the state association, use state newsletter
 
-Tournaments at the clubs can be better used to inform the soccer public about upcoming local, state, regional and national events
 
-League matches can serve the same function as the local tournaments to share news
 
-State tournaments can be used to inform the public about soccer events for the following soccer year
 
-Referee and coaching courses
 
-State Coaching Symposium - club coaches meeting in conjunction
 
-Annual General Meeting - club coaches meeting in conjunction
 
-State Business Meeting - club coaches meeting in conjunction
 
High school, college and professional soccer matches - information in game programs and announced over the public address system
 
Ultimately for any of these forms of communication to work the soccer family in a state must work at it. Systems of communication can be put into place, but they will not be effective if the players, administrators, referees, coaches and parents do not take advantage of it and work at improving communication within their team.
 

The Symmetry of Good Fortune

Susan Boyd

Good fortune has a way of humbling us. It comes despite our weaknesses and sins (just ask the inmate who won the lottery), cannot be predicted, and departs as quickly as it came. So good fortune should be savored and never taken for granted. I had two bits of good fortune this week. First Robbie's high school team won the state high school soccer championship. Like a wonderful set of bookends, Robbie won in his freshman year and now in his senior year. I had missed the first win which he shared with his brother Bryce because I was at my grandchild's birth. So I definitely valued this experience. Three decisive games led to the championship and each had its moments reminding me of the significant traditions and connections soccer provides.

The quarterfinal game on Thursday afternoon featured our high school's soccer nemesis. Two years ago we lost to them in the quarterfinals and last year we lost to them in the finals in overtime when we were leading at half-time 2-0. So this game carried lots of baggage for our players and the fans. Everyone knew the history and everyone felt the pressure. In the tenth minute Robbie caught a rebound from a corner kick, settled it with his left, and shot it with his right before anyone had a chance to regroup. This was not the winning goal, but helped shake off the nerves. Nothing could be presumed. After all we had led last year for 70 minutes and ended up losing. Additionally, we had not been scored on by a state team this year, so it was poetic justice that this opponent who had plagued us for two years scored the first in-state goal against us. But that turned out to be just a minor blip. The final score was 4-1 in our favor. Despite the large, cheering crowds, you could still hear the collective sigh of relief. 

The semi-final game on Friday night proved to be the true test of our mettle. It was also against the high school Robbie and two other Marquette players would have attended had they not opted for a Jesuit education. Homestead was made up of players Robbie had known for years and had played soccer with. Just before the game, some Homestead parents parked next to us. Their son Stephen had played soccer four years with Robbie, and we were good friends. Now we were on opposite sides of a contest whose prize could never be captured again by these seniors. We joked that after the game we probably would never speak to one another again. Then as the opening whistle blew what do you know? There was Stephen assigned to defend Robbie. What cruel irony! Two other players on Homestead had been on Robbie's first soccer team that Bruce coached. They and Stephen proved to be most formidable as we struggled to find the back of the net. Andrew was their strong and steady center midfielder and Kevin was their unbelievably mighty goalkeeper. In the end we had twenty-three shots on goal including a point-blank shot by Robbie that Kevin somehow managed to deflect. 

Our inability to finish had never been more frustrating and more significant. It was win or go home. As the shots flew and either caromed off the posts and crossbar or arched just wide or high or found Kevin's sure hands, the tension in the stands increased to the point where the concentrated energy might have been affecting the earth's rotation. Time certainly did seem to stand still except on the scoreboard where it ticked relentlessly to 80:00. By the end of regulation we were tied 0-0, so we entered an overtime of two 10-minute halves cursing the déjà vu of this moment (different school, same scenario). In Wisconsin overtime ends with a golden goal, which is how we lost in the finals last year. Remarkably in the ninth minute we got a corner kick and scored on a header by Brian that squeaked past Kevin his club teammate. The eruption from all that released tension certainly helped warm our spirits despite the 32 degrees and brief snow (yes I said snow) showers. The victory still felt bittersweet as I looked out over the field of dejected Homestead players – boys I had known since they were five or six.   Their dreams of victory were no less ardent than ours. I saw Stephen's parents right after the game and we gave one another hugs. Stephen had done an excellent job of defending Robbie. He should be commended.  I also saw Andrew's dad the next day at the finals, and although he was disappointed, he recognized what an amazing game both teams had played. We both knew that Robbie and Andrew, whose soccer friendship began when they were five, would meet on the playing field again either as opponents, teammates, or fans.

The championship turned out to be against the team we had beaten in Robbie's freshman year. They were not as formidable as Homestead, and to some extent the outcome was rarely in question. It didn't change the fact that no one could exhale until the final whistle. In the championship game in 2005 Robbie had scored the last goal and this year he also scored the last goal. We won 5-0 and all five goals were scored by seniors, a fitting end to a fabulous season. Bryce had designed some scarves two years ago, and I had just enough left to give every player. Although I feared jinxing the outcome, I brought them to the game. After the whistle the boys shook hands with the opposing team and then ran across the field and slid on the grass to the student section. Then they collected their scarves, their medals, and the coveted state trophy. Across the scarves is the motto "We are Marquette" which the boys proudly displayed during their various photo ops. This was an amazing and joyful accomplishment, but as these players and fans move forward in life such overwhelming success will come rarely and should be treated with respect without any sense of entitlement. The game against Homestead showed that "grit and will" have to be part of any success, but they don't insure victory. Anyone seeing that semi-final game would agree that both teams exhibited the kind of mental and physical strength necessary for champions.

And as to my second bit of good fortune, I found at my local Pick 'n Save grocery store knit gloves at ten pair for $10. Robbie has his first league game next weekend and the weather report is for freezing rain.  My soccer emergency box was down to three pair of gloves, so I was delighted to replenish for such a bargain price. I took every pair in navy blue, black, and forest green. I suspect the seventeen pair I collected won't last until spring since they evaporate into the same alternate universe that missing socks inhabit. But I can't think about that now. I just wear a satisfied Cheshire Cat grin for finding cheap gloves and whenever I think about those boys sliding across the turf.