Created with Sketch.
The Soccer Sidelines
38 minutes | Mar 22, 2021
Respect For The Remarkable Grassroots Game?
I had just earned my first coaching certification in the grassroots game and was still proud and amazed by how much I had learned. Standing in the foyer of one of my player’s homes, the mother of this player took in my happy chatter about what I had done and the plans I was making for her son and the other players in the upcoming season. Her head tilted a little to one side and her face struck a pose that looked like she had just sucked a lemon. “Why would you DO that for rec?” she asked. I will never forget that sour face. Or my disappointment and surpsise. Sour faced woman with closed body posture I was looking right back at her with what was probably a similar face… Well, mine was a face that probably went through a metamorphosis through surprise and puzzlement before it achieved a similar sour pose. “Why would you NOT do that for rec?” I asked. “The age band and range of motivations in the grassroots game is broader than we find on select teams. I never know who is going to show up and it’s hard enough to make the most of our time when I know who’s coming in advance. The more we know about reaching kids where they are, the more fun they’re likely to have. There is so much we can do…” I could see that my logic and excitement was well buried under the grassroots game label. This mom had a daughter who played select travel soccer and was surrounded regularly by others that bought into labels and marketing hype. The fundamentals of youth development, the statistics of how many kids actually play soccer in college or at a professional level, and the challenges facing a coach supporting the grassroots game were not going to get me anywhere that evening. What I discovered in my training to be interesting and even profound was considered pedestrian in that foyer that evening. It was time for me to take my lumps, shut my mouth, and move on. What is the Grassroots Game? The grassroots game is often referred to as recreational soccer or “rec” for short. Distinguishing characteristics of this form of the game include, but are not limited to: No tryouts needed Inexpensive (under $200) seasonal fees 50% play time guarantee Local practices and games Emphasis on life lessons, age appropriate development, and fun High levels of Volunteerism Inexpensive uniform kits The grassroots game sounds pretty horrible, right? Sarcasm intended. If you’re a parent or a coach and you’re scratching your head about how the grassroots game can get a bad name, stick around. I’ll give you some reasons, but if you are scratching your head, then excellent! You know how I felt that night in the foyer. That mom made me think. Is there something I missed about the way I was thinking about this game or was she missing something? You decide. Why the Sour Face for the Grassroots Game? In three words, marketing, ego, and investment. Here’s the deal: Grassroots or Recreational soccer is no where near as profitable as select or travel soccer. Follow the money and you will find prettier everything – fields, uniforms, training equipment, backpack bling – even labels. There are some behind the $17 Billion youth sports industry who know your weaknesses. They know you want your kid to be associated with words like Elite – possibly the most over used word in the expensive brands of soccer. They know you’re going to feel pressure from fellow parents. “Where does your kid play?” “My kid plays for XY Elite!” “Oh wow… that’s so cool!” It’s a rush for many – parents, coaches, and administrators alike – to get to the top of a hill. Don’t ask me to show you the hill because most of it is imaginary. But make no mistake: Competition is equally as real for adults in this game as it is for the kids – sometimes competition among adults is even more intense. My son qualified to play on select travel teams. He did and he enjoyed his experience, but when asked if he wanted to “move up” and play for “White” or for “Blue” teams – the next rung in a hierarchical ladder of good, better, best – he said no. When I asked him why, he said the parents were too intense. He didn’t say the kids were a problem or the kids were too intense. He said the parents were too intense. Probing further, he said “they yell too much.” Is “Elite” Select Travel Premiere… Bad? There is a solid and very good reason for Elite pathways to exist for young athletes. If i were to offer personal opinion, they wouldn’t be available until kids started specializing in positions around 13 years or older, but taking elite pathways away would be a huge mistake for kids and for the nation – no matter what nation you’re from. The college game and the professional game are both value added and we would miss them if they didn’t exist. There are coaches in the Elite pathway who are dedicated professionals and spend their every waking moments thinking about how to get the best performance out of their players and teams. Kids will get better at soccer under their care. The travel experience is awesome! Both my son and daughter qualified at the state level, then at a national camp to go on to experience soccer in the UK. We flew as a family over to England to play on Stoke City fields, on Wolverhampton Wolverine Fields, on Arsenal and Manchester United fields. They trained under world class coaches, got to see English Premier League games in person, slept in hotels and made some awesome friends. As a development and life experience, not one member of my family would trade any of that and we’d do it all again in a minute. It was good. Actually, it was great! But it wasn’t where either of my kids ended up or wanted to end up at the end of their youth soccer careers. We maximized the time we had in the youth development window, but despite my hosting a podcast on the subject, coaching and becoming president of a soccer club, we were not obsessed by it. I think a great many kids can and do benefit from the Elite travel experience, but that does not diminish in any way the value that the grassroots game / recreational soccer brings to the world. I mean to say that they have different value propositions. A Tale of Two Value Propositions It comes down to value propositions. There are more than one. Getting clear about the value you want to extract from your youth development window is essential to understanding which one of these value propositions – and pathways – are best for you and your family. What I’m proposing here is hard work. You must simultaneously support your kid’s physical, mental and emotional health while resisting herd mentality, getting smart about your options, keeping your own ego in check, and making a decision. These are a lot of balls in the air, but that’s why you get paid the big bucks! The good news is – no decision is final and everything can be changed. Don’t be fooled into thinking that early specialization is the only way to go. It just isn’t. In fact, there is ample evidence available that seems to point to the idea that early specialization can be harmful. Based on what I’ve read, studied, and experienced so far, I am in the don’t specialize early camp for most kids myself. Check out the book Range by David Epstein for a good discussion about the rights and /or wrongs of early specialization. In my own case, I grew up as a multiple sport kid. Swimming, track, wrestling, gymnastics, soccer, lacrosse, martial arts, street hockey, kill-the-guy-with-the-ball, climbing trees, and even tag with friends – all part of my regular youth diet. I’m an experienced fan of the multi-sport approach. My son played soccer as his primary sport, and while he also was on the varsity dive team, ran track, and played made-up games like “Basker,” a combination of basketball and soccer, rode skateboards, and enjoyed biking and hiking, he also chose to play on more than one soccer team. He used his travel team primarily to get crispy through passes to someone who was usually in good position to receive it. He loved making those passes as a mid-fielder, but he didn’t always have someone to pass to when he played on his grassroots team. He used varsity soccer and dive teams as a school social experience. He used grassroots to relax and have fun with friends, be goofy, and practice his leadership skills. My daughter was a swimmer first and played on soccer team after soccer team. She would also play on more than one team at a time and in different genre’s of play – from grassroots to classic to varsity on her high school team. Her focus was always on fun first, then running, more fun, socializing, expanding her network of friends, and being impossible to label. Grassroots gave her many awesome memories that she still talks about from her now college aged perspective. The Grassroots Value Proposition The grassroots game is a playground for the entire family. Kids get to learn new skills, pick up life lessons for their toolbox, keep their bodies moving and improving, and have a great time doing it. No tryouts needed. Guaranteed play time. Mom and Dad get to get themselves on the field with their kids and/or show the importance of community, getting fit, and healthy habits through their own volunteerism AND use family financial resources for other family priorities – like ice cream and vacations! The Elite Pathway Value Proposition The elite pathway game gives kids who crave it a chance to get the best technical training available. It gives them an opportunity to pit their best against the best others have to bring to the game. It’s gritty and expensive, but it’s one of the finest ways to sharpen the steel for kids who seek that level of excellence on a soccer field. Kids Effect on Decisions No matter which value proposition you pursue (or both) in your family, the most important feature in this decision should be the kids themselves. Kids won’t have the vocabulary or awareness in most cases to know which pathway is the best for them. Heck… most adults don’t know! But they communicate with their actions and attention. Here are some examples: A kid that is curious about many things, exploring their world and not keeping a soccer ball at their feet every day might be a good candidate for the grassroots game. An elite pathway could have the opposite effect and turn them away from the sport with its intensity – especially in the earlier years. A kid that walks around with a soccer ball attached to their feet every day, sleeps with the ball at night, watches professional games on TV, and plays FIFA as their preferred video game might be a good candidate for the elite pathway. A kid that loves to swim, play an instrument, play tennis, judo, or gymnastics might benefit a great deal from cross training and/or exposure to team related sports activities like the grassroots game. A Word About “Community Soccer” Grassroots has a very long history. Playing grassroots soccer is where many of the world’s greatest soccer players came from and still retreat to as a place of comfort, fun and community. There is always competition in every game, but rivalries are not bloody. The concept of Community features prominently in the grassroots game. Not only is volunteerism a must to keep the grassroots business model viable, but moms and dads actually want to and enjoy getting on the field with their kids. It might be time for a name change or rebranding of the grassroots game. Recreational soccer might be more positively described as Community Soccer. In this way, we emphasize what’s great about the grassroots game. “Recreational soccer” seems to connote a lesser experience from “Elite soccer.” The reality is that lesser or more is simply a function of where we hold the measuring tool. On Community, accessibility, volunteerism, parent involvement, cost, and play time, Community Soccer gets really high marks. Respect for this remarkable game! Resources Epstein, David. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. Penguin USA, 2020. *Links on this Website may be affiliate links, so the author may get paid a commission if you purchase as a result of following a link on this site. The Soccer Sidelines Podcast by David Dejewski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.Based on a work at https://thesoccersidelines.com.
36 minutes | Mar 15, 2021
Let's Get Back to the Game!
Who among us has not missed youth sports and looked forward to returning to youth sports? The playing. The outdoors. Pushing our limits and enjoying teamwork with friends… Adults, we might not miss the driving around, but there is no substitute for the joy, laughter, and conversation that comes into our homes as a result of a youth sports program. Kids miss their friends, the game, getting to run around, and even showing off a little from time to time with a well placed ball. Our culture has taken a serious hit when youth sports were sidelines and in many places around the world, it’s time to get back to it! As we build our programs for the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons, we will do well to remember some important considerations returning to play. Getting and keeping kids safe and game ready is a big deal. It doesn’t happen by paying a fee, ordering a uniform, and showing up for practice. The stuff that happens below the waterline is more important than ever right now and if we don’t openly address these things today, we’ll be looking at injuries tomorrow. I’m not understating this point. Important For Returning to Youth Sports Let’s lay out a short list if important considerations returning to youth sports. We’ll talk about each one in a little more detail in a minute, but for right now, let’s prime the mental pump. Kids have been away from sports for many months Some kids got COVID Social norms have changed People who were in seasonal jobs like coaching and being a referee may not be there Volunteers and volunteerism has changed Gear may not have been maintained This is a simple six-pack of considerations we didn’t have to think about when programming the Fall of 2019 season. We’re all affected by a year+ long pandemic now and these things (and more) are definitely on the planning table today – or they should be! PLEASE: support the show and/or join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page Being Away from Sports I chose to talk about this one up front because 1. there is probably the most to say about this and 2. this is the one that will surely lead to injuries when kids, coaches and an army of volunteers return to fields for the first time. This one point can be the source for several articles by itself, by I know you and you know where I’m going with this. Some Kids Got COVID An article in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) titled Return to Play for Athletes After Coronavirus Disease 2019 Infection—Making High-Stakes Recommendations as Data Evolve talks about how COVID may affect the hearts of patients who have previously had the disease. Even in asymptomatic cases – cases where the patient had no symptoms – autopsies have revealed that in up to 60% of post COVID patients may have ongoing inflammation of the heart muscle. It is not yet clear how medically significant this will be in the long term – especially in kids under the age of 15 where very little data exists. Most cases are not expected to lead to sudden cardiac death – a condition that is more statistically prevalent in high school aged kids – but there is a possibility – perhaps even a probability that sudden cardiac death will become more important post-COVID than it was before COVID. On this issue alone, it may be a wise move to add recognition and treatment of sudden cardiac death to the onboarding courses we typically require for coaches to take. I’ve added it as a highly suggested course to my Club’s curriculum, and am considering making it a mandatory course. I didn’t take this course myself until I started coached high school aged kids, but in a post-COVID world, I’m thinking it’s a good idea for all coaches. Other Physical Player Issues Along the same lines, knee injuries, repetitive and stress injuries, back injuries, and even injuries due to bad or forgotten technique (like headers, for example), are all more important than ever to pay attention to. Parents, coaches, athletic trainers, and administrators all need to step back into the youth sports arena with an eye firmly fixed on safety. This may mean longer and more gentle pre-season conditioning. It may mean education campaigns and curriculum adjustments. The opposite of gradual return to play and being careful is compressed pre-season training and quick return to games. I’m hearing many clubs and schools offering compressed seasons to “get sports in.” This typically looks like a quick pre-season conditioning and 6 weeks of games. Schools are in some cases moving Fall sports up into the Spring because kids missed Fall 2020. Overlapping or piling on multiple sports on top of one another can introduce a new range of issues – including repetitive and stress injuries – that we should all be thinking carefully about. Mental Issues Returning to Youth Sports Our physical bodies aren’t the only things that have been locked away for over a year. Our brains, social lives, and perceptions of how the world really is have also been put in a time capsule and may have either atrophied or will be forced to adjust as we learn our way through new normal. On March 13th, 2021, CNN published an article titled 9 things that weren’t scary before the pandemic but are now. In that article, they talk about 9 things that may be scary in a post-COVID world – at least for a little while. They don’t all apply to returning to youth sports, but being out and about in any way can put these into play. I would argue that sitting next to other, for example, doesn’t only apply to eating out at restaurants, but can also apply to the sidelines of a soccer game. Here are the nine items that list: 1Eye contact 2Being among crowds 3Shaking hands and hugging 4Flirting or getting asked on a date 5New intimate relationships 6Sharing public spaces 7Sharing objects to help others 8Cosmetic and spa services 9Going back to work While items 4, 5, and 8 don’t often have direct correlation to returning to youth sports, fist bumps, shared benches and bleachers, car pooling, sharing a game ball, wearing training bibs, contested headers, and mixing up water bottles do. These items will be on most people’s minds as we take to the fields again. It’s a good idea to address them in our returning to youth sports guidelines. What Can We Do? Getting back on the field starts well before a season opening practice. To make COVID and post- COVID safe environments, coaches need training, parents need education, kids need to get their bodies moving, and volunteers need to turn out. I’m amending my coach onboarding training starter pack to include one additional course in recognizing and responding to sudden cardiac death for all age groups. The new minimum safety training kit I use to onboard new coaches now looks like this: Onboarding Requirement Period My Source URLs Cost Registration Each Season Sponsor Club, School, or State Per Organization Usually free, but may require a small fee Background Investigation Every 12 months NCSI or similar Per Organization ~$20 to the Club, School, or State Youth Protection Every 24 months State source, BSA, Darkness to Light, NFHS, or County Schools https://www.usyouthsoccer.org/safesport/ https://www.scouting.org/training/youth-protection/ https://www.d2l.org/ https://nfhslearn.com/courses/protecting-students-from-abuse From free to ~$50 Concussion Awareness Every 12 months CDC Heads Up or Approved USYS, USC, or NFHS course https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/index.html https://www.recognizetorecover.org/ https://unitedsoccercoaches.org/education/get-ahead-safely-in-soccer/ Free Fundamentals of Coaching One Time Digital Coaching Center (USYS), United Soccer Coaches, or NFHS https://learning.ussoccer.com/coach https://unitedsoccercoaches.org/elearning/ https://nfhslearn.com/courses/fundamentals-of-coaching Free to ~$35 Sudden Cardiac Death Awareness and Response Every 12 months NFHS https://nfhslearn.com/courses/sudden-cardiac-arrest Free If you’re reading as a parent, you’re not a passive observer in this process if you’re a member of a local community club. If you’re paying huge sums of money (in the thousands) for your kid to play in a profit-driven organization, then you can take a seat and pay your money for someone else to have all the fun. But if you’re taking advantage of a community volunteer driven nonprofit club, it’s time to step up. These clubs have even more to keep an eye on now that we’re returning to youth sports after a long pause and serious illness. They will be ramping up training for on-field volunteers, adding extra eyes and brains to help direct the flow of people safely around fields, watching for safe distancing of parents and players during practices and games, cleaning gear more often (or for some for the first time), washing training bibs, keeping water bottles separated, and trying to show an organized face to what can get a little crazy behind the scenes. Raise your hand! Volunteers are needed more than ever. If you’re reading as a player, you’re definitely not a passive observer either. It’s time to start getting your body back into shape to handle competition. Eat right. Get yourself on a healthy sleep schedule. Start stretching and playing outside. Run when you can. Work your core. Climb hills. Hike. Swim. Kick a ball with friends. Toss a Frisbee. Do what it takes to get your body off the couch, out of your house, and into the sunshine! There are some awesome games on the horizon. Let’s get ready for them now! Summary Returning to youth sports is something we all want to see happen – the sooner the better. We’re going to have to be patient with the process or accept the risks for injury or even turning families away from youth sports all together. Neither injury nor turning families away are good or acceptable options, so let’s spend a little setting up the field, getting the support stuff back online, and getting our bodies ready for the fun to come! Resources Udelson JE, Curtis MA, Rowin EJ. Return to Play for Athletes After Coronavirus Disease 2019 Infection—Making High-Stakes Recommendations as Data Evolve. JAMA Cardiol. 2021;6(2):136–138. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.5896 Rogers, Story by Kristen, and Ada Wood. “9 Anxiety-Inducing Social Interactions as the World Reopens.” CNN, Cable News Network, 13 Mar. 2021, www.cnn.com/2021/03/13/health/pandemic-anniversary-nervousness-wellness/index.html. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Returning to Sports After a COVID-19 Infection.” Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 12 Aug. 2020, www.chop.edu/news/health-tip/returning-to-sports-after-a-covid-19-Infection. Lee, David, and Eugene Chung. “Sports Participation and Sudden Cardiac Arrest.” American College of Cardiology, 28 June 2016, www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2016/06/28/07/06/sports-participation-and-sudden-cardiac-arrest. The Soccer Sidelines Podcast by David Dejewski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.Based on a work at https://thesoccersidelines.com.
57 minutes | Jun 15, 2020
Returning to Play
At long last, it’s time to try to get back to the field. What we’re returning to looks very different from what it used to be like before COVID-19, but it’s a start. In this episode, let’s talk about who’s returning to play, how we’re returning to play, and take in a good example of return to play guidelines. Is it Time to Return to Play? In the World: German Bundesliga says that it returned to play May 15th English Premiere League announced that it will return to play June 17th The Italians Serie A announced that it will return to play on June 20th. The French have announced that they will not be returning to play in the near term In the US: NWSL announced on May 27th that it will be returning to play with a 25 game tournament that starts on June 27th. USL Championship Board of Governors voted to return to play – target July 11th The MLS is targeting early July to return to play while they work through a number of obstacles I talk about in the show. It looks like the time is now to start stepping carefully back onto the field – with restrictions I talk about in the show that are described in the document in the resources section of the show notes below. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page Resources Cadeaux, Ethan, and NBC Sports Washington. “NWSL Announces Return to Play with 25-Team Tournament.” NBC Sports Washington, 27 May 2020, www.nbcsports.com/washington/soccer/soccers-back-nwsl-announces-return-play-25-team-tournament. Butler, Alex. “Soccer Return: Messi, Barcelona to Play June 13; Ronaldo, Juventus on June 22.” UPI, UPI, 3 June 2020, www.upi.com/Sports_News/Soccer/2020/06/03/Soccer-return-Messi-Barcelona-to-play-June-13-Ronaldo-Juventus-on-June-22/8021591181655/. Gardner, Hayes. “USL Championship’s Vote Is Promising First Step in Return to Play.” Journal, Louisville Courier Journal, 4 June 2020, www.courier-journal.com/story/sports/soccer/louisville-city-fc/2020/06/04/loucity-fc-usl-championship-announces-return-play/3146931001/. Baxter, Kevin. “MLS Players Union Ratifies Agreement Clearing Way for Return in Early July.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2020, www.latimes.com/sports/soccer/story/2020-06-03/mls-players-union-agree-to-return-to-play-plan. “Arizona Soccer Association Return-to-Play Guidelines.” Arizona, www.azsoccerassociation.org/arizona-soccer-association-return-to-play-guidelines-/.
24 minutes | May 5, 2020
Solidarity Payments in US Soccer
Connect with me: https://thesoccersidelines.com/connect/ What are solidarity payments, why do we have them, and how do they work? Do they work at all in the United States? Let’s talk through a use case. In this episode, we share some recent news, then jump into the concept of solidarity payments. Specifically, we talk through the case of DeAndre Yedlin, featuring Crossfire Premiere, FIFA, USSF, and the MLS. At the end of this episode, I hope that the concept of solidarity payments (and training compensation) are a little more clear. May 27, 2015 – Shah Alam, Malaysia: Tottenham Hotspurs play the Malaysian Selection soccer team in a friendly match at the Shah Alam Stadium in Malaysia. The English Premier League football club is on their Asia-Australia tour. COVID-19 Impact on the Game WPSL and ODP have both suspended their summer programming & are looking forward to the Fall. Expect to see more delayed openings and Summer impact across the US. As the country re-opens, it will likely be uneven and state or regionally based. The game of soccer is a social game. Not only do we have 22 players on the field, but we have active and very social sidelines. Part of the joy of the game is playing and chatting with others in concentrated fields and sideline environments. It’ll be impossible to do social distancing with players and nearly impossible to social distance on the sidelines. Kids are at home and many are not working out regularly. A big question in my mind as a coach, is how can we keep our kids engaged and active? This is when super coaching and parental support can play a big role. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page What is Training Compensation? From MLCSoccer.com: “Under the FIFA Regulations, when a player registers as a professional for the first time in a country other than the one where he did his training, the club with which he registers is responsible for paying Training Compensation to every club that contributed to his training, starting from the season of his 12th birthday through the season of his 21st birthday. Additionally, Training Compensation is due on a player’s subsequent international transfer through the season of his 23rd birthday to his immediately prior professional club.” These exist as a way to incentivize youth clubs to do their best at developing players, to invest in the development environment, and to earn some rewards for the effort. The US system is largely paid for by parents, sponsorships, and charitable donations. Is it fair for US-based clubs to also get training compensation and/or solidarity payments? Is this “double dipping” or getting paid twice to develop youth, or is this a system we should consider embracing – possibly phasing out high family costs? What are Solidarity Payments in US Soccer? From MLSsoccer.com: “Under the FIFA Regulations, any time that a professional player is transferred (whether on a temporary or on a permanent basis) from a club in one FIFA member association (i.e., a federation) to a club in another federation during the course of his contract, up to five percent of the transfer fee is to be withheld and paid by the club receiving the player proportionally to the club(s) involved in that player’s training during the years between his 12th and 23rd birthdays. Unlike Training Compensation, which is only paid for players who have not yet reached the end of their age-23 season, Solidarity Payments will be due for the duration of a player’s professional career, any time he is transferred between federations while under contract and a transfer fee is paid.” What are Your Thoughts? This is an issue with lots of arguments and interesting positions. Any time money is at the center, things like Training Compensation and Solidarity payments are going to be contentious. Is it time to embrace a more European style of funding the game? Should we consider instead Norway’s model? How else do you think the US game should evolve to meet the challenges of the 2026 US-based World Cup? Let’s keep the conversation going! https://thesoccersidelines.com/connect/ Resources Recent COVID Related News: “USYS ODP Camp Cancellation and Inter-Regional Announcement.” US Youth Soccer, 20 Apr. 2020, www.usyouthsoccer.org/usys-odp-camp-cancellation-and-inter-regional-announcement/. Singleton, Nicole. “IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON SOCCER: WPSL CANCELS SUMMER SEASON • SoccerToday.” SoccerToday, 1 May 2020, www.soccertoday.com/impact-of-covid-19-on-soccer-wpsl-cancels-summer-season/. Recent DA Related News: Scavuzzo, Diane. “UNCENSORED: CROSSFIRE’S BERNIE JAMES ON LIFE AFTER THE DA • SoccerToday.” SoccerToday, 20 Apr. 2020, www.soccertoday.com/uncensored-crossfires-bernie-james-on-life-after-the-da/. Scavuzzo, Diane. “CROSSFIRE PREMIER JOINS ECNL BOYS AFTER DA DISSOLVES • SoccerToday.” SoccerToday, 16 Apr. 2020, www.soccertoday.com/crossfire-premier-joins-ecnl-boys-after-da-dissolves/. “ECNL.” ECNL, www.eliteclubsnationalleague.com/. Solidarity Payments: “DeAndre Yedlin.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Apr. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeAndre_Yedlin. FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer or Players “FAQs about Training Compensation and Solidarity Payments.” MLSsoccer.com, 18 Apr. 2019, www.mlssoccer.com/post/2019/04/18/faqs-about-training-compensation-and-solidarity-payments. Carlisle, Jeff. “FIFA Panel to Consider Solidarity Payments Claim from DeAndre Yedlin’s Youth Club.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 19 Oct. 2018, www.espn.com/soccer/deandre-yedlin/story/3672912/fifa-panel-to-consider-solidarity-payments-claim-from-deandre-yedlins-youth-club. Turner, Miki. “Imminent FIFA Ruling on Crossfire Premier’s Claim for Yedlin…” The Athletic, The Athletic, 25 Oct. 2018, theathletic.com/613009/2018/10/25/imminent-fifa-ruling-on-crossfire-premiers-claim-for-yedlin-solidarity-payments-could-drastically-change-u-s-youth-development/. Carlisle, Jeff. “FIFA Rules against Solidarity Payments over Yedlin’s Tottenham Transfer.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 30 Apr. 2019, www.espn.com/soccer/major-league-soccer/story/3839481/fifa-rules-against-solidarity-payments-over-yedlins-tottenham-transfer. Turner, Miki. “Crossfire Premier Could Still Receive Compensation for DeAndre Yedlin Transfer.” Sounder At Heart, Sounder At Heart, 19 June 2019, www.sounderatheart.com/2019/6/19/18683260/fifa-drc-ruling-solidarity-payments-training-compensation-unresolved. Mendola, Nicholas. “FIFA Denies Solidarity Payments for Dempsey, Bradley – ProSoccerTalk: NBC Sports.” ProSoccerTalk | NBC Sports, 14 Mar. 2019, soccer.nbcsports.com/2019/03/13/fifa-denies-solidarity-payments-for-dempsey-bradley-for-10k-you-can-find-out-why/.
24 minutes | Apr 27, 2020
2020 Senior Prom MASKquerade
<Share your wisdom and well wishes with 2020 Seniors> In this episode, post a thank you sign for essential workers, host a MASKquerade, and check in on the DA and ODP. From senior graduating without a prom or even a formal graduation to players finding new homes after being displaced from the DA, I cover several topics in an informal discussion format made specially for these Pandemic times. Share Your Wisdom with High School Seniors! I’m asking you to help me assemble an audio mosaic for 2020 graduating high school seniors. Would you wish them well? Offer them wisdom from your own experience? Visit the <Connect> tab above, click the orange <Start Recording> button about half way down the page, and leave a short comment or wisdom. I will assemble our comments together for our graduating seniors and post a Bonus episode just for them! If you don’t want to leave a voice message, write me instead! All of my contact info is listed on this page. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page Our MASKquerade Photo Shoot 6′ of separation? No problem! Wear a mask in public? No problem! We managed to put together a 2020 prom photo shoot in the midst of a global pandemic! These young ladies looked great and they had some fun with the default theme of the year! Masks are in fashion this year, and hopefully won’t be back for any future prom season, so why not embrace the situation as it is and make it fun?! There was a lot of giggles and laughter under these masks. We even had some fun with a jail theme! Is ODP Still a Thing? Yes! ODP is still producing world class players who are emerging on the world stage. If playing soccer on a US Olympic team is your thing, then it’s definitely worth a look! What’s Going on With DA Players Since the DA was shut down, some have opted to raft together and start a new league called the Girl’s Academy (GA). Others have decided to join ECNL. Others will go on to join US Youth Soccer and/or the Olympic Development Program (ODP). The key is to stay humble and keep playing! Essential Employee Gratitude Project Update After several meetings, our Club’s project leadership team has decided to create signs with open space on them. Families will be encouraged to contribute to our fundraising effort and “sponsor” a sign or multiple signs. Families will be encouraged to decorate the signs with messages of thanks and to post thee signs throughout our community in thanks for essential worker’s service. Any additional money collected will be turned into meals for essential workers in various favorite locations around our community. What kinds of projects are you workin on in your community? Please share some of the good ideas you’re seeing and tell us how it’s going!
20 minutes | Apr 16, 2020
US Soccer Development Academy Shuts Down
It is official. US Soccer has shut down the US Soccer Development Academy effective immediately. This is officially due to “…extraordinary and unexpected circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic…” but SoccerWire and other news outlets suggest that there is more to the story. Rumors, articles, social media, and blog posts have been circulating for days. Let’s talk about it. Rumor is Confirmed On April 11th, 2020, SoccerWire carried an article titled: “Opinion: COVID-19 provides US Soccer opportunity to shut down Development Academy.” This hit my Twitter feed first, and as you know, I almost reported it to you in Episode 124, but I held it back because at that stage it was still a rumor. I couldn’t find any solid evidence that this was definitely going to happen and didn’t want to use this show to spread rumors. We talked instead about being critical about the news we’re seeing today. It’s no longer a rumor. One hour after I published Episode 124, US Soccer announced that it was closing the US Soccer Development Academy for good. The reason they cited in the letter they released was “…extraordinary and unexpected circumstances around the COVID-19 pandemic…” I’ve been around too long to believe the publicly released reasons for just about anything of significance going on are the whole story. There is always more to things than the public story. So I started to dig in. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page Contributing factors to closing the US Soccer Development Academy The SoccerWire article lists four potential reasons for shutting down the US Soccer Development Academy (DA). I’ve listed them here for your convenience, but be sure to read the full article for the rest of the story and context. The Girls DA has never taken hold as the nation’s most elite league, and has recently been losing very strong clubs back to ECNL. Having talent split between two leagues is definitely inhibiting development of the most elite players, and there is no solution in sight for getting the best players and clubs in the same environments anytime soon. This would solve that problem overnight. The Boys DA has become more a story of Major League Soccer run, cost-free academies; and then the best of the rest for years. While the top boys’ talent plays in the DA if there’s a club near their homes, every year U.S. Soccer makes some type of adjustments to the competition structure and schedule. And MLS clubs have long been rumored to be on the verge of staging a break-a-away league all their own anyway. Cost – U.S. Soccer spends around $9 Million on the DA’s per year, and gets little but grief for most of their investments. With an all new management team at the top of the Federation, and the very real likelihood of an 8-figure financial settlement on the way with the U.S. Women’s National Team, cutting bait now would remove a lot of distractions and sure up what may become much-needed cash in the coming years, before the expected windfalls of the 2026 World Cup. Equality – Reference the issues with the Girls DA lagging far behind the boys’ version in their efforts to consolidate talent. These are modern times, and U.S. Soccer has struggled greatly in the court of public opinion over their treatment of the women’s game. I cannot imagine a world where U.S. Soccer could shut down the Girls DA and not do the same with the Boys. It has to be all or nothing if it’s indeed happening. The 2019 Split On August 9th, 2019, USSoccerplayers.com reported in an article titled “US SOCCER ADDS ANOTHER ISSUE WITH DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY SPLIT” that the USSF was splitting the DA into two tiers: a red upper tier and a blue lower tier, and resulting in 44 teams being demoted. The move was described as a way to even out an otherwise uneven playing field in which some DA teams were getting crushed and others were dominating. This split caused a lot of stress throughout the system, but what’s also interesting is the use of the word “another” in the title. Previous issues were already on the soccer community’s radar. This split was seen by USSoccerPlayers.com author, Charles Boehm, as another in a series of issues plaguing the DA and USSF relationship. It seems clear that the DA was struggling before COVID-19, not only for the reasons listed above, but an article written in Soccer America on August 8, 2019 titled “The DA’s new tiered format: The stigma of relegation without a clear path for promotion” suggests that there was growing tension between the DA and the USSF. Specific issues surfaced in that article include: fear of retribution for being critical of USSF (see Crossfire argument over solidarity payments for Andre Yedlin) unfair treatment of teams during the 2019 split effective relegation without clear criteria for that relegation No clear path for the relegated teams to get into the upper or Red tier a perception of favoritism towards MLS clubs over amateur clubs Without reading you the full list of issues called out in these articles, it seems clear that a lack of trust and poor communication was affecting this relationship long before COVID-19 made the scene. Going forward for former players and coaches of the US Soccer Development Academy Less than 24 hours after the announcement there isn’t any clear guidance that I could find that will help former DA players and coaches in the future. There was a letter published by US Youth Soccer two hours after the DA Closure announcement that suggests that former DA players and coaches will be welcome in US Youth Soccer (see letter below), but uncertainty for DA clubs, players, and coaches is a likely concern for everyone. Other options will include a move to ECNL or possibly to USL. In all three cases, logistics would need to be worked out. US Youth Soccer, in their letter below, seems to be opening the door to talks early. Have Something to Say or Share? Please share your thoughts about this news. You can reach me by voice, by email, by Twitter, or by Facebook. Check out the ways you can connect with me here: https://thesoccersidelines.com/connect/ Resources FIFA.com. “Who We Are – News – FIFA and USSF Unite to Identify New Talents.” Www.fifa.com, FIFA.com, 28 Aug. 2018, www.fifa.com/who-we-are/news/fifa-and-ussf-unite-to-identify-new-talents. Boehm, Charles. “US Soccer Adds Another Issue with Development Academy Split.” US Soccer Players, 9 Aug. 2019, ussoccerplayers.com/2019/08/us-soccer-adds-another-issue-with-development-academy-split.html. Woitalla, Mike. “The DA’s New Tiered Format: The Stigma of Relegation without a Clear Path for Promotion.” Soccer America, 8 Aug. 2019, www.socceramerica.com/publications/article/83223/the-das-new-tiered-format-the-stigma-of-relegati.html. Wilson, Will, et al. “A Letter to Development Academy Clubs.” Home – U.S. Soccer, 15 Apr. 2020, www.ussoccer.com/stories/2020/04/a-letter-to-development-academy-clubs. Hummer, Chris. “COVID-19 Provides Opportunity for U.S. Soccer to Shut down DA.” SoccerWire, 11 Apr. 2020, www.soccerwire.com/resources/opinion-covid-19-provides-opportunity-for-u-s-soccer-to-shut-down-development-academy/. Casteel, Quinn. “REPORT: U.S. Soccer to Permanently Close Entire Development Academy.” SoccerWire, 15 Apr. 2020, www.soccerwire.com/news/report-u-s-soccer-to-permanently-close-entire-development-academy/. “Financial Information.” Home – U.S. Soccer, www.ussoccer.com/governance/financial-information. Scavuzzo, Diane. “U.S. SOCCER DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY CLOSES. IT’S OFFICIAL • SoccerToday.” SoccerToday, 15 Apr. 2020, www.soccertoday.com/u-s-soccer-development-academy-to-close/. Carlisle, Jeff. “MLS Promotion, Relegation Would Make League More Competitive – Yedlin.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, 9 Dec. 2018, www.espn.com/soccer/major-league-soccer/story/4085659/mls-promotionrelegation-would-make-league-more-competitive-yedlin.
29 minutes | Apr 15, 2020
Essential Workers and Bad Information
There are two big things worth paying closer attention to today: 1. the great things people are doing during this crisis. 2. The proliferation of bad, incomplete, politically motivated, or deliberately incorrect information being shared all over our news outlets and social media channels. Gratitude changes everything – handwriting on a napkin with a cup of espresso coffee Some Great Things Are Being Done David Barbour from FC Copa is a listener of the show and has responded to episode #122 that I did three weeks ago titled “What can we do during the COVID-19 Crisis?” Listen to David talk about what he and the folks at FC Copa are doing to support their community during this pandemic crisis. Jen Anderson, Nabil Chehab, and Matt Kendall from the Damascus Soccer Club are spearheading an essential worker thank you campaign that includes signs, fundraising and meals for those putting their lives on the line for us so we can have essential products and services. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page Segment Two: Bad Information and Rumors I was nearly duped into delivering you a rumor instead of factual news. It made me reflect on the proliferation of bad information, mis information, and disinformation. This is a big problem when it is fueled by fear, greed, and politics. We’re in an election year. We are steeped in fear about the virus and a growing fear about the economy. We are surrounded by wolves trying to make a buck off of our fear. Now, it is more important than ever to be critical about what is being said, who is saying it, what their motivations may be, and what is not being said. Resources Boehm, Charles. “US Soccer Adds Another Issue with Development Academy Split.” US Soccer Players, 9 Aug. 2019, ussoccerplayers.com/2019/08/us-soccer-adds-another-issue-with-development-academy-split.html.
26 minutes | Apr 6, 2020
The World is Changing for Good
Human history is like a book with many chapters. Every generation writes their piece and leaves their mark. Some chapters are uneventful and boring. Our chapter is not. The early part of the century brought us the Spanish Flu, the Golden Age, World War I, and the Great Depression. The middle of the century brought us World War II, the Holocaust, The Desert Fox, Vietnam, America’s first orchestrated coup of a foreign country, Woodstock, free love, and bell bottoms. The later part of the century brought a break from the Gold standard, the S&L crisis, The Tax Reform Act, NAFTA, Desert Storm, bank failures, Cabbage Path Kids, and the a presidential impeachment. So far, the 2000’s have brought Y2K, 9/11 , more Desert Storm, more coups, global warming, the 2008 mortgage crisis, another impeachment, BREXIT, bank failures, the Patriot Act, and most recently, a black swan called COVID-19. COVID-19 is unique in that it has profoundly impacted the entire world and it was utterly unexpected by world leaders, markets, or working citizens everywhere. This one event is likely to leave its mark on the world for generations to come. Our kids and grandkids will be talking about the Global Pandemic. We’re making history, and the decisions we make and actions we take now matter. The World is Changing for “Good” Of course, we see lots of bad stuff going on. First off, a global pandemic that has the characteristics of COVID-19 is bad. Being locked up in our homes and restricted from socializing is bad. Not being able to work and bring in income is bad. But you don’t need come to this show to talk about the bad stuff. It’s everywhere. Even where things are not that bad, the fact that humans generally don’t like change amplifies the bad in the changes we’re experiencing. It is possible to find some good stuff if we look. For every negative, there is a positive (and vice versa), because nature exists in balance. I’ve listed at least five things that are changing in our world. I suspect each of these things are changing for good. Of course, I recognize that they will change again sometime down the road, but there are some things that exist in different form before COVID-19 and after COVID-19. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page Five Ways the World is Changing Social Distancing and the behaviors discovered and refined during social distancing are here to stay. We’re not going to stay 6 feet from one another forever, but we will be thinking about vectors of transmission and about new ways of connecting will stick around. Technology is taking amore prominent role in our lives. The learning curve for adoption of some technologies like video conferencing is forced upon us. This will mean more of this technology in the future – along with the behaviors (like telework) that are enabled by these technologies. We’re finding community again! Community becomes a lot more important when we need one another. At times like Global pandemics, information exchange, social outreach, and appreciating one another are all going up. The environment is getting cleaner! People are seeing fish in the water in Venice! The sky is turning blue again! The fact that we’re not rushing around so much as the world is changing is having a positive effect on the environment. Families are being stress tested. Some families are buckling under the pressure, but many families are finding new ways to appreciate and support one another. Always two sides to every coin One the one side, we’re seeing the negatives of the fact that the world is changing: forfeiture of human rights and privacy, death and pain from disease, financial ruin for many families and small business owners, etc. On the other side, we can find gratitude in having a family, in finding new ways to connect, and in appreciating one another like we used to!
23 minutes | Mar 23, 2020
What can we do during the COVID-19 crisis?
Having a global pandemic on the loose is a scary thing under any circumstances, but limit social interactions and keep people from congregating and we’re facing double trouble! Humans tend to raft together in times of crisis. This behavior kept us alive when we came down from the tree and faced off against predators. People all around the world are asking themselves: what can we do during the COVID-19 crisis? In this episode, let’s talk about some of the cool things going on and maybe stimulate some thinking around how we can weather this storm a little easier. What we’re facing The challenge isn’t just with the virus. There are financial implications for everyone. There is social isolation at a time when humans are used to coming together. There is a lack of exercise options, major changes in routine, fear mongering on the TV, and kids who need our positivity at a time when positivity seems to be in short supply. Add to this genuine concerns that people have for loved ones who may be in a higher risk category, and the situation becomes all-pandemic, all-the-time discussions – which leads to fatigue. The multiplicity of the challenge means a range of secondary effects like depression, getting out of shape, and emotional damage caused by stress. Not great for strengthening the immune system! Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page Some cool things people are doing As we wrestle with the question, what can we do during the COVID-19 crisis, some thought leaders are stepping up and making a difference in our communities. Lauri Lane from the Potomac Soccer Club is bringing professional soccer players online to interact with kids in the club. Steve Knapman from the Potomac Soccer Club has created a season-long development program that kids can do from home. John Dingle from Soccer Source 360 has his kids doing landscaping jobs and making their home look beautiful. Rick Watts of St Mary’s Soccer Club took his camera, a tripod, a ball, and his son out back to record a series of exercises that kids from his club can do at home. Each of these projects bring fitness, connection, and value into an otherwise dark situation. Local leaders all over the country are stepping up to do their part and help community keep life going! What can we do during the COVID-19 crisis? Ask yourself and really think about it for a few minutes each day: what can we do during the COVID-19 crisis? Think about this question in terms of yourself (it’s important to be a little selfish and give yourself the gift of fitness and stress relief), in terms of your family, and in terms of your community. If you can think of and implement just one idea – good or bad – you might not only make someone’s day better, but you may inspire others to do the same. The biggest super power that humans have is community! Please share! I want your idea to help inspire others to try the same. Our community here at The Soccer Sidelines is growing every week. It’s full of smart, caring, motivated people who might just pick up your idea and make it real in their community. A little sharing goes a long way. As you think about what we can do during the COVID-19 crisis, remember that there are lot’s of us who would love to know (and maybe try) some of the things you’re doing to keep fun in the house!
22 minutes | Mar 16, 2020
The Positives of a Global Pandemic
When bad news is filling our air waves and social media apps… when we’re locked in our homes, faced with empty shelves, overflowing with toilet paper, and feeling a little down, we sometimes need to look at the bright side. In this episode, let’s talk about the positives of a global pandemic! Making Lemonade out of Lemons Life throws some bitter stuff at us sometimes. Whether we’re playing soccer and get a bad bounce in a pass or we’re sitting at home avoiding public gatherings during a global crisis, the skill of making lemonade out of lemons gives us power. It allows us to tap positive energy, be creative, and quench our thirst for life – hardships and all. This year, we’re suffering form a global response to a new virus that seems to be infecting every country in the world. It’s a bad flu, basically. It’s called COVID-19. And it’s triggered fear, uncertainty, economic hardship, and frustration around the world. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page What are Some Positives of a Global Pandemic? It might seem strange to think there are positives of a global pandemic, but there are two sides of every coin. The side we chose to see can make all the difference in our ability to cope and persevere when things get hard. Our lives are being disrupted. Is disruption always bad? I am arguing that it’s not always bad. Sometimes, a disruption in our regular routine is exactly what we need to reset. Sometimes downtime is productive. Sometimes, not fighting traffic can be a gift. Assuming you chose to see the positives of a global pandemic, here are some things we might talk more about: Extra manpower and incentive for Spring Cleaning Read more books See family again when they’re home from school Take a pause from hectic everyday life and reflect on what really matters Bipartisan politics have no place in a global crisis Get projects one that you’ve been putting off – ordering product for renovations, SEO, building a course Fewer cars on the road A realization that we still need one another The best of us are popping out and offering to help neighbors: shopping, food and TP drives, running errands People are getting educated on medical basics like washing hands, transmission vectors, etc. The general IQ of the television we’re watching is going up, less mindless entertainment and more content Our resilience is showing The best in people comes out in the worst of times Many interesting and key conversations are teed up for us to have with our kids Have More Positives? I don’t think this list has to be exhaustive for the point to be made. There are many positives of a global pandemic. To see them, we simply need to look. I’ve got comments open on this show’s Website, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter. Have you got a few extra minutes? How about sharing a positive that you’ve experienced (or will experience) as a result of this global pandemic? Personally, I think this kind of conversation is a nice needed break from the regular stream of news the networks are continually sharing.
32 minutes | Mar 9, 2020
8 Week Character Development Coaching Program
If our goal is to deliberately expose our kids to Character Development coaching this season, then we need an actual plan. We can't leave it to chance that our kids are going to understand the hidden life lessons youth sports teaches. Teamwork, work ethic, perseverance, sportsmanship... these are all multi-syllable words to kids without concrete examples. In this post, I'm going to walk trough an actual 8-week character development coaching program that you can print out and put to work in your club in about a week. If you're not a coach, listen in because this isn't just about coaches. If you want your kids to understand the lessons and remember them, the lessons need to be called out and rewarded. This episode will give you more to celebrate than a scoreboard win. We will discuss the what, the when, and the how of coaching Character Development in a standard single season of youth sports. Let's talk about it. Getting StartedThe program I've laid out in this session has a communication component, a fundraising component, a reward component, and a method for getting it done during an actual eight or ten-week season. For the big picture program overview, please see episode 119 titled Have-a-Ball Character Development Program. Episode 119 describes the 7 steps to follow to set a program like this up. I include some costs and budgets, communication, and source of funds recommendations. In this episode, I'm fast-forwarding into an 8-week soccer season and lay out the pre-game, game day, and post game activities that coaches and parents can follow and support across your entire club in order to make this character development program work. I'm including a downloadable .pdf in the show notes for this episode, so you can have a tangible copy of the program, including recommended coaching questions and a section for reflection after each character lesson. If you're worried that you already have your hands full with trying to teach the basics and you simply won't have time or bandwidth to be deliberate about coaching character development, then this is where I promise you the program is really simple. I'm using standard coaching methodology you should already be familiar with. The only thing you need to add are a few meaningful questions (I provide some concrete examples), a reward mechanism (like a custom game ball or a patch or a mention in your organization newsletter), and the discipline to follow through each week with what's laid out. If you can do these three things consistently, you will no longer have to guess about the lessons your players are learning. You'll know exactly what you're doing and when. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageThe Character Development Coaching Program On One PageWe have to keep it simple. One page is all you need to understand the full 8 weeks of a program like this. Most of what we'll be doing is stuff that's already happening every day - most of the time without being recognized. All we need to do to be intentional about Character Development, is to drop some key questions as seeds, keep our eye out for emerging behaviors, and reward them. Whether you chose to use a custom ball as I did in Have-a-Ball, you give out patches, or you simply recognize players in a public way, the important part is that you make Character Development a deliberate part of your youth sports experience. You can download a copy of my one-page 8-week Character Development Program by simply telling me which email to send it to. Simply tell me where to send it. The WeeksI've divided the season up into 8 weeks - each with their own Character theme: Work EthicTeamworkAccountabilitySportsmanshipRespectEmpathyCouragePerseverance Each of these character themes have a definition, weekly pre-game activities to incorporate into practices, pre-game (practice day) sample questions, Game day activities, and a place for your own comments and reflection.
16 minutes | Mar 2, 2020
Have-a-Ball Character Development Program
We need practical ways to bake character development into our youth sports programs. In this episode, I talk about one that I recently implemented in my own club and some of the ways that you can implement a similar program in yours. Being Intentional About Character DevelopmentDevelopment is a long game. It's not something that gets done in one session and it's not something that is already baked into and coaching licensing programs that I've taken yet. It's one thing to say that a character development program is already a natural byproduct of participating in youth sports, but it's another thing all together to say that we are being intentional about it. Sportsmanship is going to be learned by kids through participation in youth sports, for example. But the word Sportsmanship can be preceded by "good" or "bad." Kids are going to learn good sportsmanship and/or bad sportsmanship. Which is the one we want them to learn? How about respect. Kids will learn about respect for the Rules, Officials, Opponents, Teammates, and themSelves (ROOTS). But what will they learn? If yelling at referees is allowed, for example, then on the point of respecting referee's, the message is "we don't have to." The key to good coaching is being intentional about development. Whether we have a plan for developing foot skills and set plays, or a plan for developing transferable character skills, plans matter. Plans converted into action matter more. Let's talk about being intentional about practicing a character development program, and what that might look like on a soccer field. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageCatch Them Doing Something Right!In the book, The One Minute Manager, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, the authors talk about this concept of "catching them doing something right." It's a play on words and it's meant to highlight a management approach meant to get the most out of employees, but I've found the concept works great on a sports training field. Basically, it requires us to know what we're looking for in terms of examples of positive behavior, then go on the hunt to find and reward that behavior. In practice, this concept behind this is pretty simple. Let's say we want to develop a players first touch into space. We build up a session plan with that theme and by the final open play activity (where you're no testing for knowledge), you notice a player who had a bad first touch has improved their first touch into space. Well, bingo! That's what you were looking for! You post practice huddle might include specific praise for that player, mentioning the action you noticed as evidence of improvement. Giving praise in a public way accomplishes two big things: The player you're speaking with and about will know that you were watching and that you care. It'll make them feel good about themselves, and probably provoke a smile. Everyone in earshot (players, other coaches, officials, and/or parents) will know what you're developing and can play an important role in supporting or promoting that development. The entire ecosystem is on notice, after your praise, of what really matters in your environment. Have-a-Ball Character Development ProgramWhat follows is a seven step process for putting your Have-a-Ball Character Development Program into practice. This takes some coordination and some pre-planning, but it's not that complicated. Step 1:Partner with a company that can provide custom balls that kids really want Step 2: Partner with parent and or local businesses to "sponsor" your have-a-ball character development program. This means they provide the financial support you need to purchase the number of balls you need. Step 3: Purchase 1-2 balls per game for the upcoming season Step 4:Segment your season into themed weeks. For example, Week 1 = Hard Work, Week 2 = Teamwork,
36 minutes | Feb 24, 2020
Statement About The USWNT 2017-2021 CBA
On February 12th, 2020, the players association representing the men's national soccer team made a public statement that sends shock waves through the United States soccer community. If we are to believe the statement they made, it effectively draws back the curtain on previously confidential negotiations between the United States Soccer Federation and its professional players. At best, this statement hints to the inner workings of United States soccer and suggests some ways in which leadership can improve the system. At worst, their statement cripples trust and condemns our system as deeply flawed. At the very least, it draws people like you and I into the debate around discrimination and fair pay. Let's talk about it. A Tipping Point (The Lawsuit from USWNT) On March 8th, 2019, the United States Women's National Team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer in federal court. This lawsuit, case number 2:29-CV-01717, is a class action complaint, 25 pages long, brought by current and former members of the US Women's National Team with the help of the legal firm Winston & Strawn LLP. It alleges violations of the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The USSF discriminates against Plaintiffs, and the class that they seek to represent, by paying them less than members of the MNT for substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the MNT. USWNT The lawsuit "seeks an end to the USSF’s discriminatory practices, and an award to make Plaintiffs and the class whole, as well as to provide for liquidated and punitive damages and all other appropriate relief." It might help to understand this dispute as one between employers (USSF) and labor (the USWNT in this case). The WNT is presenting themselves as employees of USSF, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. They represent that they receive pay and a series of benefits from USSF such as coaches, trainers, nutritionists, doctors, massage therapists, etc. To give you some context around staffing, at the USSF annual general meeting (AGM) on the 14th of February, USSF revealed that the USWNT has a staff of 35 people caring for 23 players. In addition to staffing, the class action reveals the USSF provides other benefits like deciding the number of games that will be played, where they will be played, practice fields, locker rooms, game surfaces, exercise equipment, scheduling times, transportation, and more. The WNT claims that USSF provides centralized management and control, that the women require equal skill, effort and responsibilities as their male counterparts, and that the women have "Achieved unmatched success in International soccer leading to substantial profits for the USSF as employer." Some stats the WNT cite include three World Cup titles and four Olympic Gold Medals. They point out that they were three-time winners of the U.S. Olympic Committee's Team of the Year Award, and Sports Illustrated's Athlete of the Year. They're ranked number one in the World, a position they've held for ten out of the last eleven years. They claim to have generated "substantial" revenue and profits for the USSF. This is a claim I questioned as I read through the materials in preparation for this show. As President of a 501(c)3 nonprofit myself, I know it is not legal to generate profit in the pure sense. For your information, what we might call "profit" in the nonprofit world is usually classified as "retained earnings." In other words, money generated must be recycled back into support of the mission - something I may talk more about at another time. There are several references in this class action to "profit," "net loss," and "net profit" that I hope can be better clarified with the help of an actual nonprofit accounting professional.
4 minutes | Feb 17, 2020
Presidents Day Weekend 2020
Happy President's Day 2020! Big news in the world of US Soccer this week. Full episode coming soon after the holiday. Get ready!
12 minutes | Feb 10, 2020
The Best Tool for Your Parenting Toolbox
None of us are perfect parents. Let's talk about a parenting and work promotion tool that is within your reach. Improve your parenting and your career!
25 minutes | Feb 3, 2020
Playing on More Than One Team
This episode was inspired by another great sideline chat. This one was between myself and a soccer day on the side of our futsal court last weekend. His son is looking at playing for more than one soccer team at the same time in the Spring. He was asking me about it & it reminded me of you, of course. You should hear what we talked about. We talk a lot about multi-sport kids and the advantages kids can have by rounding out and improving their overall athletic IQ, but how about those kids who love soccer and want different experiences from different levels of competition and/or different groups of friends? What is a Multi-Team Kid Both my son and daughter were both multi-team kids. They played for more than one team each season. My daughter played on two teams at the same time. My son played on three. They got something different from each environment. A multi-team kid is a kid who plays for more than one team in the same sport at the same time. Many of you should be cringing when I say this, but it's not uncommon. It's also not without its risks. What follows will be a discussion about some of those risks, the rewards, and what families and coaches should consider when dealing with multi-team kids. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page Why Would Kids Play on More Than One Team? A lot of it comes down to friends. Kids have friends on other teams that play in other leagues. They connect with one another in school. They say things like "You should come play with us. We have fun!" Kids hear about different styles, different experiences, and they want to go where their friends are and try new stuff. This is all very natural. Other reasons to play on more than one team might be to find new challenges. Many kids love to play in a relaxed environment where fun and friendship rule AND in a more challenging environment where a crispy through pass is received by a competent player who can use it to the team's advantage. I'm not saying that either is more or less fun or that there are not competent players in recreation or classic programs. I'm merely pointing out that there are multiple reasons why players might like to play on more than one team. For some, it's about exposure. Though I fear this is too often more of a marketing gimmick to attract parents willing to pay big bucks, than it is an actual opportunity to be scouted. Clubs, coaches, or parents move kids from platform to platform hoping to find the right platform so their kid can have the best chance of being discovered. While discovery is possible, see my episode describing US Soccer's alphabet soup for reasons why this might not be the best strategy. Considerations As a coach, I want to be clear right out of the gate that playing on multiple teams in the same sport in the same season has risks. It can be made to work, but there are things we need to think about. Going down this path will require additional communication and in some cases, checking with your medical professionals. So what are the risks? Overuse Injuries: rest and variety are important to the human body. Injuries occur when we perform the same task over and over again. Running too much can lead to shin splints, tendonitis, hip pain, back pain, and even fractures. An exclusive focus on one sport (one set of similar actions) doesn't allow other supportive tissue structures to form. This, combined with repetitive stress placed on the same structures without adequate rest can result in injuries. These can be serious enough to take a player out of the game - or worse. It's important to avoid overuse injuries. Confusion: at the younger ages - below 13 - specialization really shouldn't be the primary focus, but for 13 and above, kids are starting to identify with positions and will begin to take deeper dives into those positions in terms of what skills and attributes those positions need. The coach often has some input as to where players fit toge...
64 minutes | Jan 27, 2020
Gender Bias in the Game
I was minding my own business, eating my lunch alone at a table when two women asked to join me at my table. The conversation that would unfold for the next hour or so went way beyond my expectations.Before I went to this convention, I thought that gender bias in the game was mostly as a thing that didn't have any real effect on my life. Today, I can't stop seeing it everywhere - I mean everywhere. In this episode, I want to talk about women and gender bias in the game and in life. What is gender bias and how is it affecting not only the women in our world, but the men, our children, and the entire game. I don't know if this episode is more for my men or women listeners, but I promise you, it's worth paying attention to. Let's talk about it. What is Gender Bias?Unfair difference in the way women and men are treated.Understanding the definition of Gender Bias is easy. But I think actually understanding and appreciating gender bias in real life and the effect that it has on us - men, women, and children alike - is a whole other ball game. I've known the definition of gender bias for years. But as with most hot button issues, I didn't think it applied to me, so I honestly just considered it one of those many social problems that someone else was better at dealing with. I was wrong. As a manager of employees, I felt like I always stood ready to address a gender bias or sexism issue if it ever came to my attention, but it rarely showed up explicitly. When it did, I was there to do my part in dealing with it, but honestly, I thought it was another of those issues that the media and social pressures were blowing out of proportion. There is so much noise about groups being unfairly treated these days, they're enough to make anyone curl into the fetal position and cry uncle. So... I live my life and put the noise on ignore. Again, I was wrong. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageMy History with Female Gender BiasAs with most things, I think it's useful to know where I'm coming from when I talk about this. My perspective is likely different from yours because my exposure has been different. I'm a 6'2" man who's had many successes in life. I've climbed to the top of several career ladders. I have a great family. I don't fear walking alone at night. And I have had what I believe are many healthy professional relationships with women employees, peers, and supervisors over the years. My mother is a feminist. She grew up with four older brothers in New York, and from the stories she told me, her life was a testosterone heavy environment. My uncles were scrappers. Gender inequality affected her profoundly, and to this day, she and my sister are pretty adamant about the idea that whatever men can do, women can do better. To them, it doesn't matter what. Women can pretty much do anything better than men. As a boy and later as a young man growing up, the continual refrain became pretty annoying actually. I felt like I got it already and wondered what they wanted me to do about it. I never felt like pay inequality or glass ceilings made sense. I won a lot of work related awards and I've been beaten by women who were clearly better the job than I was and genuinely celebrated their success. As a Treasurer and member of the board of directors for a fire department I was a member of as a young man, I was the lone voice advocating for two women to join the department in the late 80's, early 90's when women were boxed out of the fire service.I spent a lot of my life working in operational environments, and I treasured having a female partner. I'll talk more about that in a few minutes, but to me, male/female partners were more balanced; a yin and yang working together in harmony. I was medical operations and I found that we reached and connected with more humanity together than we ever could as single sex teams. I felt that gender bias was not my problem.
4 minutes | Jan 20, 2020
At United Soccer Coaches
38 minutes | Jan 13, 2020
Fixed vs Growth Mindset
I'm trying to find way to deliver perhaps one of the most important life lessons that youth sports can teach. I want to help people transition from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. In this episode, I'll explain the differences between the two, how they each manifest on the pitch and in real life, and share some ideas I have so far. I want your input here, so if something I say strikes a chord with you, please use one of the many avenues I've given you to connect with me at https://thesoccersidelines.com/connect/. Let's talk about fixed vs growth mindset and how each of these can have profound consequences on our own and our children's ability to succeed in youth sports and in life. Why Two Mindsets?Very simply, I'm referring to a body of work done by a Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, Ph.D in a book titled Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. If you have not read her book and you find what we're talking about today interesting, I welcome you to use the link I put in my show notes to pick up a copy and read it. That link is my Amazon Affiliate link, so you'll contribute like five cents to the show, but every penny counts. Dr. Dweck's work really resonated with me because after being exposed to the concept, I was immediately able to see the two mindsets in my own two kids at home, and in the kids I was coaching on the field. I tagged myself as a growth mindset kinda guy, and found her work provided me a very useful mental framework that I could use to categorize just about everyone in a few short minutes of getting to know them.Understanding fixed vs growth mindset is really about understanding how people view themselves. Do they see the world as a fixed immovable object that they need to navigate, or do they view themselves as in control over creating the world they live in? Once you know how people view themselves and the world around them, you have a vital piece of information in hand regarding how they are going to respond to challenges. As a parent or as a coach (or as a manager), it's important to know where people are so we can get a better sense of what we need to work on in order to help them realize their full potential. From there, we can tailor our own behavior, tone, what we talk about, how we talk about it, etc in such a way that appeals to the people we're trying to connect with. It also helps with patience if we understand where certain behaviors are coming from. Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon pageWhat is a Fixed Mindset?The first mindset she calls a "fixed" mindset. She will go into much more detail in her book, but at a high level, those with a fixed mindset are likely to believe that they are who they are. They came into this world with a set of skills, personality, character, and intelligence, and they need to discover it. The key here is a focus on discovering what is already there. If people with a fixed mindset discover that they are good at something, they run with it. It's great! If, on the other hand, they discover that they are not good at something, they "know" to avoid it. They wonder with every new experience: "Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?..."If you've coached kids with this mindset, you'll know that it takes a lot of effort to convince them to get on the ball at home if they need improvement. They assume they're not good, so there isn't a lot of point in working at it. Many with a fixed mindset would rather move on and try something new - to see if they're good at the new thing. If they are, they pursue that. If they're not, they take a personal hit to ego and keep searching for the thing they are good at. Fixed mindset players and adults are, in my opinion, more challenging to work with. Coaches want players who are "coachable." This means that they take criticism, suggestions, and feedback,
39 minutes | Jan 6, 2020
Crisis of Trust
Sure we have bad sideline behavior, but should we blame parents? What else is at play in our world today that might lead to poor sideline behavior?
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2022