Monday, January 21, 2008

Answering your questions...

Anonymous said...
Question 1:
Coach -- thanks for all your guidance and insights on this blog. I have found what you have to say to be very interesting and helpful. Here are a couple of things that have been on my mind ... what is your feeling about high school age and younger kids playing "too much soccer," assuming you think there is such a thing as too much soccer ... ?
US Soccer has been addressing the issue of too much soccer and have come out with guidelines in a handbook entitled: “BEST PRACTICES”. This gives suggested practice amounts (days and minutes per week) as well as games per week. More and more associations are trying to bring their leagues/clubs in line with these suggestions. Unfortunately, high school soccer does not fall under the US Soccer Umbrella so as kids hit HS age they end up playing far more soccer than would be recommended. As HS soccer is a school activity there is a tendency to use every available day as either practice or games. Some HS coaches are realizing this and give appropriate days off (or lighter training sessions). The other unfortunately part of HS soccer has been that they have traditionally played on poor fields (and often football width fields – far narrower than needed). This leads to poor quality games, more of a physical game and hence more injuries. This should gradually change for the better as more and more schools are putting in the new turf (while never as good as a good grass field – much better than what most played on before). The better fields will lead to better soccer and fewer injuries. To download the 70 page PDF of Best Practices you can go to this link:
Question 2:
I've seen a number of kids seemingly get dinged-up from all the soccer practice and games they are playing. Burnout has also seemed to be a factor for a couple of kids that I have seen quit soccer.
Burnout is a major issue for young players, referees and even some coaches. It comes from the factors above (too much soccer sometimes and it comes from the factors below – the unfair emphasis on winning at younger ages. Parents share a lot of the blame for this culture happening in youth soccer (its not just coaches). Parents believe that if their kid is on a team that wins that it will automatically lead to a scholarship. Going into things with that approach will automatically take away the chances for enjoyment (that is why we initially start to play anything – because it is fun). All coaches and parents must keep that in mind. The number one reason kids burnout is due to a lack of having fun – not playing too much or too little – just not having fun when they are playing/practicing.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Question 3:

I've also read some recruiting accounts where some college coaches say that they like to see kids who have participated in more than one sport, as they think such an approach can help development. In this regard, it seems that many of the soccer programs today almost preclude participation in any other sport ...
I have honestly not heard of any coach preferring a player to divide them selves between a few sports (2 sport athletes in college has virtually gone other than in Division 3 – and that may be where you heard that). At some point a player who wants to play at the highest level possible (and has the God given talent and athleticism to do so), must concentrate on that sport above all the rest. I might throw out that starting at the HS age may be the time where a strong dedication to one sport might be important (IF THAT IS WHAT THE PLAYER WANTS).
Also, what do you think about what is seemingly a very strong emphasis on winning at the club level? Is it too much?

Interested in other people’s thoughts..........

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Post ODP Meeting Items

Thanks to all the parents who made it out last night for the meeting. Following are a few items I forgot to mention as well as a response to comment for one of the other blogs.
1) I mentioned this to the 91 parents but meant to do same for the 92s and 93s. The player pool for your age groups is around 24-25 players. For the ODP tournament in June we select minimally 18. We are allowed to take more although can only play 18 in each game. Therefore, just as the last chapter was making the ODP pool, the next challenge for those players is to emerge as one of the 18 at least.
2) For the 94 and 95 age groups we take 2 teams each to the ODP tournament, therefore all players can be rostered.
3) The Jefferson Cup appears to be the one potential conflict with the international trips. As I said in an earlier blog response, one has to believe that experience of going to Buenos Aires and playing those teams will make the individual better and therefore make his club team better when he returns - as opposed to going to Richmond and playing most likely the same teams one sees at most other tournaments.
In the long run it makes more sense on all accounts to go to Argentina or Scotland. You help yourself and you help your club. (Others on your club get to play more at Jefferson Cup as well - also in theory helping the development of your team.
4) Reminder to try and attend the NSCAA convention and MSYSA Workshop at the convention in Baltimore. Info can be found on the following links:

Addressing comments in a response to an earlier blog:
The 91 team had 10 players from last year try out again this year.
Only 3 players from last "voluntarily" decided not to try out. 8 are on clubs that are part of the Academy program and therefore were not allowed to tryout. Kinda misleading to say they voluntarily didn't come out. Several of them thought that they were going to be able to tryout anyway as we almost did get the rules changed. It is certainly possible that those rules could be changed in the future.
Numbers for 92 team are being sorted now and will post when I have an accurate count.

Lowering the cost of participation in the ODP was requested due to some players not being out he team this year due to academy. Didn't really understand that, but will say that we operate on a zero balance budget - meaning that MSYSA makes no money on ODP and, in fact, usually loses money on the program. I wish that we could find a way to lower the costs. MSYSA needs very much to create a fundraising arm to their organization. I am happy that over the last 4 years we have not really had to raise the fees at all. I am certainly open to ideas to try and make fees smaller.

Again - thanks for attendance last night and please get in any forms, etc that you may still need to get to Jen. If you signed up for an international tour, but did not put in a deposit, then we need to get that (or cc #) asap. If you did not sign up last night and have decided you do want to go, then same thing - we need to know asap. Thanks a lot. You will be hearing from your coaches soon regarding training as we sort out fields.