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The Soccer Sidelines

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Join Coach Dave on the sidelines as he brings you in on what’s going on behind the scenes and the stuff that really matters in youth sports. Understand the game, development, and ways you can support your young athlete at home!


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Join Coach Dave on the sidelines as he brings you in on what’s going on behind the scenes and the stuff that really matters in youth sports. Understand the game, development, and ways you can support your young athlete at home!



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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 postureI 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 neededInexpensive (under $200) seasonal fees50% play time guaranteeLocal practices and gamesEmphasis on life lessons, age appropriate development, and funHigh levels of VolunteerismInexpensive uniform kitsThe 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,


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Let's Get Back to the Game!

Returning to youth sports is something we all want to see happen - the sooner the better. Let's get ready for the fun to come!


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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, Butler, Alex. “Soccer Return: Messi, Barcelona to Play June 13; Ronaldo, Juventus on June 22.” UPI, UPI, 3 June 2020, Gardner, Hayes. “USL Championship's Vote Is Promising First Step in Return to Play.” Journal, Louisville Courier Journal, 4 June 2020, Baxter, Kevin. “MLS Players Union Ratifies Agreement Clearing Way for Return in Early July.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2020, “Arizona Soccer Association Return-to-Play Guidelines.” Arizona,


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Solidarity Payments in US Soccer

Connect with me: 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 GameWPSL 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 pageWhat is Training Compensation?From "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 "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?


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2020 Senior Prom MASKquerade



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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, 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,


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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 coffeeSome Great Things Are Being DoneDavid 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 pageSegment Two: Bad Information and RumorsI 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. ResourcesBoehm, Charles. “US Soccer Adds Another Issue with Development Academy Split.” US Soccer Players, 9 Aug. 2019,


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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 pageFive Ways the World is ChangingSocial 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 coinOne 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!


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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!


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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 LemonsLife 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 CleaningRead more booksSee family again when they're home from schoolTake a pause from hectic everyday life and reflect on what really mattersBipartisan politics have no place in a global crisisGet projects one that you've been putting off - ordering product for renovations, SEO, building a courseFewer cars on the roadA 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 errandsPeople 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 contentOur resilience is showingThe best in people comes out in the worst of timesMany interesting and key conversations are teed up for us to have with our kidsHave 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.


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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.


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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,


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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


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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!


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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!


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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...


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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.


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At United Soccer Coaches



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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 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,


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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?