Wake Up America!

How long is it going to take us to realize that whatever we are doing to train our youth soccer players isn’t right? If you don’t believe me, just take a look at how our US team fares against other teams in the world? The ONLY reason the US even makes it to the world cup is because we have a very small division. I think only 1 or 2 teams in our region are cut from the WC qualifying matches whereas there might be 5 or 10 times that many that are cut from the European region.

America, I love you but you suck at soccer. If we ever hope to compete at an international level, we have to stop doing what we are doing to our kids. I know we love them. But we are only setting them up for embarrassing failures later on. We can’t continue telling them that they are good enough. It is time to raise the bar! Don’t measure them against MLS players. Measure them against the european or south american club players. Then, see how they rate. Parents, it starts with YOU! NOT the coaches and trainers who work with your youth clubs. Parents! Get your kids out the door to the parks to the streets! If you want to organize something, organize and teach kids that pick-up games, neighborhood games, small-sided backyard games are the real teachers! The teachers are other kids – older kids! Not coaches, trainers, or referees! Please! WAKE UP!!!

January 24, 2010 at 8:13 am Leave a comment

Good Stuff on Speed and Agility (age related)

I got this content from the following blog:

http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/blog.asp?post_id=812

Recently, I received a good question from a club director that I think may be of interest to a number of coaches across the nation working with youth players.

Does US Youth Soccer have any literature/guidelines regarding at what age it is appropriate for players to start speed and agility training?

I do not have a paper which speaks directly to this topic. However we do know from our colleagues in exercise physiology that there’s no point to speed training until the body is mature enough to respond to the training. This means after the child has reached Peak Height Velocity (PHV). Endurance or speed training becomes effective at 12 to 18 months after PHV, which is about 13 years, 6 months for boys and 11 years, 6 months for girls. Significant results are realized for boys at about 15 years of age and for girls at about 14 years of age and vary with each individual’s physical development.

One practical solution is to use the onset of PHV as a reference point for the design of optimal individual programs with relation to ‘critical’ or ‘sensitive’ periods of trainability during the maturation process. Prior to the onset of PHV, boys and girls can train together and chronological age can be used to determine training, competition and recovery programs.
The average age for the onset of PHV is twelve and fourteen years for females and males respectively. The onset of PHV is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, including climate, cultural influences and social environment.
The onset of PHV is a reference point that provides valuable information for training the players’ energy systems and central nervous system, regardless of chronological age. Using simple measurements, PHV can be monitored and training can be related and optimized to exploit the critical periods of trainability. This approach can enhance the development of short and long-term individually optimized training, competition and recovery programs such as the optimal window of accelerated adaptation to stamina (endurance), strength, speed, skill and suppleness training – or the five S’s of training and performance. It should be pointed out that all energy systems are always trainable, but during the so-called ‘critical’ periods accelerated adaptation will take place if the proper volume, intensity and frequency of exercise are implemented.

What are important to train in childhood are balance, agility, and coordination through a movement education approach. You can also begin to work on form (correct body posture and controlled movement) beginning at U-10. Teaching proper running and jumping mechanics is far more important in the U-10 and U-12 age groups than the speed of a sprint or the height of a jump. Those factors will show up once the child reaches adolescence. Biologically adolescence ranges from age 15 to 23, with each player coming into and finishing adolescence at their own rate. Here are some facts on speed training once they have reached late puberty or early adolescence.

· Pure speed- the ability to cover the distance between two points in the shortest amount of time.
· Technical speed- the ability to perform skills at speed.
· Mental speed- ability of the player to be aware of all factors, conditions and options inside and outside of the game.

At any level, speed separates the outstanding players from the average… So, soccer speed training sessions should play a major role in your training. Speed in soccer can be quite complex. It certainly entails more than just running fast. When you talk about speed in the game, here are some of the attributes that will make for better players…

• Quick speed off the mark
• Quick acceleration over 10-15 yards
• Good speed endurance
• Speed in possession of the ball
• Quickness of feet or agility
• The ability to quickly change direction
• The ability to execute skills quickly
• Last but not least… speed of thought

You can see from the above that good 100 yard sprinters don’t necessarily have the attributes to be quick soccer players. And by the same token some players who are not typically fast runners can excel in soccer if they have sharp feet and quick speed of thought. Remember that old phrase…’The first 10 yards are in your head.’

Absolute speed or the ability to run fast is determined by a number of factors – the obvious one being genetics. But if a player has been blessed with less than favorable sprinting genes don’t worry too much. A good soccer speed training program will improve the efficiency of the muscle fibers (if not the type or amount of them) and that will make players faster. So, one goal of your soccer speed training schedule should be to increase their sprinting power – particularly their acceleration and speed off the mark. Soccer players rarely sprint more than 50 yards in a straight line.

A second, and equally important, goal is to increase your speed endurance. Speed endurance training significantly improves physical recovery after a bout of repetitive sprints. The body’s ability to remove lactic acid increases which can make such a difference to a player’s game.

Thirdly, a soccer speed training program should improve agility, foot speed and reaction time. Exercises to improve agility don’t tend to be physically taxing. The emphasis is on short, sharp movements of a high quality.

Finally, incorporating a ball into some of the speed and agility drills is important to make all those gains in speed transferable to the field of play.

As for speed of thought, that’s one that we can begin to train at U-6 through game-like activities and using guided discovery in the coaching method. Coaches need to attend the National Youth License coaching course to learn more in these areas.

May 20, 2009 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

Soccer is a lifetime sport

I got this in an email from the Utah State Soccer Technical Director, Greg Maas. He recently attended the US Youth Soccer Association conference in San Jose where the NSCAA Technical Director, Jeff Tipping had this to say about soccer as a lifetime sport:

“My take on youth development involves developing a soccer
culture….something which all of the player development organizations can
work together on. One of the issues I would have referred to in this
regard is age bracketing at the older “youth” age groups:

1. Age bracketing at the post 16 year old age bracket. It has always been
my view that you learn best from playing against better & older
players…..yet, due to our age bracketing we have players who only play
against players their own age….for life! We have college graduates who
have never played against a 35 year old until they graduate from college.
Being excluded from adult soccer is an issue with the Premier League &
other international Academies – which was the topic you asked me to speak
on. The second point goes with it.

2. Lack of adult teams at the pinnacle of the American club pyramid. The
vast majority of our clubs are like a headless body….youth teams with no
senior teams at the top. I think one of the indications of a healthy soccer
culture is the presence of large numbers of adult leagues & although that
is not exactly your mission i t should be a focal point in player
development as it gives younger players a goal, helps create a soccer
culture &, possibly, serves as an excellent modeling experience for young
players. This leads me to the third point.

3. Modeling. A huge aspect of player development is modeling….watching
older players play & mimicking them. This is particularly important in the
9-14 year age group. We all know our kids don’t watch enough soccer & part
of the reason is because younger players don’t get the habit of watching
soccer from older players. There seems to be a huge dividing line between
“Youth” players & “Senior” players & they rarely seem to mix. This is a
great pity & a significant aberration compared to other countries.”

I could not agree more! One major component missing from today’s clubs is the adult league. Why should it be that only our kids play for a club? Why can’t our clubs have an adult league. All European clubs have this component in all major sports. Why not America? Are we too busy? Are we too lazy? Do we think that soccer is just a kid’s sport?

I think it is, again, a mindset that we think “Well, I support my kid in soccer. I’m too busy/old/tired, etc. to play the game myself.” Bullshit! Get out on that field and show your kids that you can play! They will look up to you and respect you just for trying! A lot of the kids on my team come to watch me play indoor soccer. Whether it is comic relief for them (“come watch coach make a fool of himself”) or they come to cheer me on, I don’t care. They are coming out and seeing that I am, at least, trying to do what I am teaching them how to do. And a lot of them help me by giving me coaching tips just like I would give them when they are playing. It builds camaraderie between us and helps them understand what it is like trying to coach a player and helps me understand what they have to go through on the field.

I will be submitting my ideas to my club for a formal adult league. Maybe we will have to change our charter to include adult teams. But it is something that needs to be done to create a culture of soccer in America.

May 6, 2009 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

Water

I am reposting this from this blog posted by national UYSA coach Sam Snow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 10, 2008 at 1:25 pm Leave a comment

Ronaldo – Player of The Year

There’s a shocker.

Ronaldo bags top player award

If you have ever watched him play, you will know why.

I’ve always said that I would rather be lucky than good. Well…this boy has both! Is there anything he can’t do?

By the way…this is just the fifPro player of the year award. More awards are sure to follow. And, if you don’t know what fifPro is, it is the fifa organization that groups all professional players together. So, this is sort of the “Oscars” of the professional football world. His own peers chose him for this award. Nice. Way to go!

October 29, 2008 at 5:29 am Leave a comment

Food For Thought

I just got this little story from one of the parents on my team and thought I would share it. Thanks Kris! I hope you enjoy it!

A mother was making a breakfast of fried eggs for her daughter. Suddenly the girl bursts into the kitchen.
‘Careful! CAREFUL! Put in some more butter! Oh my goodness!
You’re cooking too many at once. TOO MANY! Turn them! TURN THEM NOW! We need more butter. Oh no! WHERE are we going to get MORE BUTTER? They’re going to STICK!
Careful! … CAREFUL! I said be CAREFUL!
You NEVER listen to me when you’re cooking! Never! Turn them! Hurry up! Are you CRAZY?
Have you LOST your mind? Don’t forget to salt them. You know you always forget to salt them. Use the salt. USE THE SALT! THE SALT!’
The mother stared at her. ‘What’s wrong with you? You think I don’t know how to fry a couple of eggs?’
The daughter calmly replied, ‘I just wanted to show you what it feels like when I’m trying to play soccer.

October 15, 2008 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

The End of The Season

Well….we are at the end of another season. My new team sure has come a long way and I must say that this is the best group of boys that I’ve ever had. And I say that for a lot of different reasons. They are the first team that has ever asked…no…begged me to hold longer practice sessions. Believe me, I was totally blown away when the whole team approached me about longer practices. How could I say no? And they work hard. Every session ends with them completely drained. They sure do go all out. This is definitely my favorite team. Not because they are the best players but because they play with the most heart and passion that I’ve ever seen in a group of 12 year old boys.

So…the season…well…I’ve always said that there is more to the game than winning the match. And a good thing too because our record isn’t great. We may not have won many matches but we have won in other ways. Every player on this team has improved considerably since I got them just a couple of months ago. They all seem to enjoy the team and each other’s company. And, maybe the best and most gratifying thing that has ever happened to me….the other day I was listening to my son (who is on this team) tell my daughters something…”…it’s just like in soccer. Even though you may be down a couple of goals, you never, never quit trying.” Wow! SOMETHING has payed off! At that moment, I could retire from coaching very happy. That is exactly the sort of life lessons that I have been trying to teach. It’s the reason I went into coaching to begin with. I just hope that my philosophies have rubbed off on some other players that I have coached.

Maybe, in some small way, this is how I get to affect lives in positive ways. I sure hope so. If I have, then I have done my job.

Thanks for reading…

October 7, 2008 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

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