Where are the skills?

Have you watched a youth soccer practice or asked your 5th grader about their soccer unit for gym class lately?  What are your observations?

I have, and as a lifelong soccer coach it scares me.  What I have been seeing in the classroom and on the soccer field is an emphasis on playing games at the expense of time spent on individual skills.

Now we all know that the kids, when asked what they want to do, will say enthusiastically “PLAY.”  Not surprising is it.  Playing is FUN, and that is why soccer is such a success with youth in and out of the classroom. READ MORE

When your family shows support, nothing else matters.

I was never a talented kid, but I loved to play soccer. There was no game where I did not play with passion (I still do). However, there was no game I played harder or better than when my parents were there watching me!

My dad was a hard worker and my mother wasn’t a fan of sports, but I still remember whenever they showed up to my games how excited and special I felt. Once my dad said “you might not be a professional, but I am proud of your effort in every game.”

When I became a father, I saw things from the other side. My kids wanted to play soccer, but not because they liked the game. It was because they wanted my attention and my time. My 5 year old was learning how to pass using the inside of his foot. No one on the team knew how to do it but my son. I remember how the coach congratulated him. He replied very proudly “my dad taught me how to do it.” READ MORE

Coaching U10 Players (and their parents)!

At this age the coach’s task is to provide the opportunity to play soccer.  These students have minds and bodies that are like sponges and we need to keep their attention.  The instruction can be directed at the development of the entire player, their physical, cognitive, social and psychological needs.

Remember U10 players are still children not adult players, their attention span is getting a little longer than last year but still not fully developed.  Their motion is gaining in balance and strength but not yet fully developed.  Psychologically U10 children are becoming stronger in understanding how to cooperate and share with others.  Boys and Girls are beginning to develop at different speeds, girls getting their growth spurts a little earlier.  Motor skills overall are becoming more refined.  Muscle memory is very elastic and receptive to good instruction.  At this age player memory is absorbing content as fast as it can be delivered and players are able to think ahead because they can tap into new information they have recently experienced.   READ MORE


By now, many parents have probably heard/read that the main or only thing you should say to your young player after a game is “I love to watch you play.” While I wholeheartedly believe this to be true (even if difficult to practice at times), I think that there could be an “also” added to the parental responsibility: also mean it! And by mean it, I mean actually WATCH them play.

I learned early on that my boys were watching me to see if I was watching them. They would occasionally glance over to check in with me, looking for acknowledgment, after doing something on the field or while waiting as a sub on the sideline. Afterward, almost without fail, I would get the post-game questions of “Did you see that time….?” or “Remember when I did….?” They weren’t always referring to a big play they made – sometimes it was something silly that happened, but they wanted to know if I had noticed, if we had had a shared experience. Ultimately, it mattered to them that I bear witness to what they had shown up to do. READ MORE

They won’t pass the ball

Do you remember when they wouldn’t pass the ball to you?

 Do you remember? That “feeling” when as a youth player you first began playing the game; another player passed the ball to you, and you lost the ball to the other team because you misjudged how to handle the pass. Then later on in the game that “feeling” you experienced when, you were “open to receive,” and the other players would not pass the ball to you because they thought you’d lose the ball to the other team.  READ MORE

Tips for Coaches using the MOTI Mobile App

Coaches using the MOTI Mobile App do several basic functions on a weekly basis. This short article will guide you thru these basic functions as if you were on your phone vs a desktop platform.

1. Set-up the App to save your password, so you do not need to enter it every time

a. Before signing in Check the box on the Sign-In saying “Remember Me

b. Switch to APP VIEW from Web View, by pressing the button at the bottom of the Screen. If you see the “Gear” or Settings Button at the top of the Screen and the bottom button says “SWITCH TO WEB VIEW” – Then you are in APP VIEW. READ MORE

COACHES CORNER: Making Meaningful Connections

The recreational soccer seasons are usually quite short and coaches often
don’t get enough contacts or time with their players. As a parent
coach, we can get so caught up in our agenda of the nuts and bolts list of
things we want to teach the players in practice and the season that we can
sometimes forget one of the important basics of coaching at this, and all
levels: making meaningful connections!

  1. Make a one-to-one verbal connection with each player at every practice
    and game day. The kids want to know they are seen and that it mattered that they showed up!
  2. Connect to where the individual player is, emotionally, mentally and
    physically. There can be wide range of abilities at the recreation level: try to
    find a way to simplify things for the child who isn’t coming in as
    naturally coordinated, or to have empathy for the child who has had a rough
    day, or to create an additional challenge for the player who comes in with
    more soccer experience.
  3. Connect what you work on in practice directly to the games. Remind the
    players about the new skill you introduced earlier that week and tell them
    you are looking for them to try it against that day’s opponent.
  4. Remember to connect with the parents! Introduce yourself to the group
    and individually when you see a new face. Ask the kids to thank their
    parents for getting them to practice and games. Let them know, either in
    person or via email, something positive you saw their child do or something
    that you are encouraging their child to try.

These little efforts can make a big difference in giving the entire team a
fun soccer experience. READ MORE

Kindergarten Cop and Coaching

There is an old Arnold Schwarzenegger film called “Kindergarten Cop.”  In it, Arnold becomes a substitute kindergarten teacher who barely made it through the first day!  He felt totally overwhelmed and under prepared.

That is how many of us begin our coaching careers – feeling overwhelmed and under prepared.  That anxiety can lead to fear, even before you take the field for the first time with your team. 

“It’s OKAY to be scared. Being scared means you’re about to do something really, really brave.”  Mandy Hale READ MORE