The Soccer Sidelines podcast is about bringing parents, players, and coaches together around the most important aspects of the youth sports experience – and we don’t mean winning games.
Youth sports empowers us to create thousands of teachable moments in the context of a 15-year development window. Kids are open to learning and development in a youth sports environment – physically, mentally, emotionally, and in terms of core character - between the ages of 3 and 18 years old.
The goal of this podcast is to promote enjoyment of the game (and youth sports in general) and to make the most of the gift that Youth Sports gives our families. We hope to help parents, players, and coaches to make the most of the time we have together, and to build a solid platform from which our kids will launch into the world of adulthood.
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 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 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!
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 SportsLet'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 maintainedThis 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 pageBeing Away from SportsI 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 COVIDAn 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 importan...
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
* 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-/.
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 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 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,
2020 Senior Prom MASKquerade
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 tab above, click the orange 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!
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.
I’m a player and this is so helpful because it goes so in-depth about the game and lifestyle.
Excellent Explanation of Futsal
I didn't know this about the game before. I do now!