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US Soccer releases new concussion awareness video

Follow the journey of a young soccer player through a suspected concussion to understand the symptoms of concussions and the steps that should be taken before a player is allowed to return to the field. As the audience weaves between reality and what takes place in the player’s mind, we see how both the physical and mental symptoms of concussions have very real effects.

Parent Sideline Etiquette: make youth soccer better for parents and players

Sideline etiquette: 6 tips to make youth soccer better for parents and players

When playing in a game, youth soccer players’ minds are focused on making split-second decisions as they maneuver around and survey the field.

Every once in a while, however, a player’s attention may be drawn to his or her hyper parent yelling instructions or making a scene from the sideline. While parents’ actions may simply be the result of wanting the best for their child, their behavior can have a negative effect on their young athlete’s enjoyment of the game.

US Youth Soccer spoke to Dave Carton, the director of coaching for Discoveries SC in Rock Hill, S.C., to hear his opinion on some areas in which many parents could improve their sideline etiquette. Carton is no stranger to addressing adults on how to act while at games, and a letter he sent to parents of his club that cited their improper behavior was featured on the US Youth SocceCoaches Blog.

Here are six things to keep in mind when attending your child’s game…

1. Avoid ‘coaching’ from the sideline while watching your child’s game
A common problem in youth soccer is the impulse parents have to shout instructions to their young player from the sideline. It’s especially difficult for a child because he or she has a tendency to refer to what a parent says, which often conflicts with the instruction from the coach. Carton said parents should imagine being in a room and having multiple people yelling instructions at them in order to see the confusion it could cause a child.

“Another thing about yelling instructions is that the tone a parent yells with is typically a lot more aggressive than the coach,” Carton said. “The coach is instructing with a teaching mentality. ‘This is what we have to do to improve. This is part of the process to get better and improve your level of play.’

“The instructions that the parents are yelling have an immediacy to it. They want it done now because they want the gratification of the instant result. It’s conflicting with what the coach is trying to do.”

2. Do not criticize the referee 
Carton said this is an epidemic, and spectators should realize that referees are people and will make mistakes — even those officiating at the highest levels of play. When parents go after a referee for what they perceive as a mistake, it begins to make the game about the adults rather than the kids.

“A referee is ideally going to make an objective decision on what he or she sees. A parent is going to interpret that same situation through the prism of the team that their child plays on,” Carton said. “If it’s a decision that goes against their team, they’re automatically going to have a subjective view on it.

“The problem comes when there is an aggression to how the parents react to that. The bigger problem is when the child sees that, the child thinks it’s accepted. Parents need to remember they always need to be a model for their child.”

3. Focus on the benefits of the game rather than the score
Far too often parents worry about the numbers formed by illuminated lights on a scoreboard rather than the experience their child has while playing youth sports. Carton said parents are naturally from an older generation in which there was a larger focus on the result of a game. While it’s natural for everyone to want to win, he said parents need to keep focus on the larger picture.

“It’s natural instinct to want to win. The key thing is to keep things in perspective,” Carton said. “If we didn’t win, how can we go into the next game to improve on what we did wrong? Coaches talk about the development process, and losing is part of that process. If your team always wins, their mentality won’t be able to handle setbacks. It’s a big part of a child’s development.”

He went on to talk about a hypothetical 1-0 loss.

“Very few of the parents are asking their child if they had fun today. The child will take the parent’s reaction to the result of the game as the norm. They’ll then relate their experience to the result of the game, which is really counterproductive. 

4. Think when interacting with opposing fans
“This is one that should be common sense. Grown adults should be able to go and enjoy their child’s experience without having any confrontation,” Carton said. “We get that at our club, too. We always say, ‘Don’t forget, you’re not just representing the club, you’re representing your child. The way you’re acting right now — if you could see yourself through the eyes of your child, what would you think of yourself? Why are you making a public spectacle over a U-11 girl’s soccer game? Are you proud of what you’re doing right now? Would you allow your child to act like this?’”

5. Don’t stress out over the game
Do you find yourself pacing up and down the sideline — anxiously following the action as it unfolds on the field? Stop it. Breathe.

“Just calm down. Enjoy it. Stop being so attached to it. It’s not your game,” Carton said. “Don’t base your enjoyment or happiness on what is going on out there.

“Look at your child. Is he having fun? Is he active? Is he enjoying the social nature of the game? Is he getting as much out of this experience as he can? Don’t worry about the rest of it. Some parents just give themselves aneurysms pacing up and down the line. Keep perspective. There are more important things.”

6. Save issues with the coach for the next day
Maybe you don’t agree with how much your child played in a game or another decision the coach made during the match. It’s important to take some time to think about it rather than confronting the coach in front of your child and the team.

“Directly after the game, the parents should not approach the coach. It’s an emotionally charged conversation and very little good can come from that,” Carton said. “At that time, there’s very little a coach can say that will make the parent feel any better. Go home. Talk to your family. Sleep on it. Get in touch the next day, whether it be by phone, email, or even going for a cup of coffee with the coach and asking for feedback.

“If the coach communicates well enough, the expectation should be there and the parent should understand the situation. If that’s not the case, the parent is totally in his or her right to bridge that communication gap.”

Youth Soccer Parents Beware of the Big Picture

Oglethorpe men’s soccer coach Jon Akin had an article published recently in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Soccer Journal.

Here is the article:

Youth Soccer Parents Beware of the Big Picture

Having spent 27 years in the game of soccer, playing at all levels: youth, high school, college, and professional, and now coaching at the youth and college levels, I see some serious issues that need to be addressed.  I have three children and they will most likely all play soccer. I know there is an epidemic growing that coincides with our American “give me options at every turn” lifestyle, but we can do something about it.  

I grew up in Pensacola, Fla., and played soccer there until I graduated high school in 1995.  This was back when your age group was your club and we were the West Florida Hurricanes (and we actually had two girls on our team). Our rival teams were Gulf Breeze (which was across the bridge from us), Mobile, Panama City, and Tallahassee.  I stayed with our team until I was a U-17 player and went to a team out of Tallahassee (North F.C. that actually won the ’95 State Cup and lost in the regional finals).  I fondly remember intense games and tournaments against all those rivals.  The main reason I remember that was because most of the players stayed on the same teams, because that is what you did; you played for your local team.  Well those days are gone from our soccer culture, and I can speak specifically of Metro Atlanta.  Our children will not have the opportunity to remember matchups and rivalries developed over years, because everyone’s roster changes drastically from year to year and let me tell you why.

It is because there is an epidemic of parents and youth players looking for the next best thing.    I am going to use my experiences at the club level during tryout time as an example.  Parents and players are frantically trying to line up the best situation for our kids and many people’s moral compass and the ability to see the big picture is going out the window.

Overzealous parents and coaches sell the opportunities that their club can offer over other clubs.  They entice with things like the tournaments they will attend and their coaching staff (which you may or may not get because the coaching turnover is almost as high as the roster).   So every year during tryout time, players and parents are looking for the next best thing.  It is a total zoo.  Players are going to three different tryouts on three different nights, setting up different tryout times so they can showcase their kids.  Kids are stressed, parents are stressed, and people are doing some really unethical things under the guise of “they are doing what is best for their kids”. 

Let me tell you a fact: You are doing the complete opposite with this nonsense. 

Parents, you are doing a few things.  First, you are putting an undue amount of stress on your child.  The game of soccer should be fun.  Secondly, you are creating an environment where your children are always looking for the next best thing. Instead of being happy where they are and facing the challenges and learning from that environment, you are swapping your kids around before they get a chance to learn anything.  Do you really want your children to live like that, later in life? They will learn to look for new jobs once a year, instead of mastering one.  They will change careers four and five times because they offer an extra weekend of vacation.  They will soon start to look for different boyfriends and girlfriends or worse, wives or husbands, because one is better looking or they have more money.  

And finally you are depriving them of fond long-lasting memories of rivalries that are some big reasons why they will love the sport for a lifetime.

I recommend you do a few things.  Play with your local club.  The time you save making these crazy commutes is valuable time that you can spend as a family, or it will give your child an opportunity to eat at home instead of fast food and do homework at home instead of the car.

Don’t believe that you’re missing out by not leaving your current club.  There are a lot of good coaches out there.  A few things you should be concerned about when it comes where to play:  Is your coach knowledgeable about the sport? Is your child learning?  Is your child being treated with respect? 

And how about the long-lost important quality of loyalty that has been thrown out the window as we shop for a better deal for our children’s soccer playing experience?   Teaching children loyalty will far outweigh the extra showcase that the new club is offering. 

There are a lot of good coaches out there and there are some bad ones, but if you use my advice above, you will be fine.  

I do not want to deny the fact that there are times to change clubs, but you should strongly consider the impact that will have on your child before doing so. 

If a child is not being challenged, that is a good time to leave.   Don’t leave because your child is not getting enough playing time, let your child deal with it, they will be better for learning how to deal with it.  At the U-17 and U-18 divisions, I think teams attending some showcases might be helpful although the Internet and a proactive approach with regards to colleges will get you just as far.

So the next time the team manager has a plot to take half the team to the cross-city rival, because they could make the best team in the state, rethink leaving because I honestly would want my three kids to be on an average team with integrity, rather than a state championship team without it! 

Let us all in the soccer community grow a garden of young players that are loyal and play with integrity and have fond memories of rivalries, not ones with a lot of trophies and blurry images of teammates.

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Bronx NY

A Non-Profit Organization Established in 2009 to Promote

Youth Soccer in Bronx and its Neighboring Communities

Mailing Address: 2018 Paulding Ave. 2Fl, Bronx, NY 10462

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