Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Time for a Children's Revolt
May 17th, 2007 6:15PM

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

By Mike Woitalla

Some of the things I've heard adults yell at children at soccer games are just downright hilarious. Like the coach who yelled at a 6-year-old, "Give him a target on the flank!"

Oh, how I wish the kids would start shouting back. Go ahead and give an earful right back to the loudmouths on the sideline.

I would have loved to see the little boy turn around and say:

"Excuse me! Give him a target on the what? Do you realize I'm 6 years old? How little time do you spend with 6-year-olds that would make you think 'Give him a target on the flank' makes any sense to us? Maybe after we learn how to kick the ball farther than five yards we can start giving each other targets on the whatever."

If you've been around youth soccer games you've probably noticed that whenever a little kid manages to break away from the pack and toward the goal, the shrill screams of "Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!" begin. How wonderful it would be if a kid would just stop in mid-stride, turn to the sideline, and shout:

"Listen here, and listen good! I KNOW I'm supposed to shoot. I'm 6 years old, but I'm not an idiot. And what if I didn't want to shoot? What if I wanted to dribble around the goalkeeper. Am I allowed to do that, or are you in charge of every movement and every decision I make out here?"

One the most common screams from the sidelines is "Pass it! Pass it! Pass it! Pass it! Pass it! Pass it!" I want a little kid to tell them:

"So you've noticed that I've gained enough confidence to try to dribble through a mass of kids who are kicking at my shins. You see, I've been playing around with the ball in my yard and I'm starting to figure out this dribbling thing. And you want to discourage me! Well guess what? I'm going to ignore you. When my teammates start asking for the ball, then I'll start thinking about whether I should keep dribbling or pass the ball."

I once heard a mom yell at a child to pass the ball before the 6-year-old even got control of it.

"Hey Mom, do realize how ridiculous you sound?"

Just last weekend a chubby girl of about 8 years old was racing back to her own half. Watching her run was a delight. She waddled a bit, but was picking up speed and had a marvelous look of determination on her cute little face. When she stepped over the halfway line, the coach growled, "Stop! You're a forward! Get back up front."

Boy will she get confused if she stays with game and later gets admonished for "not tracking back." Instead of looking up at the coach with guilt, I wish she would have headed over to the sideline and said, "I'll run around on this field however I please!"

Yes, a lot of the sideline shouting is so inane it's comical. But it's also sad.

Last season, when we didn't have a referee for my under-8 girls team, I took the whistle. Our team's opponents got screamed at by their coach and parents throughout the entire game.

When one of their girls took a shot, our keeper made one of the most amazing saves I'd ever seen a 7-year-old make. She lunged and stuck her little hand out to block a very well struck shot.

The coach shouted, "I told you to shoot earlier!"

The girl who almost scored looked over at the burly screamer with an expression of genuine guilt, as if she had done something terribly wrong. It was a look of pure sorrow.

What can one possibly say to a coach like that?


Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches U-8 soccer in Oakland, Calif. He is co-author of Claudio Reyna's book, More Than Goals: The Journey from Backyard Games to World Cup Competition. Woitalla's youth soccer articles are archived at YouthSoccerFun.com



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Jamieson and Gall: MLS boys key to U-20s' frontline     
Two goals last weekend on different sides of the Atlantic indicate the U.S. frontline is looking ...
Small-Sided Games: A Key to More Technical Players    
"It was the same every single day. There was no tactical work, none whatsoever. All the ...
Qatar clash recalls USA's first U-20 World Cup     
With the countdown to the kickoff of the 2015 U-20 World Cup down to 38 days, ...
The Skin Cancer Dilemma for Refs     
I started refereeing in 1978 so I have been officiating for 37 years. The only regret ...
Tab Ramos eyes additions for U-20 World Cup roster    
Coach Tab Ramos has a month to finalize his roster for the U-20 World Cup that ...
Hazing horrors -- and how to prevent them     
Last year, the University of New Mexico women's team made national news for hazing that resulted ...
Alex Morgan's Advice to Parents: Be Supportive, Respect Boundaries    
Ask her coaches past or present to describe Alex Morgan's attributes and the answers are always ...
George Weah's son progresses in U.S. national team program     
Timothy Weah, the son of former Liberian great George Weah, the 1995 World Player of the ...
U-20s aim to spawn another Alex Morgan     
The Alex Morgan we'll see at this summer's Women's World Cup got her national team break ...
How Refs Make the Whistle Work For Them     
Soccer referees carry their whistles in their hands, not in their mouths. In raising the whistle ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives