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On Dribbling, Parent Coaches and Tournamentitis
by Mike Woitalla, January 10th, 2008 1PM
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Soccer America Members can now post their feedback on's Blog and Commentary section using the link provided at the bottom of our e-letters. Selected posts will be included periodically in the e-letters. Below are reader commentaries on recent editions of the Youth Soccer Insider.


Lloyd E. Elling (Ocean View, Del.):
It appears that we may be pushing our younger players too strong for game experiences and not enough with development of skills. You have got this coach and parent thinking.

Kathy Kasten (Marietta, Ga.)
A very well written article! And entirely true! Ask orthopedic surgeons about the stress of too much soccer!

LET THEM DRIBBLE by Mike Woitalla

Bob Mahany (Orchard Park, N.Y.):
Yes, Yes, Yes, Dribble, Dribble, Dribble! As a youth coach, travel coach, select coach, high school coach, and part time director of coaching I have been saying Dribble, Dribble, Dribble for years. It is great to see others are saying the same thing. The biggest obstacle is the parents. Our next frontier is parent education. Thanks for giving me more information I can use with the parents of our players.

Nader Moztar (Miami):
I am a U10 and U11 coach and I could not agree with you more. Good passing teams at the age groups I coach will mostly get winning results and it keeps the parents very happy and engaged. However, when we evaluate individual skills, usually the kids don't perform as well as they should. We are spending too much time working on tactics and set plays in practices and much less on techniques.

Harry Castleman (Needham, Mass):
One thing I hear as a referee all the time from parents on the sidelines is "Get rid of it!" -- as if the ball were going to explode if their kid kept it on his foot for one more second. If only we could get the parents and coaches to relax, keep their mouths shut, and not worry that the kid might get stripped of the ball, which will happen from time to time.
But, especially with the U-10s, certainly we can de-emphasize the emphasis by coaches and parents on winning (or is it fear of losing?), the kids will gain more confidence, and the parents and coaches will gain more confidence in the kids. Maybe I'll hand your article out to the coaches when I collect their team rosters before every game!


Dick Beal (Ontario, N.Y.):
This was great. I don't know how many kids I seen quit soccer because their dads drove them crazy. I've been coaching for over 30 years and although I think it is OK for people to coach their kids, there comes a time when the string has to be cut.

Steve Greenfield (San Jose, Calif.)
I wholeheartedly agree with this philosophy ("Don't be afraid to praise your child") but learned that if you step (even tentatively) over that line to "too much" it can be as damaging -- both to the team's moral and your child, who will then experience the negative side to parent involvement through "coach's daughter" commentaries.
As a coach, it's my job finding the balance between giving my daughter praise to continue, the tools to recognize coach-vs-dad situation, and how best to continue challenging herself. As her father, it's my duty to provide support after each session so she continues playing after each training session.

Carl Walther (Florissant, Mo.)
One of the things that has stuck with me while getting my master's in psychology was when a professor told us that you should always pair any criticisms you verbalize to anyone you're coaching (supervising, etc.) with a positive point. This holds true for coaches, teachers, work supervisors, etc. But always point out the error first, and then follow with a positive point. The last thing said is the emotional tone that the person will walk away with, and you want it to be positive.

  1. Holly Lesko
    commented on: February 18, 2008 at 1:08 p.m.
    Thanks so much for your insights. Anything you can offer on camps for young (U12 and younger) players? There's much talk among parents to send kids away to overnight camps and for me, this seems young. We have a commuter camp at our local university that gets great reviews and our club offers a half day camp each summer as well - is getting away important at this age? Is an overnight camp a better choice? Any insights you can offer would be most welcome!

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