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From the kids, literally
by Mike Woitalla, January 8th, 2010 11AM
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By Mike Woitalla

We continue to receive entertaining examples of what happens when children misinterpret, can't comprehend, or take literally adults' instructions since Susan Boyd's "Lost in Translation" column appeared last month.

Richard White recalls coaching U-10s and telling a boy to mark one of the opponent's wingers: "Jeff, where ever he goes, you go. Mark him, and stay with him." When that particular winger was subbed out by his coach, White saw him and Jeff sitting side-by-side on the other team's bench, chatting.

"Early in my soccer career I told the kids their positions," writes Richard Weishaupt. "Left this, right that, etc. Most of the kids dutifully went off to the correct place but one kid walked to the center and practically sobbed, 'Coach, I don't know left from right.'"

When Jim Madison's grandson was 6 years old, the coach told the boy to start at left back.

"Where does that mean I am supposed to play?" the boy asked.

"Here," responded the coach, pointing to a spot on the field at the left side of the back. Says Madison, "And here is precisely where the young man dutifully ran and stood, rooted to the spot on the ground even when the ball came within a step or two."

Heidi Flores' husband coaches a U-10 team. One of the team's new players was playing in defense and when an opposing player dribbled toward the goal, the coach yelled, "Go to the middle, Belle!"

"She proceeded to run smack dab to the middle of field, inside the center circle!"

And just last week at a kickaround, after some young players impressively strung passes together before a cross nearly resulted in a goal, I said, "Way to use the wings!"

An 8-year-old girl looked up at me, held up her arms, and said, "I don't have any wings."

(Mike Woitalla is the executive editor of Soccer America. His youth articles are archived at

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