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Tab Ramos: Keep the parents at bay
by Mike Woitalla, March 4th, 2011 10:47AM

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TAGS:  youth boys

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Interview by Mike Woitalla

Tab Ramos, considered one of the USA's most skillful players ever, played for the USA at three World Cups, two Copa Americas, and in the Olympic Games. Two years after retiring in 2002 from a playing career in Spain, Mexico and MLS, he founded the New Jersey youth club NJSA 04. In 2008, he coached the NJSA 04 Gunners to the U-14 U.S. Youth Soccer national title, marking the first national championship for a New Jersey club in two decades.

SOCCER AMERICA: If you had a magic wand, how would you use it to improve youth soccer in America?

TAB RAMOS:
Wow. I’d have to think about that …

One of the things that’s been most important for our club is, from the first moment, eliminating parents’ opinions from what we do.

The opinion of the parents of the players here is completely irrelevant to us. And that’s been a good formula for making this club a real soccer club.

SA: What would be an example of detrimental parent interference?

TAB RAMOS:
There are a thousand things. But I’ll start with an example of a parent who had the right attitude.

On our U-16 [U.S. Soccer Development] Academy team we have a great player who starts all the games. He’s been at our club for four or five years and just about every year previously he’s been a substitute. He did not start. He happened to be on the team that won the national championship, but he didn’t start.

It’s the perfect case of a parent who figured it out the right way. This boy’s father is a soccer guy. He kept his son at the club even though he wasn’t starting. He could have moved him somewhere else and started for another team. He stayed here while he was a substitute -- trying hard all these years. Now he’s 16 -- in the year that it really matters for him -- and starts every game.

I think that’s the right formula.

SA: And the wrong parental approach …

TAB RAMOS:
For most other cases, parents will be looking only at two things.

No. 1. Whether your team is winning the games. So if they’re not winning the games, then obviously it’s time for Johnny to move somewhere else -- to the team that just beat us.

No. 2. The huge effect that the parents have on the kids when they drive home. When the parents get in the two front seats of the van and little Johnny’s is in the back. And he hears the parents say, “Well, the coach this … the coach that … He only gave him five minutes. … And I was timing the first half, and he only put him in this position. …”

All that negative talk instead of saying, “You know, that’s great, you only played five minutes but you tried as hard as you can. Maybe if you keep trying hard, the next time you’re going to play more and impress the coach.”

I think parents are very protective of their kids and obviously everyone should be, but when it comes to sports, I have yet to meet a coach who doesn’t want to play a good player a lot of the time. So chances are if your son is not playing a lot, he doesn’t deserve to play at this point.

SA: Since you started the club eight years ago, what have you discovered is a good strategy to providing the children with optimal coaching?

TAB RAMOS:
At our club now, we believe the best thing is have people who are experts at certain age groups.

We keep our staff at the same age groups year-to-year, so the kids go through coaches like they go to school. First grade you have Mrs. Whatever, second grade you have Mr. Something Else.

We’ve been able in less than eight years to identify coaches that we have fit into certain age groups better than others. They teach the game better, and we’ve kept them in those age groups.

SOCCER AMERICA: You were perhaps the first big teenage star in American soccer, playing in the U-20 World Cup in 1983 at age 16. Looking back, how different is youth soccer now in the USA?

TAB RAMOS:
It’s so much different and so much better. It’s more organized. There are more people involved in soccer who know what they’re doing and leading the way in many good clubs.

Before, you rarely had someone who knew about soccer unless it was a parent of someone.

Not to say there aren’t a lot of things wrong with youth soccer, but we’ve come a long way since when I grew up playing.

Soccer has become a huge sport and kids have great choices and opportunities to play for some great clubs who are going to give them an opportunity to advance.

SA: So you’ve seen significant improvements in youth coaching?

TAB RAMOS:
I think it’s improved tremendously. There are so many people who have played the game. So many people who have taken their coaching licenses, learning the game, studying the game.

There’s so much soccer available on TV now, which is huge for the development of the kids as well. Watching the Premier League or La Liga, whatever, there’s always soccer on TV. There’s exciting soccer with good players.

All those things have had a huge effect.

SA: For sure a very positive of recent years is that Barcelona, which plays entertaining and successful soccer, is being watched by American coaches …

TAB RAMOS:
The effect that Barcelona has had on world soccer and will have over the next decade is huge. We were just getting to the point of where it’s almost like to step on the field you needed to be 6-foot-2, and that was all that mattered.

SA: And Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi all stand barely 5-foot-7 tall and finished top three in the 2010 world player of the year award …

TAB RAMOS:
Being a 5-foot-7 guy, I can tell you that if I have a 5-foot-7 guy and a 6-foot-2 guy who play exactly the same, I’ll take the 6-foot-2 guy. But now I know that it’s OK for me to take the 5-foot-7 guy who can play better than the 6-foot-2 guy.

Not only do I know that, but everybody knows that. That you’d rather have the guys who can play first, and size is second. And I think Barcelona has had that effect on world soccer.

SA: So do you think this has an effect on American youth soccer where an emphasis on results so often leads to a playing style based on a big, strong kid in the back booting the ball up to the big, strong kid upfront?

TAB RAMOS:
At the youth game it continues to happen. I can tell you at the Development Academy level you rarely find teams who don’t want to play. They all want to play. They want to go forward. Some teams obviously have better players than others, but for the most part it’s really been a good experience.

We had a webinar the other day that [U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director] Claudio Reyna ran and it was basically more about playing offensive soccer and getting the outside backs coming out of the back and becoming part of the offense, and that kind of thing.

I think it’s the beginning of a lot of changes and a lot of exciting stuff that’s going to be happening down the road and I think we’re going to be developing a lot better players.

SA: One of the side effects of youth soccer’s incredible growth is the emergence of competing organizations. What are the pros and cons of that?

TAB RAMOS:
It’s difficult because now we’re talking about business, companies trying to make money from it.

I think personally there’s too many competitions, but the fact that U.S. Soccer has its own league [Development Academy] makes it simpler at least at the older age groups.

Players are starting to figure out the Academy is the place to be.

The rest are always going to have as many leagues as possible. Businesses are always going to be out there trying to make money, create competition and trying to sign up teams.

SA: It seems that the USA is producing more “good” players than ever. That our role players are better than a couple of decades ago, but the country doesn’t produce truly exceptional players at the increased rate we would expect …

TAV RAMOS:
I think exceptional players are not developed. I think they’re born.

An example: At my club, players who’ve been training the same way for six or seven years, who've been taught the same things for six or seven years. Who have had every single aspect of their game put in front of them the exact way -- and they’re completely different players.

Some can make perfect passes, an excellent through ball. Some can’t complete three passes in a row to a teammate 10 yards away.

How do you explain that? I think some people just have god-given talent and some don't.

(Tab Ramos, the President and Executive Director of New Jersey club NJSA 04, was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005.)

(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for East Bay United in Oakland, Calif. His youth soccer articles are archived at YouthSoccerFun.com.)



32 comments
  1. Al Micucci
    commented on: March 4, 2011 at 2:12 p.m.
    Amen

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 4, 2011 at 3:22 p.m.
    This is what I don't understand about the playing time dilemma. I understand a kid may not be good enough to play more than 5-10 minutes on a team. What I don't understand is why this same kid is not being invited to play on a lower team to get him the much needed playing time to develop his flaws so he can have a better chance to get more minutes on the better team ? Actually, I do know the answer : Profits. I own a small club of 7 teams. I do not have the luxury of A and B teams in each age group but every year I find a way to get everybody enough playing time. By that , I mean at least 30-40 minutes. All I do is I dont stack the rosters and have 3 subs max. To accomplish this I usually sign up an extra team to get kids the extra playing time. I have noticed that the bigger the club the more stacked the subs are. It is completely ridiculous to have 6+ subs for 7v7 and 9v9 or 7+ for 11v11 especially at the younger U13 and U14 ages. Out of a U10 team for example, if you have 12-13 kids rostered, you usually have 2-3 players(at least) that will play most of the game wich is 25% of the team. 6 others will play 1/2 the game between remainding starters and strong subs. the reamining 3-5 kids will basically get 5-10 minutes. Why not have this last group of kids signed up on a B team? What these especially bigger academy clubs should do is distribute 30 U10's on 3 teams (A,B and C) instead of stacking 2 teams of 15 players for a better profit. Realistically, if your kid is playing 5 minutes a game per week he has very little chance of ever getting a spot as a starter. This one kid that was a bench player and finally made it as starter at u16 was probably a strong bench player that played at least 20-30 minutes a game or was a really rare case of self determination and probably made it through his own merit. If he did accomplish the latter then do you think that this specific club or coach was really needed ? He probably should have been playing somewhere else and would now be a better U16 than his current team starters as a whole.

  1. Valerie Nelson
    commented on: March 4, 2011 at 3:41 p.m.
    There are some things that Mr. Ramos said that I agree with. But when you pay more than a couple of thousand of dollars to play on a club team and only get 5 minutes to play-I have a problem. When the team is not winning, with the "better" players playing-than everyone should play. As a parent, who only said something on two occassions and was not listened to or responded to, than I have a problem. Because my daughter does not get to the park, field ot training facility unless I pay for it amdI drive her. Tab Ramos provides a service, the service is training my child to be the best soccer player possible. Any other "business", if you are not happy with the service, than you complain and you take your business elsewhere. I have no idea if my daughter received the best training if I was not able to see her play? Now, we "pay" less and some games she starts, some games she does not. But I can see a result of the service that is provided.

  1. Chris Staudle
    commented on: March 4, 2011 at 4:05 p.m.
    Mr. Ramos falls into the catagory of, just because you were a good soccer player, that doesn't mean you know what your doing as a coach. Besides your family and grandma, it makes no difference if you win a national championship from U11-U15, instead of watching for 5 years, his player should of been playing on a team that would of had him on the field playing, and gaining experience. Mr. Ramos says the player now starts on his U16 team, that player could be playing on Man U. by now if Mr. Ramos hadn't been holding him back all these years.

  1. James Fredrickson
    commented on: March 4, 2011 at 4:16 p.m.
    The playing time thing really goes down to age groups. There is no way a kid should only play 5 minutes on a U10 team. At U15 or so, then I can see that, but players are not going to develop if they don't play in actual games. Winning should not be the focus until about U14, so there is no excuse for a coach to keep a kid on the bench like that for younger age groups. If you think that of a player, then you shouldn't be cashing that parents checks. I also disagree with Ramos about the development thing, I have taken a team of u12, undersized, 1st year "travel" girls and by the end of the season they were able to compete with teams 3 divisions higher in tournament play. They learned how to play soccer, not just be big and fast and play longball. Coaches can have a huge impact if they are WILLING to DEVELOP talent, instead of just PICKING big and fast. James

  1. Leland Price
    commented on: March 4, 2011 at 4:50 p.m.
    Chris Staudle's comment above is right on the money. To add to his comment - on the college level (and you players know who these guys are), there are some mediocre coaches who start players for reasons other than ability - links to recruiters, links to contributors, willingness to be "managed" into a boring player, as opposed to a "creative" player. In that case, it doesn't help a player's cause to put up with that kind of nonsense. Let me add that many of the club coaches, on the teenage level - are actually better than the some of the college coaches. The club coaches are less locked into a stogy system and more flexible as to creative play.

  1. Prince Knight
    commented on: March 4, 2011 at 4:50 p.m.
    All I would like to know, is how do I get in on a webinar that Clauidio Reyna runs?!?!? That would be great to put in the toolbox of coaching info.

  1. Barry Ulrich
    commented on: March 4, 2011 at 6:51 p.m.
    I think it's fair to state that player development should be the primary focus on players up to about 13 or 14 years of age. Winning should be of minor concern. Coaching efforts should be stressing ball control under duress and in the open field, accurate passing, teamwork and playing time. If a child is good enough to make the team, s/he should be given the opportunity to play considerably more than just 5 minutes a game!

  1. Kent James
    commented on: March 4, 2011 at 6:55 p.m.
    Great interview. As one of our premier skilled players who now coaches at the youth level, Tab Ramos is in a great position to comment on player development. Most commenters taking issue with Ramos' cavalier attitude towards limited playing time are justified, but playing time is all about context. James Frederickson's comment about no U10 player should just play 10 minutes is spot on. And certainly, a player only getting 5-10 minutes a game for years on end is not going to develop like a player playing most of each game. But sometimes it is better to be a player getting 5-10 minutes a game while playing in a very competitive environment than playing all game on a team that just has warm bodies. I think Ramos is saying that the quality of the playing time is as important as quantity. 5-10 minutes in a high level game with intense, challenging practices can be better than a full game that is played with half the skill. As players get older, having quality players as teammates (from whom they can learn) may be even more important than having a good coach. It was also informative to hear Ramos' take on whether or not youth coaches should remain with their teams year after year (as is common in our area). I think he's right that players benefit from seeing different coaches at different ages, and he is also right that coaches generally excel with different age groups (U19 requires a different coaching skill set than U10). My concern with coaching the same age group every year is that the coaches might get tired of it, but I'd guess Ramos would be somewhat flexible. I'd also think that the players would benefit from some continuity, so maybe having a 2 year period with each coach would be a good compromise. The only part of Ramos' comments that I disagree with is his argument that because coaches want to field good teams, players not playing clearly don't deserve to play. Coaches are human and evaluating soccer ability is a subjective skill. Coaches, even good coaches at the highest level, can be wrong. This is more likely at competitive clubs when every player has ability. Youth soccer has to deal with the transition from everybody plays at the youngest level to competitive adult soccer where 11 players may play the entire game. But at the youth level, if two players are very close in ability, they should also be close in playing time, not have the slightly better player play the full game while the other plays a token amount. Of course, parents (especially non-soccer playing parents) have a tendency to have inflated views of their progeny's ability, so parents should resist the urge to be upset every time their child doesn't get enough playing time. But after a while, if a parent (and more importantly, the player), feels the coach is not given them a chance to prove themselves, changing clubs may be the right thing to do.

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: March 5, 2011 at 10:56 a.m.
    I had so much respect for Tab before I heard him speak. His solution to US soccer is removing parental influence? Parental influence is the ONLY thing that keeps uneducated charlatan soccer coaches in check. There might be 30 coaches in the US who are worth listening to and who deserve to be given the freedom to do their jobs. ( Tab is CLEARLY not in that fab 30, as evidenced by his shocking admission that it took Barcelona to show him why you don't need the 6'2'' giant. This is a guy who was technical and 5'7'' inhisday. If he doesnt get it, who in US soccer does?) The rest of these coaches should be questioned and prodded at every single stage. Parents are undoubtedly part of the problem, but they represent such a small, small slice of the pie it's almost disingenuous to even mention them. Coaches who don't know what they are doing and would prefer you continue to fill their pockets without asking a single question are much more problematic. I wonder why a coach who doesnt know the game well enough to teach it would prefer parents didnt voice their opinions.... Its the same reason the guy selling magic potions at the fair is gone the minute you pay him. Sometimes I sit and wonder how things could be this bad. Then I read this interview, where a guy who should know what he is doing uses this space to chide parents complaining about playing time, and I know we have a long way to go.

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: March 5, 2011 at 1:26 p.m.
    Furthermore, Tab, if great players are born and not developed, what is in the water in Spain, Argentina, Brazil and the Netherlands? I'd probably make a fortune if I could bottle it and start feeding it to American babies. Maybe then we could grow soccer players like Fabregas, Iniesta, xavi, etc...

  1. Kevin Leahy
    commented on: March 6, 2011 at 8:43 p.m.
    I am sure the whole conversation was about elite players. Were does that leave the thousands of children that play because they love it. Personally, I don't believe anyone should be shortchanged on playing time until they are out of high school. Winning is insignificant compared to developement. You are not just making a soccer player but, you are working with a human being. One that will grow to be a teacher, fireman, business person, etc... I have seen many talented atheletes in my day, the ones that make it big always seem to be the most motivated.

  1. Amos Annan
    commented on: March 7, 2011 at 2:17 a.m.
    Tab Ramos is wrong. He is talking about WINNING at the youth level instead of development. He may be a great coach, but it was more likely that a big name attracted all the talent in the area and managed to create a super youth team. Can't win without the talent. There is no substitute for playing time. Players need to play to get to that next level. Sitting on the bench won't help you. While he is correct that most parents only measure the success of a soccer team by the amount of games won, the biggest factor in development is playing a lot of games. Landon Donovan is a great example. Played low level rec and was on losing teams. Biggest factor was he spent all his time obsessively PLAYING and practicing.

  1. Matt Cardillo
    commented on: March 7, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.
    The comments to this section show more awareness of Youth Soccer and its problems and difficulties than Mr. Ramos knows of. Perhaps he's just got a skewed view based on his own quality as a player along with the players he coaches. Parents are NOT irrelevant. That perspective has been addressed already by a number of comments. However, i'll add to that. Mr. Ramos (and coaches) forgets that many of today's "Parents" actually played the game at higher levels. They have an understanding of the sport. Perhaps more of an understanding of the average player and how they progress and develope a passion for the sport. Many of today's "soccer parents" actually have soccer brains, have kids, have licenses and have coached. I am not suggesting that parents should micromanage, but to dismiss them, is down right silly and insulting. I want to add one more thing that i do not think was addressed. Yes, kids of any age will gain most of thier skill through training. The games help, but the skills are developed in practice. HOWEVER, the game is where the fun is. The game is where you get to show-case your talent and learn from your mistakes. The game is where they put on a uniform (that was expensive)and line up and have their passes checked. If they'll not play, why make them pay for a uniform. The game is where you gather the parents and people cheer you on. If the kids don't get more than insignicant playing time they will not have fun even if the team wins. If they do not have fun, they will quit and move on to something else. If the parents see their kid not having fun, they will move on to something else. This is true for A, B and C teams. If the goal is to weed out lesser players and find the jewels and put together winning teams, then the method of not playing players is perfect. If the goal is to bring players along, keep them excited about the sport, make them feel part of the team, then this method fails miserably. It is the youth coaches' job to get a balance. To keep the kids involved and to develope a passion for the sport. And, above all else, the coaches number one duty is to keep and make the players happy and have fun. If they don't do that, they have failed...even if they win.

  1. Phil Richards
    commented on: March 7, 2011 at 4:11 p.m.
    It appears many commenting missed an important part of what Tab said about the 16 year old, "This boy’s father is a soccer guy." 99.99% of soccer parents are not "soccer guys." The Father clearly recognized that his child was learning what he was supposed to learn in training. Sub-15, training environment is much more important than game time (though I also don't understand the jump many have made from "sub"=5 minutes a game). Also, he's not saying that parents are irrelevant, in fact, he said the opposite. The parent's role is a support role in their child's development, but unless the parent is qualified to properly instruct their child, then they would be better off supporting the coach. Don't get me wrong, there are many bad coaches out there, but Ramos is specifically talking about HIS coaches, whom I assume he picked and who he trusts as knowledgeable soccer people. Let's not forget, he's Tab "freaking" Ramos and he can probably tell the difference between good and bad coaches and players. Now if you are a parent, and you know the difference between good and bad, why is your kid in this situation in the first place? I can watch a coach's training session for 15 minutes and tell whether or not he's a good coach (it will take a bit longer to tell if he's a good man). I remember seeing an interview with Chelsea's John Terry talking about his time as a youth player, struggling to keep up with bigger, stronger, and faster players, since Terry was a late bloomer. He often ended up in the bench simply because he hadn't physically matured at the same rate as others in Chelsea's Academy. Did he go home crying to mommy about it? I doubt it. The fact is, kids grow and develop differently and it's important for the parents to monitor their child's progress and help the through. Coach's need to manage an entire team full of players and they need to sit players in certain games because it will be better for the team as a whole. Any parent expecting their kid to get minutes not earned is doing a poor job, IMHO. A big part of how players will respond to adversity depends on what the parent's attitude is. If parents complain all the time and undermine the coach, the kids will inevitably have a poor attitude and development will be stifled. If the parents seize the opportunity to re-enforce that work ethic as important and that long term commitment to solid training principles will pay off, then the child will be fine. Finally, another very important fact to realize is that not all players are created equally. Some players simply have more talent than others and, in a vacuum, the more talented player is going to end up the better player. Parents need to recognize this. You may have visions of your child being the next Mia Hamm or Landon Donovan, but if she or he has the frame of Rosie O'Donnell or Kevin James, it doesn't matter home good a coach is, your daughter won't be playing in the Olympics. But that's a whole new topic...

  1. Gak Foodsource
    commented on: March 7, 2011 at 6:33 p.m.
    Phil, my biggest objection with Tab is that he thinks parents are even close to the biggest obstacle to US youth development. Honestly, mommy and daddy telling their son he is good when he isn't and telling the coach he should play when he shouldn't aren't even on the youth development problem radar. This message is tthe same nonsense US socecer tried to push a few years ago - " the most valuable time in a soccer practice is the 10 minutes before and after practice in mommy's van." as if mommy and daddy could undue the positive things their son picked up in practice. This is nothing more than an excuse bad coaches apply to cover up their own inability to help your spnbecome a better player. Tab and his coaches may know their stuff ( although I am seriously pessimistic after his Barca comments and his attempt to blame parents for US youth development problems.). We'll see. I couldn't care less if he wins a youth national championship. I want him popping out Guiseppi Rossi's every year. It is how he should, as a coach, be measured.

  1. Kayla Cotton
    commented on: March 7, 2011 at 10:19 p.m.
    I agree with you Gak, parents are not close to bein the problem in youth soccer. Too often the coaches are truly incompetent and rather than being open to parents concerns for their children they take a very defensive approach to any parents involvement...that is after the check has cleared. When parents pay over a thousand dollars for their child to play on a club they expect their child to play on the club not sit on the bench. If the child is not good enough to play in the game the club should have had the decency and integrity to be honest with the child and the parents to state that fact. Instead our club selects a child, takes the parents money, put a pseudo coach in place who is emotionally toxic, and expects that emotionally troubled pseudo coach to train/develop the kids. Of course he can't do that because he has no clue about coaching and his social skills are inept as well so he can't relate to the parents who refuses to allow him to verbally abuse their children with his emotional poison. Rather than develop the child who doesn't quite have the skills to play the pseudo coach benches him and calls on other kids from another team to "guest play" because winning the game is more important to him than coaching and developing the team/child. Parents don't pay money for their child to sit on the bench while children from an entirely different team are called up to play. When parents speak out against this method/approach they are given some BS about allowing children to play up. How can you justify this and consider the coach to being doing his job of developing the players on his team. You Can't!! Parents you must speak up when you see your child being mistreated. Coaches don't always have your child's best interest at heart and some coaches are to immature to even coach, let alone know how their mistreatment effects the child they are mistreating. Don't sit on the sidelines and let the coach berate and verbally abuse your child or any child for that matter. If your club believe they need to keep the parents at bay after taking your money find a club who respects your input. They can't have it both ways. They want your money, they need to hear your concerns/opinions.

  1. Cindy Hart
    commented on: March 8, 2011 at 12:56 a.m.
    Professional coaches measure success in rings. College coaches measure success in championships. High school coaches measure success in titles. Youth coaches measure success in smiles!!! IIn youth soccer, it's not about the coach, it's not about the parent, it's about the child. An 8,9,10 or even 15 year old child cannot advocate/stand up for him/herself against an adult teacher, coach, counselor. They need a parent to look out for them until they are old enough to do this for themselves. Children are NOT view as equals to adults, and as a parent it is part of our job to make sure our children are treated fairly and respectfully.

  1. David Delk
    commented on: March 9, 2011 at 9:02 a.m.
    Wow, this interviewed stirred up a hornet's nest. I am heavily involved in my local youth club both as a coach and administrator, and our club is a notch or two below the highest levels of youth soccer in our area. The biggest problem I see in Youth Soccer at the highest level clubs is that it is a cut throat business, more concerned with wins and reputation than player development. The advantage and disadvantage of our club is that we are stuck with a player pool in a certain geographic area which means our teams compete at the level to which the coach can develop them. We do not have the luxury of not playing kids or recruiting kids or pulling kids from other teams. When our teams reach high levels of success it is due to player development, then we lose players to higher level clubs because we cannot as teams compete regularly at those levels. Tab Ramos is right and wrong, parents can be a pain in the a** when it comes to making decisions about positions, playing time, etc; HOWEVER, it is the parents who have the ask questions and be vigilant over whether their kid is getting quality training and whetehr a club is right for their kid. If a club wants to charge outrageous fees, it better be ready for scrutiny. I have also yet to meet a parent, including me, that does not have a higher opinion of their kid's talent than the general public would.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 9, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.
    Delk, Clubs like yours is where I have seen ,time and time again, where the top talent comes out of. I have yet to see a top player produced by these top area clubs in Illinois. I see these Top Clubs constantly recruiting from clubs like yours and mine for their top teams. I brought up a now U12 team to closely compete vs the #1 Region ranked team and played them to a tie once 1 year ago. I ended up losing 3 players from this team to them right after this accomplishment. They wanted 3 more from this same team but they remained loyal. These 3 of my loyal players have now led this team again to closely compete vs this now improved and still ranked #1 Regional team with a win and a loss to them recently. When are people going to wake up and appreciate the developemnt over the name?? My advice to you Delk is to try and keep your top players by telling them that they should become leaders and instead of joining these Top Clubs they should show more pride and appreciation to your club by trying to beat them instead. Most of the time these top players do not improve with their new top clubs simply because they go from being depended on with their old club to get game results to knowing and accepting they will always win regardless of their performance with their new stacked top club. That is exactly what happened to my 3 players who sadly would now be bench players on my top team. Makes me want to cry.

  1. Frank Heavner
    commented on: March 9, 2011 at 4:27 p.m.
    Does anyone responding here, have the incredible experience and resume of Tab Ramos? If not, then take what he actually said, and learn from it. It's about players, training at the very top level of youth soccer. It's not about your local club team. Keep up the great job Tab! Always enjoy watching your boys play.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 9, 2011 at 5:10 p.m.
    Frank, Playing Experience and Coaching Experience are 2 different things. They usually don't go hand in hand. There are tons of examples in pro coaching today. Maradona for example. It's about youth soccer in general. If it wasn't for our local clubs these top clubs would have a hard time finding top players. It's about developing players and having something to show for in the international spotlight. USA is still not producing players like Mexico for example and Mexico's youth program is much smaller. The system is not working.

  1. The Dude
    commented on: March 15, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
    Hmmm, do the parents pay the club? If so, then sorry Mr. Ramos they are your boss and or customer. You must listen. Do the children get to play for free and the coaches are paid by a sponsor or such? If so, then Mr. Ramos you are 100% correct. Trust me, there are plenty of parents that can coach as well or better than most club coaches. And I will have a pint or two to that!!! Cheers!!!

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 15, 2011 at 5:13 p.m.
    Dude, who can argue with you.Simple. And your right about those parent coaches. I have seen it first hand. These Academy clubs have always had these parent coached teams at every age give them hell and prove we're right. What these Academy clubs end up doing is even more disgusting and hiporcritical. They start recruiting these parent coached and developed players just to disband them and kill their competition. It happened to me but I'm at it again.

  1. r h
    commented on: March 21, 2011 at 10:36 a.m.
    The one thing coaches fail to remember is how few players truly deserve to play a full game. For every player who plays a full game, instead of a full game minus 10 minutes, you are taking 10 minutes from a substitute. I have seen countless examples of parent intimidation affecting playing time drastically. Quiet parents lose playing time for their kids, Tab. No parent wants to schlepp to a game and find out their kid gets less than ten minutes out of eighty. And no parent wants to see struggling starters stay out for the full game, despite mistakes and fatigue,even the parents of the starters. I don't mind my son being a sub. But I do mind him getting no playing time with no explanation to my son. And I don't appreciate coaches who talk up the positives of my son and then don't play him. Be honest with parents, communicate to players and parents, and you'll have NO issue with parents Tab. And honestly, to say "I'll take the better 5'7" player over a 6'2" player" is BS, too many coaches overlook short players and ignore their skills. Does anyone wonder if that 16 year old suddenly grew 6 inches and now is a starter? Is that all there is to it, height and weight?

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 25, 2011 at 8:23 p.m.
    Deserve to play a full game??? I think everyone deserves to play many full games, 2-3 a week. If I could get a commited starting line up that will not miss a game I would have 1-2 subs the whole season just in case. R H, that's whats wrong with American parents they are so worried about who played more, who deserves what,etc. instead of demanding your kid play x amount of minutes, not counting those Brats, especially if you pay $1500-$2000 a year. Remember what you think is correct or what a player deserves is not everybody elses opinion. It is the coaches opinion that will have the last say. What I don't get, especially AT the younger ages is why kids play 10 minutes or less. All that would be needed as that this kid be bumped down to a lower level team to play more minutes. This is the best way for a kid to impress his coaches to more playing time on the Top team. I gaurantee it.

  1. Amy Whitehead
    commented on: March 29, 2011 at 6:50 p.m.
    Most of these comments just bolster Mr. Ramos' statements. Every parent is convinced their child should start, just had a kid leave my son's team so he could be the hotshot on a struggling team. And that is fine, I just happen to have different values for my kids. Last year, my son played very little at the beginning of the season, sometimes only a few minutes a half. His father and I encouraged him to do his best, and told him if he wanted more playing time, he'd have to prove to the coach that he deserved it - it was all up o him. My son worked hard, gave it his all, and was starting by the spring season. We are proud of his great attitude and work ethic.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 30, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.
    Amy, Why couldn't he play more minutes on a lower level team and still work hard to eventually accomplish what he did at the same time? I just believe that you should have fun no matter what the level. Why should a kid be benched and stuck to play on one team? Is this fun for him? Just because parents want their kids to make a specific team, their fun should not be the price to pay. You're values should include you're son playing the game as much as possible. Do you think kids in Brazil or Argentina restrict themselves to one team, 2 practices and 20-30 minutes a week of playing time ? I am sure they are not.

  1. Luis Arreola
    commented on: March 30, 2011 at 3:54 p.m.
    By the way, I own a club of about 7 teams and am also a parent. My kids practice everyday and play about 3 games a weekend. They love it. On some teams they play less and more on others. I have 3 subs per team average. Our philosophy is that if you are struggling at 1 position then you can always contribute in another. Other's joined my club just to do the same. My son is the top u12 goalie in Illinois and a top center Midfielder as well. Amy, you proved my point on the American view of soccer. It's not even logical to expect so much from this system and you're point of view.

  1. Tim Glowienka
    commented on: April 20, 2011 at 1:28 p.m.
    I know Tab from having played with and against him over the years and I agree with mostly what he says here until the end. I don't think that players are born exceptional, and there are plenty of books out there to back me up here. If you haven't already, you should check out the Talent Code or Talent is Overrated. In a nutshell, it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to reach a level of mastery like a professional. And I'm sure Tab can attest that he put his time in practicing in a structured environment as well as on his own. But I think his last comments need revision. In regards to parents being enemy #1, I think that's the sign of an inexperienced coach that hasn't done a good enough job of communicating expectations. Just my thoughts...

  1. Jack vrankovic
    commented on: August 1, 2011 at 2:16 p.m.
    I am fairly certain that Mr. Ramos notifies parents that players are not guaranteed playing time. American youth soccer varies greatly in competitiveness. It is up to the parent(s) to decide what is best for their children/family. If you live in NJ and want you child to receive proper training and a chance at competitive play, then Mr. Ramos is certainly a great option. Perhaps some of you will be interested in the following link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECb4HpeMRzc

  1. Aresenal Fan
    commented on: April 10, 2013 at 2:02 p.m.
    Totally disagree with playing time. I personally would not have my kid play in a club or academy that thinks he can develop playing 5 minutes a week. Game time can't be replicated with practice. I also thinks is funny that he claims that some players are already born and not made, sounds like some familiar dumb comments i heard before made by ex-players about kids being unable to be great players because thier fathers were not very good at the game.....hmmm better tell my kid to forget about medical school, i'm only a truck driver.


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