Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
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
'When you whisper' ... Reflections on a Hall of Fame coach
by Mike Woitalla, June 8th, 2011 4:24PM

TAGS:  men's national team, under-20 world cup, youth boys


By Mike Woitalla

U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame welcomed Bob Gansler last week.

He coached the USA when it qualified for the Italia '90, reaching the World Cup for the first time in 40 years. He won an A-League title in 1997 and an MLS title in 2000. But the 69-year-old Gansler, who now serves as a scout for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, has deep roots in the youth game.

His start in coaching came when as a ninth-grader he made compensation for a gym window he broke by coaching a fifth-grade basketball team. While a college sophomore he coached a high school soccer team.

“The way I coached is I played along with them,” he explained in an interview with Charles F. Gardner in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. “I was the best player, so they listened.”

In 1981, Gansler coached the first U.S. national team that qualified for the U-20 World Cup. In 1989, at the U-20 World Cup in Saudi Arabia, Gansler guided the USA to a fourth-place finish, which remains its best finish at that competition.

I was able to watch Gansler closely during the 20 days in Saudi Arabia and he made an important impression on me. This was in the Bobby Knight era when a popular school of coaching believed in the hard-ass, screaming, marine-sergeant approach.

In Gansler I saw a gentleman coach. A coach who believed respect from the players should be earned and not taken for granted.

Never in his long career did I see him scream at his players, abuse or even criticize referees – or hold a grudge against his critics.

He was proof that nice guys do not finish last and that high-volume isn’t the best way to convey a message.

“The louder you speak, the less you're heard,” Gansler once said. “When you're whispering, you've got their attention.”

(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

  1. Brent Crossland
    commented on: June 8, 2011 at 5:35 p.m.
    “The louder you speak, the less you're heard,” Probably 15 years ago I cut the subtitle of a magazine article out & stuck it on the bulletin board over my desk. Can't remember the magazine or the author, but's it's moved with me through three offices. It says "If you have to YELL to be heard, you probably don't have anything important to say."
  1. John Soares
    commented on: June 8, 2011 at 6:04 p.m.
    Good advise; Another take that, sat on my desk for 20+ years, don't remember who said it first. "If you want some one to listen... whisper"
  1. Jim Mcnamara
    commented on: June 8, 2011 at 9:06 p.m.
    Bob Gansler is awesome...I have sat in on teaching sessions as he trains players and coaches and he has provided a complete different approach in my style...I have also had the opportunity for him to come alongside me on the sideline and guide me...I can tell you, this is something I will never forget. He is a MAN above all others and his respect for those still learning to teach at his level is second to none. He is truly an icon and a hero where many do not even come close. Thank you Bob for all you have committed to the game of soccer and my life as a coach.
  1. B Arsenal
    commented on: June 9, 2011 at 11:57 a.m.
    I wish I knew him. He sounds like an amazing role model. My high school football coach was that type of a person but I was not fortunate enough to have such a great role model for soccer. You guys who knew him are truly blessed. I hope I'm lucky enough to meet him some day.

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



Recent Youth Soccer Insider
Another USA-Mexico thriller -- in Germany    
The next generation of the U.S. U-20 team, 1997-born players, finished play in the U-19 division ...
U.S. U-19s shake off shell shock and tie Scotland    
The U.S. U-19 men's national team, which opened play at the Mercedes-Benz Elite Cup on Tuesday ...
Keys to picking the right club for your child    
When you're traveling, do you go to a local motel or a name-brand place? Do you ...
USA suffers major rout against Germany at U-19 men's tourney    
While seven of the graduates of the last cycle of the U.S. U-20 men's national team, ...
Say it carefully, quickly and clearly: Getting your players' attention    
How do you get a rambunctious group of young players to pay attention?
Heel pain known as 'Sever's disease' frequently affects young athletes    
Heel pain is one of the most common complaints in young athletes. This generally occurs during ...
Meet the 21 U.S. U-17 World Cup players    
The 21-player roster U.S. coach Richie Williams named for the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile ...
U.S. under-19 women open fourth camp Saturday    
The U.S. U-19 women's national team, under Coach Jitka Klimkova, will hold its fourth and final ...
Mexico names two U.S. products to its U-17 World Cup squad    
The deadline to name rosters for the 2015 U-17 World Cup that kicks off Oct. 17 ...
Remembering Dettmar Cramer reminds us: It's all about the ball     
The legendary German coach Dettmar Cramer once joked he felt sorry for the ball when he ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives