Pay-to-Play: The complexity of high-cost youth soccer explained by former Bay Area club president Eric Sippel

To gather further insight into American youth soccer pay-to-play, we speak to Eric Sippel, who has vast experience in youth soccer and the financial world. A Stanford law school graduate and nationally recognized hedge-fund executive who is now a private investor, Sippel, during his eight-year tenure as a youth club president in Oakland, California, oversaw the 2011 merger of Rockridge SC with Bay Oaks to create East Bay United Bay Oaks. The club of more than 2,500 players fields boys and girls teams from the rec level through the NorCal Premier League and up to the National Premier League. It also fields boys U-14, U-13 and U-12 Development Academy teams. Sippel stepped down as President in 2016.

SOCCER AMERICA: What’s the biggest budget item for a youth club?

ERIC SIPPEL: In our case, the most expensive is coaching. The next two highest, fairly equally, are scholarships and fields.

For the competitive side, all coaching directors and head coaches are paid. For the recreational side, they are all volunteer. Some assistants for competitive are volunteer and others are paid.

SA: Have coaching costs been increasing?

ERIC SIPPEL: Yes, for several reasons. The most dramatic increase is because the California EDD (Employment Development Department) singled our club out for designating our coaches to be employees rather than independent contractors and that has increased the coaching costs by 50% to 60%. The law requiring coaches to be treated as employees affects all clubs, but the EDD is not looking at most clubs, even though their coaching structure is the same as ours, so it puts us at a competitive disadvantage with the clubs who don’t comply. But it's the law, so everyone is supposed to comply.

In addition, costs have gone up dramatically over time with respect to our Development Academy coaches because of the more stringent licensing requirements imposed by the Academy that make it really expensive to hire Academy coaches.

SA: Is there any way to alleviate coaching costs?

ERIC SIPPEL: If you reduce the licensing requirements at the Development Academy level, then that would significantly reduce the cost of Academy soccer and, from my perspective, I don't think you'd be sacrificing quality because you'd still want to include your very best coaches, many of whom don't necessarily meet the licensing requirements.

One reason why some of our best coaches don't meet the licensing requirements is because they're middle-aged and to get a B or A level license in this country you have to play for a week at the licensing class. People who are in their 40s or 50s or older aren't necessarily in shape to play against people who are 20, 25 years younger than them for a full week. That's not a reflection of how good a coach they are but rather a reflection of whether they're in shape to play with people in their 20s. Further, U.S. Soccer does not place sufficient emphasis on teaching skills when training coaches; I believe that good teaching skills are critically important.

SA: Can the coaching expenses be alleviated by using more volunteer coaches?

ERIC SIPPEL: I think volunteers are great. I was a high-level volunteer coach for 15 years, but I was unusual in that regard in our club. It’s very difficult to get somebody who works a 9 to 5 job (or longer hours) to come out for a 4 o’clock practice.

You’re not going to get enough coaches if you don’t pay for them. Further, if a significant number of coaches need a B or A license, you have to pay a lot for that. I really don’t believe that license levels reflect coaching ability, particularly when clubs invest significant resources to train their coaches outside of licensing classes (that is a big focus for us).

SA: Is there any way to alleviate the costs of financial aid for lower-income players?

ERIC SIPPEL: It depends on the mission of the club. Our club has always been aid-blind, need-blind at every level. We are located in Oakland with a very diverse socio-economic, racial and ethnic population. We believe that it's important to reflect the community and provide opportunities for players in every stratum. We also believe it's beneficial for our youth coming from all these different backgrounds to play together in what we think of as one of the most diverse clubs in the U.S. If you accept that as your core mission, it's very difficult to reduce the scholarship aid. Many clubs provide merit based aid -- that is, only the best players receive scholarships.

SA: Where does the money for financial aid come from?

ERIC SIPPEL: It comes from a couple places. First and foremost, it comes from our members because the paying members are paying more than what it would cost for their child to play soccer for the club. The second place it comes from is donations.

SA: Is it an issue for some parents that they’re paying more to subsidize lower-income players?

ERIC SIPPEL: It is an issue. We try hard for each program to be self-sustaining and not subsidize other programs. We don't want our recreational program to subsidize our competitive program. We have a much higher percentage of scholarship athletes in our competitive program than we do in our recreational program. As our costs have significantly increased over the last several years, our families have started pushing back on the level of registration fees.

SA: Fields …

ERIC SIPPEL: Fields are absolutely a major expense. For 2016, our field expenses were about a quarter of our budget.

SA: The USA is a rich country. But it costs soccer clubs, and thereby parents, a significant amount of money to play in parks or on school fields?

ERIC SIPPEL: There is not enough field space in an urban area for the multitude of year-round sports that are being played, particularly considering the population growth. More players (youth and adult), more practice time per player and more year-round sports lead to significantly increased demand for field space. Of course, field expense depends on the club and the area. The arrangement our club has in many cases is we pay for upkeep and we get to use the fields for free. The field owners don't pay for upkeep and they get to use their own fields. For example, a school uses its field during the day and we use it after school and on weekends.

Another example is a four-field public facility that requires weekly maintenance and yearly renovation of the grass. That costs us about $250,000 every year. There are other fields that we rent. They tend to be the artificial turf fields that we don't maintain, and just pay to use them. Unfortunately, our cities can’t afford to maintain their fields at a quality that is necessary for high level soccer. Thus, we must supplement that. Lastly, a few schools have been generous enough to donate their gyms for futsal, but others will charge for that usage.

SA: What about lighting?

ERIC SIPPEL: We own the lights for our 4-field complex. The cost of the lights was $75,000, but we own and amortize them. That's not a big expense on an annual basis. Lights enable us to have 3 separate practice sessions on a field in a day without any concern over when it gets dark, thereby reducing the number of fields that we need to use (but also increases our maintenance and renovation expenses).

SA: Refereeing?

ERIC SIPPEL: That’s a small expense.

SA: Uniforms?

ERIC SIPPEL: They're paid for by the players. That's typically $150 per player once every two or three years.

SA: Travel?

ERIC SIPPEL: Paid for by the player. Depends on the age and the level of the player. All the recreational and most of the competitive teams stay very local. The top-level teams starting at U-12 will travel a little bit and for the most part, that's Southern California, the Southwest or the Pacific Northwest, except for the U-14 Development Academy team, which also must go to the Midwest once a year. Some of our girls teams travel to Sweden for the Gothia Cup. Travel expenses are there but in our club, because we're so focused on our demographic, we really try hard to keep that to a minimum. For example, we usually squeeze four players into a room and drive rather than fly whenever possible. Many teams fund-raise to pay for their travel expenses.

One reason we did not want to join the [girls] ECNL, or [boys] Development Academy at 15 to 18 is because the travel would have been prohibitively expensive for our demographic.

SA: Equipment?

ERIC SIPPEL: It's a minor portion of the budget.

SA: Registration?

ERIC SIPPEL: There are different governing agencies, whether it's U.S. Club or CYSA or the Development Academy, and it's not a major expense, particularly considering that it does cover insurance. That's not something that moves the needle. Of course, although the refereeing, registration, equipment, and administrative costs, taken individually, are not material to the budget, when taken together they do have an impact.

SA: Pay-to-play was widely cited as contributing to the problems facing the U.S. national team program after the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. What’s your view?

ERIC SIPPEL: I believe there are several drivers to our issues at the national team level. First and foremost, I believe that college soccer, although really beneficial from a societal perspective, is also an impediment to producing world-class players.

You play far less in college than you do when you are in high-school because club soccer is played almost all of the year (except for the months where athletes who are not playing in the Development Academy are playing for their high schools). This may lead to a better student-athlete balance, but, as a result, the kind of development that can happen and the style of play in college is significantly inferior to what the rest of the world does at ages 18-22. Of course, this does not address the overuse injuries and burnout that year-round play creates, nor does it address the societal benefits of using soccer to facilitate attending college; many of our alumni are the first generation in their family to attend college.

Secondly, and this is a societal question again. There is not nearly as much free play or street soccer that happens in our country compared to the rest of the world. The ratio of structured to unstructured play is very different compared to many of these other countries. I don’t know what you can do about that because this is more of an issue of how American parents raise their children.

Pay to play? A big issue is how do you control the expense, because who’s going to pay for it? The Federation is not paying for most of it.

SA: MLS clubs subsidize their Academy players …

ERIC SIPPEL: We’re in the academy through 14, and then we produce a lot of players who go on to play for the San Jose Earthquakes [academy] and to a lesser extent DeAnza Force’s academy program. They’re not paying us for the players we’re producing. Who’s going to pay? It’s really expensive to run a program.

We’re delighted to place our players in these programs but how can you provide that service for free? Someone’s got to pay for it and, at the moment, it is private donors and the players in our club -- thus, pay to play.

The other possibilities are the Federation, the professional clubs, the members of the Academy, and the sponsors — those are the choices.

SA: At what point can a youth club get sponsorships?

ERIC SIPPEL: You can get sponsorships at any level but sponsors aren’t going to pay a lot of money. They’re looking at it as a form of advertising, and businesses have a choice of lots of different advertising venues that they can utilize really effectively without putting their name on a bunch of T-shirts and jerseys.

SA: If there’s good way to lower expenses, what would you point to?

ERIC SIPPEL: First, I would reduce the number of months that competitive soccer was played and encourage players to play unstructured street soccer during that period and to play other sports. That would dramatically reduce all of our costs, including coaching, fields, referees, administration and the like. Second, I would increase the number of coaches eligible to coach at various competitive levels by reducing the burdens of receiving appropriate licenses. Increasing coaching supply will reduce the compensation levels paid to coaches.

SA: It’s often cited that hopes of getting scholarships drive parents to pay a lot for youth soccer …

ERIC SIPPEL: Our club produces a lot of players who go on to play in college. It is typical that every player on our top boys and girls teams are capable of playing in college (and many of our second-team players are also capable). Not everyone chooses to do so, or they choose to play collegiate club soccer. But we have a very significant number who go on to play intercollegiate varsity soccer.

It has not been our experience that the parent base has been pushing those kids because they think they’ll get some financial relief in scholarships to play in college.

For us, the kids fall in two categories.

We have a large number of low-income, often immigrant families, where the kids would be the first generation to go to college. Those kids often, without soccer, would actually not have the ability to attend college. If they’re Division I or II players, they frequently get partial athletic scholarships, but Division III players often get need-based financial aid to go to college. There’s also generally need-based financial aid that fills in for athletic scholarships at the Division I and Division II levels because athletic scholarships don’t cover the full amount of the cost to attend college.

A big part of our mission is to provide an opportunity for those kids to be the first generation of their families to go to college.

Then we have a second cohort in our club, where the players are very likely to attend college but they end up going to a more selective college than they otherwise would have been admitted to because soccer has provided them an avenue. Plus, once they get to college, being part of a college soccer program facilitates their ability to adjust to college on a social and academic level. That’s not about scholarships. They are not getting money to attend college, but they’re getting significant benefits that the non-recruited athlete doesn’t get.

I think our club is unusual in the degree in which we counsel our high school athletes as to how to navigate the college recruiting process. We worked on this for many years and have been very successful in helping our athletes connect with college soccer programs and think through their college recruiting choices.

Most high schools don’t provide that for their soccer players.

SA: How would you use a magic wand to improve American youth soccer?

ERIC SIPPEL: I believe there are significant problems with youth soccer. I believe athletes are playing far too much structured soccer for far too long. It’s not unusual for high school soccer players to play 11 and a half months of structured soccer in a year. That’s not good mentally or physically.

As a result, I don’t think it produces the best soccer players and I think it’s bad for social, emotional, and physical development. Adult involvement -- the combination of coaches, referees, and parents -- puts such a significant amount of pressure on our young athletes that inhibits them from taking risks because they are afraid to fail.

Succeeding and failing through facing challenges creates resiliency and a growth mindset that sets you up to succeed in life. That also leads to a healthier outlook on life and reduces stress. We have far too much stress and anxiety in our youth in our country today. Sports should be a vehicle to reduce stress and anxiety, rather than a vehicle that exacerbates it.

Second, I think that clubs need to focus more on finding good teachers who understand the various stages of social and emotional development and who are focused on inspiring confidence in our players. Our club focuses very much on development over winning, but that’s a very difficult message to get across to the parent base, particularly when most other clubs don’t focus nearly as much on development. They give lip service, but winning is still a significant portion and that makes it very difficult to exist within that environment.

45 comments about "Pay-to-Play: The complexity of high-cost youth soccer explained by former Bay Area club president Eric Sippel".
  1. frank schoon, November 10, 2017 at 1:37 p.m.

    UNBELIEVABLE, I think we need to send the USSF over to Brazil and see how all the poor kids there learn to play soccer and acquire great ball skills. I tell you what , it is not because of some high paid license coach walking around the poor slums that made these kids have such good ball handling skill and touch on the ball at an early age. And they'll also learn  that it has nothing to do with playing on fancy fields and super lighting accommodations with nice bleacher seats. Whoever is chosen president of the USSF better realize that "pickup games, street soccer" is a MUST and should be a MIX in the overal development of youth player.
    I want to see which of the contestants for the position of president will bring up the element of "street soccer" and "pick up" games  and stress the IMPORTANCE and the support and education there of in developing our players. The USSF needs  to begin to institute a "SUBCULTURE" of pickup games , which is currently so LACKING in American soccer....

  2. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, November 10, 2017 at 4:44 p.m.

    Brazilian youth soccer is highly organized and kids generally join clubs at a very young age.  They may also play in the street but that is not the exclusive place they learn to play.

  3. Thor Thor replied, November 10, 2017 at 6:01 p.m.

    @ Fire Paul Gardner Now,

    whether the brazilian kids join clubs or not is secondary. without street/pick up soccer you can't grow great players.

  4. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, November 10, 2017 at 6:03 p.m.

    Not sure I agree with that but assuming it is true what should we be doing then?  Seems like all of this talk of how youth soccer is structured is a waste then since it's all pointless unless kids take it upon themselves to play in the street.  

  5. frank schoon replied, November 10, 2017 at 6:58 p.m.

    THOR THOR...If the USSF doesn't understand this vital point and the next president is not aware of  it than they mind as well vote in Wiley Coyote as  president of US soccer.

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, November 10, 2017 at 7:03 p.m.

    FPGN, my view is that the trully great stars were kids whose parents could not stop them from playing if they wanted to. 

    Going back to the 10,000 hours studies of muscians, 10,000 hours was for the concert soloists, 2,000 hours was typical for amateurs and the professional musicians in the orchestra had may 6,000 to 8,000 hours invested.

    The story is not the numbers in isolation. The story is that the kids that play the most will be better at age 14 when players are being selected and given opportunities for advanced training. Someone that has played a couple thousand hours by 14 is going to stand out compared to somone that has played 500 hours. And that, age 14, is when the hours start really piling up.   

  7. R2 Dad replied, November 10, 2017 at 9:11 p.m.

    FWIW, given 21st century parenting Futsal is the modern version of street ball. Cony is right, futsal courts are the way to go.

  8. frank schoon replied, November 11, 2017 at 8:18 a.m.

    R2, it is nice to have futsall courts but to me that is icing on the cake and furthermore you don't need them. What is most important right now is for the USSF to have a platform that stresses street soccer or pick up soccer. We have to establish a subculture ,a feeling for wanting to play street or pick up soccer and the USSF would be a perfect organ to initiate this. In Holland we have Cruyff courts to play on because there is  little space in Holland,especially in the cities. The Dutch kids don't play futsall but use any kind of ball which I think is a lot better than to play with a specific futsall ball. We want these kids to play with various balls for that makes them think and be more aware of the touch and weight and speed applied on the ball. But in the US we have so much space to play, like basketball,tennis courts, parking lots, empty lots, school parking lots, cult de sacs, backyards, driveways,and yes even fields,....we have so much space, all we need is to install into the kids to play pickup games, the rest will follow. 

  9. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, November 11, 2017 at 10:01 a.m.

    I guess what I'm saying is that if kids need to play street soccer then this discussion of the structure of organized youth development is pointless.  Unless they are going to organized unorganized soccer which seems to be counterproductive.

  10. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, November 11, 2017 at 10:02 a.m.

    And, for clarity, I agree 100% with Bob that playing more is always better than playing less.  I think kids need both formal training and unstructured play to reach their optimal level.

  11. don Lamb replied, November 12, 2017 at 9:46 p.m.

    Thor Thor - What you refer to when you talk about pickup games in Brazil actually refers much more directly to culture than it does to player development. Now, culture IS a humongous factor in development because it has so much bearing on a player's drive, attitiude, and understanding of the game, but the pickup games themselves are not where the players are actually developing in the literal sense. Players develop through high level coaching, lots of individual time with a ball, high level training environments, and, eventually, high level competition environments. A culture where pickup games are prevalent can often be indiciative of these factors that are directly tied player development, but they are not a precondition.

  12. Thor Thor replied, November 12, 2017 at 11:09 p.m.

    don Lam

    I guess my point is this: to become a world class soccer player a kid needs to spend a couple of hours a day with the ball every day. And pick up soccer or street soccer or whatever you want to call it is pretty much the only way to do it. I don't think there is a substitution to that. The kid can go to the best soccer school in the world with the best coaches but if he is not playing every day then how useful is all that coaching?

    Can a soccer school substitute street soccer?  Theoretically, if it's a school where kids spend 3 hours a day (1 hour coaching, 2 hours playing) then sure, that could work. I just don't see how that can work on a mass scale.

  13. don Lamb replied, November 13, 2017 at 12:23 p.m.

    Thor Thor - One thing that could be a substitute would be parents who are knowledgeable about the game and create a household culture that values the ball and the game since we have few neghborhood cultures that value these things. That is not ideal, but it seems to have worked in cases like Pulisic, Sargent, Carleton, etc.

  14. cisco martinez, November 10, 2017 at 2:21 p.m.

    USA socccer is all about money plain and simple. Until we address that major issue nothing will change. Soccer has become a middle/upper class sport in the US and it shouldn't. USSF needs to make it cheaper to get a coaching license, not force Academies coaches to only get USSF licenses, make it affordable to play on a competitive team, allow NSCAA, UEFA, and other licenses acceptable to coach in academies and in professional leagues, and actually teach and emphasize technical and tactical aspectso f the game.

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, November 10, 2017 at 3:13 p.m.

    Youth soccer in the US is like a child taking violin lessons for a year without ever practicing between lessons. It is a waste of time and of a violin. 

    One important lesson players should learn is the importance of practice and the self confidence and pride that comes from improvement. Collectively we are not teaching this lesson. So are not promoting long term goals and work ethic in successive generations. Too often what is learned is that daddy and mommy will buy whatever the child needs.

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, November 10, 2017 at 3:23 p.m.

    I should mention the corollary to the middle class view. That is poor kids learn that to get ahead in the USA depends on having rich parents. A poor kid can work hard and deserve success, but life is not a hollywood movie for most people. 

    This ugly cycle in youth soccer can be broken by simply shifting the emphasis from formal season-long team competitions to kids playing soccer and ad hoc teams. 

  17. frank schoon replied, November 10, 2017 at 3:36 p.m.

    Bob, well said...Hey, here is something that is interesting that I've been complaining about which is  the lack of good man to man defense. I had some discussions earlier with IW about it. Here is an interview with an Italian defender Chiellini
    Pep Guardiola's tactics have 'ruined' Italian defenders - Giorgio Chiellini - ESPN FC

    He has a point but I think it goes deeper for the flatback zonal system doesn't help either...

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, November 10, 2017 at 3:40 p.m.

    In basketball the conventional wisdom is that you teach man to man defense first. Then teach zone. One thing I am upset about with USSF is that the current emphasis on teaching only pure zone defense to youth. No man to man and no zonal marking.

  19. frank schoon replied, November 10, 2017 at 3:42 p.m.

    BOB, IW ,here is an excerp Coining a new term for "the Guardiola way," Chiellini said: "Guardiolismo has ruined many Italian defenders a bit -- now defenders know how to set the tone of play and they can spread the ball, but they don't know how to mark. Unfortunately, that's the way it is."
    ""When I was young, we used to do drills to get a feel for the man you were making. Nowadays, from crosses, Italian defenders -- and I can only really talk for Italian defenders, I am only relatively interested about foreign players -- don't mark their man"
    "It's a great pity because we're losing our DNA a bit and some of those characteristics which had made us excel in the world."

  20. frank schoon replied, November 10, 2017 at 3:46 p.m.

    Bob, exactly, you teach man to man first for that is what real defense is all about. Zonal is an intermediate step a type of defense before the real defense begins like  picking up the man ,stop him from going on attack or stop him from passing or shooting.

  21. Bob Ashpole replied, November 10, 2017 at 5:58 p.m.

    My reply to the Italians: Beckenbauer (Ger.), Bobby Moore (Eng.), Ronoald Koeman (Ned.), John Charles (Wal.). 

  22. frank schoon replied, November 10, 2017 at 6:50 p.m.

    Bob, I see Chiellini's concern.(Read the article) You have to realize where he is coming from. Italian soccer became great due to tough defense and counterattacking soccer...I don't like Italian soccer personally, the only time I watched it was when AC Milan with played  a dutch style for they had Van Basten, Gullit, and Rykaard along with Baresi as sweeper back in the early 90's. Cruyff was not a fan of Italian soccer but had great respect for Italian defense. It was the Ajax of Cruyff in the early 70's with Total Soccer that busted the hegemony of InterMilan with their Catenaccio. But regardless,taking out the Italian factor, the man to man defense has been weakened by the zonal defense which to me is not a defense but a position taken before you play real defense. THere are way too many situations where goals are scored with tons of defenders out numbering the few attackers along with given the attackers tons of space...just look at this video 38 seconds into the video, there a lot more in there as well..

    Cascadia clash: Deuce delivers for defending champion Sounders 11/03/2017.

  23. Scott Johnson replied, November 10, 2017 at 7:38 p.m.

    It's interesting to compare soccer to music.

    In music, "practice" is what you do at home, on your own time, and the time spent with the instructor is called a "lesson".

    Far too often, in soccer, what happens with the coach and the team is called "practice", and for many kids, touching the ball outside of organized soccer doesn't happen.  Regarldess of whether or not the coach prescribes "homework" (work on juggling, work against a wall, or simply play pick-up) or not.

    I prefer to call time spent with the coach and team "training", but that lingo is far from universal.  But yeah, if the only time a kid touches a ball is when the coach is around, he's not going to get very good.  

    And ignoring the tall tales about "tiger moms" beating their children into a career in the performing arts--the best kids in music are the ones who love it, and who not only practice their instruments, but play them for fun as well.  

  24. don Lamb replied, November 15, 2017 at 8:46 p.m.

    Frank - I am parachuting into this conversation late, but regarding your statement about man to man defense being what true defense is all about, that is false. Defense is hardly ever about a single defender in relation to a single attacker. Soccer is a game of numbers and space. The most important relations when it comes to defending are the spatial relations when it comes to the positioning of the defensive players. If done properly, this is not advatageous to defending in the most effective way, but it also sets the team up in the best position to attack once they have won the ball. The second a defender loses his sense of connectedness to his own teammates and starts worrying solely about a single attacker is the second that the teams defensive shape, and thus everything else, breaks down.

  25. Bob Ashpole replied, November 17, 2017 at 3:15 a.m.

    Don Lamb, the objections you make to a man to man defense are not present when played correctly. It is a team defense too. The fundamental principles of pressure, cover and balance apply to man to man coverage too.

    All defensive organizations are very similar. There is an optimal shape on the field for a given set of circumstances. The organziation is simply a tool used to keep the team in an optimal shape. The optimal organization for a particular match depends on how the opponents play. The biggest difference between organization types is in how runners are switched off. Zonal marking and man to man are very similar in appearance. Unlike basketball, pure zones are not used much in soccer but generally speaking all defenses including pure zones become man to man coverage when defending the danger area in front of the goal. 

    In summary every team does at least some man to man coverage suring a match, which is necessary for an optimal defense.

  26. don Lamb replied, November 18, 2017 at 3:45 p.m.

    Bob - Man to man and zonal defenses are very different. Zonal defense is based on spacing -- the defenders in relationship to other defenders. While there is some of that in a man to man defense, the most important relationship is the defender to the attacker he is marking. The only place on the field that man to man is necessary is in the box.

    Zonal marking does not mean sitting back, either. Giggenpressing (or however you spell it) is based on zonal principles, for example. Man to man is bad for transition once the defense wins the ball -- it leads to a much sloppier game -- and it is much less efficient in terms of energy usage for individual players.

  27. Allan Lindh, November 10, 2017 at 5:27 p.m.

    So why isn't Mr Sippel running for US Soccer President?  More common sense that I expect to see in an interview.

  28. James Madison, November 10, 2017 at 6:35 p.m.

    Unless US Soccer has revised its programs significantly since I earned my B license, the physical demands of a B or A course are not that difficult to satisfy.  I was in my late 40s when I earned my B license.  Sippel is right that teaching is not emphasized.  United Soccer Coaches does a better job in this regard, and its courses should be recognized for credentialing clubs.  

    Sippel is right on if there are youth players playing games more than 10 months a year.  
    I have heard qualified sports medicine professionals say that even a professional player need a minimum of two months off between seasons,  One month would be a complete vacaton to clear the mind and allow the body to heal.  The second would progress from light to moderate fitness.  

  29. Scott Johnson, November 10, 2017 at 7:03 p.m.

    How about abolishing licenses altogether?

    I don't believe there is such a thing as a baseball or American football coaching license in the US; at least none (that I'm aware of) required to work as a coach.  There is a "basketball license", and you'll need one if you want to coach in the NCAA--but it's essentially a small fee, a few online courses, and a background check.  It's not a major investment of time or money like a Class A or B license from US Soccer is.

    And we do well in these sports.

    Of course, UEFA appears to require soccer coaches in Europe to be licensed.

  30. R2 Dad replied, November 10, 2017 at 9:08 p.m.

    Yes, but it's relatively less expensive to get those licenses in europe, and credit is applied for ex-professionals (as I understand it--I'm not sure the mechanism for this process). It's in this country that USSF has turned licensing into a barrier for entry and that means higher prices to US parents. USSF refereeing had this same problem a few years back; it's gotten somewhat better, but there was little benefit to accumulating matches to upgrade from an 8 to 7, 6....3 and that acted like a lock for established referees. There was no assessment of skill that could expedite the process but as I understand it now USSF has realized this and is trying to elevate skilled referees. If we're looking for more FIFA-level refs, there is no sense in spending 20 years at lower levels if the concensus is the ref needs to get to grade 3 in order to get their best 10 years as a FIFA ref (35-45 YO). We have a boatload of really good young referees out there--it's what happens between ages 20-35 where the wheels fall off. As a coach, how can you rationalize coaching if you can't make any money until you're 35 because you don't have the licenses? From what I've seen, the answer is to start your own club, but that causes other problems in the food chain as well.

  31. frank schoon replied, November 11, 2017 at 1:06 p.m.

    R2, The Dutch KNVB is wouldn't believe how much it costs and how many years it takes. The amount of time spend and money to get a license in Holland has certainly not help improved the poor state of soccer Holland is in....

  32. R2 Dad replied, November 12, 2017 at 1:19 a.m.

    Frank, in your estimation is that the primary cause for the decline of Oranje?

  33. frank schoon replied, November 12, 2017 at 3:29 p.m.

    R2, What I'm saying is that even though we have a topnotch KNVB Coaching Academy in Holland where you obtain a coaching license, the quality of the licensing program  is somehow not reflected in the level of play and on the players. Cruyff has often complained about  the KNVB Coaching academy. First of all, he sees the teachers who have the highest level license as just not good enough for they have not played at the highest level and therefore miss about 15 to 20% of the real game knowledge.(You can imagine what a joke it is here). Furthermore, he stated the teachers(coaches) lack the proper knowledge of the positioning game for they lack the finer aspects and the more detailed higher level stuff. Guardiola when he was coached by Cruyff once stated that every practice of Cruyff is like going to a seminar about soccer for he learned so much from him.
    One of the major causes of the decline is diminution of quality coaching as taught by the KNVB academy. Another problem is that the dutch way of playing is very pure, seeking beauty nice passing, in other words what Dutch soccer has stood  for in the past 40years. For example, an Italian sees a defender strictly as a person who can stop his man. In the dutch school the defender has to be able to stop his man,  build up an attack with the ball, good passing capabilities, look for an open man and able to pass to the correct foot in order increase tempo, etc. As you there is so much more the dutch look. Well, unless have played  at the highest level and know much of the inside details it is very difficult to teach this to prospective coaches. Wiel Coerver for example lambasted the KNVB coaching school for not being able to teach coaches the skills necessary to teach the youth. This is why I stress the need street soccer/ pick up games for it doesn't matter if the coach has 10 coaching licenses, skills are learned through doing and watching other players. All 
    these coaches with their USSF license are programmed, and are educated more on the theory than 
    practical side of the game. This is why a great player Nene Cubillas was flunked for his B-license at the USSF coaching school for it is not about skills  so much it is about the theory of the game.
    Back in the 90's I called a friend who was head of the KNVB about getting a dutch coaching license if I had USSF A-license. He told  me I would have to start at first getting a much the respect the dutch give for the USSF license. This is why this pay to play is a rediculous waste of money

  34. Emile Jordan, November 10, 2017 at 9:58 p.m.

    Quite the opposite Fire Paul Garner Now.  Many Clubs already incorporate futsall and street soccer in to their programs. Kids are playing at school during recess, PE class, and after school.  Kids are playing in the local parks with friends same age, older and younger, and sometimes with adults. Kids are working on their skills in their back yards and in their houses when their parents are not looking.  The way I see it, Parents, Administrators, and Coaches roles in youth development is simple; create an enviroment where kids can have serious fun.  The fitness, intensity and performance all happens naturally when the kids are in an enviroment where they can and do concentrate, relax their muscles, use their imagination, and believe in their ability to learn and experience success.   

  35. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, November 11, 2017 at 10:03 a.m.

    That is a good thing.  I think both are important and necessary (formal training and unstructured play).

  36. Kent James, November 11, 2017 at 10:17 a.m.

    Very refreshing to hear the president of a competitive club argue that kids need less structured time to play.  While seemingly a contradiction in terms, I think such clubs need to structure (provide time and space) unstructured play.  Regularly scheduled pick-up games.  I'm not sure whether this should be during the season (one night a week) which would have the advantage of giving kids space to learn things they saw in their structured practice, but has the downside of more physical stress during the season, or during down time (more time, more relaxed atmosphere, but perhaps less participation because they need to actually be down during down time).  

  37. frank schoon replied, November 11, 2017 at 10:44 a.m.

    Kent, get away from you're structured soccer mind. Pick up games can be just an activity like when a friend ,after school, calls you up and asks "you want to shoot some hoops", instead ask , "you want to play some "one on one", or "we can call a couple other kids to see if anyone else wants to play in de "cul de sac" or lets just pass a ball back and forth..It is not that difficult Kent.....
    I remember after school there was always a basketball pickup game going at an elementary school. In other words once kids find a place to play a small sided they will go to it. You're making such big deal out of like ,"one a week" 'regular scheduled pick up games", 'during the season or out of season', just go with the flow. The important step is first for the kids to think "pick up soccer" which needs to be nurtured for we don't have that right now....

  38. uffe gustafsson, November 11, 2017 at 9 p.m.

    did you not read that we don’t have enough fields.
    im like I said it before or even our parks are  striped for soccer, though for mostly young rec players.
    suburbs have new construction companies to build fields as part of them adding a new housing development.
    oakland don’t have that luxury of space to build on.
    We can even get a new field built.
    though we do have teams scrimmage each other in a loosely way. My daughters team scrimmage the boys team weekly and they love it.
    so there are ways to let em just play and have a good time. But I do agree on to much play.
    between club and HS we get at most a few weeks off after school is out in June.

  39. Toby Rappolt, November 13, 2017 at 11:20 p.m.

    Do any of you know about the AFC Ajax of Amsterdam Parent Advisory Board and the decisions this board has made regarding the develope of youth at this famous club?

  40. don Lamb replied, November 14, 2017 at 8:53 a.m.

    No. What do you know?

  41. frank schoon replied, November 14, 2017 at 9:37 a.m.

    I've looked all morning for info. for you but my best bet is for you to call them directly. They speak English with no problem . Ask them where on the internet you find this information 

  42. Bob Ashpole replied, November 14, 2017 at 2:28 p.m.

    Sometimes direct tactics work best :)

  43. Andrea Hana, November 15, 2017 at 10:01 a.m.

    "... reduce the number of months that competitive soccer was played and encourage players to play unstructured street soccer during that period..."

    This is difficult in this country. People in sub-urban or rural U.S.: Have you ever tried to get a few kids together just to hang out? Now, try to get enough to play a soccer match or just kick around a ball on a field to improve skill and technique. We don't live in villages, like they have in Europe, where you can walk to the nearest field to meet after school. The kids have to be taken by their parents or friends. The only people who have time for this are the "soccer moms" (and dads) who have the time to do this. Most families have two working parents. Only the families who can afford to pay, have a one income household and have the time for it can make this happen. So, there is more to it. This makes it difficult to change the demographic. 

  44. frank schoon replied, November 15, 2017 at 10:18 a.m.

    Andrea, I don't know where you live but I live in the DC area. I live in the suburbs where there are plenty, and plenty of kids and where there is always a need for more classrooms. There are plenty of cul-de-sacs, field space(you don't need much), basketbal courts, tennis courts, school parking lots, backyard, driveways, etc,etc, etc. All we need is to begin a subculture for kicking a ball around with other kids or with yourself. Being from Europe , I can tell you we are much, much better off when it comes to space when it comes to playing soccer....

  45. Ray Lindenberg , November 16, 2017 at 9:47 p.m.

    Amen Tommy. So many people on the wrong page -- and too much settlng for the residue and mirroring of a soccer world that has gone chop-chop kickball mad ... and has convinced itself that making money on televised revenues is enough of a validation that we're on the right track. We're not.

    The condition of World Kickball is crap -- and we're not even good enough to be top-tier in our CONCACAF scrubbini group. Wake-up call and challenge to being not just good eough to qualify in 4 years, but exceptional, accepted. We did it in hockey, gymnastics and women's soccer. No reason why we can't regroup and reinvent ourselves as an uncompromising, true, pure soccer playing giant of a nation!

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