Commentary

Lynn Berling-Manuel, United Soccer Coaches CEO: 'We need to start thinking about youth soccer in a different way'

Lynn Berling-Manuel is the Chief Executive Officer of United Soccer Coaches, which was founded in 1941 and until last year was known as the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Berling-Manuel had served as AYSO Chief Marketing Officer for eight years before becoming in May 2015 the CEO of United Soccer Coaches, the world's largest soccer coaches organization. We spoke with Berling-Manuel, who served as editor-in-chief, publisher and CEO during her tenure at Soccer America through 2007, two weeks before the annual United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia, where more 10,000 attendees are expected.


Lynn Berling-Manuel

SOCCER AMERICA: How would you describe United Soccer Coaches to someone who is completely unfamiliar with the organization?

LYNN BERLING-MANUEL: At its simplest, United Soccer Coaches is a trade association for soccer coaches. However, that’s an imperfect term, because trade associations are usually strictly for professionals. We are much more comprehensive than that.

We unite all soccer coaches around the love of the game. Many of our members are career coaches and many other members take their coaching very seriously, but don’t do it (or want to do it!) as a day job.

They are volunteers or paid a stipend but are equally important to our association. Our members run the breadth of soccer coaches: recreational, professional, elite youth, college, high school, and competitive. Our three areas of support -- advocacy, education and service – are customized to each of those coaching levels.

What was it like at the United Soccer Coaches offices on the morning after the USA's loss to Trinidad & Tobago that eliminated the USA from 2018 World Cup qualifying?

It was bleak. How could it not be? It ran the gamut of emotions with disappointment and frustration at the top of the list. However, we also took a pause … a step back. After that first hit of despair, we started to ask whether this could be a wake-up call to look at our game with fresh eyes. We think it must be.

Does the USA’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup affect what United Soccer Coaches does?

It doesn’t change the basics. Soccer didn’t fail. Our absence from the World Cup reminds us that American soccer is still most successful when it has grit. We didn’t see that in Trinidad & Tobago. There are many perspectives within our membership, but I believe we have to realize we are not like the rest of the world. Our size and diversity as a country is both a challenge and an advantage. We have to find an American soccer model that works for us.

Has United Soccer Coaches planned anything specifically in reaction to the World Cup qualifying failure?

With the United Soccer Coaches Convention taking place from Jan. 17-21 in Philadelphia, we knew we had a perfect platform to talk about what has happened and how coaches can address it. We have announced a Coaches Summit that is bringing coaches of all levels of the game – from rec to pro -- together to address our nation’s soccer cultural development.

Note, that I didn’t say player development. We want to get more basic than that. We’ve been inspired by hockey’s Declaration of Principles, which is really identifying what they want the culture of hockey to be. We believe that’s one of the most urgent conversations that American soccer must have.

The Summit will take place during the convention on Saturday, Jan. 20. To participate, a coach will have to commit from 10 a.m.-12 noon and again 3–6 p.m. We have a professional facilitator who will be leading the process both on site and in the follow-up work that will take place. If a coach would like to be considered for an invitation to the Summit, they can reach out to Membership@unitedsoccercoaches.org.

The greatest immediate consequence from our failure to qualify for the World Cup has certainly been the election for U.S. Soccer president. We have invited Sunil Gulati for a 60-minute Spotlight Session. He has accepted and will be interviewed by Alexi Lalas with questions from the audience. All of the candidates will be participating in a forum from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday as well as most having a 60-minute Spotlight Session during the convention where soccer coaches and others can get to know more about them. It’s one of the ways we are advocating on behalf of our members.

The reaction to the failure to qualify included phrases such as a need for a “massive reboot” … “full restructuring” … that youth soccer is in dire straits … Was there an overreaction?

From our perspective, we need to start thinking about youth soccer in a different way. We’ve focused so much on the elite, that somehow we’ve let kids and parents think that by 10 years old “you’re good or you’re gone!”

According to the Aspen Institute’s and the Sports & Fitness Institute’s recently released research, in the last seven years American soccer has lost 23.5% of its 6- to 12-year-olds playing on a regular basis. To us, that’s really what we need to be focused on.

If we get the culture right, we make real headway in getting the player development right. For example, Christian Pulisic’s father, Mark, is a speaker at the Convention. He’s a pro coach and has spoken openly about the decision to give Christian a more normal childhood soccer experience.

It wasn’t until he was older that “player development” as we think of it really kicked in. That should give all of us something to think about. Parents don’t have the soccer background that baseball parents have, but coaches and parents working together could be a powerhouse combination. We need to be expansive and inclusive. Let’s make the funnel bigger, not smaller! We want players and fans for life.

How does United Soccer Coaches evaluate whether its coaching education is succeeding?

Our philosophy of coaching education is we take a coach where they are today and make them better. That’s success.

We give diplomas rather than licenses because we are educators. We want the experience of a United Soccer Coaches course to spur you on to want to take another education opportunity … from us, U.S. Soccer, UEFA or something else altogether.

Great coaches are all life-long learners. A career coach may need a license to get their next job, but every coach should be encouraged to grow their coaching knowledge. It improves both their experience and the experience of their players.

We often hear the analogy that U.S. Soccer is like the DMV for coaches and referees. They are the only agency that can give you a driver’s license and that is as it should be. But there are many good places to learn how to drive. United Soccer Coaches teaches you how to “drive.”

For decades, our candidates have given rave reviews for both our lower level and advanced courses. It’s a collegial learning environment that provides a community of support.

Why should coaches should become United Soccer Coaches members?

United Soccer Coaches unites soccer coaches of all levels around the love of the game. It provides coaches with a voice. Benefits include connecting with a community, advocating for your coaching level, attending the annual convention, Soccer Journal magazine and weekly newsletters, discounts on in-person and online education, unique access to international educational experiences, the ability to nominate your players for Youth, High School and College All-America awards, high school and college rankings, exclusive online content and resources, access to health, dental, vision and accident insurance, and the list grows every day. We want every soccer coach to join the United Soccer Coaches community!

How would you describe United Soccer Coaches’ relationship with U.S. Soccer?

We are a voting member of U.S. Soccer and believe in collaboration.

Our approach to coaching education is it should be accessible, affordable and relevant and believe our coaching education programs complement each other.

U.S. Soccer asked us to also offer their licensing courses, which we do. It rounds out the offerings we can provide to our members. Our intention is not in any way to compete with state associations but simply to offer our assistance when it is needed.

We have certainly been disappointed that U.S. Soccer chose to reduce equivalencies and don’t think that was a prudent decision. Fortunately, most state and other soccer organizations accept our coaching credentials and our coaches continue to win tournaments, state cups and more.

We have had a number of our Coaching Academy educators go through the U.S. Soccer Instructor course with a lot of success. We don’t always agree, but are happy to keep the door open to conversation and cooperation.

Obviously, United Soccer Coaches has extensive coaching education courses for all levels, but if you had to give advice to a coach at the youngest ages in a few sentences, what would it be?

Take every opportunity to learn more about both the game and working with children. It is a few hours well invested. Keep it fun. Let them play with their friends. And you have fun, too!

Advice for parents of young soccer players, especially parents who might aspire that they’re players reached the higher levels?

Make sure your child is playing because they love the game not because you want a college scholarship for them. Don’t feel that the biggest, flashiest or most expensive club is necessarily the right experience.

Plot your own path that fits your child and family. Try to avoid listening too much to anecdotes. Then critically empower your child to participate and commit at a level where they find enjoyment. Finally, whatever level your player attains, celebrate it rather than bemoan not achieving the next step.

35 comments about "Lynn Berling-Manuel, United Soccer Coaches CEO: 'We need to start thinking about youth soccer in a different way'".
  1. Wallace Wade, January 3, 2018 at 9:19 a.m.

    So basically everyone agrees that we need to approach development differently in this country including United Soccer Coaches, meanwhile Garber, Gulati and Carter think no change is needed.

  2. R2 Dad replied, January 3, 2018 at 12:19 p.m.

    This article is specifically about coaching and coach development. The Development you (and Garber/Gualti/Arena ) refer to is player development. LBM makes this distinction above.

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, January 3, 2018 at 3:31 p.m.

    I was going to say he was mixing apples with oranges.

  4. John Soares, January 3, 2018 at 12:55 p.m.

    SO MANY articles and speeches... often very good ones about change. So little action

  5. frank schoon, January 3, 2018 at 1:06 p.m.

    Interesting interview, for I'm not a member of this Coaching Association or any association.But a few things need to be said. First of all, because the US failed to qualify, a ground swell has risen upwards with the intend of wanting changes at the top leadership, of which I have no idea if this is the answer; but who knows. I've been criticizing US soccer for over 30 years on basis of how youth players are developed, and now, all of sudden, people finally demand a change?... Where have they been all these all years? Only due to not qualifying for the WC, we demand a change.....but IN WHAT? It is kind of scary to think these same people who now cry out for a change, apparently didn't see anything worth changing prior to our not qualifying. Next Post... 

  6. frank schoon, January 3, 2018 at 1:06 p.m.

    Next, that we lost about 23% of 6-12 years old in the past 7 years is shocking in a way but not surprising. We lose youth to "Burnout" all the time. Having grown up in an evironment of playing "street soccer of 25 hours or more a week, I never felt burned out because ,I LOVED the game. Some kids naturally aren't into soccer or sports and leave it ,which is fine. But there is an element of kids who have never learned to appreciate the game and that is also due to coaches who can't teach the love of the game, although they find it an interesting sport to be involved in. They'll go for a coaching license, perhaps have some playing experience and go at it. One of the problems I find is that there is no license or Coaching course that teaches the beauty, appreciation or love for the game. For example, when one is interested in painting, you first read books and study the MASTERS and their secrets and techniques. I DON'T SEE THAT PARALLEL IN SOCCER when it comes to coaching. And that is one of the secrets of making the game enjoyable. What we get in coaching, is team oriented practices, work on drills, listen to what the coach has to say or wants, and play. How many coaches have actually read biograhies of great players and what they have done with the ball or are famous for and what they were good at. How many actuallly have seen Garrincha, Dzajic, Pele, Cruyff, Best, Jimmy Johnstone, Beckenbuaer, Stanley Matthews, or Rivelino who at one time had the hardes shot in the world breaking a goalie's shoulder with one of his free kicks, and so many, many more which you can actually find on Youtube. How many have read anecdotes about great players like Puskas able to juggle a bar of soap while taking a shower, gifted individuals like a Ernst Happel who could kick a coke bottle of the cross bar, with no problem. How many coaches even know what Garrincha, can do or demonstrate with a ball....Kids need to dream ,think about the greats and what they could do with a ball. When you read about the greats in their biographies they will always mention who they watched and learned from and looked up to. Coaches as a teaching tool need to learn more about those characters that made the game beautiful, for there is no time or emphasis placed on . All the kids I have ever coached and trained knew of the greats and what they could do with a ball and able demonstrate it to them. Coaching for coaching sake with the youth is not doing it and that is proven when it comes to my street soccer days when we had no coaches but learned to love the game for we copied , watched and learn from better players.

  7. Ginger Peeler replied, January 3, 2018 at 9:06 p.m.

    Frank, no offense, but there’s no way in the world that a child wanting to be an artist first studies the masters prior to putting brush to canvas, pencil to paper or hands to clay. I’m 75 now. I decided I wanted to be an artist when I was 5. I drew constantly, “doodling” while taking notes throughout public education and college. I drew and sculpted because I LOVED IT!  Only when I was a junior and senior in college was I able to take one on one individual instruction courses with our college staff or with “visiting professors”. And then I read 3 to 5 books a week on art history and reported on all I’d learned on a weekly basis. Techniques and systems that I thought I had created turned out to have been discovered before I was ever born. I had to face the fact that I was not as unique an entity as I originally thought. I think it’s the same for young kids playing soccer. Forget teaching them to “love the game”. I’m not sure that’s even possible. But you can make sure that they have fun the whole season.  When I coached my daughter and the young girls in rec, I’d put our weakest player up at forward (most coached put their weakest players at fullback). We had to assure that all players played at least 3/4 of the game. My daughter played forward with exceptional ball control...with her up front, we could well accommodate a weaker player (who, by the way, was always thrilled to play offense). We lived in San Diego which was a wonderful hotbed for soccer. After all of the outdoor leagues had folded, we still had season tickets for the indoor San Diego Sockers!!! 

  8. Ginger Peeler replied, January 3, 2018 at 9:28 p.m.

    There is no way we’ll ever have street soccer in the USA as I other countries. Have you noticed that I’m one of the only females that posts here? Ever wondered why?  Perhaps it’s because not that many women care. T try to watch Pulisic if he’s playing for Dortmund. I used to try to catch Dempsey when he played, but I turned off the tv if he wasn’t starting. I love the sport, but restrict my watching to, mostly, the national teams or their players who are playing abroad. The political climate of the USA makes it more difficult for Hispanic players. Again, I will tell you that Soccer was considered a communist sport by the local paper’s sports editor, so all soccer coverage of high school soccer ended around in our area of Arkansas, where I’d moved from California around 1993. My daughter was the first female soccer player from the state of Arkansas to ever receive a partial scholarship to play soccer in college. It never made the news. Things have improved someway and I am in Florida now. But most of the south still holds the sport of soccer away at arm’s length. Until the sport is embraced by locals ( read “rednecks”), it’s not going to get any better. Ignore it at your peril!

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, January 4, 2018 at 12:23 a.m.

    Ginger, everybody comes to organized sports already loving to play games. Coaches nurture that love of playing rather than create it. 

    What coaches need to avoid is taking the fun out of playing soccer. At all ages I think the right coaching philosophy is to leave the players at the end of a training session wanting more. It is not that difficult for someone with people skills and who observes and listens.

  10. Kent James replied, January 4, 2018 at 1:04 a.m.

    While Ginger (and Bob) are right about kids love of the game coming first, Frank is right that players need access to the masters to get better.  While creativity is to be encouraged, every child should not be expected to create their soccer moves from scratch; they can learn by watching the masters.  When I first started playing (when I was 14, in the mid-1970s), trying to learn from watching area teams (made up of novices like me) was pretty useless.  I was fortunate enough to have a good coach, but the only chance I had to watch soccer was on PBS ("Soccer Made in Germany", with the immortal Toby "Oh, he should have done more with that one!" Charles...).  It wasn't until I could watch high level professional games on a regular basis that I really understood (or at least could begin to understand) how the game is played.  That being said, professional games on TV are pretty boring for young kids, so it takes time (and usually a kid gradually watching more and more, as their parents are watching).  

  11. Bob Ashpole replied, January 4, 2018 at 3:08 a.m.

    Kent, the key is to learn from someone better than you are. As players advance, their needs become more specific and as their grows they require better coaches to stay ahead of their learning. Fundamentals can be taught by the typical former college player or any good amateur player.

    Because I had played high school basketball and football and unorganized ice hockey, I understood soccer tactics.

    A professional coach in my mind is one whose full time occupation is coaching. Most club coaches are not professional coaches in that sense, even though they charge coaching fees. I know a good coach when I see one. It has nothing to do with pieces of paper and whether they charge fees or not. Qualifications aside, nobody is getting rich coaching amateur players. The good news is that there are a lot of good club coaches out there.

  12. frank schoon replied, January 4, 2018 at 9:59 a.m.

    GINGER, you need to understand that I was referring to the Coach not to the child for he has to learn from extraneous sources, like a coach,and from other ,better, players. Kids today, see Messi and Ronaldo  for example which excites them but there is so much more....
    Sorry to say, I can't believe that where you live(d) in the "sticks" and where you describe people as "rednecks", for I have not found that to be a issue in the South, although I do agree with you back in the 60's/70's.
    Your point  that not many women care is the reason why I don't care about women's soccer. My interest lies with men's soccer for that is what the soccer world mostly is interested in. It is the men's game that drives the world of soccer.
    My interest in soccer is not restricted to watching a specific player or to my National team but instead my interest  goes way beyond than just that. If I had the limitations you put on it as far as interest goes than I wouldn't even bother with the game....

  13. frank schoon replied, January 4, 2018 at 10:01 a.m.

    Bob, so TRUE. I just wished I had the gift of explaining it so concisely as you do.

  14. frank schoon replied, January 4, 2018 at 10:18 a.m.

    Bob,Kent, we think along the same lines. Of course ,young players when watching a soccer game don't understand the deeper stuff and only pay attention to the exciting star out there. This is a natural phenomena kids don't see the bigger picture but only the individual picture and this is why kids talk about 'stars' not about tactical concepts of how a team plays. This is why Cruyff states that teaching tactics with kids should start about when they are 14 for before that time it goes out in one ear and out the other... 
    Toby Charles..what memories.....
    I do think the USSF should make a movie that strictly related to appreciating the game. Remember when Pepsi Cola came out with the Pele training movie back in the 70's. It was not an soccer appreciation movie but it had so much in  there that kids loved and appreciated....

  15. R2 Dad, January 3, 2018 at 1:07 p.m.

    Part of the challenge in the US is we want to treat coaches separately from clubs/club ownership. In fact, the two are tightly entwined. A well-intentioned newbie with an F license (who couldn't get a coaching job anywhere else) can start a team of U8s from his kid's class and age up with them. The team grows into a club. Until the parents know better than to let newbies "train" their child (and often give that person money), it will continue. This is how you end up with a team of girls that have been playing together for 6 years and can barely string together 2 passes. Yes it's Rec, and Yes, the kids are happy. But they're not going to be playing as adults, or following professional soccer, or being life-long fans of the game. It's not a crime, but it gets to the heart of the soccer culture "problem" we have in this country.
    We keep saying we want to do things our way (not the way the rest of the world does it), but "our way" is really Anything Goes. The challenge with Anything Goes is that any move towards more structure/logic will result in squealing from those who can no longer do whatever they want. The other side of the coin is, our entire soccer universe is managed by US Soccer, which can't get professional divisions to line up properly--do we really trust them with an amateur structure re-org?. A re-org is definitely necessary. But what is the "right way"? Where is the roadmap and transparency?

  16. John Soares, January 3, 2018 at 1:57 p.m.

    r2, some good points...a road map would be useful. However in a country of 330 million people. There is PLENTY of room for kids that "just want to have fun". It is not neccessary for every child to have "Pro" ambitions. It is neccessary for those that have that ambision to have good outlets, system and good coaching.

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, January 3, 2018 at 3:49 p.m.

    The three basic premises I believe are:

    1. How to develop players is not a secret and has been known for 40 years that I know of;
    2. The key is skill development during the pre-adolescent years, i.e., fundamentals; and
    3. The most important aspect to long term development is mentality. Long term success comes from internal motivation. Extrinsic motivation helps, but is not as sustaining. 

     

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, January 3, 2018 at 4:04 p.m.

    "There is PLENTY of room for kids that "just want to have fun". It is not neccessary for every child to have "Pro" ambitions. It is neccessary for those that have that ambision to have good outlets, system and good coaching."

    I disagree with this view. In my experience every player at every level wants to not only win but also have fun doing so. They come to practice sessions and matches wanting to play soccer. There is a difference between playing to win and winning. There is a joy in playing that the result cannot take away.  Finally I believe all children deserve good coaching. Especially at the younger ages all children should receive the same training in fundamentals.

    It is a false view of the world to draw a bright line of demarcation between "recreational" players and other amateur players. It is a label better applied to amateur teams. 

  19. John Soares, January 3, 2018 at 4:27 p.m.

    Bob, you have every right to your opinion!:) Really an 8 year old playing for fun should be an amateur not a rec player. My neighborhood district has over 3,00 teams. Please tell us how to find 3,00 good, experinced coaches on a rotating schedule. Playing "to" win, of course. The emphasis on winnig at development stages...big mistake. 

  20. John Soares replied, January 3, 2018 at 4:29 p.m.

    THATS 3,000 teams

  21. Ben Myers replied, January 3, 2018 at 9:21 p.m.

    Yes, emphasis (parents or coaches!) on winning is a serious mistake and one that leads to player burnout.  The play of young players has to be just that.  PLAY.  In over 25 years of coaching, I have NEVER told the players on my teams to go out and win a game.  I simply tell them to do their best.  That's all that is expected.  If I have prepared them well and tweak formations and substitutions well, they win.  If not, we all tried our best, and there is more to be done to improve.

    The emphasis of coaching MUST be on technical development.  It is no surprise then, that at the highest levels, the USMNT and professional leagues, the US lacks a world-class striker and a world-class midfielder.  Ball-handling, passing, trapping, finishing and movement off the ball have all been disasters for the USMNT.  Dempsey at the top of his game and Donovan before retirement were world-class.  Pulisic is getting real close.  And several players on European and Mexican pro teams might get there, he said directly to Garber and Gulati.  Did anyone else notice the absence of USMNT candidates from Soccer America's lists of best MLS players?  But with all the emphasis on winning, winning, winning, it is no surprise to see weaker players bubbling up to the USMNT.

  22. Ginger Peeler replied, January 3, 2018 at 9:45 p.m.

    You don’t need a coach for every single player. How many players make up each team? And do you have parents who are willing to coach? It’s not rocket science!

  23. Ginger Peeler replied, January 3, 2018 at 9:45 p.m.

    You don’t need a coach for every single player. How many players make up each team? And do you have parents who are willing to coach? It’s not rocket science!

  24. Bob Ashpole replied, January 4, 2018 at 12:18 a.m.

    John your writing is very confusing. Players are amateur players or professionals. Professionals are registered as professionals, that is how you tell them apart. What makes you think rec players are not amateurs?

    I coached in a county with 35k youth players. There were also thousands of players in adult leagues as well former players and teachers. The best youth coaches I saw were parent volunteers without USSF licenses, but were former college athletes and teachers. Then you have current college and high school players. USSF starts issuing coachiing licenses at age 16.

    Personally for pre-teens I have long recommended the academy style structure which makes more efficient use of coaching assets than having each team train separately.   

  25. Kevin Leahy, January 3, 2018 at 6:11 p.m.

    I also believe in the internal drive of the individual. A key to development is also what happens to many of the U-19 and younger players that, become national team players as youth players but, never see the senior team. What is going on with the players that, surpass the youth stars to become the senior players? This doesn't just happen in the U.S. Many of the players that I have come across that, I thought were gifted never had the drive or work rate of lesser talents. You get there by what you do when no one is watching.

  26. James Madison, January 3, 2018 at 7:29 p.m.

    I like what Lynn has to say about developing a soccer culture.  Since only an infinitesmal % of those who are introduced to the game at age 3, 4 or 5 will ever play professionally and not that much larger a % will compete at the inter collegiate level, the crucial early input is to infuse and foter a love of soccer that will last a lifetime as recreational player and fan, if not as a competitive player.  

  27. Kent James replied, January 4, 2018 at 12:57 a.m.

    This is key, and Lynn is one of the few people I've seen mention this (and it's probably the most innovative thing she says).  There is only so much coaches can do; a soccer culture, where people eat, drink and breathe soccer is what helps kids develop internal drive.  It is a rare child who will work hard developing skills for a game that nobody cares about, and our kids are competing against kids who have been steeped in such a culture since birth. But we are making progress.  The question is can coaches (since they are the participants) do anything to promote this culture?  I think by asking kids about the games they watched, and discussing the tactics and skills they saw.  But it is tough; you can't force it.  It would also be useful for coaches (somewhat depending on the age of the players) to talk to the parents maybe once a year about their approach to the game, and perhaps make suggestions about what interested parents can do to promote a soccer culture (taking their kids to professional games, e.g.).  But we will never be a dominant power without a true soccer culture...

  28. Ben Myers, January 3, 2018 at 11:57 p.m.

    Well, an old friend of mine who coached high school soccer for many years (now retired) did say that playing soccer is not rocket science.  Coaching is not rocket science either, despite the pronouncements of José Mourinho.  But people who have no clue about soccer tactics and technique ought not to be coaching, except for the chronic short supply of ANY coaches at all.  So the lowest levels get volunteers who know nothing about the game and teach incorrect technique and tactics. 

    By "tactics", I mean something laughably simple, like the concept that the team moves together toward the other team's goal.  Yet I get players who've played for a few years and the defenders form an unbreakable bond with the keeper and sit back in their own penalty area, perfect victims for a counterattack via a ball played into the gap.  It took me an entire 8-match fall season to lead the boys into the understanding that the defense needs to support.  And a lot of really inappropriate technique, feet not placed in the best way, one surface of the foot used when another will do better, etc.  So I taught a fall season of remedial soccer to a bunch of still-enthusiastic boys.  This is one of the BETTER run clubs in our area, but they rely on volunteers, most of whom have zero experience playing and coaching soccer.

    The shortage of qualified and patient coaches with an even temper and an eye toward player development MUST be addressed at all levels of the game, by the movers and shakers and on downward.

  29. Bob Ashpole replied, January 4, 2018 at 12:40 a.m.

    In my experience there is no shortage of qualified coaches, just a surplus of parents playing politics to live out their dreams of coaching glory and excluding others. Although I had promised my son I would coach his soccer team, every year I could not get on board as even an assistant coach. The fact that I was an experienced player, coach, and referee worked against me. The Parent-Coaches saw me as a threat as they had no experience or knowledge. They were horrible youth coaches and my participation as a "supportive parent" was extremely frustrating. Usually they were not even athletes of any kind. I never was able to coach my son. Yet every year my daughter's teams were begging for coaches. Definitely some kind of male ego thing going on with the Dads.  

  30. frank schoon replied, January 4, 2018 at 10:36 a.m.

    Ben, I wonder if Coaching is  rocket science and this is why only great coaches perhaps say, non chalantly that it it isn't. Johan Cruyff stated that "Soccer is a simple game but playing it simple is hardest thing to do".  As a matter of fact rocket science has all got to do with computers but soccer 'the deep insights a computer can't duplicate for it is all about " seeing" the game. This is why Cruyff  can see the same game as we but sees things that we don't realize or aware of. That is why a coach like Guardiola is so successful for he learned from Cruyff and not a computer. 

  31. frank schoon replied, January 4, 2018 at 10:45 a.m.

    Bob, my skin just crawls reading about your experieces with coaching/parents and the whole system....I know all about this stuff for I ,likewise, had experiences. 

  32. Kent James, January 4, 2018 at 1:12 a.m.

    I think the biggest development mistake we've made in the last decade is the "professionalization" of younger and younger ages (paid coaches in a competive environment).  Too much pressure, too much exclusion, too many costs, too many time demands at too young an age.  I actually think professional coaches usually know what they're doing (while maybe their personalities or pressure to win encourage them to do things they shouldn't do), but being a professional coach is not enough; to coach youth players, professional coaches have to have some training in coaching young players, since it is very different from coaching older players, and a lot of it is doing less, rather than more (letting kids learn, rather than teaching them to be little robots acting on command).  But fortunately, with the right structure, professional coaches who know how to coach young kids can set up a program that uses volunteers to oversee most of the activities (with the appropriate activities provided by the professionals), which keeps the costs down, while making sure kids are in the right environment.  

  33. Ric Fonseca, January 4, 2018 at 11:24 p.m.

    Interesting reading, though some comments are a bit too long in the tooth to really catch on and partake in the discussion.  I suppose that it takes someone like Ginger and myself to also share experiences and ask the inevitable, of "where in the heck were you guys" back in the/our day?  As for "playing street soccer," well pilgrims,. I do believe that this is now. I mean N-O-W a figure of speech since today it is just plain crazy and dangerous. So I'd say, play in the park, or better yet, the hundreds and thousands of school recreational areas, the blacktops that literally go unused after school lets out.  And as for the so-called professionalization of our sport, jeez-whiz loiuise, I saw it coming in the mid-70's with a rash of Brit/UK expatriates, and other western Euros, Italians, Germans, and of course the former pros from Mexico, Central and South America (who, BTW tended to gravitate to the local barrios, inner cities and form their clubs, leagues, association most if not ALL unaffiliated)  
    And also, BTW, all of this was happening when Ms. Lynn Berling was a young girl and I am sure she also saw the very thing I describe hereon, in the Oakland/Berkeley/Bay Area she lived in.  I can unabashedly say that I have known her since she was almost literally "knee-high-to-a-grasshopper" having met her Dad, Clay, and then her rise in SA, and then lo and behold to my surprise, ascencion into the ayso hierarchy, to this post she holds.  So, believe me folks, Ms. Berling does know that about which she speaks, yet as someone above said, it needs more substance, and the mere fact that we got our collective and arrogant rear ends kicked and handed to us ion a plastic serving dish, is merely proof that what she says, has been talked, bantied about, discussed ad infinitum, and now everyone says we have to close the barn door to prevent the soccer horses frome scaping.  the answer?  Another danged summit? Tell the US Soccer honchos to get off their duffs? Have MLS pay (figuratively speaking of course) more attention to our youth programs? More of thefinancially draining and so-called developmental leagues? Get rid of the gawd awful pay-for play practice? Get the Latino soccer playing communities to unite and affiliate? Lastly, how about we just let the kids play?  Indeed, lots to ponder and very little to initiate! 

  34. frank schoon replied, January 5, 2018 at 8:06 a.m.

    Ric, thanks for the memories.....great stuff....like reading about your past experiences!!!!

  35. I w Nowozeniuk, January 11, 2018 at 9:15 a.m.

    Too much talk and still no plan to reinvent coaching culture. It all starts with the conductor and his orchestra. The conductor sets the tone and the band executes. Biggest blunder is over coaching.

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