First and foremost, it’s about teaching the love of the sport not the love of winning. Sure, who doesn’t like to win, but what message do we send players if that’s the only time they’re praised for playing a sport, or conversely, we constantly tell them what they are doing wrong on the field?
As parents and coaches, we need to remember that kids play sports because it’s fun and the #1 reason they quit is because it’s no longer fun. The following is a good reminder from Proactive Coaching about the 12 simple rules of sport parents conduct that will help keep the experience fun for you, your player, the team and the coach. We’ve also shared a few ideas about what to do instead.
Rule #4 – Do not coach your child in games or training.
It’s confusing for the player to hear from both sides of the field during a game and often disrupts his/her focus. Instead watch what the players are learning in practice or ask the coach about what specific skills the team is focusing on and praise players for accomplishing these skills on the field. And of course if you want to help coach during training, be sure to ask your coach if he’d like help, he/she is likely to welcome the additional support.
Rule #7 – Avoid criticizing any player on the pitch or at training.
Positive reinforcement is a much greater motivator for anyone and teaching kids to embrace failure and risk taking is an important skill in athletes. Instead, praise players for what they do immediately after a mistake. Maybe he/she hustled back or didn’t give up. It’s important praise the reaction to failure, and create a safe to fail environment.
#9 – Do not force your child to participate in a sport.
It is certainly one thing to want your child to finish a commitment if he/she asked to play soccer and then mid-season decides it’s not the sport for him/her, but you don’t want to force the issue. If they aren’t interested in playing any longer let him/her watch and cheer teammates on from the sidelines. And if they aren’t interested in playing to begin with, give them time and accept their goals as you help them find their own passion for playing sports.
#12 Applaud the opposition as well as your own team.
As spectators you have a great influence over the enjoyment and success of any game and developing a love of the sport for your own children as well as others. Positive encouragement across both sides will have a lasting effect on helping instill a sense of achievement and self-esteem. As role models, it’s our job to help lift up every kid to feel he/she has done the best they could.
Cheering for both teams is also a great way to teach sportsmanship and reflects the club’s mission to create a safe, fun and competitive sports environment for everyone, which is a reputation we want to maintain at Wells Branch Soccer Association. Thanks for helping us set the standard for the North Austin, Pflugerville, and Round Rock areas.
With the introduction of the club's first Tryout and Observation Days for new advanced playing options, we were eager to study the landscape of soccer in Central Texas to see what families are traditionally paying for competitive soccer. Here is what we learned after researching neighboring clubs and compiling the data.
The Big Guys
Admittedly, there is good reason for the 3 most recognizable clubs in the area having the reputations they do. The largest 2 boast memberships in the thousands and all have strong track records of building quality players and teams thanks to sound technical programs led by credible directors of coaching. While it can be a bit frustrating to see players - developed under the guidance of our strongest WBSA coaches - get recruited to these clubs, the appeal is irrefutable.
Our research showed the average TOTAL price of these clubs to be $2,676 for one playing year (spring and fall season). This included registration fees, uniform kits (ordered separately) "commitment" fees, and volunteer buyouts that could be earned back. Not surprisingly, financial aid is available on a limited basis.
To contrast the big club model with what WBSA is now offering, we also did a comparison of organizations that are more aligned with regards to having a large recreational membership. One of the clubs chosen has a nearly identical membership population while the other is roughly 3x our size as of last season.
As you can see, the total annual costs were only about a quarter of the larger clubs, with an average of $705 across the 2 clubs. Uniform costs are typically substantially lower and the additional fees appear to be absent in these models.
Our board has decided to keep the Academy and Select fees consistent with our recreational prices for the upcoming fall and spring season. Combining a $135 registration fee in the fall with a discounted $110 rate in the spring (reduced for returning players not needing a new uniform), you arrive at a total annual cost of $245 for players on our advanced soccer teams.
As an entirely volunteer driven organization, we do not require buyout fees. Instead, we are moving to implement a "volunteer credit" that would put money back into the pockets of our families that volunteer (in the form of a team party / tournament fund). Further, our uniform expenses are rolled into the total price of registration and we are thrilled to be rolling out an awesome new Joma kit.
You can can play 2 full years of advanced soccer in WBSA for the price of just a single year within the clubs that are most like us.
You can play a staggering 11 YEARS ($2,646 divided by $245 = 10.9) for the price of a single year of training in one of the "Big 3" organizations offering services in our area.
To put that into perspective...assuming your child started playing competitive soccer at the earliest permissible age (U8 "playing up" in Academy), you would barely just be hitting the $2,646 mark by the time you paid their last WBSA registration fees (as a U18) before they left for college.
Every season we field tons of great questions regarding your child's age group. Likewise, we always get requests to explain the tables created by US Soccer and shared on our registration page. Here is an infographic we produced to provide some clarity.
It's often helpful to compare soccer to school. Since soccer is a 2 season sport, you can compare the Fall and Spring seasons to the Fall and Spring school semesters. Likewise, just as a student progresses to a new grade after each summer, a soccer player "ages up" to an older division after the summer. It's worth noting that ALL players make this transition together, at the same time.
In the example above, you see how a player born in 2006 will progress. Consider the following (which are common sources of confusion):
We hope this helps clarify how age groups are determined. Please let us know if you have questions by leaving a note in the comments section below.
As our members are hopefully already aware, US Soccer has started implementing Player Development Initiatives that will change the landscape of youth soccer starting with the Fall 2016 season. The spirit of these changes is to help coaches and families focus more on individual skill development less on the outcomes of games.
"Despite the increased popularity of soccer and the success of our national teams, the youth soccer landscape at the entry level needs to be improved. Our soccer culture at the youth level focuses on winning and results rather than focusing on developing the skills of individual players. The concept of a team outweighs the importance of players having fun and developing to the best of their abilities. As a country, we need coaches and parents to spend less time caring about wins and loses, and more time devoted to teaching individual skills. Part of this initiative is to educate and empower coaches and parents to change the way we look at the sport."
This post is intended to inform our membership about the 2 biggest changes that will go live at the start of the Fall 2016 season: Birth Year Registration and Small Sided Standards. While WBSA is supportive and excited about these changes, they are being driven by US Soccer and adopted by our governing bodies (such as CAYSA and STYSA) as requirements for continued participation from clubs such as ours.
WBSA has been planning for these changes over the past few seasons and is arguably better prepared than any surrounding club. That said, we do anticipate some disruption and potential discomfort for our members, which is why we are attempting to be as collaborative and transparent as possible.
As with every decision, the guiding focus will be on the well-being and safety of ALL our players. We would like to empower our families with the relevant information so they can help us make the best possible decisions regarding their children as they pertain to these changes.
Birth Year Registration
Before the Change
Age groups were determined by birthdays but were somewhat aligned with school grades. For example a child born after August 1st could be "held back" (or in this case "play down") with players in a later birth year.
After the Change
Age groups will be determined by a player's birth year. A child born after August 1st can no longer "play down" with players in a later birth year. All players born in a given year are in the same age group.
US Soccer Rationale
"Not only will this change align our players with the international standard, but it will allow us to be better informed to combat relative age effect when making teams for youth players."
Detailed Standards by Age Groups
As always, we will empower our membership to make the most informed decision for their respective children That said, we want our membership to be mindful of how their decisions will impact both their child, and all others in the club. When considering what age group is best for your child, please consider the following.
Potential Pros of "Aging Up" to Maintain Team:
Potential Cons of "Aging Up" to Maintain Team:
Questions to Consider:
Regarding health...would you push your kid to join an advanced swim team before they were ready? Larger kids, increased velocity of the soccer ball, and larger fields do present serious risks.
Regarding development...would you want a piano teacher skipping musical notes and scales in hopes that your kid can play Motzart? There is a lot to master (both individual and team concepts) before moving to an more advanced playing format in soccer.
All that said, if you child is "swimming every stroke" and "reading sheet music" at a level consistent with older players, following their peers and "aging up" would make sense. Especially given the social benefits and considerations mentioned above.
Small Sided Standards
Before the Change
Field sizes, game length, and even the game ball varied wildly from league to league across the US. Roster sizes were also inconsistent and too many clubs were placing players in the 11v11 format at a far too early age. Playing on larger fields and giving players substantially fewer touches is hindering long term development and engagement.
After the Change
Playing standards and a focus on small-sided games will create a better development environment (and more touches) for players. Fundamental principles will begin at the youngest ages and will be reinforced via an additive process as players progress from 3v3 to 4v4 to 7v7 to 9v9 and ultimately 11v11 soccer.
US Soccer Rationale
"We want to develop players with more: individual skill, intelligence, creativity and confidence. Players should be having fun, and feel free to make their own decisions. These standards were created based on the needs of the players and they also provide for a consistent approach across the country."
Detailed Standards by Age Group
Our club is proud to have already been operating in a manner that is aligned with the Small Sided initiatives. Our U4-U6 teams have always utilized a 3v3 format and older age groups were slowly building, holding off on 11v11 soccer until it was appropriate. Likewise, our field sizes are already near these recommendations and will be tweaked for next season (and at the new complex).
There will be minor changes to the number of field players at each age group (i.e. 7v7 as opposed to 6v6 at U9/U10 and 9v9 as opposed to 8v8 at U11/U12), which will also mean that maximum roster sizes will increase slightly at these age groups as well. Our leadership team is very excited about these changes, as they will lead to much better team fundamentals that are rooted in / build towards key principles in the 11v11 game. The 6v6 and 8v8 formats were more restrictive and less aligned in our opinion.
The only deviation from the table above that WBSA may choose to implement is keeping the 3v3 format for our U6 divisions. We will rely heavily on feedback from our coaches and families, but are considering that course of action for 2 main reasons. First and foremost, as a highly recreational club, we think more touches will greatly benefit our younger players and is more appropriate for our typical member at this age.
Secondly, the smaller team sizes will allow us to maintain a healthy U4-U6 division by ensuring strong team counts. Moving to the 4v4 format for U6 would seriously hinder our ability to offer a great development environment for our youngest players given the size of our club. However, we are confident that continued growth will allow us to implement a 4v4 U6 format eventually.
Finally, we are considering some evolutions to the U6-U9 divisions to create a better development environment for these players. We are exploring the best practices from US Soccer as well as our highly successful "Hybrid" models. These creative solutions for blending age groups has allowed us to introduce unprecedented parity amongst our teams (i.e. creating evenly matched games) and better group players with similar skill level.
Earning an introductory coaching license from US Soccer is now easier than ever. More importantly, heading into the season with confidence and a basic coaching philosophy is feasible with a commitment of just a few hours. The (entirely online) "F" license training is a a great resource for both brand new and the most experienced coaches in our club.
Here is a quick abstract from the US Soccer website:
The “F” license is a 2-hour course, conducted entirely online, intended for all parents and coaches of youth players. The focus of this grassroots course is to share U.S. Soccer’s best practices in creating a fun, activity-centered and age-appropriate environment for 5-8 year old players. The “F” license course is open to all applicants at least 16 years of age.
Top 5 Takeaways
Here are the top 5 things that our coaches will find most beneficial:
Digital Coaching Center
Coaches also gain access to a digital coaching center after earning their license, which happens immediately after completing the last webinar and accompanying assessment. The U6 and U8 practice scripts are arguably some of the best resources produced by US Soccer in recent memory. Each PDF has 6-8 weeks of exhaustive practice sessions that could literally get a new coach through an entire season.
Get Licensed (and Reimbursed)
Completing the training is incredibly easy thanks to 18 webinars. The modules include a refreshing mix of videos and actual training footage, so it's not your typical "death by PowerPoint". You can power through them in no time since each module is generally 5-10 minutes in length. A few are as short as 90 seconds, only 1 or 2 are longer than 15 minutes, and most run roughly 3-5 minutes. You'll take a quick 4-6 question, multiple-choice assessment following every webinar.
After that, you are officially licensed and can print the following certificate. If you send the WBSA treasurer the PDF file and digital receipt, we'll gladly reimburse the entire $25 expense.
It's difficult to believe the end of the season is already upon us! What better way to say goodbye to the 2016 Spring Season than by throwing a huge bash!
Join us for the:
WBSA End of Season Party
Saturday, May 7th
Sauls Fields (next to Willow Bend Pool)
PLEASE BRING A SIDE DISH OR DESSERT TO SHARE
WBSA will provide the main course, drinks and entertainment!
We need volunteers to bring tables and tents and to help with the food tables and other activities.
Please sign up at our Volunteer Spot website at http://vols.pt/PnsmL2 to help.
We will have a ton of fun activities and the best company available in North Austin!
See you there!