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b2ap3_thumbnail_never-make-it.jpgThis topic will UPSET many people & clubs so get ready!

Here is the Scenario: No matter how hard you try and how long you train, you still struggle to make the “TOP TEAM” in your club. You are not the most athletic player at your club, but you work hard but never seem to make it to that next teir.

If this is your case, you are just one of thousands of frustrated parents,  field players and goalkeepers who’ve tried for years to make the “top” team and still can’t make it!! WHY?

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soccer-tryouts-questionsIt's June or January and that means tryouts for club soccer teams. There are a few select regional-quality teams that can pick and choose the cream-of-the-crop players. But in general, soccer teams are a buyer's (players/parents) market. Teams need good players more than good players need teams, and good players can exercise their power by moving to a team that closely fits their needs.

With that in mind I have a list of questions that players and parents should be clear on before accepting a spot on a club soccer team.

I intend no disrespect to any team or club. I do think that players who are offered a spot on a team should know for sure what they are being offered. And I think most teams and coaches will be truthful and forthcoming. Most coaches really want the players to know so there are no misgivings later in the season. If the answers are vague or the team/coach doesn't respond, players and parents should take that as a warning flag and look for another club/team. The critical point is to find a team that is a good fit for you.

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Maradonna DriblingI want you to know that the best coaches in the world alone they cannot make you into the best soccer player possible by themselves. They need help. They need You.
This article is intended for serious soccer athletes (regardless of skill level) that are looking to pursue soccer as their sport of choice. The players that see themselves in their High School Varsity teams, College Team, or yes even Pro. The players that value long term development versus the short term win.

Paying to Be Mediocre

In the U.S. we have essentially the highest standard of living in the world, but also have essentially zero soccer culture.
Sure, we love our US Women National Team, and every four years we watch the USMNT compete, but we certainly aren’t going to spend thousands of dollars on season tickets to our local professional soccer club.
We have football, basketball, baseball, and hockey too deeply embedded in our culture for that…


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b2ap3_thumbnail_parent-soccer-eagles.jpgI’ve been coaching soccer for many years. I’ve instructed all kinds of players: the uninterested four-year-olds, the unusually talented 10-year-olds, and high school seniors doing their best impression of the Bad News Bears. The winning is always great, and there’s much to be learned from losing, but it’s nowhere near as satisfying as having a player tell you how much fun he’s had.

Especially for the younger players, I’ve always felt a responsibility to create fun and lasting memories…win, lose or draw. Along the way, I’ve been lucky to have tremendous support from the vast majority of parents who’ve trusted me to do the right thing.

But occasionally, coaches encounter troublemaker parents. This can ruin the fun for everybody: players, coaches, and entire teams and families.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_1st-tournament.jpgThe U8 team was formed a few months ago after a lengthy tryout process. A few practices were held during the summer to help the players get familiar with each other. Coaches even had a trainer work with them a couple times per week for the past three weeks in preparation for their first tournament. Coaches, parents and players were eager to participate in their first tournament as the “A” team from the club.

They lined up for their first game, and before you knew it they were down 3-0. Coaches were scrambling to change the formation, parents were screaming “boot it,” “run harder,” “get more aggressive,” and Soccer-Player_webplayers were terrified and wanted to stay on the bench. The team did not win a game the entire tournament, and everyone was wondering what exactly went wrong.

I can tell you from experience, especially at the younger ages, tournaments are for the team bonding experience and nothing more.

There are so many variables that affect results in tournament games that you will drive yourself crazy if you treat it as something anything more than a social event. But Coach, “We played them in the regular season last spring and only lost by a goal. They just beat us 5-0”.

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Participating in a sport is supposed to be fun. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological 

Children taking part in competitive sports often feel stressed, but the cause of that stress may be surprising to some parents. Often, it isn’t the coaches or your children’s teammates that are causing the stress; it could be you — and you may not even know you’re doing it! Are you guilty of any of these stress-inducing behaviors? Avoid stressing your child out during sports activities by remembering these stressful behaviors parents engage in during games, practices or even around the house.Association estimates that 9 percent of all children use sports to help manage stress. For those children, sports can be fun, but for many children, sports can be extremely stressful.

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athlete-running.jpgIt’s late in the fourth quarter, the third period, stoppage time or even that last mile. That is when athletic trainers, strength and conditioning specialists and coaches find out if all of that investment of time and money in physical endurance training was worth it as they watch to see if their athletes will have enough left in the tank to finish. Often though, its not necessarily the muscles or physiological systems that shut down but rather the brain in an overprotective mode. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen think they have found the exact process that contributes to this sense of fatigue while engineers at the University of California – San Diego are piloting a wearable patch that can warn when an athlete is about to hit the wall.

In his 2007 book Brain Training for Runners, Matt Fitzgerald, long-time running columnist and author detailed the role of the brain in controlling physical endurance. Traditionally, fatigue used to be considered a breakdown of biochemical balances with the buildup of lactic acid or depletion of glycogen for fuel. However, research in the 1980s showed that this breakdown did not always occur and that athletes were still able to push through at the end of a game or race even though they should have been physically exhausted.

A new theory of the brain as a “central governor” emerged. Like a warning light in your car, the brain calculates the time to physical catastrophe or total exhaustion based on the current pace and feedback signals from the body. When it feels you won’t make it to your desired finish line, it begins to lower muscle output and sends messages to your conscious brain that its time to quit.

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Abounds Fruit1 200x200Practices are a good way to test what snacks work best for your child in regards to energy and performance. Just as the old adage goes for adult athletes, “Do not try anything new on race day;” this also can be applied to youth soccer players. Testing what food works well for pre/post practice can then be applied to pre/post games.

A snack before a soccer practice or game should be something that isn’t heavy, but is enough to keep kids fueled. Try to fuel muscles 1-2 hours before an athletic event. Some kids will need two hours to digest before they play. This depends on the individual kid and timing of eating needs to be experimented with at practices. Also, a snack that travels well is best, since travel to and from games is commonplace. Make sure to avoid fatty foods, extra sweet foods, and caffeine. These cause spikes in blood sugar, and then sugar levels can drop quickly during performance. This will make kids feel sluggish.

- Here are some examples of good pre-practice and pre-game snacks:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_overloading-insport.jpgMy husband and I were thrilled when our 11-year-old daughter was selected for a Class I soccer team earlier this spring. It’s something she wanted and drove—she’s pretty headstrong—and we followed her lead. She loves soccer and wanted the greater challenge on the field. At the parent meeting, the coach clearly stated that once the calendar hit August 1st, it was serious soccer. From that date on, he expects the girls to be at every practice leading into the season. We were on board 100 percent.

Until our daughter’s good friend invited her to spend 10 days in Hawaii. In August. In the middle of the ‘serious’ practice season. I had been so careful to plan our family vacation in June to avoid our son’s July baseball commitments and our daughter’s August soccer commitments. I was the model, committed sports parent. And now I was faced with a dilemma. Do I deny my 11-year-old a wonderful experience that she would remember forever, in order to demonstrate our commitment to the new coach and protect her playing time for the entire season?

Whether it’s a vacation or another family, religious or school commitment, I’m sure many of you have been in my position. Striking the right balance between commitment to an athletic team – or multiple teams – and what’s right for your particular family is no easy task. But here are some guidelines to help reduce your family’s overall stress level and limit your child’s potential for physical injury and mental anxiety due to overuse and overscheduling.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_running-kids.jpgMost children enjoy running, and they get even more excited about running when they can run fast. Speed is a valuable aspect of being successful in any sport. Good running technique significantly affects how fast a child can run but does not always come naturally to a child. Coaches and parents can use drills, motivation and nutrition to increase a child’s speed.

Step 1

Tell the children to pretend they are answering two telephones, one on the outside of each hip, while running. This helps them focus on bringing their hands to their hip and then take the hand up to the same ear. Running using this technique can increase momentum from the arms and improve the children’s running times.

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