Michigan Impact – Bowling Green Tournament – U9 finalists
Michigan Impact – Genesee Fieldhouse Champion
Michigan Impact – Bowling Green Tournament – U9 finalists
Michigan Impact – Genesee Fieldhouse Champion
Clint Dempsey's diverse childhood soccer experience
Clint Dempsey, the USA’s second all-time highest scorer, leads the USA against Jamaica in World Cup qualifying on Friday. Dempsey is the subject of the YouthSoccerInsider's latest edition of "When They Were Children."
By Mike Woitalla
He grew up in the East Texas town of Nacogdoches and while a teenager played in Hispanic adult leagues for teams with names such as Zamora, Tampico and El Salvador.
"There were ex-pros and former semipros,'' Clint Dempsey said. ''I learned a lot. Playing with men, you have to learn quickly. It's sink or swim. It forced me to develop."
Dempsey says he grew up admiring the Argentine, Colombian and Brazilian style of play:
"Keeping the ball and making the other team work. The Hispanic league was like that.''
Starting in fifth grade, Dempsey took six-hour roundtrip journeys to Dallas where his play for elite club Dallas Texans paved the path to stardom.
Dempsey was the second of five children and grew up in a trailer in his grandparents' backyard. His mother, Debbie, said, in a 2006 interview with ESPN reporter Wayne Drehs, that expenses for Clint’s youth soccer meant selling her husband's boat, holding off on new furniture, never going out to eat, never going on a vacation — "Our vacations became soccer tournaments" — and not buying a new car.
When he won the 2006 Honda U.S. Player of the Year Award, Clint gave the prize, a pickup truck, to his father.
Dempsey, who after playing college ball for Furman and in MLS with New England, has starred in the English Premier League since 2007.
Clint was first introduced to soccer by his older brother Ryan, who said he got a taste of the sport from the Latino kids in their neighborhood. Debbie said she signed her children up for soccer to get them some exercise and Clint's first team was the local rec league’s Strikers.
But he played plenty of ball on his own.
''I was the little kid in a big family,'' he says, ''so I usually had someone to kick around with. When I was alone, I'd juggle, kick against the wall, or dribble around by myself pretending I was in the middle of a big game.''
He said playing in different environments is what helped him become the goal-dangerous, dynamic player he is today.
''The main thing is love of the game,'' said Dempsey. ''You've got to love the game and go out and play with passion. You've got to want to play whenever you can and find a game wherever you can find it.''
Refereeing Young Children: More Teacher than an Enforcer (Part 1)
By Randy Vogt
When I started refereeing in 1978, young kids games were 11 vs. 11. I was paid $6 per game, or $4 if I refereed with a partner. Being given responsibilities and some authority while running up and down a soccer field was probably the best job that a teenager could have. Nearly all new referees will be given young children’s games when starting out.
In the 1990s, these games were switched to small-sided games to give each player more touches on the ball. Although this helped their development, it also helped the development of referees as they had fewer players to watch when officiating the game. With fewer players, it also limited the number of spectators — usually family members — watching the game. This is very important as the adults are the main reason for disciplinary issues in young kids’ games.
To some adults coaching or watching young kids’ games, the game in front of them is as important as the World Cup final. These way too serious adults appear to be living vicariously through their child and either need to learn to calm down or their child eventually quits playing. Unfortunately, these adults also have a dramatically negative impact on refs who we are trying to retain and develop.
Most adults in the younger age groups know little about soccer and the only games they have seen are their own kids’ games. Some adults with these age groups also believe that soccer is a non-contact sport. Their perception of what should be called and the reality of what should be called are two very different things.
Not knowing much about soccer, they will argue the direction of a throw-in as much as a penalty kick decision. As challenging as it might be, referees are never to talk down to anyone.
For problem coaches, as the field is small, I have found that cheating my position a bit toward the coach’s touchline works well as it gives you a somewhat similar angle to the coach and you are right there so if the coach dissents, you will hear it.
Coaches appreciate when you let them have their say but their commentary about officiating cannot be continuous. Certainly, refs cannot allow that to happen throughout the match and retain control of the game. Most youth leagues encourage refs to give a dissenting coach a caution and refs will need to do this to control the situation. Should the coach continue to complain, the ref needs to use the red card.
With problem parents who are not coaches, many youth leagues require the coach to control the parent. In that case, the ref is to seek the help of the coach. If the parent continues to yell, the coach receives a yellow card for the parent’s behavior should that league’s rules mandate it.
Regarding soccer’s only complex rule, offside is enforced in some young children’s games and not in others while a modified version is used in other leagues. It’s important for the ref to know that league’s rules before officiating and take a cell phone and appropriate phone numbers should a question come up.
Some leagues will let a young player take an illegal throw-in over again which I think is a good move. The ref should tell the player what was done incorrectly before the second attempt.
Especially in young kids games, very brief explanations should be given after some decisions (to help players, coaches and spectators understand what is happening) and handling fouls should be not be whistled unless they are very obviously deliberate.
It’s important that with handling that is not deliberate, the ref should indicate by a quick verbal commentary that the play has been seen and is not a foul as it’s not deliberate. That should keep the adults quiet as one of the few rules they are aware of is handling is against the rules but most don’t realize that it has to be deliberate to be whistled.
For clean tackles, the ref should indicate it’s fair by pointing to the ball and, if that does not get the point across, the ref could always say the challenge was fair.
The referee should not be too officious and is more of a teacher than an enforcer is most young children’s games. It’s important for the ref to know the rules but equally important how they should be applied. Refereeing from Law 18 (common sense) as much as Laws 1 to 17 will serve the referee well in young kids’ games.
By Kristine Lilly
It was the late 1970s. I was 6 years old when I started playing soccer. Well I am not sure if what I played could be called “soccer.” I was out on the field with other boys and girls and there was a ball and chaos. What took place between the lines was FUN!
I remember the color of one of my first teams, light blue; I remember we played on Saturday mornings, players’ dads coached our team, we ate oranges at halftime, popsicles after the game and putting on my uniform and loving it.
I don’t remember how many games we won or lost, or who was a good player or who could kick the ball really far. What I remember most is the fun I had and waking up on Saturday mornings excited to go to my soccer game.
My favorite thing about soccer when I was 6 years old and probably until I was about 16 years old were the oranges at halftime. It was as simple as that. I remember trying to eat as many as I could before the game started up again. I have to say I never got sick so I guess I ate the perfect amount. So you see it wasn’t the Xs and Os or the technical work or how many goals I scored that made me happy, it was the oranges and my teammates.
I was a young female soccer player and life was simple and fun. But there was one problem: there were no girls soccer teams! So I showed up for the boys tryouts and — since no one said “no” — I tried out. I ended up being good enough and made the team. From 2nd to 8th grade I played with the boys on my hometown travel team, the Wilton Wonders. There was no recruiting players, no switching teams, you just played for your town and that was it. We played against neighboring towns so it was Wilton vs. the World!
I loved every second of it. The boys I played with treated me as a sister and friend, which meant I got no free passes or special treatment. I earned every ball, assist and goal. If I wanted to play, I had to work hard; if I fell, I had to bounce right back up and hold back my tears. That kind of treatment made me feel like I was part of something special, and on one particular occasion I knew that I was …
Our travel team arrived for a tournament in Niagara Falls, New York. As we prepared for our first game our coach was called to an impromptu meeting, where he was told we couldn’t play because there was a girl on our team: Me!
Instead of sitting me out, my coach and team refused to play. It didn’t matter that I was a girl. I was part of their team. As it turned out, that display of team cohesion was my first glimpse of athletic integrity and sportsmanship.
(Excerpted from "Girls Soccer: My Story — Dream, Believe, Achieve" by Kristine Lilly, an e-book that includes 74 videos. Lilly, who debuted for the USA at age 16 in 1987 and retired in 2010 at age 39, won two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals. She won four national championships with the University of North Carolina, and played pro ball in Sweden, the WUSA and WPS. An introductory video of the e-book, a collaboration with Coerver Coaching, can be seen HERE)
What to do about M's father?
By Donna Olmstead
The recent death of Salt Lake City, Utah, soccer referee Ricardo Portillo makes me incredibly sad. There isn't a game on earth that is worth someone's life. I read that his family says the parents of the 17-year-old keeper who hit him in the head should bear some of the blame. I guarantee you that neither the parents nor anyone else on the sidelines intended for Portillo's death to happen. But time and time again I've watched negative energy result in unintended consequences.
We were at a U9 rec league soccer game Saturday. These kids are at the age where some of them are beginning to show a real talent for soccer and the rest of them are just having a good time running around in the sun.
One little girl, we'll call her M, should be on a competitive team. She has two older brothers who practice soccer with her, and the lessons show in the way she moves, handles the ball and watches the players around her. She's the team's top scorer, of course. And she's a nice kid.
The coach is great with the players. He plays them evenly throughout the game and encourages them with positive comments. He's not the type of coach who keeps his strong players on the whole game with the object of winning. I wish we could clone him.
And I wish we could banish M's father to the parking lot. Actually, to a parking lot in another county. Or state.
When a player whom M's father considers to be weak is playing defense, he snorts and makes comments such as, "Well, now they'll score for sure."
When a player besides his daughter has the ball, he yells that they should pass it to her.
And, with M's father on the sideline, who needs a coach? He knows everything about soccer and "coaches" at the top of his lungs.
Besides not having a volume control, one of the problems with M's father is that he really doesn't know everything about soccer. For example, when the keeper picked up the ball outside the box, M's father yelled, "Penalty kick!" Of course it was just a hand ball, but he really didn't want to hear that.
I'm not sure how to handle parents like him. Sitting at the other end of the field helps me a little, but it doesn't do anything for the parents around him whose feelings he's hurting. He simply goes into his own world when the game begins and becomes unconscious of everyone else.
Because at this age the kids still are shorter than the parents, they get to run through a "parent tunnel" at the end of the game. And they love it. It doesn't matter who won or lost, they run through smiling while the parents yell encouragement. Then everyone gets a treat.
We tied this game 4-4. When M's mom told her husband it was time to form the tunnel, he looked at her and said, "They don't deserve a tunnel. They didn't win." And he picked up his chair and walked off the field. I hope M didn't notice that he wasn't there.
I don't know how to handle M's father. Actually, I know I can't handle him. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't realize that the negative energy he is sending to the players and to the players' parents will have unintended consequences. At the very least, he's ruining the game for the people close enough to hear him. Let's just hope that's as far as it goes.
(Florida resident Donna Olmstead has been involved in soccer through both her children and her grandchildren, as well as housing professional players and owning and running an indoor soccer facility. She is a freelance writer and spends weekends trying to remember at which tournament she's supposed to be cheering.
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Sleep well, play well (The teenager's challenge)
(For those parents and coaches welcoming a new generation of teenagers, the Youth Soccer Insider republishes this article, which first appeared in May 2011.)
By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.
I'm sure anyone who's raised an adolescent or teenager can attest to the idea that teenagers don't get as much sleep as they need.
For the adolescent or teenager a number of outside influences take place: more demands on time for homework, socializing, sports, music, or any number of other activities. Let’s take a look below at some reasons why sleep patterns change, what the proper amount of sleep is, and how it can affect sports performance.
Why sleep patterns change in a teenager
Each of us — no matter how old — has an internal clock that follows roughly a 24-hour cycle. The internal cycle has a wide range of effects on many different body functions such as body temperature, release of hormones (human growth hormone is released in larger amounts during sleep than wakefulness), and amount of sleep required.
In younger children the normal body clock would have them fall asleep around 8 or 9 each night and wake up in the morning when they’ve had enough sleep. But in puberty the surge in different hormones produced by the body changes all of that and it becomes very difficult to feel sleepy often until after 11pm. Throw in the required time on Facebook and you can see where all of this leads.
How much sleep does a teenager need and how many teens actually get that?
Most sleep researchers tell us that the typical teenager should have 9 hours of sleep per night. Right now many of you are saying to yourselves “get real, that’s impossible” for most teenagers.
As the father of two teenage boys I’d have to agree. Several studies of teens have shown that about 90% get less than 9 hours of sleep per night and unfortunately 10% said they typically get less than 6 hours per night. The definition of “sleep deprivation” in teens is not completely clear but generally means that the teen is consistently getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night.
How sleep deprivation affects school and athletic performance
Anyone who’s sleepy can be awfully moody but there are many negative consequences beyond that. Being tired during class will obviously make it more difficult to concentrate or even stay awake during class, and there is evidence that being sleep deprived leads to poorer school performance. And most tragically a sleep deprived teen driving a car can lead to disastrous consequences.
In a test of reaction times at Stanford University, people who were tired because of disrupted sleep performed about as poorly as subjects who were legally drunk. The study is the first to show severe impairment in people who have only mild to moderate sleep disturbances. This was an older group of people but it’s easy to see that it could be true for teenagers too. Would you like to face a high and tight fastball when you can’t react?
As for sports performance, research by Dr. Cheri Mah at the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic has shown that members of Stanford’s women’s tennis team, men’s and women’s swimming teams, and men’s basketball team improved performance by increasing sleep times.
Some practical tips for sleep and sports performance in teenagers …
There are many good reasons for teenagers to get more sleep than they do, but once again reality can get in the way of a good plan. So do the best you can to get as close as you can to 9 hours of sleep for your teen.
At the very least there are special situations when you’ll want to pay special attention to “sleep preparation” for performance. Do you have an important tournament or championship game coming up? How about a national team tryout? A college identification camp where you’ll be traveling east through several time zones? Here are some simple tips:
* Increase your sleep time several weeks before a major event.
* Make sleep as much of a priority as technical skill, fitness, and nutrition.
* Go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day.
* Turn lights off at night; use bright lights in the morning.
* When traveling from west to east for competitions try to get out to your new time zone several days in advance to acclimate to the new time zone and avoid jet lag.