Blogs from Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Director of Coaching Mike Barr

Points to discuss

Friday, September 24, 2010

Posted by: Coach Mike Barr commentComment (4)

Happy to hear that leagues are examining the distanced travelled by younger travel teams in Eastern Pennsylvania but why not examine the need to have any travel teams at U9 and U10. I always found that telling players at age eight they are not good enough to make a team eliminates potential strong players, besides chipping away at fragile self esteem.
Why not try to build up your recreation program with top level coaches who are concerned about development of all children rather than wins and losses? What research suggests that playing travel soccer aids in the development of a child's physical, emotional and social skills?

Imagine the disadvantage a child faces, who is six to twelve months behind another child at age eight, simply because they were born on the wrong date. Think of how those extra months impact the future of a child.
Do coaches of younger children take into consideration the birth date of a child and the maturation process when making selections? We may be eliminating gifted athletes who never get the chance.

I hate to see coaches run up scores on opponents but thought those issues diminished as players and coaches matured. I was surprised to see a local Division Three Women's college team take satisfaction in winning 13-0 over a weaker opponent and relish the records they set in their win. Upon further examination and talking with other coaches, I found this same team will bring in their first team leading by four goals in the last ten minutes of a match, in order to look for further indivdual and team records. Sportsmanship seems to be melting like the polar ice caps.

















Time Management

Monday, September 20, 2010

Posted by: Coach Mike Barr commentComment (0)

As a player is pulled between academics, after school activities, school sports and club soccer it becomes imperative that both the parents and the athlete come up with a weekly time management schedule that is easy to follow.

Both the athlete and a parent should have an entire week's time line prepared on Monday of each week. This time line describes an entire week's agenda from morning to night. Blocking in time for home assignments, practices, meals, travel to and from activities, and even social time gives the athlete and their parents guidelines for the entire week and expectations to be fulfilled. 

A high school or middle school soccer player should take advantage of the time before practice to meet with teachers for extra help, test preparation, research, and even social time with friends.

I suggest that an athlete has a daily, consistent study time in the same location with no access to any disruptions in the form of phones and television. Computers are utilized for only research. Meals are provided at the same time with limited fast food opportunities for the entire family. 

Hydration, nutrition and sleep patterns play a large role in the success of a player on and off the field. Consistent times for going to sleep and waking up, with at least eight hours of sleep, provides an extra advantage to a player. 

With younger age children it may mean a parent enforcing the schedule presented until it becomes a habit or expected behavior. Remember to allow your child to have some social time with his or her friends. If you begin to notice frustration open up a meaningful conversation. If a player needs some down time approach the coach and if he or she has the best interest of your child he will follow your decisions.

The benefits far outweigh any arguments that may take place as the schedule is implemented. It also lays the ground work for these young athletes to successfully follow these habits into college without the assistance of mom or dad. If they are among the elite players who play in college time management is critical to success.











Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Posted by: Coach Mike Barr commentComment (5)

Disturbing to read that one in seven families live below the poverty line (families making less than $22,000 a year). It is a safe bet that the children in these families will not be exposed to soccer, let alone play soccer one day. It would be great to see US Soccer and the MLS make a genuine effort to expose urban children and poor rural children to the sport.

Going to a tournament and seeing the rich cultural diversity of players, parents and coaches always brings about satisfaction knowing that I am working in the right sport. Would Glen Beck of Fox News see things the same way or does soccer appear un-American in his eyes?

When local sports talk radio hosts slam soccer because of their lack of knowledge, do they alienate people visiting from other countries and continue the perception that many Americans really don't care what goes on in the rest of the world.

Please explain why so many teams travel a longer time in the car one way, to play one match, than it takes to play the entire match.

Parents expose your children to other sports, the arts, other languages and cultures. Focusing on one sport causes burn out, strains family relationships and normally does not have the intended results. Ask yourself as a parent, are you living out your own sports fantasies through your children? 





















The U5 Player

Monday, September 13, 2010

Posted by: Coach Mike Barr commentComment (1)

I had the opportunity to see my future US National team grandaughter, Emma, attend her first soccer practice as a three and half year old this past weekend. The enthusiasm of the parents and children alike is certainly infectious but the session I saw really needed some fine tuning.
The coach talked to the players and their parents for over twenty minutes to start the session. He missed the opportunity to engage the players right away in some fun type activity, with either his assistants or himself, while the parents could receive the information away from the exercise. 

Players this age should be encouraged to use their imagination and explore movement but dribbling up and down the field as an exercise, before playing their games, really becomes tedious and uneventful.

Why not have the players pretend thay are cars, dancers or animals as they dribble their soccer ball in any direction or between cones that are pretend boulders or trees? Play "red light, green light" if the coach wants to see them stop. Allow them to explore a rolling or bouncing ball with not only their feet but also their hands. Engage them in questions.

Coaches have to think of themselves as educators and having a clear understanding of child development makes coaching easier. An exciting, creative warm up and exercise adds to the excitement of playing. This is a time when immature, childish behavior on the part of the trainer and the players is not so bad and certainly brings the players back for more.