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Hey Coach Newsletter

I realize that I must not challenge the referee or his/her calls, but I have been getting increasingly frustrated at some of the decisions that have been called on my team lately, especially from some of the younger volunteers. Even my players are getting upset.
Sadly, the situation you described is a common problem that we need to remedy quickly!
As a coach, it’s OK to disagree with the referee’s call and even ask a referee politely after the match why a particular decision was made. However, that’s about it! We need to create a positive and sporting environment and standard for our players, which includes our interactions with officials. This also includes monitoring behavior from our parents.
Never in the many years of being involved in the game as a fan, player, coach, or parent have I witnessed a referee listen to a player’s or coach’s complaints over a call and then change his or her mind. It is an exercise in futility and an effort we discourage at AYSO in the strongest possible way. Our job as coaches is to educate our players, teach them about the game, and model positive and sporting behaviors. 
Furthermore, we are losing referees at an alarming rate. If we do not simply learn to accept the judgment of the official, we will not have any officials to steward our games. By far, the most common reason for volunteers leaving their referee position is the constant dissent from coaches and parents. 
Now narrow this down to youth referees (kids!) and imagine the impact dissent and criticism has on their sporting and social development as well as their concept of volunteerism. Unacceptable! Remember, youth referees are just that, YOUTHS! Constant criticisms, sniping comments, and shouting across the field does not fit within AYSO’s value system of Positive Coaching and Good Sportsmanship.
Everyone at AYSO should help protect the integrity of the game.

Is your Warm-up Effective?

Is Your Warm-Up Effective?


My child's team starts every training session and match with the kids in a circle static stretching, followed by a lap around the field. Isn’t this a bit old school?

Generally speaking, the warm-up should include more dynamic movements (moving limbs through their full range of motion). These dynamic stretches are great for 'waking muscles up' and getting them ready to work hard.

Research has shown that static stretching (pre-session) can actually detract from player performance and is better suited to the cool down than the warm-up.

In terms of running laps, remember the 3Ls. Limiting laps, lines and lectures from our sessions will provide a more player-centered environment. The warm-up should activate and engage players to start working on and thinking about the session topic.

Losing The Game

My players get really upset when they lose a match (as do I to be honest). Any advice?
Firstly, you are not alone!
Everyone wants to win, including every player and coach in AYSO! However, a team's win record is only one indicator of success and can often conflict with the individual player’s development. Additionally, the manner in which we obtain the victory is also a factor.
Is there any real development taking place if our players simply punt the ball 30 yards each time they receive it and hope it bounces near a teammate that is on his or her way to the goal? Yet, this is how many teams of all ages win matches and measure success. At AYSO, we feel it is time to challenge that methodology on the quest for victory.
A healthy competitive environment for our players should focus on performance as well as outcome (ball skills, intent and purpose, effort, creativity, etc.) as factors of success and not simply the score. This can be done by providing the platform and quality instruction to improve their abilities and allowing them the freedom to express themselves (make mistakes and learn). Ultimately, if we improve each player, the team results will follow! Educate and engage players in all aspects of development!
A commitment to balancing development over winning does not reduce competition (a key component in a player’s development); however, game results are just one indicator of performance and, at the developmental stage, not the most important one! They are a means to development.

Scoring and winning are indeed fundamental parts of soccer, and children should be encouraged to enjoy these aspects – but not by making winning the only focus. Remember, there is also great lessons in losing (sportsmanship, respect, reflection, perseverance, etc.)
It’s time to step off the emotional rollercoaster of quantifying success only when we win; there are, of course, other factors to consider when measuring soccer success. 

Penalty Kick



There have been a lot of penalties at this World Cup. Are there any tips we can share with our players to help calm their nerves if they have to take a kick?



It's almost impossible in training to recreate the feeling for a player taking a kick. And although the level of anxiety cannot accurately be replicated, there are some tips that can help if you have to take a penalty kick:

-Immediately start to visualize the ball hitting the net and the sound it makes. Believe you are going to score! (Positive visualization and reinforcement are powerful tools.)

-While waiting, take deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth and, again, visualize the ball hitting the net.

-Decide where you are going to shoot, and don’t change your mind regardless of what the goalkeeper does.

-At the penalty spot, place the ball so it is sitting clean on the spot. Be absolutely content with your placement before leaving the ball.

-Take your steps back for your run up (far enough to give you the momentum you need to strike the ball with the desired power).

-Take another deep breath, approach the ball, and kick!

-Score or miss, teammates should congratulate the kicker. Celebrate the goal or the confidence and effort to step up and take the kick.

You’ll note I never spoke about the technicality of the strike itself. That’s because it is individual to each player – how he or she kicks and where he or she prefers to place the ball.

Whether the player scores a goal for the team or kicks the ball into the parking lot, remember two things: Stepping up to take the kick shows great character that your teammates appreciate, and finally, keep it all in perspective. It’s only a game!

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