IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_j2zkpqp wrote

It goes to show how corrupted US Soccer is. In its current state my kids have no chance at making the national team even if they had the skill unless we are connected to management somehow. That doesn’t even account for the tens of thousands of dollars to play club soccer to get to that point. Only to be cut because we aren’t best friends with someone in bed with US Soccer. It stinks.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_j21lvns wrote

The problem with soccer in particular in the US is the lack of a real gradient in price and skill at the 12-16 ages. Below that most people are in rec anyways. But then there's either cheap rec leagues with hardly anyone playing, or $4000-$6000/yr with the skilled players. A pretty big contrast.

In other countries there's more options and all of them are cheaper. Some players do actually go off to academy after playing only locally at around the 14 age range. Part of that is due to having more options.

I still don't recommend anyone spend the $4-6k at age 12 here in the US. The likelihood of going pro or getting a scholarship are pretty low for those kids sitting in the back of SUV's for all that time. Travel ball needs to be phased out in most leagues. It drains local talent and keeps neighborhood kids away from their friends. Any league that pushes it is something I'll keep my kids far away from. There's just too much money in it though. Parents are easily duped.

There isn't any substitute for actually playing the game.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_j20gxvn wrote

I feel this to the core. My personal solution was to try and find a way to start an organization that would allow kids to play without all of these inverse effects that happen but I kept coming to an issue with liability. Any organization I could run would need insurance and the venue would have to be sanitized of any possible risks to the point where I was beginning to doubt it was even possible.

The current culture doesn't seem to have room for what I was envisioning. I've lately held an intense interest in some sports that seem to have popped up out of nowhere. Pickleball is never going to be a massive professional sport, but when it comes to adoption it has taken our city by storm. All of the tennis courts which were completely empty are now pickleball courts. My hypothesis is that the closer a game looks to the real thing, the pro version, the less likely that the organized youth version of it will be adaptable to children.

The more it looks like a silly "game" (pickleball is similar to wiffleball in that the ball is a plastic silly thing) the more fun it will likely be for kids just picking it up in the local neighborhood. When the game mirrors a professional sport like hockey (on real nice looking professional rinks, and baseball with pro jerseys and pristine fields, and soccer on fields that would make the second leagues in England blush) it begins to take on these high stakes qualities that lowers the accessibility.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_j20d75o wrote

This is the crux of the whole thing. In my recreational team last year I coached I took them and had to teach them how to self organize. 11 year olds that didn't know how to pick teams. So I taught them how to pick teams, including picking which coach they wanted on their team (older/younger). Then had a parent apologizing that her son and another boy got into an aggressive argument over who would be goalkeeper. Conflict is part of growing up. I had to teach the boys how to solve it without just sitting and whining. Do paper/rock/scissors or something, I don't care. Figure it out.

There are those of us out there that are trying our best to bring back the old days. It feels like an uphill battle with all this money involved, but the culture is broken at the moment. For now we have to look across the pond with envy.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_j20b2ye wrote

The biggest issue I see is the travel and cost. I don't necessarily hold a hard stance that competition can come into it much earlier. Just that the level of competition doesn't scale with distance. In a city of half a million there's more than enough competition within a few miles to find and nurture a good environment for the talented kids. I don't agree about separating kids too early. Breakouts happen all the time and those kids benefit from being around kids that are showing precociousness.

In soccer in the rest of the world the structure is funded through the pro leagues down. In the US it's reversed. Most funding in the sport comes from soccer parents at the bottom. The way it works in many European countries and elsewhere is that when a kid joins an academy (for a low price or free) if the kid moves onto another bigger club the club he's leaving will be paid a solidarity payment to subsidize the process. This fosters development of the child rather than aiming towards just winning.

In the US since clubs rely on parent funding and we don't have solidarity payments the clubs are dependent on wins to sell their services as 'elite'. The knock-on effects of that are obvious.

Spending the $4000+ per year amounts to gambling if scholarship is the goal. It's a problem.

But... if the USA sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold. We will see more and more countries adopting the monetization schemes we see here. We are far ahead in the sports investment versus the rest of the world. But to see if our obsession is serving children all you have to do is ask. I know a number of families that have already dropped out of club sports. Talented kids that just stopped having fun.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_j1zuoqz wrote

I've read similar accounts to yours about hockey. The book mentioned described very similar accounts in youth soccer.

When I was young the fields were fairly badly managed. But to their credit none of them were cordoned off with fences. You could walk/drive up, walk onto the field, and play. In the new local park there's fences blocking you and they're only open on certain days to whoever's scheduled it. Much worse is that the league that allows you to play will close the fields at the slightest drop of rain.

In the book, one coach lamented the pristine fields that were never accessible and remarked: "Are we growing kids or growing grass!?".

It's bad. And it's driven by ignorant parents with no knowledge about the game or youth development in general but have more money than sense. There's an excess of people willing to spend whatever it takes. I take a dystopian view of the whole thing and believe that eventually we will spend our way through to the other end. Meaning, I think that we'll still probably see World Cup results despite our insistence on reducing the sports to small groups of relatively rich parents.

But as a coach I always say: there's no substitute for actually playing the game. Not driving long distances, not doing drills, not spending more money. Playing the game.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_j1zs4j7 wrote

What we need is for a bunch of coaches that understand that kids aren't small adults. They're kids. The leagues should reflect the appropriateness for the age of the kid. It just so happens that Americans view youth sports as miniature pro teams.

The way it works now is that counter-intuitively the more knowledgeable the coach is about the game the more likely he will get it wrong when it comes to youth. I can give a specific example. My son was invited to a 'training' academy at age 7. He basically hated it. The coaches knew a lot about soccer, but didn't understand that they were dealing with a small child. They ran a bunch of drills and wouldn't let him do the things he wanted to do as a kid. Just play the game without interference.

Kids need just a lot of play in local leagues with other kids in low-key recreational leagues up until around the age of 14, in which they could use more specific and harder drills and skills. But the siren call of all that money parents are willing to spend pushes clubs and public infrastructure to set up bigger and bigger tournaments for younger and younger kids. By the time kids hit 11 the rec leagues are picked clean of most of the skilled kids. It's way to early.

Clubs have a place. It's later in the process and it should still stay local so families don't have to travel so much.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_j1z6hwh wrote

There's a book I recommend on the state of soccer in the USA. Shoeless Soccer: Fixing the System and Winning the World Cup. Most of the parts of the book that applies to travel teams is relevant to other sports as well.

America punches far below it's weight class in soccer despite vastly outspending other countries. The best quote in the book I've found so far "In the USA soccer is a sport. In the rest of the world soccer is a game".

We in America tend to fund our youth sports from the bottom up. Parents pay everything. Big expensive tournaments are set up, kids get very adept at riding in the back of an SUV. Thousands of hours dedicated to riding. We're the best SUV riders in the world!

Kids in other countries are playing with the neighborhood kids in the street a quarter of a mile down the road using 4 t-shirts for goal posts. American parents have no idea how silly this whole sports complex thing is. And how far behind we are.

I could go on and on. My child won't be playing $4000+ "Elite" soccer. We play in the street. I'm fine with whatever that leads to. At least we still enjoy playing.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_j0mmu3n wrote

Thanks for the information. I had forgotten about the NCAA rules limiting practice time (and other nonsensical rule changes to the game itself). I do think that the NCAA unnecessarily prevents many good players from wanting to play college soccer, which only exacerbates the problem of how terrible college soccer for men is. I watched some games on TV and it was pretty low level, looked like high school sports to me. With the countdown clock it also had a weirdly American feel that almost resembled football. NCAA seems to just want football for the time being, even to the point where soccer is meant to play like it.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_j0ktvvv wrote

Yes that’s exactly the reason I brought it up. How does Ironman fix it?

The rule unintentionally makes the NCAA irrelevant for baseball, soccer, and other sports for men. In men’s soccer they don’t even consider college part of the development pathway. It sends many men to club soccer rather than college.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_izfw6mp wrote

Agreed. And also smart people tend to overestimate their grasp on the consequences of a political decision. Nobody is saying “well it’s complicated and neither party has a good handle on how to fix it”. They all just spout off what they’d do as if that would be the end of it.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_iysek7j wrote

Absolutely 100% agree and it really stings that this is so painfully obvious to us watching from the couch but Berhalter (who was hired because he’s the brother of one of the guys on the selection committee… nepotism) is absolutely in his own head and ego. American coaches all think they’re the next second coming and the ego just outweighs their tactical ability. Van Gaal wasn’t even breaking a sweat. He exposed Berhalter and the entire USA Soccer Federation.

They have problems all the way down to the youth level and it shows. We won’t be winning any world cups soon.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_iy24w21 wrote

Can I offer an olive branch and a warning to the football world from an avid watcher and youth coach of soccer. There’s a current trend in soccer of using analytics to drive player tactics and it leads to some incorrect conclusions. One of the most frustrating is the tendency for players to, instead of shooting from a distance, try to cross it in or pass the ball back and forth all the way to the net. The stats say a shot from distance has a low likelihood of going into the goal so they opt for keeping possession. But the problem comes from what happens when acting upon that stat. Players know that shots won’t take place outside the 18 yard line so they just pack the box with players and wait for the inward pass or cross.

You see… taking these statistically low success shots were forcing the opposing defenders to leave the box, which paradoxically increased the likelihood of inward pass success.

The reason stats can’t necessarily be trusted is because there’s knock on effects of acting on statistics that aren’t immediately obvious unless you apply multiple layers of cause and effect.

The single remaining takeaway is that given two equally skilled teams, the team that can adapt quicker will generally come away the winner. Using stats is sometimes a false comfort. They lie. The smarter players will win if they are creative enough and have been trained to be observant enough to see and recognize what’s happening on the field.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_ixyp5ef wrote

That’s interesting. I had always only looked at it from a tactical perspective. Taking chances forces the opponent to understand that they can’t just sit back in the box. So it opens them up vertically, which opens up the chances inside the box too. When I was a youth coming up through local clubs I had a coach from Nigeria at a training camp teach me to peek up and if I see two posts then take a shot for one of them. He explained that a striker mindset needs to always default to “shoot”. You don’t have time to think about anything else.

I highly suspect all the managers are just copying what they think the correct way is and favoring possession over all else.

In a way you’re absolutely right. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. A higher volume of shots will result in a higher volume of goals. And not just any shots. Real attempts. None of this shooting it 20 yards up in the air over the post stuff. Actual shots on goal.


IIIllllIIlllIIlllIIl t1_ixs0l4a wrote

Preach it brother. This exact thing just happened in the USA England game. They wasted their last opportunity by instead of putting a free kick in the box they… you guessed it… passed to the outside and tried to cross it in. It drives me absolutely fucking insane. Clearly the boys have been told to score a “certain way”. It’s all based on some percentages they came up with via statistics. But the problem with statistic is that it completely ignores tactics and what happens when you actually shoot the stupid ball. It forces defenders to leave the box which opens up the back line. We are ignoring an entire facet of the attack because Berhalter thinks he’s being clever by copying European style. It ignores how goals are created.

Can’t stand the style.