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HEADS UP! April-May, 2011

E Coaching Magazine

Contents

 Indiana Soccer Coaching Education Opportunities  Pelada Movie  US Youth Soccer Region II/Indiana Soccer TOPSoccer Coaching Manual  National Youth License-July 2011  “Using Guided Discovery for Intermediate Players”-Michael Aycock-Indiana Soccer Hall of Fame Inductee 2011  Teaching More Than The Game-Activities that promote life lessons  Playing from the middle third to the final third  Coping With Too Many Games-Soccer America Article  Picture of the month

Present this coupon in any Avon Sports Apparel store and receive 20% off regular-priced in-stock merchandise. Expires April 30, 2011 â—? Cannot be applied to previous purchases

Indiana Soccer Coaching Course Opportunities To register for courses, please visit the Indiana Soccer website: http://www.soccerindiana.org/service/coaching_courses.aspx Course offerings (note: there will be more courses added throughout the spring and summer)

"Youth Module 2-Bloomington, IN Karst Park-April 8th, 2011 "Youth Module"-Indianapolis, IN-Sahm Park-April 9th, 2011 "D" License Course-Mishawaka, IN Bethel College-June 17th-19th and 24th-26th "E" License Course-Indianapolis-Indiana Soccer Office-June 24-26th USSF/US Youth National Youth License-Indianapolis-Indiana Soccer Office-July 25-29th National Youth License flyer and registration form "D" License Course-Indianapolis-Indiana Soccer Office-July 29-31st and August 5-7th "E" License Course-Batesville-August 6th and 7th "E" License Course-Fishers-August 19-21st

Looking for a gift idea? This movie is a must see for all soccer players, coaches, administrators, and parents. The movie shows why the game is so beautiful and meaningful around the globe. Website Link: www.pelada-movie.com

Indiana Soccer and US Youth Soccer Region II has created a TOPSoccer Coaching Manual. This resource is to aid all who help coach these special athletes. To access the TOPSoccer Coaching Manual visit the Indiana Soccer website or use this link below: http://issuu.com/indianasoccer/docs/intopsoccer_manual_2011smaller

National Youth License 2011

Indiana Soccer, along with US Youth Soccer, is pleased to offer the National Youth License course this winter. The curriculum of the course is based in proper educational methods for coaching children twelve years old and younger. Coaching Coordinators, Directors of Coaching, Coaches, and Administrators involved with children’s soccer should attend the course. *This course is also good for CEU’s with US Soccer. A total of 8 CEU’s are given upon successful completion of the course. Dates: July 25-29th, 2011. You must attend all dates in order to complete this course. A detailed schedule for the course is below. Location: The course will be held at the Indiana Soccer Office. Address: 5440 Herbert Lord Road Indpls, IN 46216 Website: www.soccerindiana.org Accommodations: Candidates arrange for their own lodging. What to Bring: You will participate in this course on the field. Please bring proper (indoor and outdoor) shoes and proper attire to play in. Please bring your own ball. You will be given the course manual, t-shirt, and other handouts. Please bring your own notebook for notes. Course Description: This course is a tested course and you will be evaluated 3 ways. Written, Verbal and Coaching Practical. Indiana Youth Soccer will provide the players in each age group (U6/U8 & U10) for the practical testing. Each coach will be videotaped during a practice session and evaluated prior to testing. Meals: Lunch will be provided for you. Costs: The course fee is $600.00 Checks or Visa/MasterCard will be accepted. Course application will be available online. The application is also included in this document. Applications can be mailed to: Indiana Soccer 5440 Herbert Lord Road Indianapolis, IN 46216 This course usually fills up quickly, so do apply right away. Please do not hesitate to contact the Indiana Soccer office (Vince Ganzberg) at 1-800-347-4972 extension 101 for questions or to apply. You can also email at vince@soccerindiana.org To apply online, visit the Indiana Youth Soccer website at: www.soccerindiana.org

See Schedule and Application Below

July 25th-29th 2011 Date

Five Day NYL Schedule Start

Finish

Topic

DAY 1

July 25thAY Day e

Please do wear the new gear as assigned

30 min

5:30

6:00

Registration – Turn in Laws Exam

45 min

6:00

6:45

Orientation and Opening Lecture

30 min

6:45

7:15

Jean Piaget

30 min

7:30

8:00

Guided Discovery Learning Theories

30 min

8:00

8:30

(Expansion, Slanty Line, Flow) -Review Coaches Connection Spot-Light -Developing Your Coaching Philosophy -Review and Assign Groups Topics -Review Methodology Exam, Field Practical Exam, Oral Presentation and Assign Topics, U12 Model Session

30 min

8:30

9:00

Observation Form, NYL Feedback Forms and Lesson Plans

15 min

8:30

8:45

Staff Review Law Exam with Candidates

1 hour

8:45

9:45

U6 Lecture

DAY 2-26th

U6 Field with Candidates #2 1 hour

10:45

11:45

(Candidates Practice)

1 hour 30 min

11:45

1:15

LUNCH

1 hour

1:15

2:15

Ethics

1 hour

2:15

3:15

Youth Fitness

1 hour

3:30

4:30

U6 Field Practical

1 hour

4:45

5:45

U6 Practical Video Review

1 hour

8:00

9:00

U8 Lecture

45 min

9:15

10:30

U8 Field with Candidates #1

DAY 327thDAY e

U8 Field with Candidates #2 1 hour

10:30

11:30

(Candidates Practice)

2 hour

11:30

1:30

LUNCH

15 min

1:30

1:45

Street Soccer Lecture (Play Day) (Go to PPT# 13)

1 hour

2:00

3:00

Candidates Field Street Soccer and Review

1 hour 30 min

3:00

4:30

U8 Field Practical

1 hour

4:45

5:45

U8 Practical Video Review

1 hour

8:00

9:00

U10 Lecture

45 min

9:15

10:00

U10 Field with Candidates # 1

DAY 4-28th Four

U10 Field with Candidates # 2 1 hour

10:00

11:00

(Candidates Practice)

1 hour

11:00

12:00

Youth Goal Keeping

2 hour

12:00

2:00

LUNCH Turn in Methods Exam, Coaching Philosophy, Coaches Connection Spotlight Nomination

1 hour

2:00

3:00

Group Presentations

1 hour 30 min

3:00

4:30

U10 Field Practical

1 hour

4:45

5:45

U10 Practical Video Review

1 hour 30 min

8:00

9:30

Oral Exam

1 hour

9:45

10:45

Club Development

1 hour

10:45

11:45

U12 Lecture

1 hour 15 min

11:45

1:00

LUNCH

1 hour

1:00

2:00

U12 Model Session

1 hour 30 min

2:15

3:45

Practical Coaching Exam

15 min

3:45

4:00

Closing Ceremonies (on the field)

DAY 5-29thy Five

Using Guided Discovery with Intermediate Players Michael Aycock Indiana State Staff Coach For coaches of players U12 to U14 The Problem We’ve all done it. We stand on the edge of a kids’ training session and shout what a player should be doing. It’s obvious, isn’t it? If we just yell the right instruction, George will pop back and show to the ball, Francie will carry the dribble at a defender to commit her, Larry will open his hips so he can see Bill for his next pass, and so on, right? In many cases, wrong. In fact, we’re lucky if we get a quizzical glance. It’s very rare that a player knows what we mean and does it right away. And we just got through demonstrating this! In fact, we spent the first part of the practice doing something like it over and over. Why does this happen? Maybe we remind ourselves that it’s very hard for players to react instantaneously to commands when most of their attention is taken up with the ball and the situation. That’s fair. So we freeze play, rehearse the right action, and start up again. What happens? If we let play run for a while, often George hides, Francie knocks the ball away from herself too fast, and Larry is still facing the wrong way when he receives. What is going on? Why am I sweating just standing here? It has to do with how players learn skills and how they learn to use skills and make decisions once they’re actually playing. Whether we come to coaching as an avatar of Lionel Messi or as a novice, it may be hard for us to imagine how players really learn. We’re anxious to tell them. (Now!) So we stop what they love most, playing, and insert mini-lecture 5.b. or our brilliant demonstration of receiving, etc. It’s important to keep in mind that, if we stop play, it had better be pretty good, certainly good enough to make them forget their annoyance at having to stop. It’s even more important to understand that our best attempts to provide lots of repetitions and teach visually may still not be enough to help George, Francie, or Larry use skills or principles fluidly in the game to solve problems and be brilliant. But why not? Perception, Confidence, and Utility Think of George, Francie, and Larry’s dilemmas. George may be thinking that he’s helping by being further downfield, or that a ball could fit over that defender, or even that staying there would keep him from having to receive a pass under the pressure he feels of other defenders. His choices may be a question of perception. He may not see what we see from our position of greater experience. Maybe he hasn’t yet imagined how the ball might move or what the person with the ball sees. Maybe he hasn’t visualized that a quick movement into the view of the player with the ball might put him in position to receive and make a less pressured first touch. He needs a clearer vision of what works and what may not work by showing to the ball differently. (If he’s hiding and is comfortable doing that, his problem may be similar to Francie’s.) Francie may have a slightly different challenge. She may pass too soon when facing defenders a distance from her because she isn’t sure of her ability to use her dribble close to a defender, pulling that defender out of position and making a last second choice to lay the ball off or beat her. Someone may yell at her every time she loses the ball on the dribble. Hers is a problem of confidence. She needs to become more confident in applying the skill she has to solve the problem. Perhaps Larry’s challenge is also a little different. Maybe Larry continues to show to the ball facing toward it because he cannot, at least in his “playing” mind, see any good reason for doing it differently. He feels comfortable watching the ball into his feet and feels he makes a better first touch this way. He shields off

people behind him, in his mind, better with his rear than with the width of his body. Maybe he has had a kind of success by still finding some teammates in this limited field of vision or has felt okay laying the ball back to the original passer pretty often. His may be a problem of utility. He does things this way and it has worked in his mind well enough to make him comfortable. He’d have to experience the good results of showing side-on and playing at new, helpful angles, possibly even using touches to beat close defenders or at least shield the ball while looking up. All three of these challenges to a young player’s development have something in common. They exist and have taken hold with the player from playing experience. George has always played without showing much, and other players have moved the ball and sometimes found him. Francie has had some success, maybe won some praise (and avoided being yelled at) by playing mostly one- or two-touch, staying in her comfort zone, whatever the situation. Larry, too, has found a comfort level in the full pressure of the game by playing the way he does. In artificial situations, any of them might do what you ask, particularly if you repeat it at low pressure, but all of them may still choose “what they know” in a game situation. How We Can Make a Difference What will make a real and lasting impression on these three? We want to say that skill repetitions and carefully sequenced sessions will eventually help. They will. They teach skill visually and use situations that create success, slowly adding pressure. They build confidence and technique. But what will really change a player’s “playing mind”? The best answer is that she has to discover it herself, in a game situation with pressure, and have enough success to be able to solve new game problems with what she has learned. There comes a point at which stopping, telling, and lower-pressure exercises can even work against learning. Stopping and telling may cause resistance in the mind of the player (“I do not do that,” “That can’t really help,” “What does he want now?”). Lower pressure exercises may seem logical for learning, but may not provide enough incentive. It was great revelation to me when another coach, seeing I was having trouble getting players to imagine why they should receive a certain way, pointed out that I needed to add a lot of pressure, right away! Almost immediately, they started shielding across their bodies because they had to. This is where coaching methods that promote decisions and discovery work best. One such method is the whole-part-whole method that begins with the full game, discovers something to work on, trains that, and goes back to the game. An even more player-centered method is guided discovery. Guided Discovery In the course of maturing and playing, players naturally have success experiences that help convince their “inner player” that it’s both okay and more effective to do things a given way. Despite what we think about our wonderful coaching, these experiences are the most powerful influences on the way they play. We provide building blocks and tools, but they put together their playing style or personality themselves based on what happens when they play. We can tap into that process if we help them discover that a technique or choice “works” for them. Educators call this method guided discovery. Instead of “grooving in” the same reactions, it helps players discover new ways they can solve problems in the game. That powerful combination of self-discovery and success can not only open ways for George, Francie, and Larry to play differently, it also puts a mental exclamation point with what they have learned. They’ll be more likely to actually try new choices and continue to use them. The method seems deceptively simple. The coach uses games that allow all or most of the decision-making that the full game allows, then chooses moments to ask questions and let players answer. Of course, it’s not as simple as it sounds. It will take a lot of planning and a lot of practice at the method. It’s difficult to ask the right

question. But, if we can envision what’s holding players up, as we did with the three players above, we can envision the kinds of questions that may help. Letting them answer and try things gives players a sense of empowerment. As they think about what they’re doing and own their choices, they get a taste of something that everyone loves: “This was my idea.” Before the Session The hardest part of using guided discovery is getting ready. Most of us see patterns in our players’ games that could be turning points for them if they saw them differently. If they could just see and do x, the game might open up for them. We have to become pretty clear about what we believe our players could discover to change the game for them. It can be fairly simple, something like using the outside of the foot triggering a wall pass to make it quicker, or something a little more strategic, like playing a covering role as a second defender and helping to direct the first defender. More likely it’s some combination of technical and tactical elements. An example of this might be facing a helpful direction when receiving and using different touches that let us see and play a new direction faster. The more experience we have at reading the game, the better we’re likely to be at seeing these crucial points. As Vince Ganzberg, Indiana Soccer Director of Education, says, it’s not just developing a skill we want; it’s developing the ability to play skillfully. The trick is imagining how players discover playing skillfully. We have to imagine situations, choices, and questions. What games will keep bringing players to that crucial spot where they need to use a skill and make a decision? Sometimes it can be as simple as playing 4v4. The small numbers and full pressure will put each player in a lot of situations in a short time. But it may be necessary to be more specific. For example, we may want to concentrate on decisions off the dribble. Let’s say we want players to make better decisions to commit defenders by dribbling at them to open passing angles, but also see and choose to pass early and with the right weight and angle when they see teammates with the opportunities to unlock a defense. These can be tough choices in the run of play for a young player. To provide a situation which concentrates these choices, we may want to use a game like the one pictured in diagram 1. Either team can score by dribbling through or passing to a teammate through any of the gate goals scattered through the grid. There are two neutral players to help either team. Almost every time a player touches the ball, he is faced with a decision to go at a gate or player, or to use a teammate with a better look. The game provides many opportunities to see how dribbling in a given direction moves defenders and how waiting to commit a defender can open up passing angles to a teammate able to score. It also gives opportunities to see situations in which other teammates have an advantage and passing quickly gets a result. (Maybe I can see a spot where a teammate has an open gate or where two teammates have a 2v1 advantage and can score that way.) It’s about choices, and the skills that help us make those choices.

Diagram 1 Then we have to imagine what questions will help players discover the two principles we have in mind. All specific questions will be some form of this very general one: “What can you do to succeed in this situation?” Some coaches have divided such questions into high-order questions and low-order questions. A high-order question for our game might be, “What are you looking for when you look up to see teammates?” This is a question that lets a player visualize the whole game and think of tactical kinds of responses. A low-order question might be, “Which foot of the defender do I hope to slip by if I take him on?” Make the questions “open” ones, questions that encourage a suggestion about playing rather than a “yes” or “no.” Anticipate responses. To the high-order question, a player might respond “Somebody open?” You might have to ask another question, then! Appropriate ones might be, “What do you hope your teammate can do next with the ball?” or “Which side of him will you have to fit your pass to help him?” or even “Which teammates are showing where the ball can fit and not be intercepted?” Practice in getting responses to open-ended questions like these helps us sharpen our expertise in anticipating questions and coming back with better ones for some responses. Imagining steps in learning may help us frame questions. For a player to commit a defender with the dribble, he has to first see that dribbling at an opponent, or near one, usually moves that opponent to come and challenge the ball. Coming back to why we’re doing this, he also has to have enough successes to gain confidence to make choices like this whenever it might work. That means encouraging and sometimes not talking or stopping play. It means thanking players for their responses and referring to previous good answers. Very often, it means looking for great responses or actions and praising them. For a player in our gates game to see the advantages of sometimes passing early, he has to discover times when teammates seem to have advantages, discover what kinds of passes may help most, and see some of his passes play out to advantage (or not to advantage). You may be able to “catch him doing something good.” Pointing out how a player has done something smart and effective, has succeeded, makes him feel better and helps everyone connect a visual with the movement/decision. (Remember the problems of our three hypothetical players.) This takes time and patience in the session, but, over the long haul, yields faster, lasting results for players. If we want players to really internalize principles of playing skillfully, they have to find them by making them work as they play. So let’s return to our first game and another game in the sequence to think more specifically about questions and discoveries. Practical Examples

The gates game provides all kinds of decision moments. We’re looking for the best moment to ask a question to open up a players’ thinking, not every moment a player makes a poor decision. Here are some sample questions that we might use for this game, along with a principle or step in the learning process that the question might highlight: How can we succeed? What are some tips you’d give us all? Try to solicit any good ideas that come immediately from the players. What are we looking for when we have the ball and look up? Help them visualize the different advantages and think about whether they look for them. What are we looking for when we don’t have the ball but a teammate does? Helps visualize good angles, pulling space apart, setting up and facing to advantage. Is it better to be in front of the gate or somewhere behind it (relative to the person with the ball)? Introduces the idea of “not killing the space” we will soon use, pulling the passing angle deeper. When can I take off and just dribble? Introduce advantages to dribbling, particularly to move defenders, break down their spacing, etc. Are there other times when it would make sense? Introduce the idea that we might be able to beat defenders dribbling, and that it’s okay. What did Bob do when you dribbled in his direction? Start to think of dribbling and timing passes based on what the defender does. What foot did you have the ball on? Introduce some awareness of how the player triggers or “sets up” dribbling moves. What could you do to get past Jerry here? Introduce awareness of the defender’s posture, whether weight is on one foot, what moves, etc. What’s Jerry showing you that you might take advantage of? This is a more specific question about the defender’s posture and possible weaknesses. Which side of Grant should I pass the ball to? Introduce the idea of a pass being crafted to help the teammate’s next touch. Does Grant have to be alone to have an advantage? Introduce the idea of two teammates having an advantage over, say, a single defender. Is it okay to pass a long way to a teammate? Games such as this may keep the focus close, but introduce the best longest passes. What kind of pass would get the ball to him best? Players can discover different surfaces, angles, and weights of passes to make them useful. There are many kinds of questions. As long as you’re clear about skills and decisions that will transform the practical playing ability of the players, it should be easy to think of the situations, steps, and questions that may highlight those skills and decisions. Particularly with the first few questions, keep them as broad and open as possible to let players really think and imagine for themselves. If you go too quickly to questions that are too specific, players immediately pick up that you are trying to get them to do some specific thing (say, dribble on the outside of the foot) and wish you’d just say it. Then the questioning may seem manipulative instead of empowering or challenging. Choose carefully. The next step in the larger process is to progress the practice to a game closer to the full game. An example for our progression might be the game show in diagram 2. In this game, each team has a direction and is simply trying to stop the ball under control in the end zone they’re attacking. It can be dribbled into the end zone or passed to a player in the end zone. This game allows the full range of choices to pass or dribble depending upon the situation, while keeping it focused on possession and penetration.

Diagram 2 In this situation, player A on the ball can see his teammate B making a run and a chance to play a through ball for him. Had that not been on (if the white defender had been in better position to cut off the pass), A could dribble at defender C, angling toward the end zone, to get him to commit toward him, leaving a pass to teammate D wide open, and teammate D with a wide open dribble toward the end zone. In this game, some of the same questions can apply. We can also use questions that build upon ones we asked in the last game. “A, can you move a defender by dribbling?” “D, where can you go to have the biggest advantage?” We will also find new questions that are just about this game. “Which pass can hurt the opponents most?” “Where can we best support if we’re behind the ball?” If we prepare carefully and use our questions wisely, good things will happen. Players will think about what they’re doing, take ownership of their decisions, see new things, and, most importantly, have successes that they have discovered for themselves. They will put more of your practice into the way they play the game. And they’ll have fun doing it. If we coach younger players, under 11, we can probably have an even greater effect, if we’re very patient and use simpler, more low-order questions. If we coach older players, we can still use it well, focusing more on high-order questions and using fewer. References Coaching Youth Soccer. American Sport Education Program. 4th ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2006. Thomas, John. “Guided Discovery” U.S. Youth Soccer Blog. December 17, 2009. http://www.usyouthsoccer.org/Blog.asp?topic_id=3

Training Session:

Soccer Theme: Possession for a purpose Character Building Theme: Teamwork Ages: U10-U14

Warm-up “Scottish 3’s”

   

Passing to correct foot Accuracy and pace of passes First touch “Fast” passing

   

Keep the ball moving “Hidden” passes (disguise) “Fast” passing Receive in a way where you can “play”. Don’t give the ball away. The team going to goal-Can you play forward quickly? When to play forward (purpose), when to keep the ball to circulate.

In groups of 3. Groups practice certain passing patterns. Example: Short-Short-Long, Y patterns, etc. To promote teamwork make each pattern a competition and see which group can complete each pattern the most and/or quickest.

1st Activity Timed Game Two teams of 4-6 players each. One team plays possession soccer and gets a point for 5 passes in succession. The other team goes a direction to goal. Teams play for

  

5 minute rounds and then switch roles.

2nd Activity “More to Score”

  

Create two teams of 4-7 players. The two teams play against each other like a normal small sided soccer game. The only rule is that a person cannot score two times in a row. Someone else from their team must score before they are allowed to score again. The team that has the most players score a goal wins. Teamwork is promoted due to the condition that a player cannot score two times in a row. Whichever team has the most players involved in scoring a goal wins.

End with a normal game.

Passing to create scoring chances Receive with vision Supporting angles to help score and/or keep possession Using different types of passes to set up teammates to finish.

Playing from the Middle Third to the Final Third Vince Ganzberg Session from USSF “B” License    

Warm-up 4 player patterns

Vision Receiving Precise passing Pace of passes

1) Long ladders 2) Short Ladders 3) Short-long-short ladders

1st Activity

4v4 to 2 targets

Play 4v4 (could add a neutral).

Team in attack gets a point when ball is played into target who

Work on midfield play to penetrate. If necessary make the midfield area in favor of the attacking team (3v3+1) Two targets should not be “next” to each other but yet close enough to combine and work together.

then plays ball into a midfielder running beyond the line.

Possible restrictions: 2 touch 2nd Activity

7v7 to endline

Same as above, except targets

  

are inside the area. The area’s length is expanded. A point is scored when the ball is played beyond the line and the ball precedes the run.

Work on midfield play to penetrate. Can midfield find the “free”forward? 3 player combinations Flank combinations Work on two forwards “spacing

3rd Activity

Continue to work on midfield play to penetrate.

9v9 to goals

Can forwards find “windows”?

¾ field

Can forwards “combine” or play

Play 9v9. (2-4-2) If midfielders

off each other to get a chance on

score = 2 points.

goal. Can forwards find a free midfielder?

Game

9v9 in a 2-4-2 formation

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011

Coping with too many games Interview by Mike Woitalla The turf war between youth organizations ensures an endless fountain of championships and the tournament industry has made playing three to four games in one weekend a common part of youth soccer. We asked Dr. Dev K. Mishra what coaches can do to when their teams are faced with game overload. Dr. Mishra, the founder of SidelineSportsDoc.com, is an orthopedic surgeon who has served as team doctor at the professional, national team, college and high school level. SOCCER AMERICA: Despite the fact that the U.S. Soccer Federation discourages youth teams from playing multiple games in a weekend, youth coaches continue to send their teams to tournaments that require three of four games in two days. … DR. DEV MISHRA: So much is out of the coaches’ hands. There are certain tournaments that they feel obligated to participate in either to enhance the stature of their team or to expose their players to the best competition, and maybe to college coaches. They are doing what they feel is best for their players and are generally not in control of the tournament schedules. The multiple-game in a short period tournament format doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon. SA: Besides the fact that player-development experts say the practice-to-game ratio is out of whack in American youth soccer, what do we know about the perils of squeezing in too many games? DR. MISHRA: There is some good research on injury rates from multiple matches in a short period of time from the professional ranks. “The American Journal of Sports Medicine” recently published a well-conducted study out of Glasgow Celtic over the course of two seasons ("Effect of 2 Soccer Matches in a Week on Physical Performance and Injury Rate"). In a very sophisticated way, they took a look at performance parameters and also at injury rates. The variable was the amount of time between games. Bear in mind these are really high-level professional athletes with access to probably the best medical care that you can find. They found that for the performance parameters there were no significant differences related to time between games. They attributed this to training methods, nutrition, and some other recovery efforts they did between matches. But the injury data was really different. Essentially what they found was a six-fold increase in injuries if the games were played less than four days apart. It’s hard to fully apply those findings to youth sports, but it’s reasonable to assume that if there’s a proven higher injury rate for four days or less apart for professional players than at least to some extent that same rationale would be applicable to youth players playing two games in one day or three games in a weekend. SA: So what can a youth coach do to help ensure the health of his or her players when faced with such a schedule? DR. MISHRA: The coach will need to go into a tournament with the awareness that some players will need to be subbed out more frequently and get some rest. Hopefully, the coach will be able to take as large a roster as possible and be able to have a player rotation – either per game or within games and give certain players rest. The coach would need to take injury complaints seriously and have a really low index of suspicion when a young player says that they’re hurt. Or if they’re just not functioning at their maximum – at that point they probably need a little bit of rest even if they’re not injured -- because the risk of an injury is high if they’re not playing at 100 percent. SA: How about pre- and post-game? DR. MISHRA: The pre-match preparation is going to be important. Some of the things that have been suggested are to modify training and decrease physical intensity going into a multiple-game situation. You want to really pay attention to the pregame nutrition and hydration too, generally emphasizing carbohydrates and minimizing fats. It can make a positive difference even in the young players. And pay attention to the postgame as well. After that first match research shows that the first 20 minutes are the best time to rehydrate and get some carbs and protein back in the body. Also, the team should engage in some form of cool-down.

At a lot of the larger, more reputable tournaments there will be certified athletic trainers on site and players, if necessary, should utilize the professional trainers to help them with injury recovery. Ice, massage and active stretching. Icing down sore areas such as thigh, hamstrings, calf, knee, ankles can help recovery. SA: Are there methods used at the higher levels that youth coaches can look to? DR. MISHRA: There are some modalities from the collegiate or professional teams used after a match that might not be available to youth teams, but some of the things mentioned above can definitely help. Deep tissue massage has been helpful to promote muscle recovery if someone’s got soreness in the thigh or their hamstring. And the old standby for doing a post-match dynamic cool-down and a passive stretching routine can be helpful. For a lot of these things we don’t have hard science behind it in terms of the youth sports experience but we have good science behind it in terms of adult athlete experiences. I think we can reasonably say that these things will help and certainly not hurt the young athlete who has to play in multiple games. SA: I’ve heard some people defend the tournament format of several games in two days by saying they played pickup soccer all day when they were kids and it wasn’t a problem. Is that a fair comparison? DR. MISHRA: My personal feeling is that we see far fewer injuries with pickup games and unorganized play than organized play. But I don’t have hard evidence to support that. That’s based on personal experience. I think the opinion is shared by a number of sports medicine professionals but to my knowledge it has not been proven scientifically. There’s so much subjectivity when you talk about playing pickup soccer or an organized practice, the definitions can be very blurry and overlap each other considerably. My personal feeling as someone who sees kids every week in my office, is that the injury patterns that you would get from playground sports compared to an organized youth sport, no matter what the sport, is the injury patterns tend to be very different. In organized sports we see more overuse type injuries. Things that can go on and last for weeks and weeks and be very nagging. We see other types of injuries like ankle sprains, ACL tears, shoulder dislocation that tend to be very sport-specific as opposed to free-play injuries. SA: It would seem that an organized play environment – especially a tournament with several games in a short period of time -- creates intensity much different than the atmosphere at pickup games or practice and could contribute to increased injuries. … DR. MISHRA: The fact that teams line up against each other with uniforms, the game on the line and maybe with a trophy at stake, whatever the sport, introduces a level of competitiveness and intensity that’s totally part of human nature. It’s not a bad thing. It’s generally a good thing. We all have our own kids engaged in those activities. But it does introduce something in terms of the physical demands that translate to injury. If you’re playing in a park and you don’t feel like playing, you go sit down and wait for the ice cream truck or something. So there’s self-regulation that takes place before an overuse injury happens.

(Dev K. Mishra, the founder of SidelineSportsDoc.com, is an orthopedic surgeon in private practice, Burlingame, Calif. He is a member of the team physician pool with the U.S. Soccer Federation and has served as team physician at the University of California, Berkeley.) (Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for East Bay United in Oakland, Calif. His youth soccer articles are archived at YouthSoccerFun.com.)

Picture of the month

At least I haven’t been on this field!


Heads Up April-May 2011