One Player not at the Women’s World Cup this Year

The women’s World Cup is being played here in Canada. There is one outstanding player, Nadia Nadim, who isn’t here. The reason? Nadia plays for Denmark and Denmark did not qualify for this year’s World Cup finals.

Click here to read her story. It is a fascinating one and is about much more than soccer – even though soccer is providing a channel for the promotion of women’s rights in the world.

After you have read the story come back to this page as we would like to hear your comments.

Tony Waiters



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Change is in the air – Two revolutionary advances in the coaching of soccer

Byte Size Coaching can improve the overall coaching abilities of your coaches and increase your registration numbers by 20%.

Byte Size Coaching is taking a giant step forward. The original program was based on 20 coaching manuals published by World of Soccer.

At the core of the program are the practice and session plans that can be printed out (in black and white) and taken to the practice (see the graphic at the bottom).

But now all of the practices are being matched with HD video customized to enhance the learning experiences, which are systematic, easy-to-follow and visual. Click here to watch the Square Dance.

We are now using the revolutionary new teaching method called the Flipped Curriculum.

It is revolutionary because it provides players and coaches a chance to prepare for practice via the internet (tablets, smart phones, etc.) and so maximizes time and development.  In this way, preparing for practice is quick, easy, and likely to lead to a more successful practice.


Grow your club – one family at a time

The online One-with-One® curriculum for 3- and 4- Year olds is a turn-key package that is now also matched with video.  This program can be implemented easily and guarantees growing your player base substantially.  One-with-One can be held any time of the year inside or outside.  It does not have to coincide with the regular Autumn, Winter, Spring season.  Click here to see an example of the One-with-One activities.

We can guarantee a 20% increase in your registration base over the next two years – together with a larger pool of volunteer coaches (the parents of the One-with-One kids).

If you like I can show you the new features/enhancements and answer any of your questions.

Square Dance Video


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Injuries in Youth Soccer

Carl Shearer was a player with the Vancouver Whitecaps of the NASL. I had the privilege of coaching him. After the NASL folded Carl used his considerable intelligence and determination to graduate as a physician – Dr. Carl Shearer.

Carl has put his knowledge from on the soccer field and off it to become one of the leading experts in the world regarding soccer-related injuries.

Dr. Carl commented in one of our earlier articles about the controversial topic of heading and injuries associated with that exciting skill (Click here for the link).

In our World of Soccer newsletters Marc Rizzardo, another internationally-recognized injury expert, has been doing a series of articles about injuries.

Marc and Carl know each other well and have worked together with the Canadian National Team program.
Just recently Marc covered the importance of the proper warm up exercises. I was quite surprised when he said that ideally Warm-Ups should last at least 20 minutes.

Now Dr. Carl reveals some really cutting-edge information out of Sweden about warming up and avoiding injuries.


Injuries in youth soccer

We can we decrease the carnage – getting the word out

by Carl Shearer

There can be no doubt that competitive team sports bring many benefits to its participants. However, injury risks are very real. There is not much doubt that there is an epidemic of youth sport injuries. In my professional life I see on a first hand basis the carnage that organized sports can bring. I have seen players whose careers are ended due to injury; I have seen teams that have been decimated by severe injury. I have seen many players who are looking at a bleak musculoskeletal future as a result of injury.

I currently coach my 11 year old daughter’s soccer team and, while I love the fact that these young girls are enjoying the beauty of the game that their predecessors (from my era) were, discriminately, unable to partake in, I do fear that they may be walking through the door of injury and future disability.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could prevent some of these injuries?

Over the years much lip service has been paid to the topic of injury prevention in sports. However, until fairly recently we have lacked a credible injury prevention program – as a result most injury prevention is perhaps better assigned to the realm of mythology. The work of the Oslo Sport Trauma Research Center is changing this. The Norwegians, in combination with FIFA (the international governing body for soccer) have developed an injury prevention warm-up for adolescent female soccer players that has been proven in a very high level study (published in the British Medical Journal in December 2008) to really work. In fact the results have been quite astounding.

This injury prevention program is a structured warm-up called the 11+. This program has been shown in 15- and 16-year old female soccer players to significantly decrease overall injuries, acute injuries, severe injuries, and even overuse injuries. It also decreased knee injuries although this decrease in knee injuries was, just barely, not statistically significant (a complicated concept to explain in such a short article). Suffice to say it was still an important finding. The bottom line was that this structured warm up was proven (with the highest scientific standards) to dramatically decrease injuries.

The evidence is overwhelming that this warm-up program should be and probably, will become the standard required for coaching adolescent female soccer players. It does represent the best evidence we have for preventing the carnage. While this program has only been proven to work in adolescent females (males were not studied), I believe that it should, at least for now, be extrapolated to other age groups, males and other similar sports. For example, rugby, football, and basketball would probably be wise to consider the introduction of this structured warm up into their training sessions.

This is a very exciting development in sports medicine. However, it is not free of problems. For example:

  • This warm up represents a paradigm shift in soccer warm-ups: This takes us away from warming up with the ball to running, strength and balance training exercises.
  • The program takes 20 minutes to perform. This is a relatively large amount of time, particularly when you only have a one hour practice time allotted – as is the case at my Maple Ridge soccer club.
  • I do believe that this time problem can be overcome by creatively using space and by changing the practice schedules. It does, however, represent a bureaucratic challenge for the soccer clubs. Although future research may allow us to reduce the time required in the warm-up, at present it is probably unwise to cut back on the program for sake of time. It must be remembered that it is the entire warm-up that has been proven to work, not part of it.
  • The program requires a reasonably large effort on the part of the coach. Understanding the drills and teaching proper technique is thought to be critical to the program’s success. The players also have to focus on what they are doing or the program will not yield maximal benefits.

The program can be downloaded (free) from FIFA’s website at:

Click here

The FIFA website has descriptions of the drills and videos that demonstrate the proper technique.
If you are coaching an adolescent youth soccer team you should seriously consider implementing this program. If you have a child on a youth soccer team, you should consider asking the coach about implementing this program. It may mean a lot for the athletic future and, more importantly, the future musculoskeletal health of your child.

Carl Shearer MD

Dr. Shearer is a former professional soccer player with the Vancouver Whitecaps; he is a consulting sport medicine physician, team physician with the Canadian Soccer Association, and head of the Section of Sport and Exercise Medicine for the BCMA. He has no vested interest in this program other than hoping to see less kids and teams devastated by injury.

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Ranking 9-Year Old Soccer Players

I read an article on the Soccer America website by John O’Sullivan. He was very critical of an organization called GotSoccer, who have chosen to rank 9-year old soccer players. Mr. Sullivan was not impressed. For the moment, I am not going to join the argument. Instead I am going to provide the link to the article to allow you to make your own decisions and we would be really keen to hear your observations.

Somewhat in defence of GotSoccer, on the day I read the article I was talking to Ray Hall, who masterminded the development of the Everton FC Academy that has produced some outstanding players over the years – including Wayne Rooney. I told him about the Soccer America article and asked him at what age do they bring players into the system at Everton.

“Age six,” was his response.

So this begs the question, should we in North America start the serious development of soccer players sooner, rather than later?

I would love to get your feedback.

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The Team Bubble

So what is the Team Bubble?

The Team Bubble is the inner sanctum within which a team produces the environment that affects the total team performance – negatively or positively.  My main experience at that time was at the pro level and it was in that context I would discuss the factors that could affect the dynamics of the “Bubble.”

As you can well imagine, the pressures within a professional team are considerable.  The players are in the public eye.  The necessity to win games – or a least, not lose – brings about pressure that can easily cause sub performance.

It goes without saying that a coach should do everything possible to preserve team unanimity in order to be able to maximize the performance of the individuals.

So what’s the problem?  Well first of all, it is important that the 11 starting players are heading in the same direction and playing together.  Subgroups within the team may well be dysfunctional.  11 people working together is not the norm.  Military squads rarely have as many as 11.  Most squads have around six to eight.  For numbers to be effective in battle most armies would not choose to have 11 in a squad.  It is a bit unwieldy.

And then there are the substitutes.  You think all of them a happy about riding the pines?  Maybe a young up-and-comer could be quite happy to be sat on the bench, but an old pro might be very disenchanted.  And then there are the players on the roster who are not even making the subs bench – never mind the starting 11.  Are they working for or against the team performance?

There are many other factors and people that come into the Team Bubble.  The coach is perhaps, the most important one, but also the assistant coaches, trainers and other support staff bring their own dimension to the Team Bubble.  If, for whatever reason, the support staff haven’t bought into the team concept and are not actively engaged in bettering the team performance, they can poison the environment.

While the coach must do everything to preserve the spirit of the bubble, he/she cannot lock the players in the locker room between games and practices.  They have to move in and out of the Team Bubble and live in the “real” world.  More about that later.players

So in the bubble there are other “part-timers” who come in and out and bring with them their own influences and changes to the environment.  The media would be one of them.  The Club Doctor another.  Or it could be the owner of the franchise.  All of these people can have a positive or detrimental effect to the bubble.

So what we’ve been talking about so far, all influence in different degrees the inner sanctum – the team.

But there are some outside influences that may not actually physically penetrate the team bubble, but will have an enormous effect on the dynamics of the inner sanctum – wives and girlfriends/boyfriends (hopefully one per player).  The influence of parents and friends will all have a positive or negative effect on the inner effectiveness of the team.

So-called friends can have a real detrimental effect on players.  Professional sports people are usually idolized by some and diverted in the wrong direction.  They may be encouraged to party.  Of course, there is a time and place for that, too!  But “friends” may have little regard for that.

I haven’t mentioned yet the enormous influence of today’s sports agent.  They weren’t as prevalent in my playing days and not too much in my professional coaching days, but they are do have a positive or negative effect on their clients.

So all the factors that we’ve been talking about above affect the chemistry of the team and the coach has got to try to maximize the team potential.

Looking at youth soccer, many of the factors that we’ve considered above are not present, but I’m sure as you read this article your mind has been working overtime.  For instance, the coach of a U14 soccer team – boys or girls – will know the factors that he or she has to contend with — parents, girlfriends, boyfriends and so forth.

So that is the Team Bubble and I thank Steve Darby for reminding me about the concept.  It really helped me in my team coaching days in tweaking the team dynamics to produce a positive team performance.

I used the word “bubble” deliberately as most bubbles can be easily burst.  The coach is usually the glue that keeps the bubble intact.

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Looking the Part

Knowledge, playing ability and experience are all useful assets as a soccer coach.

Looking the part is something any coach can get right, but it is amazing how many don’t.

Turning up in construction boots, with soiled jeans and looking like something the cat’s dragged in, will mean the coach better do a super job with his practice. He or she is 0 for 1 before the practice gets goings.

Jeff Tipping, the Director of Coaching for the NSCAA, when he came on board as the full-time director a few years ago, insisted that the staff instructors adhered to a strict dress code. So it was red shirt, black shorts, red socks on Sunday; navy blue shirts, red shorts and navy socks on Monday; and so on.

As Jeff said at the time, “If you can’t coach, you better look like a coach!” I totally agree with him.

There is much more to coaching than looking the part, but it is a great start.

Pity our Dad Coach hasn’t quite got the message below. He’s tried hard, but he is just a tad out of date.  Ah, well! Nice try!

What do you think, is it important to look the part?

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Soccer Coaching – Is the Game the Teacher?

Some time ago I wrote about a phrase that has really taken root in the soccer coaching … “Let the Game be the Teacher!”

Funny thing is that back in the late 80’s Bobby Howe, a very experienced international soccer coach, and myself, co-authored a series of soccer coaching manuals – predominantly for the North American market. We continually used the phrase, “Let the Game be the Teacher!” within the books as we implored the coaches not to take the game away from the kids. It was very obvious to both Bobby and I that children in this part of the world were over-coached – often by people who had not played the game and were using football, baseball and sometimes hockey, as their reference points.

So our phrase “Let the Game be the Teacher!” may have come back to bite us.

The problem is that many coaches have modified that by saying, “Let Games be the Teacher” and that is a very different thing. Playing 80 to 100 games a season is not the way to learn. You will learn some things, of course. But how much individual skill improvement can be developed within an 11 vs. 11 game? If the average time of ball contact per player is less that 2-minutes how can some of the vital skills of the game be learned?

If we just let them play and there is little or no intervention by the coach there is only one teaching method being employed. It is called “Trial & Error.” And we all know where that can lead – bad habits established and engrained forever!

Putting the kids into as realistic a soccer environment as possible and letting them play is fine. And for a coach unsure of his/her information, why stop it if you don’t know how to correct it? But if a coach knows that by stopping the practice, suggesting and demonstrating the correction and letting them rehearse the correction – all in 30 seconds if you can do it – then we are employing a much better teaching method …”Trial & Success!”

The art of coaching is not letting them play or stopping the play. It is the when and when not to intervene, but with the awareness that too many stoppages will kill the enthusiasm. The skill of coaching is to be able to quickly show the better way to play – both individually and collectively – and then get them back in a game situation.

Do you think Tiger Woods became what he is today by going out and just playing; that he did not seek the help of experienced coaches? Not on your life!

Hockey players in the past played on the ponds of the Prairies. Do you think they weren’t guided by big brothers and mentored by Dads and Uncles and former players?

How come some of the outstanding hockey players coming out of the Greater Vancouver and Vancouver Island areas in recent years were able to make the pro ranks without the ponds? A lot of it was “Trial and Success” – with good coaches showing the way and with the emphasis on showing!

So what we need to do to improve soccer players is to allow them to spend much more time in contact with the ball. And to a certain extent, this has to be orchestrated. It can still be placed into a “game-type” environment or at least, one that is challenging and therefore, potentially rewarding.

So the modern trend in the development of soccer players, and in other team sports, is that we need to get more quality touches on the ball and to be specific in what is being developed at any one time, e.g., heading for goal, combining to cross the ball, left or right foot practice.

It means far more time has to be spent in a practice environment than in competitive play. And if “The Game can be the Specific Teacher” while practice is taking place, so much the better. We are then able to have fun, be challenged and become more accomplished players. And so make a greater contribution when we get into the 11 vs. 11 game.

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Long Lines Lack Luster

When coaching, we are often tempted into the “Soccer Drills” syndrome. Some aspects of the game encourage the use of line-ups to get the organization right. We’ve all done it, but …… Long Line-ups are Boring!

A practice I have used regularly over the past 20 years is one I “stole” from Coach John McKenzie, a very effective coach on the North Shore of Vancouver, which I called Mack I (Mack II is the same practice, but with two touches). It is a great way to teach the Throw-in and Shooting (and the “First Touch” to control the ball in Mack II).
But as you see in the graphic…

The two lines of 2 players is almost the maximum. It says in the “Organization” section of our Coaching 6, 7 & 8’s manual that “if you have an assistant or co-coach have the practice take place at both ends of the field.”

Otherwise, we will have something akin to the cartoon of the line-up where …. Long Lines Lack Luster!

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Six Simple Tips To Find Volunteers

By Phyllis Riedler

Finding volunteers that can make your program or event a big success is critical to virtually every soccer organization. The key word is “finding” them.

Here are six simple tips for success:

  1. Make a list of what jobs you need to fill.
  2. Develop simple job descriptions for each area.
  3. Recruit and train three to five people to help you interview your perspective volunteers. Let them know what you are looking for in each position.
  4. Set up a special event day to interview your candidates. The more you treat this like a “real job” the more your volunteers will perform like it’s a real job.
  5. Advertise on your web site, at schools, churches, community organizations, and ask all your friends and neighbors.
  6. Make certain you provide water/sodas and some kind of treat for everyone at the interview event.

You’re ready to go!

Always remember that a volunteer is the most valuable asset you have – they aren’t getting paid and they don’t have to be there – make it a fun experience!

Soccer America – Grassroots Soccer B

Phyllis Riedler is founder of event planning company, Riedler & Associates. Previously Director of Administration and Event Management for the U.S. Soccer Foundation (which included planning three national banquets, numerous events on Capitol Hill and in 12 MLS cities), Riedler’s career has included serving as Volunteer Manager for the 1994 World Cup/DC Venue, Deputy Director Inaugural Headquarters (Bill Clinton Inauguration), Director of Volunteers for DC United, Director of Volunteers for the Desert Storm Victory Celebration, as well as 17 years as a wedding consultant. Phyllis will be happy to answer your questions about events and volunteers in future columns. Send them to

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Sideline Etiquette

Recently I received an email from a soccer coach, asking for advice.  This is what he pointed out:

“My pet peeve at the moment is parents yelling instructions at kids. In the last week all three of my kids have had parents (not me!) yelling instructions at them and what is even worse is that the instructions have been wrong!!  I could go on and on, but this has to be addressed.   Cheer yes, instruct no.”

This is how I responded.

I know the problem and it is not an easy one to deal with.

Three things that could be done:

  1. The club should make sure in the information they give the parents before the start of the season that they understand the sideline etiquette.
  2. Then in future see if a pre-season parents meeting can be held where that particular topic can be addressed.  In fact, some clubs have the parents sign a Code of Behaviour document.
  3. Finally, when all else fails, use the lollipop method.  Parents are briefed as to your expectations as well as theirs and failure to comply with the “yelling” problem results in you, the coach, pulling out your lollipop – ideally golf ball size – and waving it at the erring parent and if necessary, passing it on.  Better keep more than one handy!*

* Suggestion #3 was described to me by another soccer friend of mine, Dan Steelquist, who has been very active in the Whatcom County Soccer Association and the Blaine Soccer Club in Washington State.  Not sure if he ever used the method, but in the right environment it could work well.  In the wrong environment, well…!

What methods have you tried? What approach did you find worked well when confronting this issue?  We would love to your feedback?

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