Pay To Play - And The Parent's Role

Pay to Play and the Parent’s Role Pay to play is the “black eye” of American youth soccer. With this system in place for the competitive programs we are losing ground with the youth throughout the world. (Then again, we were never quite up to their level to begin with.) Our system excludes so many inner city players of all ages from playing in the “competitive” programs. I’ve seen so many programs in Southern California excluding these kids yearly. Yes some of the “clubs” have the parents “work” off their fees. Unfortunately many of these talented kids have parent(s) working two jobs throughout the week and weekend which prohibits their opportunity to work these fees off. So my question to everyone as parents is what exactly are you paying for?

I fully expect the “recreational” and competitive side to charge those normal fees to cover the costs of equipment, insurance and fees that are associated with various organizations. I have no problem with that. However, I do have a problem with fees that begin to approach $1500 to $5000 for a season of play. Parents, 10 percent of the children in this country are attending private schools in the K-12 ages. Obviously they are paying good monies for, hopefully, a good education. I would hope that the private school has available a full curriculum for each grade level and it is available to all parents upon request. Why do I bring this point up? Simply because if you have to pay for your child to play competitive soccer I would hope that you would be able to approach the club’s organizers for the curriculum being used by this program. I’m serious! How many of you have taken a look at you investment in your child’s sport EDUCATION? How many parents have asked either their child’s coach or Director of Coaching what is the curriculum being used from the youngest to the oldest ages in you club? I’ll bet that less than 1 percent of you have. In fact, I’ll even say that less than that are playing in a program that can provide you with this information.

So, again, where are your monies going? Are the monies going for salaries of the coaches and the coaching director? Are your monies going for salaries of board members? Are the monies going to educate your child? I’ve asked many parents here what the high salaried Director of Coaching has done for your child. That’s the same question I would asked your child’s school teacher and Principal. Unlike the child’s school not one parent has told me what the Director of Coaching has done for their child and yet your money is going to that person. Then again I did have one parent over the years tell me that the Director has done absolutely nothing for his child. What’s wrong with this picture? If we have to have pay to play then, to me, we should treat this as a private school! That is, there has to be a curriculum based program with every age being performance based and evaluated on a daily basis. There has to be a training program within the club structure that assures that all coaches implement this curriculum. There has to be the ability to see the child’s weekly evaluation, or monthly at best, by the parents. There also has to be weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly evaluations of the coaches. Folks, don’t ignore this element! Private and public schools do this and there is no reason that you, as parents who are writing the check, shouldn’t demand this also.

I can hear the uproar already. That takes too much time to do. Sorry folks, you’re getting paid. To me you are a professional. Parents you are letting programs literally “steal” your money if you don’t insist on this. If you don’t stress this then I ask the question again: What are you paying for? I’ll tell you what a good percentage are using their monies for--leverage! Leverage with the coach to play their son more. Leverage to manipulate the coach to play their child in a position that they think is best suited for them. Leverage, to get rid of their child’s coach because he fails to listen to your demands. Guys, actually in a crazy way, I support this. Why not? It makes as much sense to me since you don’t treat this as a good educational investment. Parents, get real! Use your leverage in a positive manner. Use it to implement a “private school” attitude. Use your leverage to assure that the child that cannot afford to be in that “private soccer school” is afforded that opportunity. Use the checkbook to make the “school” the best it can be for all students and all those involved. For me I’m still waiting for just one program in this country to come forward and show me their curriculum based program. Folks I know it can be done. In fact it has been done here in San Diego and now in various clubs in Europe. The cost of the program for the kids in San Diego you ask. ZERO!

Tom Evans


Change is here. Where do we go now? - Part Three: U.S. Soccer Shortcomings

Part 3: US Soccer and their shortcomings

 This is the final installment of this series. US Soccer has many flaws but the most blatant is the ability to communicate.  I strongly support this mandate.  That has never been a question for me.  What I have never supported is how they presented this to the vast majority of players and families in this country. They have left it up to people who have no idea how this was going to impact teams, friends and families.  You have this problem when you are trying to develop players in a system from top to bottom instead of bottom to top.  They fail to understand that the pay to play method employed in this country is a complete failure. The parents who are writing that check should have had the final say in any mandate change of this nature.  Those paying the bills at the local level were left completely out of any discussions.  They feel that no one has come to them with the how’s and why’s.  (Sorry US Soccer, trying to use the excuse that this allows us to develop elite players has no basis at the local level.)  The entire structure of the Federation from National, Regional and State level have dropped the ball on this.

This mandate could have and should have been phased in over a period of five years starting at the youngest age.  The costs involved at the local level to introduce the other elements are going to be considerable.  So whose is picking up that tab?  The elite programs will get the monies I’m sure from the Federation.  It has always been that way and I expect no change to this. The local programs are what produce “fans” of the game.  It is where the “elite” players begin and yet the last one to be helped. The base of the player pyramid is huge in this country and yet neglected the most. It is no wonder that we lose our high school players at the local level.  They leave this sport because we give them no reason to stay.  Opportunity after opportunity is missed to commit the local programs and players to what this game can do for them.  Yes there are exceptions. Yes individual players rise about this situation.  In a country this large we should see more than what we are making it. If they cannot afford to play, they’re gone.

US Soccer has time to correct the lack of communication. What they don’t have time to do is continue on the same old path that I’ve seen the past 37 years.

-Thomas Evans has advanced degrees in behavior psychology, specializing in the field of autism.  Tom is an accomplished coach at all levels in the U.S. and abroad, where he successfully implemented his "Learning is Winning" training program for youth soccer programs at San Diego Sun  Corp. and FK Austria Vienna.  Retired from FK Austria Vienna as the Director of section one and two (7-14 age groups), he was also the BNZ trainer for the U14 FK Autstria Vienna. 

Change is here. Where do we go now? - Part Two: Coaches

Part 2: Coaches

US Soccer has really placed the coaches of all levels into a difficult situation.  I’m very aware of what you are going through with the change in the birth year mandate.  I was coaching at the time when we went the other way from birth year to what we have now.  I had to drop 10 players because of it.  Even though it seemed a lost cause and the end of the world, you can handle it in a manner that is positive and a great learning experience.

Now, as then, so much negative energy was spent that I was worn out just trying to do my job—coaching. What is also difficult is that many of you in the country are wearing two hats at same time-- parent and coach.  You are in the situation where you have to deal with your own child through this change and all the other children that you are in charge of.  Couple that with the parents; it definitely will keep you up at nights.

Let me tell you how I made it work.  It may make things easier for you.  I may give you some ideas that you may not have thought of. Most importantly you should prepare an action plan just as I discussed in part one for the parents.

The first thing in my action plan was to sit all the players down at a practice session away from any and all parents. (They’ll be curious but they need to stay away.) For me, we never touched the ball that whole session but at the end it was one of the best practices I ever had. I started first discussing the new mandate and how I felt about it. I discussed that there were boys that will have to move on and how I felt about that. I also discussed how it would affect the chemistry and balance of the team and how we were going to work together to improve the team and the players. When I was finished it was the players’ turn. I put down ground rules before we started. No interruptions. No laughing and most certainly no finger pointing.  You will be surprised how much the players mimic their parents at first.  After a while the real thoughts came out and had something to work with.  Yes it did take 90 minutes but in the end the players where somewhat smiling but had a better understanding.

What is truly next for the coach?  Your time is now to find and evaluate new players.  If you are waiting for tryouts it is too late.  It is time for you to look at the teams one year below you.  If you are playing under 12 now, you need to look at the under 11’s.  Remember that their older boys will be looking for a new place and it is a perfect time to look at them.  If you find a boy that you might be interested in take notice of him and write down a brief description of his perceived strengths and weaknesses. I would not approach the child, parents or coach at this time.  Now this may sound really crazy but I did the following. Kids know who the better players are. I brought two or three players from my team to watch the player in a game.  I asked for their feedback regarding this player.  They may even know the player and know things that will help us making decisions.  I replaced 8 out of 10 boys using the boy’s feedback.  Why?  If they are comfortable then I was.  The other two boys that I signed were boys that were brought to practice by my players that were not playing club ball at that time.  Like I said players know who the good players are. I always went to watch a players practice. I went not for the same reasons as the parents.  I wanted to see if the player worked hard, if they took direction well, if they enjoyed being out there and if they were having fun.  Before I talked to the parents I had to talk to the coach.  I wanted to know what their plans were for this particular player.  I asked for permission from the coach to approach the parents and players.  If he said no I left it at that. If he said yes I invited the player to a practice as long as it did not conflict with his team’s practice. I definitely invited the player to tryouts.

The other responsibility that I feel very strongly about is this--you must help out the boys that you are losing find a new home.  It could be as simple as a phone call.  It may require you to meet up with the player’s parents to watch a team that their child may be interested in trying out for or joining.  They want you feedback.  They need your feedback!

In the end, this is a very difficult situation that you have been put in.  Remember that your commitment is to your players.  Yes their parents are important too. Place the player’s situation first above everything else.

Change is here.  You can elect to ignore it and be negative or be proactive and do what is right for all the players you have.

-Thomas Evans has advanced degrees in behavior psychology, specializing in the field of autism.  Tom is an accomplished coach at all levels in the U.S. and abroad, where he successfully implemented his "Learning is Winning" training program for youth soccer programs at San Diego Sun  Corp. and FK Austria Vienna.  Retired from FK Austria Vienna as the Director of section one and two (7-14 age groups), he was also the BNZ trainer for the U14 FK Autstria Vienna.  

Change is here. Where do we go now? - Part One: Parents

Part 1: Parents

US Soccer has introduced major changes to its goals and mandates regarding youth soccer. The one mandate that has created the largest stir is the change to birth year. I’ve prepared a three part series addressing not the mandate itself, but how we can all move on in a positive manner during this transition period.  My first part is directed at the parents.  Part two will be directed at the coaches (but I hope the parents will read it also).  Part three is for all concerned regarding, again, not the mandate but how the Federation has handled this.

The old saying “change is good” can be appropriate and correct in the situation that we are discussing: the change from the current system to the new mandate using birth year to develop our teams in programs in the country. Change can, however, bring to the surface many feelings that include anger, fear of lost friendships, and fear of the unknown.  Understand that all of these feelings are normal, and you are not alone in this journey. The key is how we deal with it.  We can choose to remain angry and point the figure of blame, or better yet, deal with change in a positive manner for yourself and your child. Parents, please realize that your child will look to you for direction during this transition period.  They will pick up cues from you and actually mimic you while dealing with parents or other individuals in their inner circle. This is going to be a real test of your parenting skills.

So, what can you do to make this transition a very positive one? I’ve said many times during my career that “sport mirrors life”.  This is most certainly true here. How we teach our children to deal with change, loss, anger, and confusion now will lead to a better understanding of self when they are older. The first step is to sit down with the child and communicate your feelings about this change in an age appropriate manner (yes, even the anger). Second, the child needs to express his/her thoughts and feelings.  Don’t try to interpret things for them but help them continue the conversation. Lastly, help your child make an “action plan”. Any action plan must include the things that the child and you perceive as being the most difficult to deal with it.  The most probable issue you will have to confront is how to say goodbye to their fellow teammates and coaches. Be ready for tears.  It’s normal and should not be seen as a sign of weakness.  You may have to practice this a few times and hold each other’s hands but you will get through this brilliantly. Second, the parents and the child need to make a list of traits you'd like a new coach to have.  Do this separately. Compare your lists.  You may be surprised what your child comes with as compared to you.  Do not make the mistake of comparing your old coach to the new one you are looking for.  It’s not fair to either coach! Over time both you and your child will forget when they had a difficult game or practice, when the coach may have been really hard on them.  We remember the good times and forget the lousy ones.

Now, the most important part is implementing your action plan.  Get out there, and watch games.  Watch teams that fit your child’s needs.  Don’t let the “I’ve won this or that cup” get in the way.  That shiny, bright hardware blinds us but does not help us. Perhaps there are kids for their school on teams that you watch.  Talk with the parents. If possible talk with the coach. For me, if you have an interest in a particular team go watch them practice.  You will see how the coach deals with their players.  You see how they go about teaching and communicating.  Most of all if you hear no laughter, walk away! Invite the possible new coach to see your child play.  If he does, introduce him to your coach. Who knows, they might know each other. In the end it has to be a good fit for everyone. Most important the child makes the final decision.

Change is very good when you make it a positive and rewarding experience.

-Thomas Evans has advanced degrees in behavior psychology, specializing in the field of autism.  Tom is an accomplished coach at all levels in the U.S. and abroad, where he successfully implemented his "Learning is Winning" training program for youth soccer programs at San Diego Sun  Corp. and FK Austria Vienna.  Retired from FK Austria Vienna as the Director of section one and two (7-14 age groups), he was also the BNZ trainer for the U14 FK Autstria Vienna.  


"It's got to come from the heart..."

"Coach, what do I need to do to improve?" or "What do I need to do to get better, earn more playing time, play a certain position, etc.?"  These are common questions from players.  For the answer to have a meaningful impact, we must be aware of the motivation and initiator of the question.  Does the question come from an honest desire and curiosity of the player, or is the question initiated by the parent?  

For most questions in life and sport, for the answer to have meaning, the person asking the question must genuinely want to know.  In sport, the most important person in this dialogue is the player.  Why? Because it's a players journey.  Unless he/she truly has the desire and determination to apply the answer(s), it is meaningless. 

Like the song by Kathy Mattea says, "it's got to come from the heart if you want it to work." 


Being a multi-sport athlete is a challenge for today's youth soccer player. While there are a number of topics related to this issue, the following are examples of how a player should manage playing two or more sports at the same time, effectively and responsibly:

  1. Communicate:
    • Be sure coaches from both sports are aware of your participation in each sport(s)
    • When you need rest - mentally, physically, and emotionally
    • To avoid over training injuries, let your coaches know what you did in training that day (when going from one sport to the other in the same day)
  2. Manage Your Time 
    • Rest and Recover
    • Studies
    • Take time off, or reduce training, from one or both sports during the week
    • Take a full day or two off throughout the season(s)
  3. Prioritize During Your Season(s)
    • Focus on one sport during the week that you are building up to a major competition/events
      • reduce training in one sport, to focus on an upcoming competition in the other

With these simple tips, players can navigate playing multi-sports more effectively and safely.  Have a great season, and March Forth!

Nutrition For Soccer

"Eating Right For Soccer" by Coach "v" is a wonderful outline of how and what to eat for maximum performance.

"24 – 48 hours before…
48 hours – 24 hours before game time we focus on a mixture of level 2, and 3 carbs as a higher part / percentage of our diet. The closer we get, the lower the number. Complex carbs are helpful the days before, but our body must do a larger amount of “work” to turn these into available energy or excess fuel for storage. 

Complex carbs are harder for the body to “breakdown” and process. Our body actually has to burn energy (work harder) to digest these foods. Much more so than “simple carbs”. Our body works less for a greater amount of FUEL, therefore we have excess that will be stored. As game time approaches it does little good for us to fill our body with “future fuel”, (complex carbs). That is, fuel that will not be available until after the game, or being digested heavily during the game. Timing is critical. 

Hours before… (and in-between matches on the same day) 
If we have a game at 11am, it does us little good to be eating whole wheats, grains and raw vegetables at 8am. We need an energy source that will be READY very soon. We also don’t want our body to be heavy into a “hard digestive process” DURING the activity. So we would drop to level 2 carbs such as white flour based foods and “some” limited sugars. These will be converted much quicker and available to us sooner. We should also provide the body and digestive process with plenty of fluid. So, eating a big bowl of steel cut oatmeal an hour before the game will probably do more harm than good. It can also cause GI discomfort and steal energy for digestion with little to no return.

Last 90 minutes before and during…
Almost too late… Really at this point it is too late to try and fuel the body. Trying to go to level 1 carbs, (sugars) may trigger a hypoglycemic or even a hypoglycemic “type” reaction, Idiopathic postprandial syndrome. (I have seen this both in my own body and many youth players.) It also may trigger a spike in insulin release which will cause low blood sugar levels. 

The last hour before the game (and during the game / half time) is used for liquids and mild levels of level 1 carbs. Sports drinks are formulated with a very low percentage of carbs for this reason. (Often in the 2% – 6% range) During long matches your body may “shut down” digestion, so adding “fuel” at this point is probably not useful.

If any foods are eaten at this point they should be very limited and level 2 or 1 and 2 mixture. A few crackers and some sports drink." 

Fuel your body, compete, fuel to recover and MARCH FORTH!


Must Read For All Players and Parents

The Good Fight: My favorite victory in the battle against entitlement 
Written by Dan Blank, Associate Head Coach at the University of Georgia Women's Soccer. He shares this personal story (and letter) that eloquently describes what all coaches search and hope for in players.  Take ownership of your journey.  Be your possibility.  And never, ever give up!  

Dream big and March Forth! 


Knowledge First

The best coaches in the country have one thing in common, they want to get better.  Coaches at the top of the coaching profession want to be inspired by other coaches. Curiosity and the desire to learn are vital to being the best.    

While coaching schools (USSF/NSCAA) are important to a coaches development and credibility, it is the interaction and observation of other top coaches that feed the soul and expand understanding and ideas. If you aspire to master your craft, engross yourself in the game.  Take every opportunity to observe and interact with other coaches or teachers. Open yourself to any and all environments for learning: school teachers, coaches of other sports, and coaches from any club within your community.  Reach out, seek out, observe, interact, share, and test your knowledge.  This is the journey of top coaches.  This is the journey of true artists in the coaching profession.  Be your possibility and March Forth!   



Stealing The Moment

"If you spend time wishing you had other players, either you end up hating them or they end up hating is not productive. "  -Phil Jackson

When your mind is thinking about players you wish you had, you steal the joy and opportunity from the players you do have.  Discovering your team's potential requires everyone to be focused in each moment.  If a coach is mentally (or emotionally) unavailable, it steals the chance to grow, develop and inspire from your players.  

Youth teams are a collection of people that have chosen one another in this soccer journey. Players will come and go for a variety of reasons, but the true test of any coach is making all players feel valued.  When this is achieved, players can feel safe, invest themselves mentally and emotionally, and feel comfortable making mistakes, which is vital to their development. 

Coaches, you must give your undivided attention to the players you have.  Should you wish to attract additional players, let the product on the field be your marketing.  If the product on the field is quality, and the relationship with your players (and families) is good, people will gravitate towards your program.      

Coaching Priorities:

  1. Develop your players
  2. Develop your team(s)
  3. Be available (mentally and emotionally)
  4. Connect with your people (players, families, staff)
  5. Have fun

...and March Forth!


Paint The Picture

Coaches need to paint the picture for their players and teams.  Establishing a visual reference is vital to ensure your style of play.  This is accomplished through training consistencies and staples such as: patterns, technical nuance, use of space, emphasis of pass or dribble, and movement off the ball.

March Forth Diamond Pattern is an example of creating the visual. The emphasis is on technical sharpness, play and advance sophistication, and dynamic interchanging.  Successful application requires a great deal of attention to the following details:

  1. Quality first touch (inside of foot emphasis)
  2. Playing to the inside of far foot (be intentional and accurate)
  3. Counter step, then showing for the ball
  4. Body shape to receive ball open to direction of next pass
  5. Sharp/Crisp passing on the floor
  6. Play with the intent of getting the ball back (play and run)
  7. Technical differences between "lay off" and "pass back" (use appropriate based on run/support)
  8. Advanced diamond pattern requires one touch, no hesitation, play and run, ball and run arrive in sync, fluid, tempo, and rhythm. 

Diamond - Up/Back/Through (video)

basic up/back through pattern emphasizing technical aspects of game in relation to possession
-up/back patterns in two's- document-

-up/back/through in three's - document-

Diamond - Up/Back/Through with Target Players (video)
target players to cue possession penetration patterns

Diamond - Up/Dummy/Back with Target Players (video)
target players to cue possession penetration patterns with creative element

Once you have established the visual reference for your team, you then need to support with training and game restrictions/targets that further emphasize your style of play (game within the game methods).  Examples may include:

  • Play a forward pass, must make run to advance (overlap and change positions)
  • Find opportunities to interchange positions with another player using the pass and advance method (north/south or east/west) 
  • Play and get return pass, finding ways to advance self up field

Technique should remain the focus for all age groups (U11-U18). If technique breaks down, STOP!  It is important that players demonstrate/master the technical abilities needed for this type of pattern.  If coaches move on, allowing poor technique, the benefits and ability to advance are lost.     

When good technique is established, fast and fluid play is the result.  Then coaches are able to address and teach nuance such as tempo and rhythm.  Paint the picture, advance your players, instill more sophisticated concepts, and create soulful play.  The result is the beautiful game...and we all March Forth!

Modeling Your Perfect Game - Player Tools

The game of soccer is BIG.  There are many things going through a young player's mind before, during, and after a competition.  Often those thoughts become distractions or challenges.  "Modeling Your Perfect Game" is a tool to help players break the game down to "bite size" areas of focus.  This will result in a higher level performance and greater consistency in their play.

Consider this.  If asked about preparation and focus for a competition, a young player will often respond with vague terms such as:

  • Play hard
  • Win the game
  • Score goals
  • Dominate
  • Communicate

While these terms are often used by coaches, they are vague and lack specificity and context. This is cheerleading, not coaching.   Players want and need specific direction, ideas and solutions.  Modeling Your Perfect Game makes the game smaller and much more manageable for players by identifying specific and tangible actions, avoiding abstraction.  

Consider substituting terminology and use specifics:

  • Rather than "play hard" use "challenge for all flighted 50/50 balls"
  • Rather than "win the game", use "create chances for my teammates with quality crosses in the box"
  • Rather than "score goals", use "take players on with the dribble in the final 1/3 to shoot" 
  • Rather than "dominate", use "connect 80% of my passes" or "win all 1v1 duels"
  • Rather than "communicate", use "organize weak-side players immediately upon our team losing the ball (drop and pinch in)" 

The key is bite size specificity.  

The following are "Modeling Your Perfect Game" documents.  Encourage players to create routine surrounding competitions, select 1-3 objectives each game for their focus and self evaluation, and watch them grow!  

These documents create a picture for specific positions. Please feel free to modify based on the system of play and positions for your specific teams.  For even greater detail, tailor a "Modeling Your Perfect Game" to each player, based on their specific developmental needs and March Forth!   

Pre-Game, Game Time, Post Game


Attacking Mids

Center Mids (Def./Holding)

Outside Backs

Center Backs



International Exchange Summary

The International Exchange with Junshin SC (Fujieda, Japan) has ended.  So much to be thankful for:

  1. Made new friends
  2. Experienced great soccer
  3. No injuries
  4. New view of the world in which we live and share
  5. New view of our global game
  6. Fun

The game is a vehicle for life.  While it tests your limits, abilities and competitive spirit, it also opens doors of opportunity.  But above all else, it's a game.  It is about having fun and being Happy.  Enjoy.

Amazing support from the Idaho community and beyond.  Special thanks to the following people, businesses, and participating clubs: 

  • Indie Chicas FC (Eagle, ID) - Host Families & Players
  • Junshin SC (Fujieda, Japan) - Coaches, Players, and Families
  • Sean O'Gara, Founder of Indie Chicas FC 
  • Tom Park, Indie Chicas parent and event photographer and video director
  • Generous Donations from:
    • Linda Adams, Friend and Supporter
    • Flatbread, Boise
    • Dan Baird Landscape
    • Musclepharm Sports training - Boise, ID
    • Ralston Properties - Boise, ID
    • Restoration Pro - Garden City, ID
    • Agribeef
    • JBR's BBQ - Ryan Hansen
    • Edwards Theater 21 Cinemas - Boise
  • Participating clubs:
    • Indie Chicas FC - Eagle, ID
    • Idaho Rush SC - Boise, ID
    • Boise Nationals SC - Boise/Meridian, ID

Next up......traveling to Japan for the return leg.  If you are interested in being a part of this journey, contact me, Michael Mollay at  Be happy and March Forth!

Japanese Exchange Sunday Update

Japanese Exchange Sunday, march 22 Update:

Arrive for first day of training.

Organized and ready.


Head Coach, Aki, explains purpose and training targets to Junshin SC U13 & U14 girls.  

One of the things I have learned over the years working with Junshin, and their coaching staff, is the level of detail and organization associated with every training session and game.  Their is always a plan, always purpose.  In addition, I love how Junshin players communicate their intention prior to training.  Taking ownership of whatever their personal targets are for that day.  An example: player will say I will work on my first touch today.  This is something within a players control, and a way to approach training/games with intention, and measurable way to evaluate performance.

Game Time:

U13 Chicas kickoff the International Exchange v. Junshin SC.  Good effort and learning experience for Indie Chicas.  Junshin moved the ball around with ease, finding each others feet, and getting in behind with tireless running off the ball.


  Game two saw the Indie Chicas U12 v. Junshin U13's.  After going down 0-2, the Indie Chicas grabbed the game back with outstanding possession and two goals to equalize.  In the final 12 they just couldn't hold on, losing 4-2.  Great performance by both teams.  Lot's of skill, possession and quality competitive spirit!

Monday games: Indie Chicas Soccer Complex (765 E Chinden Blvd., Meridian, ID)

  • 1:30pm - Indie Chicas Combo Team v. Junshin SC
  • 3pm - Boise National SC U15g v. Junshin SC 

Training Sessions - Possession

The most challenging aspect of soccer is possession.  A team's ability to keep and move the ball requires strong individual technical ability, as well as collective understanding of patterns. In terms of team play, all coaches will agree, the final objective is to score goals, but the "how" may differ philosophically; style of play and the route.  

Below are training exercises designed to enhance/improve your team's possession.  Each session can be done with all ages (U11-U19), using appropriate modifications related to: size of grid, number of players, and technical emphasis.

The ball is where the joy is in our game.  So let's encourage and emphasize our players to want the ball, keep the ball, and be positive in their play.....and March Forth!

*March Forth Soccer - "the pass provokes the opponent. Each pass requires the opponent to move, resulting in gaps and space to penetrate."

The universal way to play and advance the ball (and players) up field.  The idea is to utilize the pass, and running off the ball as opposed to the dribble.  Play with the intent of getting the ball returned.

Building Up Possession in Thirds;

  • Thirds Possession: backs join mids; this emphasizes continuity in team shape when building up from the back. (document)


Emphasis and Priorities for Development Success

  1. Technical Demands/Expectations
    • first touch w/inside of foot (lay off v. return pass)
      • lay off takes the weight off the pass
      • return pass is weighted 
    • passing with inside of foot
    • receiving with inside of far foot
    • properly weighted passes (firm, skimming top of the surface you are playing)
    • Passing touch is your first step towards supporting the ball/return pass (be fluid)
  2. Body Shape
    • As often as possible get ball facing forward, hips up field
  3. Tactical
    • Play and advance (in one motion); passing touch is the first step in direction of supporting ball
    • Change of speed with actions; passing/moving
    • Intentional with the pass and run; body language should provide visual cues as to player's idea or expectations
    • Total focus and engagement!

Never sacrifice quality.  Coach the players, not the session.  Paint a clear picture.  Find them doing things well, and reward/praise.....and have fun!!!!

The Customer Has Rights

The customer has rights in youth soccer.  The question is who is the customer? "Customer" is defined as,  a party that receives or consumes products (goods/services) and has the ability to choose between different products and suppliers.  This is the blurred, and often confusing line, in youth soccer.  The player/parent, as well as the club, has the ability to choose between suppliers for specific services.  But there is one main difference that gets lost: families PAY for services.  It's when the "paying" customer wishes to terminate the agreement, that consumer rights get confusing. 


This seems simple enough.  The person paying is typically considered the customer.  The customer (parent) no longer wishes to do business with the club.  But here is the rub...the club can prevent this from happening, or at the very least make it incredibly difficult for a child/family to leave.  In addition, state associations support the clubs in this situation.  Why?  Ironically, to protect the child. 

State associations have worked very hard to curb "recruiting" and "club-hopping" mid-season. To avoid this, they have developed rules to strengthen a club's control over a players ability to leave for other competitive opportunities.  In theory, this discourages coaches from mid-season recruiting practices and player's club-hopping for greener pastures.  However, the application of this policy shifts control from the paying customer to the business of youth soccer.

Consider the following:  

What if the customer, player/parent is no longer satisfied with the services from the club? What are their options?

  1. Finish out for the year
  2. Discuss issues with the coach/club
  3. Ask for a change/alternatives within the club
  4. Ask to be released/transferred/dropped so the player can explore other playing options (team, coach, league, etc.)
  5. Quit all together

Keep in mind the mental and emotional impact on the child (and family), once this process goes into motion:

  • The child feels conspicuous
  • The parents feel conspicuous
  • Pressure and guilt is placed on the child by the coach
  • Pressure and guilt is placed on the child by teammates
  • Pressure and guilt is placed on the child and parents, by teammates families

Unlike other countries, where the club invests money to develop and retain the rights to a player.  In the U.S., players are NOT the property of the club.  The primary reason for this is the pay-to-play model. Parents are paying for a service, and in theory should be able to exercise their rights as consumers.   

Youth soccer in the United States is a VOLUNTARY activity with a pay-for-service transaction.  The customer, player/parent, should have the same consumer rights as any customer in a financial transaction. Obviously there are other implications and ramifications associated with this being a team sport.  But if a player has exhausted all avenues and no solutions found, it is time to move on.  Protection should be weighted in favor of the true consumer, the player/parent.

To avoid this scenario, here are some recommendations for the parent and club:

  1. Be realistic about your child's ability and ambition (parent)
  2. Do not enter into the agreement lightly.  Know what you are signing up for. You are taking a roster spot on a team, committing to the calendar and expectations of the team, the philosophy of the coach with regard to playing time and team management, as well as the cost. (parent/club)   
  3. Know the "drop/release" policies of the club (parent/club)
  4. Know the fees and services. What are you getting for those fees. (parent/club)
  5. If conflict arises, exhaust all options internally.  Know the chain of command and the grievance process. (parent/club)
  6. If there is no agreeable solution, provide a "release/drop" for the player (parent/club)

The customer has rights, and when it comes to discussion of a child's voluntary participation and a family's hard earned money, let the customer determine the best place for the child.  March Forth! 


International Soccer Exchange in Idaho

It's official!  The Indie Chicas FC, (Eagle, Idaho) will be the host to the U13 and U14 Junshin SC of Fujieda, Japan, March 22-26, 2015.  The March Forth Soccer Japanese Exchange, is a week long cultural experience of training, games, and friendship.  Junshin players and coaching staff will stay with local families, experiencing American and Idaho culture.  

As one of the top female clubs in Japan, Junshin have established themselves as leaders in female soccer player development.  This is a great opportunity for Idaho players, coaches and families to watch, interact, and learn from Junshin's methods and approach to youth soccer.  Participating teams and players will benefit greatly, in both their personal and soccer development, competing with and against some of the top players in the world.

The top local U12-U15 girls teams will be participating in this years event.  All games will be played at the Indie Chicas Soccer Complex (765 E Chinden Blvd., Meridian, ID): 

For more information about this event, please contact Michael Mollay, Co-Founder & Director, March Forth Soccer
208-863-2782 c



Phases of Possession

The following article is from World Class Coaching.  The following information relates to "phases of possession".  It describes the various areas on the field teams should be mindful as it relates to possession; safety, risk, and priorities.  The full article can be read here

Build Up Phase
When close to your own goal, you should try to build safe possession and ensure that the ball can be brought forward into the Consolidation phase. Players should look to keep the ball moving across longer distances across the defensive line and if possible, into the consolidation phase via either of the defensive midfielders.

Consolidation Phase
In this phase, we need to ensure that we have gained control of possession and are looking to find a way into the penetration phase, but only at a time where an attacking player can receive in a dangerous position with options to attack. The ball can be passed forward and then back into the consolidation phase to keep the defense moving, but also to try and draw people out of position for another player to exploit the space. Possession should still be safe, but with more intent to get into an attacking position.

Penetration Phase
In this phase, players are encouraged to take more risks and find a way through the congested final 3rd area, with between 3-7 attacking players inside this zone, and between 3-9 defensive players, speed of thought, positional rotations, eliminating defenders via dribbling and quick passing is vital to being successful in the penetration phase. Players will look for diagonal through balls onto straight runs, straight through balls into diagonal runs, 3rd man runs, 1-2’s, dribbles, overloads and overlaps to try and bring the game from potentially a 6v8 scenario, to a 2v2,3v3 or 4v3 scenario in one zone to make the game less complex and easier to find a way to penetrate the defense and make a scoring chance.

Finishing Phase
In this area, the aim is simple; to score. Players should look to get into scoring positions whenever possible, and offer different solutions to the problems players will face when the ball is close to the goal – how do I avoid being marked? How do I receive under no pressure? How do I create space for my team mates? How many touches can I take? Is the chance reaction based (rebounded chance), instinct based (little time to shoot under pressure), technique based (using the defender as a guide to curl the ball around and away from the GK), or is it a determination chance (fending off a defender using strength under pressure to shoot).

Players must be willing to be brave in this scenario, look to gamble on a slice of luck coming their way, and be willing to miss a chance by shooting – no shots = no goals.

Players can retain possession in this zone and pin the defense back, but always be on the move to lose the marker and find a way to get on the ball to score.