Books by ruminatrix @ FlickrAs I noted earlier, Twitter has completely changed things here at On The Pitch. Every day I see cool articles, posts, and other tidbits that I want to check out and share, but then real life gets in the way and suddenly my Favorite list is much too long. And that’s just on Twitter – I need to rescue my Google Reader account at some point. So I’m going to start a weekly feature here at On The Pitch where I’ll select 10 or so posts/articles and include them with a short blurb. I may write a more in depth post about some later, but this will help get them out there in a timely manner.

Feel free to send me ideas for stuff to include in the future via comments below or via Twitter (@soccerdad). Obviously I can’t include everything I get, but send them on anyway! If it’s your own post/article, don’t feel bad if it doesn’t show up right away. If I want to include it, it may take a while as I still have a lot of stuff from months ago. There will likely be a backlog!

ANYway, welcome to Vol 1 Issue 1 of SoccerDad’s Weekend Reading.

  • With so much talk about possible economic stimulus through public works projects, many towns are looking to build new athletic complexes or complete/expand existing one. A town in OK just bought 130 acres for a new complex. (H/T @goodsports). That’ll be on HUGE complex. I was surprised at how many field and lighting vendors were at our state’s soccer show this January. I think they sense opportunity too. But the flip side is economic hard times make it hard to justify spending money on something that seems frivolous, like a soccer complex. Homewood, a town near Birmingham, Alabama, saw controversy over their plan to fund the completion of fields at their soccer complex. (H/T @Birmingham_News)
  • Coaches of girls teams will often scrimmage against boys to help improve their teams. But in Iran, it can get you fired. (H/T @rfe_rl)
  • Coach Mark has some tips in keeping practices fun for younger players. (H/T @soccercoachmark) I’ll admit one danger in using point totals is the more athletic kids always win the prizes. I always try to use 2-4 ‘teams’ so the points get spread around vs awarded individually. Another idea is to reward effort/intensity, not just successful completion of a skill in the least time, etc.
  • A few months ago, the NY Times had an interesting article about Yelling At Your Kids and how in rare cases it may be a good thing. (H/T @goodsports) Granted, they’re talking about parents. But even as coaches – if you’re calm and collected all the time, an occasional shout may startle your team enough to know you really are serious. Above a certain age, of course, and never angry. But I’ve been known to shout out ‘Ladies!!!!’ to get my team’s attention. If you yell all the time, it won’t work :)
  • @tonygravato shared an interesting article over at Youth Soccer Insider about ways to get kids to play soccer on their own. I think the ‘street soccer’ advocates are sometimes a bit too naive about the idea of free play, but it certainly can’t hurt to try and encourage it.
  • In these tough economic times, it may surprise you (or your municipal government if you’re asking for support) how much money youth sports can bring to an area. @goodsports linked to an interesting article from Pasco County, Florida that highlighted a county that was actively working to recruit and sponsor youth sporting events to boost the economy.
  • Since the research results seem to still be mixed, the debate continues about the safety of artifical turf. (H/T @yourdon)
  • Steve Perkins (@SPerk15) had an interesting article about the politics of being a youth soccer coach. It was related to grades and steps some HS coaches might take to allow students to start soccer on time. As a coach I’d be VERY uncomfortable using a loophole like this. I tell my parents and players all the time, even in club, bad grades = no soccer.
  • Thomas at Soccer Mastermind (@kidssoccer) wrote an insightful article about setting goals for yourself as a soccer coach. I agree 100% – Outcome/Results should never be a goal – it’s the performance and improvement goals that will help you get there.
  • Jeff Carlisle wrote an excellent piece about how the US was overhauling it’s national youth programs. (H/T @mshund) This was part one of an excellent five part series. Much attention is being paid to how the USSF Development Academy works and what types of players it produces for the national pool in the coming years. I think the 3-1 practice-match ratio is a good goal for all youth teams, so long as you count pre-season practices. We tend to practice twice a week, not three times – but also have a solid month of preseason.

So there you have it – SoccerDad’s Weekend Reading. Obviously most of this came from January when I first started saving stuff. Hopefully I’ll catch up soon, and I’ll toss in more current stuff in future lists. Enjoy!

(Note H/T means Hat Tip – simply acknowledging someone who tweeted the link or a link that led me to the link)