Soccer coaching forum
and-again soccer forum
Register  |   |   |  Latest Topics
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
Oldtimer

Registered:
Posts: 3,243
Reply with quote  #1 

(Who knew the Phoenix has risen?)

NOT SO FAST 

A recent Sunday saw two 15 year-old girls tear ACL’s.  For each it was their second such injury.

As a specialty, Pediatric Sports Medicine dates only to 1975.  It is now one of the fastest growing medical fields, with treatment for broken arms and sprained ankles being overtaken by a wave of serious soft tissue injuries.  The epidemic, for that is what it has become, is driven by a toxic mix of overtraining, early specialization in a single sport, diminished free time play, downsizing of Physical Education programs in schools, inadequate provisions for rest and recovery and the failure of youth sports organizations to provide meaningful injury prevention programs. 

Consider knees. Female college athletes, especially those who played soccer or basketball used to have a near monopoly on ACL and meniscus tears.  Such injuries now are not uncommon in girls as young as 12, are widespread by 16.  The boys are catching up.  In many instances (notably among people who are neither suffering the injury, financing its repair or dealing with a caged beast for 4-6 months), these injuries are considered as just a “cost of doing business.”

The response of U.S. Soccer to this:  a new Girls Developmental Academy (D.A.) program for girls that will have these teen athletes training 4-5 times a week, 10 months a year.

Where do we invest in orthopedic surgery futures?

All the evidence points to a significant increase in such injuries with the training regimen planned for D.A. teams.  In addition, this program plans to adopt FIFA substitution rules (3 subs, no re-entry).  This will further multiply the risk factors by asking athletes to play full-out for 90 minutes when they are still a decade away from the average age of peak performance. (The alternative, learning to play with less than your full effort to conserve energy, is almost equally foolish.)  

The D.A. model comes with a number of other practices that should have athletes and their parents asking serious questions.  First among them are the restrictions placed on the athletes.  High school soccer is forbidden, as are activities such as ODP, “without written permission from the Development Academy staff.”  Statements from D.A. leadership that these girls can opt out of the DA during the HS season appear less than forthright. (The logistical difficulties aside, it is certainly NOT allowed in the boys’ programs here – any player who wants to retain the option of playing with her school should be certain up front that this choice will truly exist and be honored at her club.)

Those kinds of restrictions might be justified where a club covers a player’s expenses in return for exclusive control of an athlete’s time.  “My money, my rules,” if you will.  Otherwise it’s just nuts. 

In Colorado a March girls HS game on a weekday in Buena Vista will draw more spectators than the most recent U18-19 State Cup final, played on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.  Nothing better illustrates the central flaw in the D.A. model: the loss of peer affirmation for high school kids who are soccer players.  Should they choose to play D.A., athletes forfeit the recognition that comes from playing  - and usually leading - the HS team.  And given the training schedule, D.A. membership de facto prohibits participation in any activities – other sports, school plays, band, debate, DECA, etc – that happen outside of school hours. The high school experience is largely reduced to being in the building from 8:45 to 2:45, denying these athletes the opportunities to be leaders in their respective schools and role models for their teammates in sports and other activities.

A 10-month regimen of soccer five days a week plus games for middle and high school age kids may work for a very, very few.  But there’s little compelling evidence it is driving significant improvement in the men’s game and even less that U.S. Soccer’s leadership on the women’s side has solutions to the steadily diminishing ability of the youth national teams to compete among the best at the international level.  (Hint: it’s not going to be fixed if you’re starting with 14 year-olds.)

Fortunately for female players, a viable, established alternative exists since most of the clubs that have signed on for the D.A. have retained their membership in the Elite Clubs National League, the ECNL. 

            Kids need to have time that allows them opportunities for other sports, interests, activities and friendships that bring texture and equilibrium to their lives. The ECNL has implemented a model that generally allows for such balance (including a coexistence with most high school soccer programs and significant stretches of necessary down time for the athletes) that the D.A. model decidedly does not.        

Nothing we have seen suggests that the Girls Developmental Academy will be a significant upgrade over the ECNL, merely that it will be just more of the same with the same coaches.  In addition, we are concerned that increased top-down control by U.S. Soccer will actually stifle the more creative and effective practices of the clubs involved.   

One also wonders how this will impact the college selection process.  The ECNL’s series of showcase events is a wonderfully efficient way to see and be seen for college coaches and prospective student athletes respectively.  That does not seem to be part of the D.A., program.

Parents need to take greater ownership in this.  They may need to disabuse some folks of the notion that customers serve the club – or the Federation - while also reasserting their roles as educated consumers.  That certainly includes the option to “just say no” to an ill-conceived idea that both increases the risk of injury that clubs cannot currently control and would limit access to so many activities that provide young people with so many opportunities for personal growth.

(For the best treatment of the issue of sports injuries in female high school and college athletes, get ahold of a copy of Warrior Girls by Michael Sokolove.)

See also:

http://highschoolsports.nj.com/news/article/-5531776044755565252/girls-soccer-changes-coming-as-sky-bluepda-named-founding-member-of-us-soccer-girls-development-academy/.

http://www.soccerwire.com/news/clubs/ecnl/its-bullst-let-the-girls-play-real-colorado-coach-rips-ussfs-ecnl-scheduling-snub/

__________________
"Winning is important. The lessons learned by winning and losing in sports last a lifetime. However, the goal of every youth coach should be to help young soccer players understand and enjoy the process of participation and to teach the skill necessary to succeed. When the pressure to win begins too early, the passion and the love for the game can be lost." - Jay Martin, editor, NSCAA Soccer Journal
paulee

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 7,853
Reply with quote  #2 
Here's the scene in the Dallas area:
You have 3 clubs with DA programs.  One has opted out of DA for ECNL.  Some clubs were going to field both DA and ECNL teams.  A number of players told their coaches that they wanted to play high school, so they were going to play ECNL.  That gave the very real possibility that you were going to have ECNL teams that were stronger than DA teams.  Not something US Soccer foresaw, or even wanted.
While college coaches are kind of on the fence on this, they obviously want their incoming players playing at the highest level they can so that they are ready when they reach college.
However, I recently saw something that gave me pause.  You have Mallory Pugh making her debut for the full national team at the age of 17.  Brianna Pinto, a 16 year old, was recently invited to the full national team camp.
These girls are coming through the ECNL system, and are considered good enough to be in consideration for the full national side.  Two ways to look at this:
Either ECNL is doing a good enough job to produce players like this, or we REALLY need the DA because the current system is so poor at producing players that we need to bring teenagers into the team.

Thoughts?

__________________
"When you start, you may have to move tons of dirt to find a gold nugget .... but when you start mining for gold, you overlook the dirt."
-Andrew Carnegie
paulee

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 7,853
Reply with quote  #3 
"Parents need to take greater ownership in this.  They may need to disabuse some folks of the notion that customers serve the club – or the Federation - while also reasserting their roles as educated consumers.  That certainly includes the option to “just say no” to an ill-conceived idea that both increases the risk of injury that clubs cannot currently control and would limit access to so many activities that provide young people with so many opportunities for personal growth."


This is something that I saw back when the DA for the boys was established.  I listened in on conference calls among club DOC's, and sat in on meetings with club coaches.  The overwhelming consensus was that the DA was a great thing.  For the clubs.  All of the talk was about the amount of control they would have over their players.
Listening to DOC's this time around, and they're all talking about how good the DA is going to be for the clubs, and how much prestige it brings to be selected as a DA club, and how it will attract all the best players.
What's notably absent from these discussions is what is best for the kids themselves.

__________________
"When you start, you may have to move tons of dirt to find a gold nugget .... but when you start mining for gold, you overlook the dirt."
-Andrew Carnegie
benji

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 2,914
Reply with quote  #4 
As I am in a club associated with the DA and am an assistant coach for a DA team, I will stay silent on the matter for now. But I certainly have some opinions about how I'm seeing things run.
__________________
"My Goal is to Deny Yours"
JB Goalkeeping : Comprehensive Information for Goalkeepers and Goalkeeper Coaches
CoachB

Registered:
Posts: 231
Reply with quote  #5 
It was a matter of time before this happened.

Does anyone know what the requirements Coaching wise to get involved with the DA vs ECNL.

I thought it was a B license for 16/18s for the DA but was unsure about the lower ages and the ECNL

__________________
If there's no soccer in heaven I'm not going
benji

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 2,914
Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachB
Does anyone know what the requirements Coaching wise to get involved with the DA vs ECNL. I thought it was a B license for 16/18s for the DA but was unsure about the lower ages and the ECNL


I can't speak to ECNL, but DA coaches must have a B license for any of the age groups. You can also be an "apprentice" coach for a DA team if you have applied for or are currently working on your B.

__________________
"My Goal is to Deny Yours"
JB Goalkeeping : Comprehensive Information for Goalkeepers and Goalkeeper Coaches
paulee

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 7,853
Reply with quote  #7 
ECNl doesn't have any licensing requirements that I am aware of.
In certain areas of the country, ECNL will hang on, notably where the DA doesn't have a club.  But as time goes on, it will wither and die.  AFB can speak more accurately to this, but he did advise years ago that US Soccer had something in the works when ECNL was launched.
In the meantime, what you are seeing right now is a power struggle between the two leagues as DA seeks to undercut ECNL at every avenue.

One thing I am curious about, does DA allow girls to participate in other sports that are not soccer, or are they following the boys model, and not allowing any outside interests once they reach high school?

__________________
"When you start, you may have to move tons of dirt to find a gold nugget .... but when you start mining for gold, you overlook the dirt."
-Andrew Carnegie
Oldtimer

Registered:
Posts: 3,243
Reply with quote  #8 
At the NSCAA Convention in L.A., a session on the girls D.A. included an assurance from April Heinrichs that girls could opt out of the program during their HS seasons.

I'm from Missouri (originally).

Nothing was said about other sports, but the 5-6X a week for 10 months schedule isn't going to leave much time for anything else.  Not a school extra-curricular, not another sport.




As to the "B" license, chances are that any of these clubs will have one who can be named as the coach of all the D.A. team, boys and girls, whether on the field or not for training sessions and games.

__________________
"Winning is important. The lessons learned by winning and losing in sports last a lifetime. However, the goal of every youth coach should be to help young soccer players understand and enjoy the process of participation and to teach the skill necessary to succeed. When the pressure to win begins too early, the passion and the love for the game can be lost." - Jay Martin, editor, NSCAA Soccer Journal
benji

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 2,914
Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldtimer

As to the "B" license, chances are that any of these clubs will have one who can be named as the coach of all the D.A. team, boys and girls, whether on the field or not for training sessions and games.


I didn't look up the actual DA requirements, but my impression from our DOC was that *all* DA coaches had to have at least their B or be an "apprentice" who was currently working towards it. Although I must say one of my criticisms is that the Federation plays fast and loose with their own regulations. [rolleyes]

__________________
"My Goal is to Deny Yours"
JB Goalkeeping : Comprehensive Information for Goalkeepers and Goalkeeper Coaches
paulee

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 7,853
Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by benji


I didn't look up the actual DA requirements, but my impression from our DOC was that *all* DA coaches had to have at least their B or be an "apprentice" who was currently working towards it. Although I must say one of my criticisms is that the Federation plays fast and loose with their own regulations. [rolleyes]


Yes, this is the requirement that I was told.
Just out of curiosity, are they making noises about forming a DA reserve league where you're at?

__________________
"When you start, you may have to move tons of dirt to find a gold nugget .... but when you start mining for gold, you overlook the dirt."
-Andrew Carnegie
benji

Avatar / Picture

Registered:
Posts: 2,914
Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulee

Just out of curiosity, are they making noises about forming a DA reserve league where you're at?

Not that I've heard about.

__________________
"My Goal is to Deny Yours"
JB Goalkeeping : Comprehensive Information for Goalkeepers and Goalkeeper Coaches
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

COPYRIGHT @ 2004 - 2016 AND-AGAIN, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED