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benji

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Registered: 03/01/04
Posts: 2,844
Reply with quote  #1 
So I'm having a discussion with a serious soccer parent, whose kid played top-level competitively for years (just graduated high school).  I mention that in just about every coaches meeting regarding tryouts, the coaches are simply trying to group the kids by ability, and what's seen as "politics"--decisions made for other than soccer reasons--happens very rarely. She counters: oh, no, it happens all the time!

So I throw her a not-so-hypothetical scenario:  Player P was on a club's A team (there is a B team as well), but leaves for a year to play for another club.  At tryouts the next year, P is back. Soccer-wise, she clearly still belongs on the A team. Do you: 1) Select P for the A team again because that's where she belongs, over promoting B team players, or 2) Promote B team players out of club loyalty, demoting P to the B team or cutting her altogether?

Before I list soccer mom's and my answer, discuss.  Which of these moves is more "political"? Which option would you take?  Have you seen one of these choices made and disagreed with it?

And what else do you see that you feel is "political" in nature at tryouts?

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EricMcGrath

Registered: 02/23/04
Posts: 7,792
Reply with quote  #2 
I would pick the best squad for the A team. Where the players were before the day of the tryout is of no consequence. The only decisive factor is their personality - are they coachable and do they get on well with other players?
Goal150

Registered: 08/14/09
Posts: 2,550
Reply with quote  #3 
Should we consider team chemistry as a factor for selecting the "best squad" at the youth level? 

What about considering the parents? Seems unfair to the kid but who wants a known PITA on their sideline either behavioral issues or a constant thorn when it comes to their kid's playing time, position, training. I'm not talking run of the mill annoyance, above and beyond a-holery. Or maybe even ones that we know are not committed.
DiegoGambeta

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 68
Reply with quote  #4 
In my experience "pedigree" is king to an amazing extent up until u-13 or so.  You can arrive fresh off the turnip truck with amazing skills and go to two nights of tryouts (playing really well) and still get offered the B or C team.  During the tryouts the kids are often "pooled" already into the groups that are A, B and C and the coaches might rotate a few among the groups but for the most part the team is set and it's really just about going through the motions.

At u-13 and then u-15 you have two big player mass extinction events (middle school and high school) so the player pool gets much smaller.  At this age pedigree is no longer as important because you have seen these players as a coach playing for years by this point and their performance levels and skill sets are pretty well known.  Of course this is also the age where physical development changes are rapid and uneven so an early star ends up running into a rough patch and late bloomer can suddenly turn into a game changer. 
mbiyenm

Registered: 03/21/04
Posts: 3,338
Reply with quote  #5 
If behavior (personality) of players/parents is political then yes I am political.  

I try to make my job as easy and enjoyable as possible so I will pick those players who are the most skillful, coachable and whose personality I can get along.  Personality includes parents'.   "Team chemistry" is always a factor.  I don't care where the player was before.

The agreement is for year to year by rules.   I expect each player to find their best fit team at the try outs and I will try to select the best players possible.

My choice is 1).  However, I have seen 2) made when a parent sits on one of the city boards that controls the use of fields.

Coaches should consider their self-interest.  Otherwise it's suicide or torture.

benji

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Registered: 03/01/04
Posts: 2,844
Reply with quote  #6 
Okay, another not-so-hypothetical conundrum:

You have one spot remaining on the A team.  Your choices to pull up from the B team are:  1) Player X, who was clearly the best player on the B team last season but got injured over the winter and was unable to participate in tryouts (but is expected to be able to play by season's start); or 2) Player Y, who guest-played with the A team recently and participated in tryouts, but is not quite at the level of player X.

Who do you choose?  Is either choice "political" in your view?

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"My Goal is to Deny Yours"
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Goal150

Registered: 08/14/09
Posts: 2,550
Reply with quote  #7 
I'd choose player X and, no it doesn't seem political but parents WILL read into the situation if the difference between players X and Y are debatable.

Y parents and their cronies will say it's because X was already in the club and you favor those over outsiders. Conversely, if A is selected, Xs people will say that despite their loyalty that they got screwed by something they had no control over (injury). 

I've got a similar situation. Player S injured her ACL in game 2 and should be back for next season. I need to cut two players and she's not one of them. People will certainly say that I was playing favorites since she's been out and won't make it to tryouts but she was playing well and showing a lot of potential and commitment. Players T and U have shown less commitment and marginal improvement over two years. 
Adam32m

Registered: 07/21/10
Posts: 1,273
Reply with quote  #8 
I think political means who the parents of the player are. Choosing players in any of these situations are not political because they are all based on the players' abilities. 
MrSoccer

Registered: 01/25/04
Posts: 8,118
Reply with quote  #9 

If I took a player for my team I would let him know right away. He would have to accept right away. Or I will pick up someone else within the next two days and maybe that original player will have no room to get on the team.

 

Then next year if he trys to come out for the team again. I would have to really like him as a player to want him again. If I did he would have to accept right away. 


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messifan10

Registered: 06/21/10
Posts: 1,764
Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by benji
So I'm having a discussion with a serious soccer parent, whose kid played top-level competitively for years (just graduated high school).  I mention that in just about every coaches meeting regarding tryouts, the coaches are simply trying to group the kids by ability, and what's seen as "politics"--decisions made for other than soccer reasons--happens very rarely. She counters: oh, no, it happens all the time!

So I throw her a not-so-hypothetical scenario:  Player P was on a club's A team (there is a B team as well), but leaves for a year to play for another club.  At tryouts the next year, P is back. Soccer-wise, she clearly still belongs on the A team. Do you: 1) Select P for the A team again because that's where she belongs, over promoting B team players, or 2) Promote B team players out of club loyalty, demoting P to the B team or cutting her altogether?

Before I list soccer mom's and my answer, discuss.  Which of these moves is more "political"? Which option would you take?  Have you seen one of these choices made and disagreed with it?

And what else do you see that you feel is "political" in nature at tryouts?

This is interesting topic as I'm going through tryouts with my club currently.

I would say it depends on how the returning player left the club in the first place. If the player and his parents left my club on bad terms and now want to return, I wont take them back, A or B team. If they left on good terms, I will take them back.

However, if the player from the B team is equal or better than the returning player, then I would put the B team player on the A team. I don't see it as political decision, but more as rewarding the B team player for his development and loyalty.
messifan10

Registered: 06/21/10
Posts: 1,764
Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by benji
Okay, another not-so-hypothetical conundrum:

You have one spot remaining on the A team.  Your choices to pull up from the B team are:  1) Player X, who was clearly the best player on the B team last season but got injured over the winter and was unable to participate in tryouts (but is expected to be able to play by season's start); or 2) Player Y, who guest-played with the A team recently and participated in tryouts, but is not quite at the level of player X.

Who do you choose?  Is either choice "political" in your view?

I would take player X. I don't think either choice is political.

IMO, a choice is political when a coach selects a player or keeps a player on the team because of non-soccer reasons. 

BTW, can you reveal what the soccer mom said?
paulee

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Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 7,434
Reply with quote  #12 
Once upon a time, a young man left his village to seek his fortune in the big city.  When he arrived at the gates, he asked the guard what kind of people lived in the great city. 
The guard thought for a while, then asked him what kind of people lived in his home village. 
Tears sprung to the young mans eyes, and he said "Oh, they there were the kindest, most thoughtful people you could hope to meet."
The guard told him, "go on in son, you'll find people here to be much the same."

15 minutes later, the young man got mugged.  JK.

Point is, people tend to find what they are looking for.

Some coaches may indeed choose their teams for non-soccer reasons. 
Some may not.

People will see what they want to see.


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"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

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Registered: 03/01/04
Posts: 2,844
Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by messifan10
BTW, can you reveal what the soccer mom said?


Soccer mom, Ms. "Oh, it's so political, I hate it", would have chosen option 2) in the first scenario, promoting players who were "loyal" over the returning player who was clearly an A-teamer. IMO, she chose the more political choice, essentially punishing a player for trying something else, in spite of her professed distaste for "politics".  I didn't call her a hypocrite to her face, but to me that's what it smacks of.  I chose option 2 and selected the player based on her merits as a player.

In the second scenario, I chose option 1) choosing a clearly deserving player even though she is currently injured.  Apparently this then caused the implosion of the B team when a number of players (including the two who had guest played with me the week prior) quit upon hearing this.  And I'm sure they will blame some "political" reason for my choice, as opposed to the fact that I had a whole previous season's worth of evidence I could use in addition to 90 minutes of tryout time.

While some decisions definitely are true politics, I am convinced that in most cases, it's based on the merits of the players.  And when a decision doesn't go the way they think it should, people blame "politics" and come up with some conspiratorial reason for it.  Sigh.

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"My Goal is to Deny Yours"
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benji

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Registered: 03/01/04
Posts: 2,844
Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by messifan10

However, if the player from the B team is equal or better than the returning player, then I would put the B team player on the A team. I don't see it as political decision, but more as rewarding the B team player for his development and loyalty.


If the B team player is now better, it's not political at all, loyalty or no--it's based on the play on the field.

That said, I do believe that behavior factors in.  In fact, the psychological aspect of the player is one of the four pillars--maybe, in the long run, the most important.  Some folks call decisions based on player behavior "political", but if a player is a pain in the ass vs has a great attitude, or destroys team chemistry vs helps or flakes on half the practice vs is committed, it is still a "soccer-based" decision in my book.

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"My Goal is to Deny Yours"
JB Goalkeeping : Comprehensive Information for Goalkeepers and Goalkeeper Coaches
messifan10

Registered: 06/21/10
Posts: 1,764
Reply with quote  #15 
Here is one interesting story from today (a bit long, sorry):

I coach a B team U11 girls. At the tryouts on Firday, me and the A team coach evaluated the players (don't ask me why it was just the two of us - I personally think there should've been a third coach observing and evaluating). The A team coach decided to promote 4 of my players to the A team. I only gave that coach information about all my players from the B team in regards to their strengths, weaknesses, commitment and overall progress through this past year. I didn't tell the other coach who to take, who to drop, etc.

Before we post the results from the tryouts, I get a call this morning from a soccer mom, whose daughter is not getting promoted to the A team (but the mom doesn't know that yet). The mom starts asking me questions who was selected to the A team, is her daughter selected for the A team. She wants to know all that because she is sick of all the "politics" and if her daughter is not on the A team, she would move to another club. I tell her that all decisions are made for soccer reasons and there are no politics on the coaches' part. I also tell her that her kid was selected to stay on the B team. The mom flips out, calls it unfair and political. According to her, her daughter has worked extremely hard all year, is one of the best players on the B team and she is better than at least 2 girls from the A team. But we are too political to have the guts to drop anyone from the A team. She was convinced that one other B team player made it to the A team, because her mother is a board member. Interestingly, that other player didn't make the A team a year ago, despite deserving so (the A team coach didn't like her) and despite her mother being on the board. Now she did make A team, indeed, but I do not tell any of that to this soccer mom.

Instead, my response to this mom is to question the basis of her opinion. How many games have you seen your daughter play? Answer: most of them (I've seen her only at half of the games). How many practices have you see of your daughter? Answer: none, but she asked if we promote only players whose parents attend practices. I said no and that doesn't make a difference in our decisions because most parents in our club do not watch their kids' practices. Yet, strangely they know who has worked hard.....hmmmm. I ask, how many games or practices have you seen of the A team to know who should be on that team and who shouldn't? Answer: I've talked to other parents from that team and they've told me, plus I've heard some of their girls say that they hope to make the A team again. So, your opinion is based on heresy and second-hand parents' opinion? What is your or these parents' expertise in identifying talent? Answer: none, but I just know that my daughter should be on the A team. Anyway, on and on, this goes back and forth, round and round in circles. Bottom line: I tell this mom that her daughter has potential (she is tall, fast, has good shooting ability), but she hasn't worked hard, she is lazy, she is not that competitive and doesn't usually listen to my instructions during games on how to play better. Still, she has scored a decent amount of goals for my team, but that is because she plays as a forward (in 9v9) 90% of the time, plays almost the whole game and our division level is very low. She can get away with it at our level, but not on the level where the A team plays. I've shared this info with the A team coach during tryouts, as I've shared info about all other players. The initial decision is ultimately with the A team coach, while I take the remaining players on the B team.

Needless to say, the mom tells me that she has already talked with the DOC and told him the same: if her daughter is on the B team, they are leaving the club for another club. 20 minutes after my phone conversation, I see the A team coach on the field where I have a game with another team of mine. I start to tell her about my phone conversation with this mom, just as FYI. To my huge shock, the A team coach tells me that the decision has already been made (by the DOC, who in turn told the A team coach, but not me) for that player to be moved to the A team! Thanks for telling me and giving me the "heads up". And after all the complaining about politics, the upset soccer mom did indeed use her own political way to make sure her daughter is on the A team after all. 

The moral of the story is that it's not the coaches who make it political, it is the parents. This mom trashed other parents and their kids, threw another set of parents under the bus and threatened to leave if her daughter wasn't placed on the second, in order to get what she wanted.

This kind of shit doesn't surprise me, but even after 12 years of coaching, it still makes me sick of youth soccer. I'm even more upset of the fact that my DOC made the decision, didn't consult with me and didn't even tell me about it, but told the A team coach!
Oldtimer

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 2,996
Reply with quote  #16 

Quote:
Originally Posted by messifan10
I'm even more upset of the fact that my DOC made the decision, didn't consult with me and didn't even tell me about it, but told the A team coach!

"above and beyond a-holery" is not confined to parents.  "Ignoranus" - someone who's not only clueless but an a-h as well.

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"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

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Registered: 03/01/04
Posts: 2,844
Reply with quote  #17 
messifan, exactly!  The very parents who scream "Politics!" are the first ones to try to game the system like that. The mom in my original example is very nice and I don't think would ever try to do something like your parent did, but I still don't know if she realizes her own hypocrisy.

And while we're on the tryout rant (BTW, if you know we will be calling you, can you please f'ing answer your phone or at least return the message promptly?! ) I have heard several times from parents this time around that their kid "needs to be challenged", i.e. needs to be on a better team to improve.  Really?  I think that is a red herring.

Can some kids get better faster if pushed by the environment?  Sure.  But are you positive it's your kid?  I mean, he just had a whole year and two days of tryouts to prove he's the best one the team, and he didn't.  If he can't dominate here, what makes you think he'll get better when play moves twice as fast at the next level?  When making decisions on who moves up, I also take into account who I don't think is ready, based on physchological and tactical reasons the parents can't or don't want to see.

I wonder how many of these parents make such a jump and then have it backfire: instead of getting better, the kid backslides because he's sitting on the bench most of the time, developing bad habits because he's playing tentatively, and disappears at the next level?  I doubt the parents even see this happening, because they're just happy to be on a higher team.

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

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Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 7,434
Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by benji


I wonder how many of these parents make such a jump and then have it backfire: instead of getting better, the kid backslides because he's sitting on the bench most of the time, developing bad habits because he's playing tentatively, and disappears at the next level?  I doubt the parents even see this happening, because they're just happy to be on a higher team.

Hey, they get to put the bumper sticker on their car that loudly proclaims,
"MY KID PLAYS FOR SUPERCLUB XYZ!!!!!
And barely sees the field"

__________________
"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
Adam32m

Registered: 07/21/10
Posts: 1,273
Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by messifan10

She wants to know all that because she is sick of all the "politics" and if her daughter is not on the A team, she would move to another club.



Right at that point I would call her out.
mbiyenm

Registered: 03/21/04
Posts: 3,338
Reply with quote  #20 
Quote:
Originally Posted by messifan10
Here is one interesting story from today (a bit long, sorry):
... I'm even more upset of the fact that my DOC made the decision, didn't consult with me and didn't even tell me about it, but told the A team coach!

Maybe the DOC's decision was financial?  Going one way ensures more revenue.  He's dealing with paying customers.  There is the ideal world and reality.

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