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  • Webinar Recap: The State of Youth Soccer (Parents!)

Webinar Recap: The State of Youth Soccer (Parents!)

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the Live Webinar earlier this week! If you were unable to attend, here it is!

Webinar Summary:

Skye lead the webinar and discussion on the State of Youth Soccer (Parents!) along with a Q&A. Some of the discussion topics included:

1. Perspective on the important role of the soccer parent in youth soccer today
2. Key take aways from our 2023 Soccer Parent Survey results
3. Considerations for sideline behavior
4. Level headed parents, unite! How and why?

The State of Youth Soccer (Parents!)

TRANSCRIPT:

Skye:

Welcome, people. We'll go ahead and get started in just a minute when it hits 12:00. Go ahead and get a couple things here. Thanks, everyone, for joining in. Appreciate it. We'll go ahead and get started, like I said, in just a couple minutes. We've had a lot of people register for this webinar. I'm really excited about it. Excited to give you the chance to... I don't know. Amy, it looks like you logged in under me, so you're showing up as the... Yeah, so you need to log in under your own account. Okay. Sorry. That was funny. That happens all the time internally within our company, because we just have one Zoom account.

So people log in under me. A lot of times we join meetings and we have four of me all on the same Zoom meeting internally, but we'll go ahead and get started in just about 30 seconds here. Just as a heads-up, if you have any questions, this is absolutely going to be a great opportunity for us to do some Q&A. If you have some questions that you're thinking about, I've gotten a handful of them from people ahead of time, which is wonderful. We'll address those for sure, but go ahead and put your questions into the Q&A versus the chat. I'm going to also go ahead and make sure that I open the chat for everyone, because I know that sometimes the setting on that is different, the settings. Okay, good. So, now everyone should be able to chat with everyone.

Absolutely, we want the chat to be something that you all can utilize yourselves just to keep conversations going. Those interactions are really important, but in addition to that, if you have questions, those should go into the Q&A box and we'll be monitoring. Anthony DiCicco will be helping me monitor the Q&A. Okay. Well, it's 12:01, so we'll go ahead and get started. To begin with, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to be able to be here. We've tried these webinars in the evening, which you would think would be better for parents, but absolutely during the day is better. We know that in the evening, you're running around, going in different directions and get consumed with the evening activities with the families. So, thank you for joining us during the day.

We're looking forward to this. I'm looking forward to this. What I'm hoping to do in this hour is just share some of my personal insights and observations that I've had through my interactions with leaders in the game, especially some interactions that I've had in the last couple of months. The beginning of the year is always a busy time for soccer leadership. We have our United Soccer Coaches Convention, which is the largest gathering of soccer coaches globally. That happens in January and early January, and then shortly thereafter, that is the US Soccer AGM. So, both of those events I attended and just really led me to a lot of thinking and thoughts as far as just where we are and the topic of this webinar here, the concept of the state of soccer in America.

I want to highlight our team and start by just telling a little bit about our story. As I mentioned maybe before you were here, if you have questions, please put them in the Q&A and I will absolutely be addressing those. Anthony DiCicco is going to help me manage the Q&A. If you have interactions between one another, then absolutely put it into the chat. That's the best way for you to communicate. We are recording this. The recording will be available shortly thereafter as well as the transcript. So, just a little bit about my story for those of you who are not familiar with SoccerParenting and this is your first time on one of our webinars, we do do these webinars, not usually a conversation just with me doing Q&A and chatting.

Usually, it's me interviewing an expert in the field, but we do do these webinars every month, sometimes twice a month. They're really a combination or a way for me and they've been a way for me over the years as I've been curious about my children's experience in the game. So, I founded SoccerParenting 12 years ago now when my daughter was coming up in the game. I'm a former player. I played collegiately. I was a Youth All-American. I was an All-American in college. I played briefly professionally in Italy for Tavagnacco Femminile. So, I have a big playing background and I've always been a coach as well. Even since high school, I was a goalkeeper coach for local kids and coaching has always been really important to me. I coached collegiately.

I coached with 14 national team and I coach for many, many years in the youth game. So, as my kids were coming up in the game, I thought that I would be a very good soccer parent, and what I realized quickly is that it was hard. I was struggling and I wasn't necessarily showing up for my daughter poorly. I wasn't like a crazy soccer parent by any means, but I knew that I was feeling a lot of stress that surprised me. I knew that if I was feeling that, that other parents were feeling it as well. So, quite frankly, that's how SoccerParenting evolved out of my curiosity about stresses or things that I was feeling or thoughts that I had and reflections I had about the game.

That grew into me interviewing people, bringing these interviews to the public, and what's evolved is a great platform and a wonderful movement. So, thank you for being a part of that movement. I want to highlight and share my screen. Mostly this will be me talking. I do have some slides I want to get through. We're going to talk a little bit about just SoccerParenting in general, the movement, what's happening. We'll then talk about some problems that we're trying to solve. I'm sure some of you will relate to those problems. I'd be really curious about other problems that you think we need to try to be solving. We're going to go over the survey results briefly. We do an annual SoccerParenting survey. There's some key results that I want to show you and go over with you.

As well, we're going to be talking about, as I said from the beginning, where I think youth soccer is right now based on the experiences and the interactions I've had in the last few months especially. There's some real exciting work that's happening in the space from US soccer and from others that are genuinely ready to collaborate more than ever has happened in the youth game. So, I want to make sure that as parents and as coaches and leaders in the game, you're really aware of all of that. Throughout all of that, we'll be answering some questions. So, Alan, you're asking if you can share this recording with your families. Absolutely. We will make this recording available on soccerparenting.com.

Usually, our recordings are only available on our education platform, which is soccerparentresourcecenter.com. But ahead of this webinar, we decided that this one would be on soccerparenting.com. So, absolutely, you can share it from our blog later this week when it's there. Okay. So, what we believe? As I'm doing this, I want to demonstrate to you just some of the resources that are available to you. So, this is soccerparenting.com, our public facing blog, and I just wanted to highlight our belief statements. These belief statements are what drive everything we do. I hope if you're a parent that's listening, that they'll motivate you and you'll start to understand the real value you have within the youth soccer ecosystem.

If you're a club leader that's listening to this webinar, I hope that they motivate you. These statements motivate you to just appreciate the role of a parent and to actively work to engage parents within your club. So, we do believe that a strong and supportive community of levelheaded and like-minded parenting coaches will inspire players. We know that that's the case, and this is what our movement is. It's a movement of levelheaded parents and like-minded coaches and leaders coming together, collaborating. Speaking of collaboration, we do believe that a more collaborative environment between coach, parent, club, and player is in the best interest of player development. This is something that rang so true for me when my daughter who was a high performance player was coming up in the game.

That collaboration between all of us was absolutely in the best interest of her development. As a parent, I have a unique lens to my child. As a coach, the coaches had a unique perspective. If we could all come together and collaborate to support our children, then certainly that's in their best interest. We also believe and this is something I really want to highlight because what I believe as one of the largest problems that we face is quite frankly not the case for any of you listening, but is the apathy of parents. We're busy. We have so many things going on. This is something new to think about parent education and the youth sports space. So, we absolutely believe that when parents seek information about how to best support their child, that great things will happen.

So for the parents listening, I applaud you, because it's exactly what you're doing right now and this will make a difference in your child and also just within the soccer community that you exist within in. Finally, we do believe that youth soccer parents will be difference makers when it comes to improving the game. For so long, youth soccer parents have really not had any agency in this space. We absolutely believe that when we start to give parents some agency, when they have a voice, that great things will happen, that the game will be improved, that we'll see an elevation of leadership. Quite frankly, I'll get into this. We're seeing this now. That's really exciting.

So when I'm talking about parent apathy and I'm talking about education, basically what happened is that in the evolvement of all of these interviews that I started doing, we evolved into what now is called the Soccer Parent Resource Center and this is our education platform for youth soccer parents. It's a membership site. We have over 30,000 members. Many of them are coming from clubs. I know some of those club leaders are listening today. Thank you for your support and parents for buying access to this individually as well. So, I just wanted to highlight and show you briefly just what's available because this is a very rich resource. I'll go ahead and answer one of the questions that came from a parent early as I show you this.

One of the questions that came from a parent was from Michelle. She said, "We are in tryout mode right now." So when we're talking about potentially switching teams or leagues, this would be a time to talk about what we should be looking for, making that priority checklist, whatever you might suggest. So, we have a lot of great resources for parents around tryouts. I know for me, it was the most stressful time when Callie was little. Actually, the very first article I wrote, if you go back all the way to the beginning of the blog, was about the stress that I was feeling as a parent during tryouts. So, I get it as rational or irrational that is, we feel it. So, there's a lot of great tryout information if you go to soccerparenting.com/tryouts.

If you're not a member, you can join a five drip email campaign, which will give you a lot of great content around tryouts. We call it our tryout series. That's soccerparenting.com/tryouts. But if you go to the platform here and you just simply search by tryouts, you'll have a lot of great information. Here's some great question. What to Ask and How to Best Support Your Child When They Select a Soccer Club, written by a friend of ours, Damien Corrieri, last year; Four Questions to Ask Your Child's Soccer Coach; Navigating The Youth Soccer Tryouts with sports psychologists, Dan Abrahams and Jay Howell. So, we have lots of good resources for you here and a lot of thought for parents as well around that.

So just wanted to quickly show you the platform really just so that you can have an understanding about the resources that are available. As I'm introducing the state of youth soccer, parent education is starting to take more and more of a front row seat in what clubs are seeking. So, we're really excited to be able to provide parents with such a great resource as a soccer parent resource center. I do said this before, but we feel like we're a synthesizer of this information. I feel like I'm an editor of this content that's coming in from all these different incredible leaders. There has never been anyone that I've reached out to and asked for an interview, whether it's a sports psychologist or a leader at one of our large organizations that has said no.

People are genuinely interested in reaching and engaging with parents, and really a big part of our mission is simply put to make youth soccer better. So, again, thank you for being here. Some key problems that we're trying to solve and what I want to address in the state of youth soccer thoughts is I have a little list here. I'm just going to read through them and welcome your thoughts. Maybe put them into the chat here if you have any other thoughts as well. Anthony DiCicco was in the chat room and he's monitoring that.

So if anything else comes to mind as far as problems, of course, there's lots of problems and I don't mean to be negative with that statement, but these are things that we're trying to solve. Parents are not clear on how to help their child feel inspired. This was what I was struggling with. I knew that I just wasn't quite showing up the way my daughter needed me to. I was trying and thought I was doing what was right, but she wasn't as inspired as she could be. I knew that some of that was because of my interactions with her. On the platform, we have the CREATE framework to help parents through that. Parents are not clear on what a good learning environment looks like.

This is another question that came in today from John. He said, "As a club administrator and a club coach, I want to see how you would deal with the unrealistic parents who turn into club hoppers and move from club to club with their kids and spread this negativity to other families. Ultimately, unfortunately, it turns into kids quitting the game." So part of the reason why parents do this club hopping, it's because they're not clear on what a good learning environment looks like. So, one of the problems that we're trying to address is that I'll dive into that question later because it's very complex. A lot of these answers are very complex because some parents are crazy soccer parents, some are extremely rational and the environment's not good enough.

So there's a lot of reasons for this club hopping, and we'll dive into that question a little bit more. One of the other problems that we're trying to address is parents are not clear on pathways and development. This is a structural issue that we have with youth soccer in America right now. There is not clarity on pathways. When I show you some of the work that US Soccer is doing shortly, we'll be excited to show you that we're trying to get some clarification around that with some collaborative efforts on the part of US Club, US Youth, AYSO, USSSA, Girls Academy are all coming together as far as that's concerned. Coaches who don't see the role as establishing community as an issue that we're trying to address.

We've established a great course for coaches. parentengagementforcoaches.com is an awesome course for coaches who are seeking to establish community. There's a lack of a sense of community in general. There's some really great research around sense of community theory. If you go on to the education platform, soccerparentresourcecenter.com, and you look at the interview I did last year, I think in December with Dr. Eric Legg who does a lot of really great research on sense of community theory, you can learn more about that. We're also trying to address some issues with this obsession that we have, societal in general, cultural in general, but this obsession that we have with the results and winning.

We're working hard to shift the mindset to absolutely wanting our kids to have a winning mindset, to show up to every game to want to win, but the adults can't care so much about the results. The adults in the moment can't care so much about what's happening in terms of the results. So, we have some sincere issues to address around that. Then big and important to us this year, also important to everyone, we're seeing this wonderful movement towards this, is referee abuse preventions. So, something else that we're really working a lot on. Okay, I want to shift a little bit here and show you some of our survey results. I see a lot of questions coming in, so we'll certainly get to those shortly.

But I do want to shift for just a second and share my screen and go over some of these survey results, because I do think that they bring forth just an interesting perspective on where things are and actually, also for me, just our great demonstration of the work that we're doing and the impact that we're having. Okay. So, the soccer parent survey can be found at soccerparenting.com in our blog. You can actually download all of the survey results. I'll show you that real quick. So, if you simply go to soccerparenting.com and you go to our blog, first up right now on the blog is the Annual Parent Survey and you can download the reports. This is the fifth year we've been doing the survey. We're asking the same questions every year.

So we're really able to gauge a sense of when things are getting better, when we're struggling, when things aren't getting better in certain areas. So, just wanted to show you how easy that is for you to download that. You can also search in the blog survey and you can see all of the previous results, which is cool. So, moving on to a couple of the key responses I wanted to highlight. We asked parents, "Is your club meeting your needs as a soccer parent?" This actually has been trending up a little bit each year. During COVID, it actually was at its highest and then it went back to a norm and it's slowly been trending up. But as far as this is concerned, this is a C. Clubs are getting a C on a scale of 0 to 10 if they're meeting your needs.

So this is a call to action for clubs to continue to engage parents. As I mentioned, we're seeing some real positive trends there. On a scale of 0 to 10, how satisfied are you with the soccer club when it feels to you feeling a sense of community? Unfortunately, this number is actually trending down and this is one of our lowest survey responses. This is a call to action for us. This is a call to action for coaches.

This is actually also absolutely a call to action for the parents, because establishing a sense of community and connection and getting to know the names of all the parents on the team, doing activities with them, forging the sense of community, which is hard in today's day and age where teams are changing every season due to tryouts and there's so much movement between teams, but it needs to be something that we're all very intentional about. So, in terms of coach education, this is one of the highlights for me of the survey. We ask parents, "If your child's coach had one opportunity for coach education, would you rather that education to be around the game of soccer or would you rather that education to be around interpersonal skills?"

As you can see here, 60% of parents would rather their coach receive information and education around interpersonal skills, relationship building, connection, sense of community, establishing trust, all of those types of things. This is important for us to see. This is important for leaders in the game that are doing a lot of coach education to understand, and this is obviously a call to action for coaches to think about that. Again, our parentengagementforcoaches.com, our course that we created for youth soccer coaches, it's a 60-minute course. It is specifically related to these interpersonal skills, relationship building, connection, and community.

So, if there's coaches that are curious and want to learn more, we encourage you to check that out. So, how satisfied are you with yourself? So you're giving yourself a high C, a low B. I don't know about you, but when I show up for my kid as a parent, I'm striving for a high B or an A. So, we have room to grow in terms of how satisfied we are with ourselves, our responses, the learning that's happening, our awareness, our decisions that we're making, the way we're showing up for our children. So, parents, you're giving yourselves a high C, a low B, there's thoughts there in terms of what we need to do. I'm excited about this. This has actually been trending up year over year. How do you feel you are adequately equipped to support your children?

Of course, many of the parents who are taking the survey are part of our education platform. Not all of them by any means, but some of the parents are. So, I would hope this would trend up, because the soccer Parent Resource Center just keeps getting better, but also important to realize it's basically you're giving yourselves a 75 or a 76 when it comes to how adequately you're educated. So, again, C, C+. Then a couple of last things I wanted to talk about. This is really fascinating to me. These are the highest responses. Parents rate themselves as an 8.71 when it comes to how they're showing up on the sidelines. They rate their spouse even higher an 8.74, but they rate other parents on other teams a 6.35.

So we obviously understand intuitively why that happens that we're rating the parents that our children are playing against, so the team that our children are playing against lower, but this is also something that we need to be really thoughtful about. Some of the work we're doing around sideline behavior is really working with parents on educating themselves and making a commitment to show up for our children in just a supportive way, no distracting, no hostile behaviors. This is a call to action for all of us to change the norms around sideline behavior. This is a big area that we all need to improve. Then finally, how satisfied are you with the quality of refereeing? So there's a lot of issues around referee abuse prevention, referee education and mentorship.

How the referees are organized within the US soccer ecosystem needs to be reviewed and it is being reviewed. There's a lot of referee issues, but this was the lowest score, I think, on the entire survey in terms of unfortunately the way that we're looking and how we feel about the quality of referees. So, one, we have to re-change our norms around our expectations around referees, because they're absolutely going to make mistakes a lot. They're youth referees often with no experience or extremely little experience. So, something for us to consider there. Okay. So, I want to shift here and talk a little bit about trust and thank you for your questions that are coming in. I will pop over there absolutely and just go quickly as quickly as we can and try to get all of those answered.

I love them and see that there's a lot there. So, we have some work to do. Any questions that we don't get to, we'll try to address on social media or in different blog posts in the coming months. It's important that I talk about trust from a state of the game in the United States, foundational to the work that we are doing at SoccerParenting and the great team that we have at SoccerParenting. We have 10 people that are on the team now who are extremely committed to making youth soccer better. You just have to highlight the commitment of all of the staff that we have at SoccerParenting to our mission. It's phenomenal and it's inspiring for me. Really as I said, foundational to our work is trust. The very first time I ever spoke publicly as the founder of SoccerParenting was about trust.

The topic of my talk at the United Soccer Coaches Convention was establishing trust with a coach-parent relationship. I had hundreds and hundreds of people in the room listening to this talk. I could see from the very beginning that this is what we're seeking. We want to make youth soccer better. We want to feel like we trust US Soccer. We want to feel like we trust the coaches. We want to feel like we trust the referees. Coaches want to feel like they trust parents. This is how we need to be showing up for each other. So, a big part of our efforts is about trust. When I was at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in January in California this year, it shifts and goes to different locations every year. I mean next year, it'll be in Chicago.

But when I was there in California this year, I just have to say that there was a noticeable, a palpable change, wonderful change and evolvement of the type of conversations that myself and Anthony DiCicco, who works with me and is a colleague of mine at SoccerParenting, he was also presenting. There's just a palpable change of the questions and the responses and the feeling that we're getting to our messaging. It's shifted well beyond people thinking we're crazy for engaging with parents and wanting to do that to asking questions on how to us delivering best practices about what other clubs and what we're doing. So, there's absolutely a palpable change. There's also this wonderful sense in the room of optimism, and it's something I want to highlight.

One of our focuses internally at SoccerParenting is optimism this year. When I came back from the convention, I was absolutely feeling optimistic, because I could see that our leadership is improving. I could see that the quality of people that are leading clubs is improving, that coaches are engaging more, seeking more education. So, absolutely this wonderful sense of optimism. There's also this shift that I would say is related to when I think about our movement. I referred to this earlier, that we want levelheaded and like-minded coaches and parents coming together to make youth soccer better. We're starting to see this wonderful shift and this momentum that's driven from the levelheaded and like-minded parents and coaches coming together.

It's starting to gain this wonderful momentum. Really what's happening as we do that is that the hostile parents on the sideline, the crazy parents as we refer to them at SoccerParenting, they're starting to be a real outlier. In the past, they've had way too much energy and way too much strength within the ecosystem, and now they're really seen as an outlier because the level-headed parents and like-minded coaches are really coming together. So, that's another thing that gives me a wonderful sense of optimism. I absolutely felt that at the convention that there was a sense of joy and optimism from the coaches that were there. Okay. So, thoughts from the US Soccer AGM. I was just down at the AGM, the Annual General Meeting for US Soccer. This is the second time I've gone.

I don't have voting rights there. Parents do not have voting rights at US Soccer. So, there's not a real voting reason for me to be there, but it's absolutely phenomenal time for me just to gauge things. I was so excited and optimistic about the work that US Soccer's doing, and I want to share some of this to give you all some insights on some things that are happening. Before I do that though, I want to start off on a negative note about the AGM and my most disappointing experience by far at the AGM was the US Youth Council's meeting. So, this is the US Youth Council. It was put into place a couple of years ago, and the objective is to bring people from US club, US youth from various places in the game together to try to drive consensus.

Unfortunately, the group that is leading that is not doing a good job. The meeting lasted all of about 45 seconds for the actual meeting, aside from a brief presentation from US Soccer that was invited in. So, the Youth Council needs to do a better job to align around some goals and some strategic vision and implementing programming and making a difference, or quite frankly, they should not exist because they're doing a disservice to the game. So, not to be too negative, that'll really be my only negative thing, but if there's anyone from the Youth Council that's listening, call to action absolutely for you. That being said, there is a wonderful evolvement of leadership.

We're starting to see a turnover of leadership of state associations and leagues with some new really innovative and thoughtful leaders. So, a lot of big, wonderful things there. There's a big focus with US Soccer right now on referee abuse prevention. They have a big committee that's related to this. They're looking at the structure of referees and really trying to make sure that they address referee education and mentorship. Right now, the state associations have referee committees, and in large part, those referee committees are very disjointed from the people that are maybe making decisions. This lack of connection and this disjointed attitude absolutely needs to stop and the leaders of those different committees need to align and to collaborate more.

There's an absolute call to action and movement to make that happen. So, I'll be following the Referee Abuse Prevention Committee and let me show you a few things about ways that you can get involved and also just give you an awareness of what US Soccer is doing right now. So, I'm going to share my screen. So, I mentioned a couple of times, side note, the parent engagement for coaches course. So, here is parentengagementforcoaches.com, but getting back to US Soccer. So, right now, US Soccer has a strategic vision. If you're really curious about this, definitely screenshot some of this, because the URLs are not as far as I could find navigable on the site. I'm sure they are, but I couldn't find them.

I had seen a presentation about this at the AGM, so I had the URLs handy and knew what to look for. So, definitely, if you're curious about this, take some screenshots with the URLs here. So, this is US Soccer's website, and this is just the strategic vision page that they have. I do think you can find this page on the site, but their strategic vision of growing the game, creating world-class organization, growing the soccer economy, developing winning teams, meaning our national team programming, and foster the best playing environments, which absolutely relates to the youth game. Then you can go into each of these and you can read more about each of these initiatives and what's happening within them.

So absolutely encourage you to check out the strategic pillars and different philosophies around each of them. Then like I said, you can go and see these accelerated initiatives. I absolutely want to mention Safe Soccer here, so you understand what's happening with US Soccer and Safe Soccer. So, there's SafeSport, which is governing body that is appointed by Congress. Then US Soccer is developing their own program, if you will, called Safe Soccer. There will be diving into more so or in addition to all the SafeSport guidelines around a mechanism for reporting abuse. They also are really highlighting what a good quality environment looks like.

Just diving in a little bit more to the role of the coach and how empowering a coach should be and giving guidance around when a coach crosses that line and goes beyond motivating to being a negative environment or negative influence on the child. So, really excited about the work that US Soccer's doing around Safe Soccer and encourage you to keep up with it. Obviously, they're working on growing the number of referees. We've talked about that, and this democratizing soccer knowledge, they talk about all the time. I'm so grateful that I've had so many wonderful interactions with US Soccer. I've been writing for their learning center.

So there's four articles that are in the US Soccer Learning Center that I've authored. They're absolutely interested in democratizing soccer education and soccer knowledge, because they realize we're just a country that's so large for them to think that they can be the voice of education and knowledge around these topics is just impossible. So, there's a really great movement for this democratization of soccer and something that I'm excited about. I want to highlight this. So, accelerated initiatives is that URL and then this one I would really encourage you to go to. They're asking for feedback. So, please, everyone on this call, provide some feedback. If you go to ussoccer.com, I can't even see without my glasses. I literally can't read what that says, ecosystem-review.

There is a chance to provide feedback. So, I think this will show up when I click. Here's a letter from Mike Cullina, Michael Karon from AYSO, John Motta, who's the adult association lead, Dr. Pete, who's the chair of US Youth Soccer. You can simply hit submit feedback and provide feedback. Under organization, you can say soccer parent, you can say your club name, whatever it might be. But they're actually truly seeking this feedback. So, please, please, please go ahead and give it. Again, the place to find that form is ussoccer.com/amateur-ecosystem. So, let's be sure that we all make sure we share our voice with that. Okay, I'm going to hop into some questions. I've got a couple other topics that I want to address, but certainly, there's so many questions here.

I will try to go ahead and jump into some of them. I'll answer some of them really, really quickly. Okay. Oops, I just closed the questions and open the chat. So, I'd love to see this chat happening of conversations. That's great. Keep it going. If you have a question that you want me to address, then pop them here in the Q&A. Yes, absolutely. The recording is available. It'll be available on soccerparenting.com probably by tomorrow afternoon, along with a transcript. Any recommendations on how to deal with parents that got out of hand during a match? Crowd control, over 30 parents. Absolutely, I have some wonderful suggestions for you. This is another question that came up from Jack.

As a parent of a player, I'm tired of hearing parents on my team constantly berating youth referees. What can I do? So yeah. So, I do have some opinions about this that I'll answer quickly. There's some thoughts. Actually, I've been writing this course that will be launched. It's a course that leagues have asked for, that state associations have asked for, clubs have asked for. It's a return to good standing course. It's going to be about a 50-minute course that parents or coaches that get sent off the sidelines or having hostile behavior issues have to take in order to return to the sidelines. This issue has been front and center in my mind as I've been writing this course this last week.

So to begin with, we have to redo our norms when it comes to sideline behavior and when it comes to our expectations for referees. We absolutely cannot expect a youth referee to not make mistakes, because being a referee is so difficult and referees unfortunately do not have enough training and mentorship. So, this is a structural issue that we have to address. I think we need to start this conversation also by thinking about the structural nature of youth soccer in America or youth sports even and how much of an emphasis they have on winning and then tournaments and tryouts and just this buildup that we have structurally of issues that we have that build into stressful sidelines.

So as levelheaded parents, we need to be aware of these structural deficiencies and just let that awareness help drive our calm demeanor and supportive behavior on the sidelines. So, we're also working on a de-escalation project. I know that Carrie Goldberg has been helping me. I saw that he had registered for the webinar. I don't know if Carrie's listening now. Carrie is a soccer parent himself, his daughter playing Division I college. He is a former soccer player as well, and he also is a police officer, retired Marine and has a lot of training on de-escalation. So, while by no means is it a parent's responsibility to deescalate the situation, absolutely.

If you feel like your safety or if there's weapons or alcohol that's involved, the police need to be called, but I do think we have an opportunity to deescalate in an early intervention mode with people that we know. So, we're developing best practices for de-escalation and giving parents some insights into talking calmly and how to approach and things to say and way to drive the conversation in a different direction. So, needs to be some thought around that, but this is where clubs and coaches have to lead. If there's a repeat issue on a team with sideline behavior, it's the coach's responsibility, it's the club's responsibility to make sure that that changes. Unfortunately, too often the norms come from coaches who are out of control themselves.

So I will say that the vast majority of parents are showing up well and that we're not seeing the hostile behavior. But when it does happen, it absolutely needs to be addressed. What I say and what I would say is you need to follow your instincts as a parent. If you feel like the adults are so out of control during a match, then you should remove your child. I look at it as if I was in the grocery store and I walked down an aisle and all of a sudden there were like five adults or three adults or one adult that was a little out of control and acting hostile in nature, I would turn my child around and I would leave that aisle of the grocery store.

Sadly, until we can get a handle on this, that's oftentimes what we're going to have to do is remove our child from the situation if we feel like it's getting out of control. But this is where coaches need to lead, and our sideline project course is making a difference there. Alan, yes, absolutely. Share it with families at your club. Nice to see you and become a club member. This is a lot of the work we're doing around clubs. Jack is saying, "Let's not forget that youth referees are also part of the environment, and many of the youth referees are also players that play in that league."

Absolutely, Jack. I don't know if this was you that submitted this question early and the same Jack, but if it is, he's a player of a youth referee and I never thought about this, but he says, "Issues that my child has from refereeing descent away from the other field, from other youth." I wasn't even imagining going to high school and being a senior and having ninth graders that you might've refereed over the weekend having an issue with you. So, this general respect that we need to build into the game is something that stands out to me here.

This is something that I'm starting to think a lot about, respecting the game and fair play and celebrating all children on the field, respecting opponents, competing to win, but demonstrating respect, respecting referee decisions, teammate unity, spectator appreciation, respecting the game itself, and making the game bigger than anything that might get in the way of that. So, this general feeling of respect in the game absolutely plays a big part here. If you have a coach that's actively encouraging parents to offer to send towards referees, then you need to talk to the club. If the club's not willing to handle it or agrees with a coach, I mean this is not okay. Follow your instincts and you need to find an environment that's safe for your child for them to grow and feel inspired.

So it's as simple as that. If we still have adults that are leading, that are actually supporting and encouraging referee descent, this is a big problem and you should not want your child to be around and being influenced by that environment. We as parents need to realize we do have a voice and we need to stand up to this and not let this be okay anymore. Okay, moving on. How do I know when it is too much soccer for a nine-year-old? Your nine-year-old will tell you. There's a lot of misinformation about this in terms of... I often push back about the sports specialization and how wrong that is, because I mean, my kids did gymnastics, they did taekwondo, they played basketball. My son did lacrosse. They did other sports and they sampled other sports.

But my daughter, once she came to soccer, that's all she wanted to do. So, it became futsal. It became soccer and it became a lot. So, if your child is having an injury or is having overuse issues, obviously big red flag, but what our real role here is as parents is to make sure that our children are developing adequate movement skills and that they're developing functional movement. Soccer, thankfully, is a pretty good sport for that and that they move a lot of different directions when they're playing. Great interview from Dr. John Cohen on Soccer Parent Resource Center about this. So, if you're a member of the resource center, go into the library, search John Cohen and you'll see a conversation with him.

Awesome interview from Chris Gore is about functional movement skills and what we're talking about here. So, these are things that we need to be educated on, but I would say that if your nine-year old is demonstrating a lack of inspiration, doesn't want to go to training repeatedly over time, or has any overuse injuries, I would also really seek community and make sure that your child is friends with their teammates outside of soccer. That really goes a long way to just it being a real well-rounded experience. Our summer camp's overrated. Anthony and I met at Tony DiCicco's SoccerPlus Camp. I will say that same thing with coaches. It just comes down to the coaching environment and your child.

Some soccer camps can be really, really expensive and are big commitment for your family, and of course, we want to get a return on any investment that we make. The quality of the coach matters and digging in, getting feedback. Are they overrated? They might be overrated if you're saying, "My child has to go to camp in order to go to college or to be a high performance player or to make the team," if you put too much emphasis on that. But soccer camps can be a really wonderful way for kids to interact with the game in a different way with different coaches, different players, different genders, ages. So, there's a lot of great things that can happen from soccer camp as well. How do you navigate aggressive parents and a coach who coaches based on what the parents dictate?

This is a question that is very complex, and for those of you that are in areas like me in Richmond, Virginia, where we don't have a ton of competition, we have pretty much three clubs. FC Richmond, Richmond Kickers, Richmond Strikers, not a lot of choices for parents and it's run by large clubs. So, we're paying money to the club who's then hiring coaches and are training coaches and have certain demands and systems for coaches to follow. But I understand that that's not the case everywhere. There's other places in the United States where parents are literally paying the coach directly or finding a coach for the team and then all deciding how much they will pay him or her.

So things are really different structurally in different places, but we need good quality leaders that are leading our children, good quality leaders in terms of their education around the game that are providing appropriate learning for kids that's based on their age, their skill level, their mentality. We need teams that are coming together based on children's mentality and having similar mentalities. Those are the teams that can really improve together.

So if that's the case, and I know you might not have another soccer option, maybe you're in a small area and this is literally the best soccer option in terms of the best competition that the kids might be receiving, but those are tough decisions that we have to make as parents. I would absolutely though start with trying to talk to the coach and being levelheaded and approaching the coach in a non-confrontational way. There's a great article about how to talk to your child's coach about stressful things. I would take a look at that article. Out of how many parents did we receive these 159 responses? Oh, how many parents were sent the survey? The survey was really distributed social media wise. This is about similar, every year, we have about 1,000 parents respond.

The survey was not pushed out by US Youth Soccer, US Club Soccer, those types of partners that we have. This is really just going to our database. So, I would say it reached about 100,000 parents, so we had about a 1% response rate, but that is just me making up a number on the fly. I think a parental referee course could help. Absolutely, we agree with you. Modified laws of the game. I was at a U 10 game. It's so funny, 10 U, U 10. What do we say right now? No parent knew that the kick was indirect. The ref has his hand in the air. The situation causes frictions. Absolutely. If you go to Soccer Parent Resource Center and you can search laws of the game, you'll find information about laws of the game, the offside law. This type of information is absolutely essential for parents.

As we're talking about referee abuse prevention and making that a big focus of our efforts at SoccerParenting, thank you, Ed, for bringing this forward, because we have a lot of ideas for content related to laws of the game. We have a lot of really great partners and collaborators and colleagues who are referees. I mean, Anthony DiCicco is a referee himself and referees, I think, 60 games a year. I think I heard him say. So, he was very experienced. We can absolutely build more content around that. That's a great idea. Thank you. Daniel is saying, "A strong sense of soccer community almost always starts at the individual team level."

Absolutely. It comes with leadership, whether that be leadership of a parent that just is having a lot of fun and likes to have fun and genuinely brings parents together from a coach who's actively encouraging it. "Building from a critical mass of interested available parents and a coach," to continue what Daniel's saying, "we have many mechanisms built into our leagues to tier teams based on soccer performance, but are there any best practices out there for trying to map like-minded parents together to get that level of community commitment to a team?" Daniel, I love your question. Isn't it special when our kids land on a team that has a wonderful sense of community?

I remember the years that my daughter's team had that and it was so much fun for her and for me and for our family. It brought our family together as well. So, I would encourage you to take our parent engagement for coach's course. Have your coach, if you're not a coach yourself, take the course. There's wonderful mechanisms in there for engaging parents and also for giving parents some suggestions. One of my key suggestions, I already said it here, is to absolutely make sure you know the name of every parent on the team and what child they belong to. Make sure you cheer for all the children. I always like to encourage teams to do three social events a year not related to soccer. So, if your coach isn't doing that, you can do it.

Ask the coach if it would be good to do a potluck supper before the season kicks off or take everyone out for ice cream after a Saturday afternoon game. Those types of things, just go ahead and make those things happen. Just one parent taking the initiative can make a really big difference here. A few more questions and then we'll be wrapping it up. I've got one more question here. So, as a club and league administrator, I can see many uses for the return to good standing course. What is the timing for that to be available? Oh, great question. So, I just finished writing it. It's in a review process right now. We have a core group of leaders from around the United States that are a part of the development of the course, so I'll be sending it out to them at the end of this week for review.

I'll get their feedback, make changes to it. We'll be recording it on March 1st and it will be available by the end of March. Yes, absolutely. This is a course we're really, really excited about. We believe in optimism and restorative justice, and we do hope that parents or coaches that have had issues with hostile behavior on the sidelines that after taking this course, they'll be able to rethink their behaviors. Okay, final question that's here. I can't believe we got through all the questions. That's awesome. I didn't think this was going to be possible. Hopefully, you can follow along. I know I've been speaking very fast. Probably when we do the transcription on this, it'll be all jumbled, because I'm speaking so quickly.

Last question here is, where's the balance from keeping your child in rec play versus going to competitive if they're asked? This is a great question. They love their rec team. So, is happiness a better indication for later than playing against more challenging talent to develop with professional coaches versus volunteer coaches? This is where I think kids will thrive in a couple of environments. They will thrive with friends. We know that. We know that children at all levels, in fact, all athletes, even Olympic level athletes say, "If they're not having fun, they'll quit." So we know the importance of fun, and the challenge for us as parents is to find a playing environment for our child that supports their athletic potential as well as their mentality to sport.

So if your child is exhibiting some competitiveness and wanting to be around kids that are more competitive and you think they'll thrive and actually find a lot of joy and inspiration by competing with kids that are likeminded, maybe more emotionally invested and wanting to compete and win, and if you think your child would rise to that and thrive in that environment, then absolutely, I would consider it and I would absolutely go to the tryouts, have them interact with the team, some that they may be playing on, get a feel for how they feel in that environment.

But if your child really prefers to stay in the recreational environment and that's too much stress or pressure, they're not interested in that, or they don't want to train that many days a week, then we really need to listen to our children and let them lead the way here. If your child's being asked to go to that team, they're probably demonstrating some sense of athleticism that maybe other kids are not, whether that's early athleticism because they're early developer or whether or not they just have more athletic skills than others. That's something for you to consider as a parent as well. This is why we really believe in parent education around these topics of movement, so that we can have perspective when making decisions for our children. I do love recreational level soccer.

My daughter, as I mentioned, was high performance player. She played ECNL, played in college. She was Division III All-American in college as well. So, I have this high performance player. I obviously was a high performance player myself. My son always played recreational soccer. Staying involved in soccer is the most important thing that we can have our children do. This needs to be our priority. It's keeping our children active and moving. Just because my son was able to keep up with soccer all throughout high school, I know it's helped him in college. He's not playing soccer now, but he's playing Ultimate Frisbee.

I have often wondered if he hadn't kept moving in high school and using those skills and developing his strength and sense of connection to a team and desiring that, if he still would've been on the Ultimate Frisbee team in his college. So, really important considerations for us to make and we need to make the number one priority is keeping our children involved in sport. Okay, we're about to wrap it up here. If you have any final questions, put them in the Q&A, not in the chat and I will get to them. But I do have one final call to action for everyone that's here. Again, sincere thanks to you for being here and for taking the time to listen. I haven't been able to follow along the chat, but I can see it going. So, I love that. I love that you all are collaborating and connecting, sharing stories.

This is where growth happens. This is where trust is built. This is where our soccer ecosystem gets even stronger. So, again, a sincere thank you. If you are not a member, meaning you don't have access behind the membership wall to the Soccer Parent Resource Center, please become a member. It's $36 a year only or $3.49 a month only. Our objective is to make youth soccer better, not more expensive for each of you. It's a rich resource and it's through our platform and the payments from that platform that we're able to keep this company going. So, absolutely, please, please become a member at Soccer Parent Resource Center if you're not. If you're a club leader and you're not a club member, then please reach out to us today.

You can find all the information about it on soccerparenting.com/clubmemberships under the Get Involved section. Please become a club member and join the over 200 clubs around the United States who are club members. I'm so motivated by the experiences I've had in the last couple of months and to see this growing sense of trust, to see the wonderful new leaders that US Soccer has in place, and that they've hired Sherry and Laura and Dan and Tim and a handful of other solid new leaders, Gabe, who have just joined the US Soccer workforce and are really pushing these initiatives for Safe Soccer, pushing these initiatives for Safe Soccer and the democratization of education process and really looking at this ecosystem review.

So really, I'm feeling so optimistic about that, and I hope that you all are as well. I hope that this webinar has helped you maybe feel a deeper connection to youth soccer in America and to the experience that your child's having. Quite frankly, we know that it's an experience that you're having as well. This is a family thing. Youth soccer place has just a cultural significance in communities and families. So, we're so thankful that you're here and really hope that this drives you to being a leader and to continuing the efforts in joining us and being levelheaded and like-minded parents and coaches coming together to make youth soccer better. So, thank you so much for being here.

I'm going to stay on just for a little bit and look at the chat, because once I shut this down, I can't see the chat anymore, but really appreciate it. Appreciate your being here and I'll answer a few more questions if there's time. I can stay on the call for just a few more questions. I see that that Manny reached out here in the Q&A. So, thank you so much for being here. We appreciate it. The recording will be available at soccerparenting.com and thank you. Again, I'll stay on and answer a few more questions for anybody. Yes, Manny, absolutely. Fill out the form for US Soccer and say that you want to get involved and have your voice be part of it. So, absolutely. Soccer confidence, Chris. Yeah, we hear so much about that. There is so much great content about that on Soccer Parent Resource Center.

So if you're not a member, the resource center is in so many ways for you. We have great sports psychologists, Dan Abraham, Stuart Singer, that have jumped in there and have given real specific guidance for parents on how to help children develop confidence. Especially, we understand sometimes coaches aren't delivering that or sometimes their kids aren't quite emotionally ready to deal with the environment that their team is dealing with in terms of the level of the coach and the expectations of the coach. So, as parents, we definitely need to support that and balance that out until our children reaches that sense of maturity. So, there's great information there.

Yes, Theo, definitely updates on ADHD tips. We'll be launching that in the next month. We actually just had a meeting about that and a few other things. So, we will have that available next week. Oh, hi, Chris. Yeah. Hi, Chris. Nice to see you. Sorry, I was just confused with your comment. Awesome. Okay, thanks everyone for being here. I think we'll wrap it up there unless there's any other final little questions that come in. Thanks to Anthony and my team for being in the background, monitoring the chat and dropping different links in there for people. We are here to help. We are here to help you support your child. We're here to keep kids in the game. We're here to move the game forward. So, thanks so much.

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