Parent Stories

Parent Voices

What is your greatest goal, problem, challenge or frustration with the youth soccer experience of your child?


Iam a coach and my answer is, parents.


My greatest goal is for my daughter to be confident, a leader, be around other strong women, and have fun playing a sport she loves!


There is no clear system for children and even youth soccer in my country( Tanzania). Previously before the formulation of the so called shule za kata there were plenty bare grounds which were used for playing. After then those areas used to construct class for secondary school. Since then, no serious plan and strategies to develop youth soccer all has been just on studying, and studying as if everyone will succed in school.


My biggest frustration is the viscous cycle of confidence vs playing time vs performance. When one is worried about coming out they don’t play as well. When they are able to play more they play much better. Not sure why but I wish there could be more confidence boosters from coach to player.


For elite training and travel, cost was first, second and third. Outside of that, the focus on size and athleticism over technical and tactical awareness delayed my daughter's development years.


My biggest struggle is trying to positively motivate my daughter with adhd to practice outside of team practices.


Parent-coaching: not putting the kids first. Putting the short-term success of the team and the parent-coach ego first.

Antonia Bynum

The cost. I have three sons that play club soccer. Three sets of uniforms, three players to pay club fees, travel out of state several times a is very expensive.


My greatest goal for my child is to climb the development pyramid each year. My biggest problem is that coaches are too full of them selves to talk to me honestly about the level of my child and what his next steps should be. The greatest challenge is to find a club that is actually interested in developing my kid verses just cleaning out my wallet. And my biggest frustration is club board members kids making elite teams when they should really be playing Rec.


The greatest challenge I see is to control coach and spectator behavior toward youth referees. Adults will behave towards youth referees in a manner that would cause widespread and public outrage if it was directed toward a player of the same age. This isn't just about referees. This is about the proper behavior towards children, and the lessons of respect and tolerance in general.


Pushy parents who manipulate coaches for their child’s benefit while creating drama & changing the team’s dynamics.

D. Anderson

The question is posed in the present tense but I would like to answer with a look back: The greatest challenge for me as a parent was dealing with a coach who turned mean to some players on my daughters team and imposed an emotional cost on the young players' participation in every practice, game and interaction; and a great piece of the solution to the problem was learning about the


The lack of communication between coach & parents. In the heat of a game coaches instead of using building words, they belittle the player team or sarcastic comments.

Miguel A hoyos

The goal is to find or in my case as a coach to create a positive environment that balance the competitive essence of the game as a team sport with the developmental process that is necessary to properly develop individual players and guide them to achieve and maximize their individual potential in all elements of the game. The competitive component is often over emphasized by parents that only measure success in terms of the ratio of winning and loses and put pressure on their own kids, on teammates , referees and on the opponent on a given match when results are not in their favor, that negative behavior create an unnecessary pressure to the program and to the players who want and have the right to enjoy their sport experience and learnt from playing the game at not only when they score more goals that the other team that behavior from parents is the most frustrating experience I have had.


I do not understand why parents don't look at sports as a way to learn about their child's ability to make independent decisions in a safe environment prior to adolescence, where the decisions could have devastating repercussions. If my child learns from their mistakes on a soccer field and then starts to show me better decision making in a safe environment, I will have more confidence in letting them explore different environments as an adolescent.

Rodrigues Esperato

Does not listen whenever I advise him on the correct techniques regarding playing the game.


My greatest challenge so far is the huge skill gap between my son and some of his good buddies (who are all 8-10 months older than him and play on elite club teams). He just got through his first travel team tryout and was placed on the C team and his friends were placed on either the A or B teams. I'm hoping this gives him the determination to play his best and doesn't push him away from the sport!

Frank J Kelly

Parent gossip perhaps caused by their lack of understanding of long-term development trajectories of kids to teenagers to adults.

Brian Courtney

As a parent of three boys playing at the MLS Next and ECNL levels, my greatest goal with their youth soccer experience is to be supportive. My hope for them is that they have fun, make friends, learn to be a good teammate/person, and develop life lessons beyond the sport. My focus is to stay in the moment and enjoy the ups and downs of the journey.


how much of a big business youth club soccer has become. charging way too much money for the "elite" experience. I started a club to somewhat disrupt that system locally but just baffles me that a good soccer experience has become out of reach for some families


Dealing with bullying among teammates on my daughters U14G team. My daughter lacks confidence and I think a lot of it has to do with worrying about what teammates might think. It's very subtle things like having a conversation with another teammate and ignoring another. Or when carpooling to practice (because I have 6 girls on the team within 1/2 mile of me) and no one talks because they have their phones out. Worst thing is I'm a dad and a coach and I don't know how to deal with it.

Stephanie R Moyer

My greatest frustration is that parents are SO focused on winning...and not on the development of players. My son is 10 years old. We play for a club that is all about player development. Players are encouraged to make mistakes even in games, even if it means losing. Parents get really down and are toxic on the sidelines.


Realistic Expectations

Kathy Fredrickson

The appropriate strength training for athletes is missing. Strengthening the gluteus minimus (band work) for female athletes in particular to avoid ACL issues when they get to high school.


Previously, when we were new in soccer we had no idea about the many “tracks” of soccer. We learned from other parents. We went fumbling from rec to academy, now ECNL and ODP. We have twin boys both at this level. But, now we find ourselves with a son about to turn 14 who is at a very high level for his age. Several coaches at many levels have told us how good he is.... basically MLS DA Academy level....but we do not have a recourse or anywhere to go to get information about this course. Not knowing enough about the pros and cons if this course of action it’s very difficult to even get unbiased direction. Thank you, Julie Skoglund


I happen to be a youth coach and I find that a lot of parents have a delusional inflated idea of what their kids are like vs what they really are and you try to give constructive criticism tend to blame everyone else but not hold their kids accountable. That I think is frustrating.


My greatest goal for both my children is to learn all they can from playing a team sport like soccer. Learn how to deal with the ups and downs. Learn how to work with others towards a common goal. Understand what great leadership looks like. To learn what hard work can accomplish. And to learn more about themselves along the way.


Trying to play at a high level while fiercely battling adhd. I am not seeing a solution to this problem as a parent

Kyle Swayze

The greatest challenge is the personal agendas. Parents drving a "me first" attitude. Coaches making decisions on winning rather than personal development. Kids are walking away from the experience learning many of the wrong values (vs. Learning about team work, hard work, dedication, personal ownership, patience, etc.).


My boys are 13 and 16 now. My 16 yr old has been playing for 8 yrs. Many of the community teams & academies started taking the fun out of the sport already zoned in on college & professional careers. Wish it had been more focused on enjoyment as well as improvement!!


As a parent, a big challenge is watching and letting my kid be uncomfortable, and then dealing with the aftermath to let her know the coach doesn't hate her, but sees her other qualities. As a coach I get frustrated with parents that don't easily accept that their kids might need a ball at their feet more than 3 hours a week during team practice.


Let the kids play their game. Remember it is their game, their competition— so just chill as a parent ?

Fred Matthes

As a parent-coach, and a former collegiate soccer player, I was very frustrated by the non-soccer playing parents who didn't understand the game well enough to be constructive in their criticisms of referees, players, and me. They also put far too much weight on the score and results of matches rather than the development and enjoyment of the game their child was having.

Rusty wightman

Cost/benefit , parental pressure, lack of parental involvement


The toxicity of Club soccer culture , where winning is more important than player development or fun

Skip Ward

Frustrations : Costs/Cash Grab, Random coaching, lack of curriculums/coaches wingin' it, lack of coaching accountability, unnecessary travel, fear tactics, emphasis on winning/not on individual skill improvement, Must play year round fear. Pompous & arrogant coaches & clubs. The whole thing is a greedy sham.


Right now? Club politics. Ask me in 2 months and it will be something else.

BJ Harahan

The ephemeral nature of travel soccer - coaches, directors, players, and parents - everyone maintains a distance because next year the player might not make the team, or might move to a new club, or even if the player makes the team, they move on to a new coach... it's one year at a time...

Matt Martin

The greatest challenge for Youth Soccer in this country from the lowest to the highest levels of Professional Development is the overemphasis on WINNING in terms of deciding who to play and how to is more difficult to teach a technically and tactically challenging style of soccer and yet we spend millions of dollars chasing trophies and 4 games in 2 day tournaments that do little to develop kids and a lot to burn them out....parents want to win, but allowing room to make mistakes and develop a love for playing the game FIRST should come before this WINNING fixation! In Norway across all of their sports they do not keep score or rank players before the age of 12....they led all nations in Medals in the last Winter Olympics - setting a modern record in doing so...why? How? Because the games and the sports ARE STILL FUN after years of playing AND CROSS PLAYING - other sports help too...STOP SPECIALIZING AND OVER FOCUSING TOO EARLY! Let the kids create and play and have fun! Then get more serious as they rise in their levels and be prepared to continue to develop!

Paul Laub

Finding opportunities for my son to just PLAY soccer with a group of kids his age. He gets training a couple of times per week with his team and will play a competitive match most weekends this year as part of a travel team in a new club. I have no delusions about my son's current abilities and know he is not a stud athlete. What I'd really like for him is more loosely structured soccer play time where he and a group o similarly skilled players, boys and girls, some better and some lesser skilled, could just play the game.


My "children" are the many youth referees that I mentor year after year. My greatest frustration is that the "responsible adults" at the match (coaches, managers, Club officers) are not more proactive in dealing with those who disrupt and distract. Just like the players, Youth Referees are developing their skills. Mistakes will be made. And just like the players, screaming and berating is not only completely unacceptable, it is also counterproductive. And just like the players, if we give them some space and peace, they can do amazing things. Why do we sit there and allow a few to spoil the experience for all the rest?


My experience is that the recreational league’s idea is good but poorly executed. They expect kids to have fun but not about winning. Means that the coaches rotate players position like every 5 mins in a game. So some players are not good with that position will perform poorly. Do they ever see how the kids are frustrated and disappoint of game after game loss due to the coaches randomly put players that are not good at their position in the real games (not practice game)? Many kids were confused on why the coaches do that switch, and kids were mistakenly blamed by other kids on why they dont perform well and cost the team to loss. If the purpose of recreational soccer is about fun, it failed the purpose. Kids were sad and confused. I am not saying to train kids like military style and give them pressure to win. But if only the coaches can try to put the players to their best position in a game and increase the chance of winning, that will mean so much for the kids on developing their confidence.


1. I’m a parent of a goalkeeper. The lack of instruction for goalkeepers is severely lacking at the youth level. 2. Parental comments during the game toward the referee sometimes is downright nasty and disrespectful. Soccer is not a noncontact sport and American parents seem to not understand this.


My greatest frustration with youth soccer is dealing with competitive soccer parents.


My biggest frustration is getting our (volunteer) coaches in our organization to take their role seriously and spend some time improving their abilities. They certainly want the players to work at getting better - why can't they see that they should put in some effort too!


My greatest goal for my 6-year-old granddaughter is to someday try and play soccer again. As a three-year-old, her mother (my daughter) forced her to join one of the local clubs with teenage coaches, limited soccer backgrounds but no idea how to keep these children active. Most of the time, she ended up dribbling the ball around a light post while the rest of the kids were supposed to be playing 3 vs. 3. I am guessing the coaches figured that 3-year-olds should play 3 aside soccer (I type with a smile on my face 🙂 Parents were literally carrying their crying children back on the field and coaxed them to play with very little success. Needless to write, my granddaughter has since then refused to have anything to do with soccer, although she enjoys watching her Mom play indoor soccer twice a week while she kicks the ball against the wall. She is now totally engrossed in karate and can't wait for her next physically demanding karate session. After observing her and a ton of other even younger children having FUN week after week in a very disciplined karate environment makes me wish that her earlier soccer coaches had taken some karate instructional classes. There is always hope that she may become interested in soccer, and if that happens, she will definitely have the discipline to pay attention work hard while having lots of FUN..!

Michael J Munger

There's not enough of a full time soccer culture. Too many times the "multi-sport athlete" narrative is pushed because we live in the USA. In other countries soccer players focus solely on soccer. Too much emphasis is placed on being a great athlete over a skilled soccer player.


Parents are a big problem

S k

Have seen so many good players like my son who are not playing and its surely going like in Africa which is Bringing alote of question so will want you to investigate and you will see this CRPT going on there but if you want more then get back to me


Balancing the pressure (peer and self-inflicted) to invest in personal training and make soccer a year-round pursuit, vs ensuring my child has a balanced, fun, overuse injury-free, and well-rounded life.


Parents are a huge problem. Coaching and yelling from the sidelines, criticizing players, etc. This behavior is never going to help the players. It makes the entire experience negative.

Lisa gozley

That money is corrupting the sport and that academies are preying on parents fears in order to get them self rich


My greatest goal is for my kids to be playing for their own love of the game, at the level of competition that they seek. And that it remain about them and not the adults.


Irrational parents overly focused on the result of the match


Inexperienced coach who doesn’t support my child player and makes them feel bad every game. He also does not allow any communication with parents.

Framis A. Fernandez

Not to find an affordable training to goalkeeper around my area to help my son to improve his skill. Goalkeeper is his passion and I feel like my hands are tied because the prices for those training are too high for me as a single mother.

Mathew Rund

The greatest challenge with the youth soccer experience of my two children is level of knowledge of the game that is available at our local grassroots soccer league. It is a small community and the parent volunteers are being coaches to help the kids. It would be great to have a better coach education program for the parent/coaches.


not getting proper training from her team (goalkeeper in AYSO rec, Allstars and Extra programs); not playing with teammates who are committed (even in the Extra program), coaches who clearly do not understand coaching/how the game is played (just came off a 14U Extra team where the coach constantly screamed to only pass forward, no passes to teammates behind if there is no shot on goal or a good forward pass)

Todd Dornheggen

The lack of understanding on how important decision making is for youth players. Training environments aren’t consistently setup to encourage problem solving and both sidelines (parents and coaches) during games are not allowing the players to make decisions.

Bijan Achak

As a coach, my greatest challenge is educating the parents that wins/losses are not the primary objective. Player development and making the sport a fun and competitive experience are the main objectives. As a division director, my greatest challenge is recruiting qualified coaches that are educated with youth development and act as role models for the kids.

Melissa Petrashewicz

How rosters are not verified at the field lack of really checking ages of players. How in premier you can take from your top team to bring them down to your B team in order to increase your B team. I always feel a player can play up but don’t feel it’s fair to play down. With technology these days. Player cards should be scanned at the field that way it’s holding each player truly accountable as long as the refs will actually check picture and cards. I don’t feel you will have as many inaccuracies. I think adding all these levels of divisions. You could have a player at championship, premiership and became DPL NPL ECNL all clubs don’t offer those leaving potential kids unnoticed.

Andrea Kline

My greatest frustration with our daughter's youth soccer experience has been with social bullying. Given the ages of the kids, and the high level of competitive stress, it is not shocking to see clique behavior, insults and put downs permeate a team culture. (Typical behavior from immature, anxious teens when rules and expectations are not clearly expressed.) Unfortunately, this behavior tends to be ignored or glossed over by coaches, even when players are literally cut out of the action on the field during games by ring leaders and their followers. These excluded players suffer emotionally, but their development as players suffers as well. This type of social bullying can be difficult for many male coaches to identify with and therefore to recognize and acknowledge as serious, and so it persists. If as parents we try to bring it up, we are told that kids need to be "mentally tough" and to "take personal responsibility". I worry that these ideas while sounding good on paper, can be used to excuse and ignore an unhealthy club culture - literally blaming the kids who are suffering for the bias against them and their own misery. If an organization has the word "youth" in its title, than it should have as its number one priority the safety and well-being of the participants. One need look no further than US Gymnastic to see a horrific example of a culture where the sport was put above the children athletes. If the performance of children directly relates to the success of adults, children will be at risk for any manner of unhealthy behaviors, unless we work together to create a culture of the highest ethics, awareness, and accountability.

J . S

My child to be a professional player.
The problem that I have is lacking soccer techniques


It is an ongoing challenge in any club; the politics of it all. There must be consistency of the application of policies (particularly in the case of classic/competitive teams) and the focus stay on the development of players. That development HAS TO include development of the player as a person; teamwork, sportsmanship, overcoming adversity, disappointment, how to deal with frustration during games, practice, etc. Sports have so much to offer kids & this is a huge part of it.


Now that my son started competitive soccer, how as a parent can I help my son train at home. I don’t have a soccer background and I noticed team training is just not enough without individual practice.


Frustration: Poor soccer fields in our town. City leaders Think that if an area is relatively flat with grass that it is a suitable soccer pitch.


Children’s soccer is marketed as a community function. Our city even built a multimillion dollar complex that includes awesome youth soccer fields for our kids. My biggest frustration here is that the league is not functioning in a way that makes it fun for most of the kids in the community. They have a “draft” that looks like it copies the professional leagues by each coach picking one player at a time, but the coaches that know the best players concentrate the talent on their own teams by not sharing talent information with other coaches. The result is an extreme spread between the worst and best teams in each division. The new coaches always get stuck with the least talent and the new (volunteer) coaches don’t keep coaching. The teams that play against overwhelming odds slough off underdeveloped athletes and less than average athletes when the athletes and parents realize the odds are literally stacked against them every season. After years of the exclusive “broken draft” concentrating the talent on only a few teams even better than average players eventually don’t want to play any more. Our league can barely put together 100 players in the U14 division and there are roughly 1200 kids 11-13 in this town. They can’t field a U19 division, and out of 1600 kids in the one regular public high school, only roughly 100 try out for the soccer teams (boys and girls combined). The leaders of the league don’t notice the number of children the broken draft has turned into non-soccer players because there are always a few new kids that give soccer a try that are used to fill the worst teams, or they don’t care because the need for their own travel team to stick together during the regular season outweighs the need to attempt to level the known talent across the division.


We went to club so we could have a coach who doesn't have a son on the team , but some of the parents with the worst values have a lot of pull with the director and therefore the coaches, because the coaches follow the directors lead in favoritism towards these people.


I have coach for over 8 years and played for a long time in the UK I don’t like the way the girls are treated they get put in mixed groups then expected to play and help out the women’s teams. When they are under age. They are not getting Consistent training i.e. first touch, running with the ball, striking the ball. We need to bring in a system where they play from under tens under Twelves under 14’s then youth girls. Then they go into women’s team if they want to their decision not ours not the coaches it their decision. Lots of good young girls are walking away from the Beautiful game because of this in Australia anyway. I coach a under 14s team and I have 1 girl in my team Why Why The girls play harder than the boys. They can be just as good We need to look at this it’s a Big problem. Take care all Dean👍 Keep safe


Greatest goal is for our player to have an amazing knowledge and love for the game.. Also the friendships it offers so early in life and work ethics learned are very important.


The never ending push for more - better team, better tournament the joy gets lost


He works so hard outside practice and during practice and the game tactics of the Coach do not change at all. He only plays 50% of a game. The Coach bullies him about the time his spends on school work during his practice and laughs at him. If a question is asked to the Coach, the Coach takes the questions in a defensive way. It has been the worst experience we had with a Coach!

Chad Stilley

Where I live there are to many clubs so the talent pool is broken up. This has made it difficult to compete against larger clubs that have true tryouts.




Siggi Nagele

Expectations of parents and pressure put on the athletes


Greatest Goal: For my kid to make friends and do exercise. Greatest Problem/Challenge/Frustration: The team has had several coaches since when the program started, there is no direction from the Coach during the games, there are very few kids on the team, so they can't get much rest during the games.


Hello all, I am curious if there is a fail proof document that explains the different avenues of youth soccer. I have a 10 year old and 13 year old son and they love soccer. We as parents both played college and we love soccer. I have done my homework and have a great understanding of the options however when I speak with parents the general feeling is that they have no idea. They ask me questions and I fing myself copying and pasting links to help educate them. I find this crazy that clubs are not educating the pathways for the children! Any feedback is appreciated.


be happy, be strong, other parents, bad life

Larry Kilmer

First, I want to thank you on your selection of Larry Young. I’ve watched up close as we coach together at St. Jude’s, it’s all very genuine. Secondly as a Father of 11, who all 11 have played soccer and a coach myself from the youth through the college level over the past 40 years, it’s much needed what your organization is doing. It all comes down to the importance of winning and that desire for some parents at all the levels, fuels an undesired behavior. That’s why for me Larry Young was a great help and change. If more people could appreciate the greatness of just getting out and competing, who cares who wins, in a sense that would be great. Anyways, keep up the good work and keep getting your message out. Larry Kilmer


We have two children that participated in rec soccer in the U4 leagues to start off. I believe U4 should not be focus on an actual game but drills and getting introduced to soccer. If 25% of that age group understand kicking it to the goal while the other 75% just stand around and wonder what the heck is going on or just run around. If it was setup only like practice I think they would enjoy it more.

Scott J

Assess levels of participation and commitment in different kid activities


My son is 6 and I am not a soccer player so he's just becoming familiar with the game. Somehow it seems as if some of the kids he is playing with have been playing for years. I don't know the best way for him to keep up with his teammates so that he doesn't become frustrated and want to leave a game he seems to really enjoy.


Coaching system with club. The coaches remain with the team from U8-U19. This means that players and their families who have been there since the beginning are favored.

Jen M.

It seems the cost of soccer is increasing exponentially and we are almost in a place of not being able to afford it for two boys who are U11 and U12 players. Why?

Nicole Solomos

My biggest concern is that she has a completely inappropriate coach. He is sending atrocious emails and threatens to suck the enjoyment out of the game for these current fifth graders.


Lack of quality coaching with a better understanding of the modern game and key characteristics of modern coaching responsibilities

Coach J.A. ESHUN

I'm a coach and I'm goal oriented type. I only focus on winning or achieving my stated objectives. Developing a player to be physically fit from young age to professional is not that easy, it takes long time and energy for a player to improve in his or her performance. Not only the physiological fitness but also their intelligence of the game....I mean their psychological preparedness also counts.


(Im)Balance of developing players and winning games


We are Mattews grandparents and have been encouraging him to stay in sports as he ages. He is now a seventh grader in the Monosory (sp?) Charter school in the old La Sierra H S. campus. He did very well in his recreational level soccor there but was getting bored the last couple of years. So, we said we'd pay for competitive level w/you guys if he makes the try-outs. I guess it would be like a walk on. We've been trying to figure out what he'll need but as best as we can determine from the website, he just shows up and we pay his fees, I think that's it. We think his try out will be May 6 @5-7. (Carnegie) I did place a phone call to one of the voluteers, but we have not verbally talked w/anyone yet. We just hope we are doing whatever is necessary to give Matthew Derby his opportunity to try out. Art

Isa Fowler

Sideline behavior, consistency of referees, costs and inclusivity


A struggle to find Coaches that encourage and help the players.

Blaine caliz

My greatest challenge is to get parents involved with what the youths are interested in.


The lack of quality training sessions my son receives. Everything is either static drill based or set piece training. There is little game context and therefore rarely translates to the game on the field on match day.


Negative coaching where players are afraid to make mistakes


Why Is Competitive Soccer (Travel) So Expensive?...They Give Us A Breakdown Of Where The Money Goes , But It Seems To Get More Expensive Every Year?


My son has been playing up for 2 years/4 seasons now (was 7 playing u10 and then 8 on U11). The club decided to switch it without a conversation or anything. So my issue is communication (lack of) and concern that my son will still be challenged if we stay there.


It’s very hard to let kids (even under 12) participate in other activities or sports with the intense level of commitment required of select soccer. So much sports parenting advice says to encourage multiple sports but it’s not doable with how youth sports are set up now.


The move to have everyone play travel or club so that it is more about that than the game.


My son has worked hard for a travel team. Each year he makes the second team His coach other parents and other teams think he deserves to play my challenging teams. I always encourage him to play his best no matter what team he is on.

George C

Making sure kids enjoy playing.


Club lacks a plan. Leaves coach to fend for herself.


As a grandparent raising my grandson in soccer, being a full time nurse and all, sometimes need a personal assistant to keep up with all the scheduling of practices, games, tournaments, and camps! My grandson loves soccer and I wouldn’t change it for the world!!

Josh H

Lack of competition within the state due to DA teams only being able to play/train against other DA team. (Colorado). Luckily DA will go away for younger players and DA will start at U-15. But for now, the P1 division in Colorado is pretty weak with many good players and teams, tied to DA.


I’ve found that the club my son plays for limits parent involvement during practice (yelling, coaching from the sideline, etc) which I am completely fine with and support. But this also meanS that we hardly interact with the coach. Everything goes through the team mom. So it’s hard to get feedback or ask what we should be working on with him to better him.

Scott Martin

Lack of commitment by others at the select level -- typicaly parents.


Placement or playing time decisions for kids being based on something other than the player’s effort.

Lisa F

U14 players who received significantly less play time, without any explanation or plan of action. Because there usually isn’t communication with the player or parent, we can only guess that the coach perceives other players as having a higher potential. However, trying to identify players in this age range who are generally talented is unrealistic and difficult, given the degree that youth change their physical, psychological, cognitive and emotional domains from early adolescence to adulthood. The impact of putting too much emphasis on competitiveness or being the best team at this age, can result in the loss of young athletes whose potential has not been fully developed. This should not be acceptable for youth play. All players should be provided with feedback on strengths, weaknesses and goals to improve their skill. Players grow through real life experience, and not giving similar play time to all members at this level, only widens the gap. Players who are progressing more rapidly should be considered for starting positions and possibly tapped to play up. Players who need to be developed should be given the instruction and opportunity to improve. Doing both of these things strengthens youth soccer as a whole.


How to assist my daughter in skills acquisition outside of team practice, to know if she is spending her time wisely on the path to reach her goals. She works so hard at it and loves soccer — but not being a soccer coach it is difficult to know if she is working on the right things at the right time — and doing them in a way that will help her reach her goals (consistently starting, being a difference maker in game moments, improving 1v1 skills). Our family has loads of fun watching soccer together (nwsl, premier league, uswnt) but you see the end product of years of playing— not the daily type of focused work that these players took to gain their skills when younger. She’s fortunate to be at a fantastic development focused club which inspires her to work on improving skills outside of practice (take ownership) — but as she works on her skills on her own and with us in our backyard, the gym, or at the local parks, it would be nice to help guide her... to know if she is working smart. At this point (as a middle schooler) her skill levels and understanding of the game often exceed our own and it’s hard to know how to provide feedback or resources that can help guide her.

Jamee McBride

My biggest frustration with youth soccer is: the most experienced coaches are placed with the older age groups. I wish youth soccer would realize that the most experienced coaches should be placed at the youth age groups. The opportunity to teach early technical development is lost at a young age.



Wolf Heim

Greatest frustration: that parents (and coaches) often over complicate and "professionalize" youth sports at the youngest ages. I see too many children turned off to sports in general simply because it becomes too regimented, too focused on winning - e.g. "not fun". And, as a referee, I often see, via our coaches and parents, poor role modeling for values like sportsmanship, kindness, and fairness. We can (and will) do better. Parents, coaches, and referees each have their part - I welcome any forum that promotes awareness and dialogue!


Keeping my child in a healthy positive environment where she will thrive as a player


Sideline behavior


Getting her to.understand that u cant jst jog you have to run and be aggressive.

Tyson FC

My biggest frustration is the predominantly white, affluent, suburban view that a college scholarship is the pinnacle of player development in the US. The bigger picture must be taken into account, to improve the stature of our domestic professional leagues (and their academies), produce world class footballers as well as success at the national team level (gold cup, nations league, world cup). This goes for the women's side too as their Title IX head start on the rest of the world has run out. Meanwhile, proper footballing nations have established, top quality infrastructure to grow and improve their women's programs at a much faster rate.


Coaches need to take injury prevention exercises seriously and make time for them in practices. Our team had 3 players with ACL tears and parents requested time for injury prevention exercises but nothing was offered.


Access to quality instruction. Cost and availability of programs close to us is a barrier.


#1 Lack of personalization of my child’s development plan. #2 lack of competitive teams in our area, though there is tons of talent but mostly in areas that can’t afford club dues. Pay to play hurts the sport.

Cris S.

Lack of education on injury prevention. The clubs/coaches warm the kids up before practice. Wish they would also do a 5 minute cool down/stretch session at the end of practice.

Richard Dawson

Hi, my name is unimportant but the site I am very proud to be a part of has been available to the public for over 20 plus years. No small feat for a small VOLUNTEER group of dedicated soccer ahem footie or football enthusiasts trying their best to share the beauty, wonder, and KNOWLEDGE of the beautiful game! Dedicating their free time and using their experience to share valuable insights so many crave when reviewing a decision or match action. It is a referee site dedicated to assisting not only officials in their understanding of the game but ALL participants within the game! From the child, teen to adult, the parent, players of all ages and skillsets, coaches managers, fans, and spectators from all parts of the globe who desire a REAL LOOK into the game, the harmonic concepts within the written & spirit of LOTG, splashed with dollops of philosophy, sarcastic humor, actual wisdom and a sprinkling of common sense when explaining the actions and decisions made during a match. If I was to describe the character of the site with one word it is INTEGRITY! if I needed another it would be LOVE. Words are meaningless without the actions that define them or a free soul living the faith that backs them up! We share in the hope and ideas of the concept to MAKE YOUTH SOCCER BETTER and welcome any & all to visit our site of ASKTHEREF.COM to assist with this endeavor. From our pitch to your pitch in the spirit of Fair Play Cheers Richard Dawson


I don't have any specific concerns with our local club, it is well organized and my daughter's experience is positive. I'll say though with youth soccer in general we need an alternate or blended model instead of just pay to play; I think too many players may get excluded based on cost alone. I've heard this discussed by many national soccer commentators, but is it on the radar for the big organizations all the way up to USSF?


My biggest frustration with youth soccer in America and my children is how much politics are involved with such young children who love the game and just want to have fun but adults who run these clubs everywhere are pretending it’s more then just a business . Not one club in my area is really developing a kid, they are building teams if 9 year olds to win a game today!


Parents yelling at the refs who are high school kids just learning how to referee. I coach young girls rec soccer. The games should be fun and build soccer skills. Some parents don’t realize it could be their own kids in a few years refereeing. My goal this year is to be more proactive on addressing this behavior and supporting the youth refs.


Parents unreasonable expectations of their son or daughter. The pressure placed on their kid(s), to perform at a level they just are not at yet or even capable, continues to be an issue with club soccer.


Understanding a clear pathway of college recruitment. So many different companies trying to convince you to spend a lot to be “found”.

teddy tanker

the problem faced at my club is not understanding the athletes' parents who will aim at fostering soccer players at an early age. their parents rate the goodness of a team by winning trophies or medals in a championship. whereas soccer coaching at an early age is the joy of playing and being friends with the ball.


Coaches who teach technical and tactical skills rather than just focus on winning and the poor transition from light competitive to serious competitive.

Mike Smith

Choosing a team and signing a contract, this is too much pressure for parents/kids.


Some of the challenges that come with our specific youth soccer experience is the lack of communication or misinformation that is put out by the club to the parents. Most parents are trying to make informed and educated decisions for their child and it becomes difficult to do so when partial or no information is communicated about the club and its various processes. In addition, I believe many parents (myself included) are finding it challenging to navigate or work through the constant "grass is greener" mentality of some soccer parents. There is this prevailing sentiment that other clubs or organizations are offering something "better" and parents are moving their children around like pawns in search for that elite experience that may or may not lead to a scholarship or professional contract. At times, I find that it can create a toxic environment for the team, players, club and parents.


Greatest Goal - Have my player reach their full potential (whatever that may be) and keep her playing through her teen years Challenge - Not enough individual feedback (in the moment) to really impact technical skills and make her a better player


I feel competive soccer does not have enough practice time or game time for the younger groups compared to those they play against. For the cost I think the uniforms and tournaments should be covered in the registration fee. There is a need for car pooling. Having away games during a weekday is difficult. It would be nice if parents could work together with all team member parents with getting the children to their games/practices. Being able to communicate if there is a need would be helpful.

Alex Flamm

Coaches not playing their players, you don't develop of you're not playing.


Lack of support for injury prevention

Rebecca Holzman

Poor, intractable coaching


My greatest goal is to give each every player opportunities to further develop their talent to the highest level of performance and during that journey they should be able to enjoy themselves and have as much fun as possible.

My challenge is Sponsorships needed to train them sufficiently and also to take them on tours as that can be a tool to evaluate their progress.

But with that said i enjoy be part of the players development... i wish i could do more for them.

Amy Garges

With rec soccer, two things I worry about and have challenges with. 1) Lack of proper coaching for each child's needs and 2) Other parents who "over coach" from the sidelines which I feel may affect my child


My biggest frustration is that soccer has become more about the needs of coaches (and their families) than what's good for players (and their families). In California the season never really ends. At very early ages, kids practice way too much and play way too many games and tournaments. This is largely because for most coaches, it is their primary job and they rely on the income to support their families. If the schedule was more appropriate for kids in terms of breaks and ability to fit in other sports, coaches would not make enough money to live here. Kids need time off to recuperate mentally and physically. They need to actually miss the game. This never happens and I am seeing players having to stop playing other sports (or vice versa) to accommodate the soccer schedule. It's not healthy but it seems to be all about the coaches and their income above all else.


Greatest Goal: To see my child learn the value of working with her teammates, appreciating and leveraging each other's own individual skills and abilities, and together achieving a positive shared experience.


The inconsistency of coaching, philosophy, and player experience within the same club. This makes it very difficult to keep multiple children within the same organization.


Politics. Cost. Competitive teams that do not necessarily choose the best player to make the team but rather the family who is the most connected. Lack of transparency.


The greatest challenge is to make right decision in finding the best soccer club and coach for my child’s development.


The coach only focuses on technical ability and does not address character building or curiosity to try new positions


Parent - lack of coaches in smaller communities forces many parents to coach their own children. What a nightmare! Coach - ensuring we deliver quality soccer programming that is fun. Club - the growing lack of volunteerism is heart breaking and draining on those who do step forward.


My goal is for my son to experience being apart of a team being able to socialize appropriately with his peers having fun working together creating positive relationships and working towards making goals on the field which can transfer over to him understanding how to work towards meeting goals in life! Plus the physical activity component as well!

Hector Basabro

Thank you for the opportunity (always on behalf of the football-soccer in America). Every younger interested in this beautiful sport has the right to receive the proper coaching time and effort, this is our obligation and only purpose. Just remove the carrot about "get some fun", the right personality of your coach is contagious and it works all the time. And yes, get some fun, responsibility a little effort and respect, this is the equation in every sport.


Poor coaching--it's become a blatant money grab. The coach will present his club as "academy" super competitive, you pay a premium for supposed great coaching, and the reality is the coach takes any kid with a pulse, doesn't do anything unique and has no communication with partents


Lack of transparency. Instead of giving accurate, fair feedback, telling kids and parents what they want to hear so they keep coming back as paying customers. Most people can handle the truth if they're given a viable path to maximize their growth and enjoyment of the game.


In my experience, Club Boards can be a huge problem. They tend to be "old boys' clubs." Board members are groomed to further the identified direction of a person or small group. Women are often relegated to 'secretary' positions only. Board members sometimes bully coaches and use their position to take the best times & facilities (even when it was previously scheduled). Although membership mtgs happen, the larger membership is privy to only what the Board wants them to hear & many private mtgs take place to make the actual decisions. I realize volunteerism is on the decline these days, but I wonder if there is a way to foster healthier systems at the club level.


We just had the worst experience with Team Boca. Coaches do not coach, management does not care and most parents stay quiet. I was told by the club director to trust them or leave the club. We just wasted an entire year. Something needs to be done. There has to be some type of standards set for these clubs.


What is the best way to structure an organization (focused on 12U and under) so that there is a path for every player, it’s developmentally appropriate, focus is on development not winning, parents are engaged and educated, and retention rates are high?

Richard Doty

The biggest problem is the lack of guidance at a national level. US Soccer would be well-served by an over-arching guideline rather than a bunch of leagues that compete with one another for clubs to join them. It's frustrating to have me 'the league' and then suddenly a new 'it' league appears and all the clubs now have to vie for a new place in this new league. It's confusing. It's frustrating for parents and players. It's very disheartening to many players to have to keep learning what the new league is. This dissolution of leagues and the appearance of new leagues is absolutely ridiculous and is driven, seemingly, solely by money. It's hurting the game in the United States and we'll never become a greater soccer nation until we can figure this out.


Cost of the sport.


My sons are very good players. My goal is to help them continue to learn and improve while remaining humble and supportive of their team mates.

Michael Huber

The greatest frustration is the over-emphasis on outcomes, rather than player and program development. Children and adolescents develop at different rates physically, emotionally, and cognitively. Coaching should be tailored to coaching the young person rather than a short-term outcome, such as winning tournaments or leagues.


Unregulated, expensive cost for academies of questionable quality in Australia

Paul Martinson

Greatest frustration, problem, challenge, that's easy. Coaches and parents who intimidate referees (especially under 20!) and try to call the game for them. This behavior is not only disrespectful to the referees, but creates an extremely unfair game for the players who generally love the game.


I’m trying to coach my sons 9u rec team so that he can play with his friends & have fun, but as they get older the competition (& skill gaps between players) is increasing. I’m not concerned about winning, but some kids don’t seem to be there to pay attention & get better.


The need for parents to respectfully inquire with the coach when they have questions or concerns, instead of being disgruntled and stewing.


Finding high quality keeper coaches

Joel Reavie

Frustration from other parents when the coaches son is continually picked regardless of his form or attitude


I think my biggest frustration is twofold. First, my son loves soccer so much and hopes one day to play professionally. We live in KY which does not have a lot of exposure or opportunities for him It is hard to navigate what you should do or how to help him reach his goals. Secondly, everything is so expensive and there is just a limit to what I can provide for him. I wish there was a better way for kids to get the opportunity to improve without the several hundred dollar price tag attached to it.


Greatest goal is to have my child learning the tactical principles of the game so he can apply them at whatever level he plays at.


Teamwork is my number one goal for my son to really focus on. It takes everyone to accomplish greatness and remember there is no I in TEAM.

Cyprian McFarlane

The quality and knowledge of the coaches at the very youngest age groups. We need the best or better coaches at the younger age groups, but in order to gain those coaches they need to be compensated and that will drive up the cost of early year programs that might discourage parents from registering their children. A possible solution is for clubs and organizations to find ways to subsidize the coaching costs at the younger ages to keep the programs affordable while allowing the organizations to hire more qualified staff.

John Lostumbo

12 month soccer season. Stop this idea that youth athletes need to be full-time at 1 sport in order to be the "best". Have shorter seasons so all kids under the age of 17 can play different sports and activities. Children should play soccer, baseball/softball, hockey, basketball, dance, Tae Kwon Do/Karate, swimming, etc. Youth sports should be fun, not a means for a college scholarship (that most will not get) or idea that they will become a professional athlete (that even fewer will achieve).

CM Caron

My daughter occasionally says she hates soccer and then when I ask her if she wants to sign up for clinics she says yes and has a great time. Then, 2 weeks later, she'll again say she hates soccer. I never know what to believe!

Aaron Smith

The inconsistency in the sport. Referees are not knowledgeable about the game or rules, so players are not learning how to play correctly in the moments of the game. Our kids injuries are preventable a lot of times. Do youth soccer referees actually know what persistent infringement is?? Then we have inconsistency in the play. Either coaches teach kids to play properly as a team with passing, good touches OR they teach to run fast, kick the ball hard and long. Many teams who play a kickball style of soccer are very physical and rough as if they are playing rugby or american football. The comments from coaches, parent enthusiast's and players themselves demonstrate they do not know how to play the game the way it is supposed to be played. Our kids get injured. This is all destructive towards the game and development of our youth.


Scheduling! Soccer leagues are notoriously bad at scheduling and major USYS league dates conflict with US Club dates.


Lack of communication between parents and coaches on the team's philosophy, training curriculum, and developmental milestones. I cannot gauge if the coaching my children are receiving is actually improving their tactical and technical skill.


Just a joke the DA or MLS thing. Waste of time and money. Don't be fool

Stan E Settle

Recruitment, organization, and coordination of volunteers The benefits of club membership include meaningful relationships, whether you are 6 or 46. Friendships come from shared experiences. Volunteering is a shared experience. An environment of volunteerism combats the high cost of club soccer and contributes to the development environment our players deserve. The players and coaches will fall short of their goals without administrative services: communications, advertising, registration, scheduling, referee assignment, field maintenance, uniforms, game/training facilities, etc. We must pay for services we don't want to do ourselves, we don't have time to do, and those we are not qualified to perform. All other tasks require volunteers. Leadership, planning, and organization are required. Education and promotion of opportunities are where volunteering starts.


I used to have a big problem with my kids practicing soccer in our backyard... they kept kicking the ball into the neighbor's yards and breaking things. I found a solution to's called Open Goaaal. It's a soccer goal with a built in backstop rebounder that keeps missed shots in your own yard!


To many clubs in the area and parents/players who team hop between the winning teams and clubs instead of focusing on development and building fundamentals and team/club unity first.

Siad Norman

Daughters coach for pregame warm up said that was a horrible pass. First time i heard something like this from her coach. Going to monitor. My daughter just turned 10 so she is young


A big challenge I see is club soccer coaches too focused on winning and talking to their players in non-constructive manners during practices and games. Instead of using constructive feedback they use harsh commentary in front of teammates thinking it will motivate players. While some kids can play through this type of behavior I've seen this shut down other players, make them feel like lesser players, afraid to make mistakes and ultimately make some walk away from the game. We had this happen with our kid at U9 where a bad coaching hire created a toxic environment and split the team. Complaints to the club went ignored but that person got themselves fired over an incident not related to our team. We left that club after that season since our child felt the club didn't care and was wanting a better environment even though their friends all stayed. However now that our child is U12 I'm seeing a lot of non-constructive feedback from many coaches including from within my kid's current club. Winning at this age especially during tournaments seems more important than development of all players. Listening to some of these coaches during games you'd think the World Cup was being played. I firmly believe that part of the problem is the pay-to-play environment where winning is seen as a tool to attract players to clubs. The other problem is parents are afraid to speak up and hold clubs accountable for bad behavior fearing retribution even though they are the clients. Too often others will completely agree but refuse to join the conversation when there is a clear issue so they protect their interests first and foremost.

Rebecca F.

Finding the balance of supporting and “pushing”.


'pay to play' is killing 'recreation soccer'


We need more skills training ( that is fun) at youth soccer level as the kids are reaching 10-11 and still have poor technique on shooting or long pass kicks


Club (and parent) focus is on the team and "what club is better"... Rather than the individual player development.


One of the biggest issues we face is referee attrition due to spectator abuse.

Bill Howe

I have been a Regional coach and coaching instructor in Ontario (northern), Canada for more years than I can remember. I am also a parent who experienced a nightmare with parents of the team I coached where my son also played. It caused me to quit, after 35 years of coaching. Parents can often become too involved in how a team is coached, sometimes to the extreme. In my situation, it was like a piraña feeding frenzy. Our short term thinking and focus on results is killing both the game, the coaches and the kids. Short term results are far more important than long term development. I have completely lost interest in the whole “Rep”, concept. Scaling competitive levels is fine, but introducing the “Select / Elite” into our programs causes more harm than good. We need to rethink what we are doing and why. If our certified coaches, club systems and national level programs are top notch, how is it that we lose so many children between the ages of 12 - 14? Further, why is it that third world countries without decent grass fields, proper equipment, uniforms and certified coaches, produce far more high performance players than we do in North America. I know pat of the answer, but I found few willing to listen. “What’s the point if there are no trophies to play for.” Zinedine Zidan, one of the top players and coaches in the world and a World Cup winner said it best. “All of the success I have had in football, I owe to my friends, playing on the street.” Hmmm


Winning over debelopment

Ray S.

I think there needs to be a national database for Soccer coaches to be evaluated in a way that gives parents a good snap shot of the coach and his coaching style. Here in Texas we pay well over $3,000.00 per player for a soccer year. It has been so hard to find a decent coach that continually teaches the fundamentals of the game to each kid so they know their position and their teammates positions so that they can understand this beautiful game better from a earlier age. The Coaches Salary comes from coaching. So, winning becomes more important at times then developing the team and the players.


The negative impact parents have on the game and experience that makes it not fun for their kids.


Coach is distracted and scattered- says a plan and doesn’t follow through

James rohl

My goal is to help parents give their kids the best opportunity to play without criticism or pressure and be kids while still developing and getting better


My biggest frustration is my son's relationship with his coach. He is the main goalie for his team and I don't feel the coach supports my son well enough. He's only 12 and has many more years of learning in the net. He needs to build his confidence as well as his skill. I feel badly when I don't see his coach give him the much-needed assistance physically and emotionally.


Poor performance by refs and not calling overly physical play. Players are not kept safe. It is the rule rather than the exception

John Decker

Consistent refereeing where the game is called equally and the safety of the players is a top priority. I've seen some horrifying displays of refereeing over the past several years at the U9 - U12 range. This poor display and inconsitency creates hostilities between the ref and parents as well as opposing parents and even coaches. My 11 yo son has had more trips to the ER as a result of slide tackles from behind than I'd like to count resulting in sprains, luckily not a broken ankle. In another game he was physically assaulted from behind by a player from the other team who did a flying karate kick as he was walking out of the opposing sides penalty area while the ball was out of bounds 25 yards away. No call was made and the players was allowed to continue in the game. In 40+ years of soccer, I recently saw for the first time a ref leave the game during a tournament and have another ref finish the match because the opposing coach questioned a call he made (which was incorrect). The match was delayed until the other ref made his way to the field.

Shannon S

For our local youth soccer association, there has become a huge problem of higher ups creating the "perfect" teams and not allowing enough diversity/varying skill levels amongst the players. They have also begun requiring a copy of birth certificate which they never used to require before. We have a child who used to play years ago and now we are signing up our 4 year old to start. We are against providing a copy of the birth certificate for a variety of reasons, and feel that it is also restricting other parents of diverse backgrounds and/or immigrants from allowing their children to join simply to prove age. Not once have we ever seen this to be a problem, and have even coached ourselves a couple of seasons with no problems. We are fighting this!


My son is U18 player. What I have seen over the years is the growing lack of respect from some players for the ref's and other players. The ref''s and or coaches are not always taking control of the individuals in the game behaving this way. For instance yesterday a player "bully" actually spit on the parents on the sideline. Coaches and Refs have authority over these players, they cannot control the behavior but they can address the issue with somesort of consequence to this behavior. Some ref's seem to look the otherway as do some coaches or are coaches "coaching" this behavior? Respect for your fellow team, ref's, parents, etc.

Scott Baxter

To try to help them navigate the politics of favoritism, tryouts, and the inability to explore different playing positions.... while trying to have fun at the club level.


The one loud mouth parent that constantly yells out to his/her son/daughter instructions on how to play the game. Frequently, these instructions go against what the coaches have given the kids, and also the lack of knowledge of the actual laws of the game.


Coaches that still scream at players and dont give 10yr olds fair playing time. Even in club soccer, they are TEN. At this age they all deserve to play a fair amount if they are there putting in the work.


There are not enough players in the age groups to form teams. Much of this due to grown men and their inability to get along in the soccer community. Also, there has been the lack of an effective, consistent leader in the community soccer program.


Lack of communication between parents and coach. Sometimes stemming from nonresponses.


The lack of accountability in the professional and personal conduct of the adults involved in youth soccer and the implications of those behaviors on the children playing and participating.

Jason Babin

Quality referees are hard to find. As my son gets older and the games more physical it is important to have a referee that can control the game to prevent it from getting out of hand.


We brought her to play on a DA team and are sadly disappointed with the lack of training she receives. We thought it would be the most highest and intense level of training and it isn’t.


Building resiliency and confidence

Patrick M Cates

Everyone just having a good time and not being too serious

Ray Beers

Too many clubs competing for the same pool of players.

brian heacock

Now that more parents have past playing experience it is so difficult to control parent coaching from the sidelines. Looking for parent education on best ways for parents to communicate from the sidelines.


My greatest goal for the youth soccer experience is to create a supportive environment where players can learn, thrive and have fun on the field and then become leaders off the field.


The lack of communication between coach and parents. The manner professional coaches are speaking to young female athletes. Sending them home to parents who have no idea what the message behind the comments were and having to manage the emotions of the young female athlete.


The price and politics of youth soccer.


The lack of good referees. So many refs are out of shape and cannot keep up with the flow of the game. When calls are missed because the ref is out of position is causes goals. This ruins the games for the kids.


My biggest concern in my area is parent/child dedication. By that I mean that if your child is playing on a team that requires a certain level of commitment to practices and trainings in order to make that team better. Then parent/child should make it a priority to be there. Now I understand that there are times when that isn’t possible but it should be high on the list. I have a child that is very driven to making herself and her team better and it frustrates her that she does her best to be at every training, practice and game and some of the other players don’t. Also as a parent making extra efforts to get my child to all of this. It is difficult when other parents don’t or wont make the same effort.


Undereducated or undertrained coaches. Lack of organization/communication through league/coaches. Undereducated parents (myself included!) regarding all things soccer!


Keeping soccer fun so he wants to play and practice enough to improve without burning out.


The insistence of winning by coaches and parents instead of devolopement of skills and possesion

Chris A

My son is a U5 and it's already a challenge to keep him engaged and wanting to play and practice soccer with all the distractions he has.

Victor Martins

That my child loves to play and has a passion for the game. Enjoys playing each game and wants to train all of the time. Trains alone and understands how to play the game with a purpose win or lose, leaves the field happy and wanting to play again with pride and confidence.

Shane Hoover

Besides my general dislike of the pay for play model; the lack of resources using soccer, team and sportsmanship as a building tool for the individual as opposed to developing a soccer player. My perception of the club putting money ahead of culture as exemplified by granting power to the loudest, most self-interested parent mouths and what many see as a willingness to add as many teams at every age level to collect fees to be more profitable/support the operation of the DA. My greatest goal is for my son to look back at his experience playing soccer fondly and develop a life-long love of the game.


Greatest Challenge; for me is trying not to become too invested. I see how hard my kid works and to watch other kids on his team loaf. As well as knowing how hard he works to have referees take games over and make the game about themselves.


1.) Knowing what is the appropriate level of coaching, competition and soccer commitment at each age level. Once my kids reached travel club soccer, they were more committed and we expected a higher level of coaching/training and it still felt like intramural. What is the normal? What should be expected? 2.) When is the right time in soccer (right age level) to start defining positions for the athletes (coach and athlete together)? Is it best to play several positions or once a certain age to have a primary position and a secondary one too? 3.) We play soccer year round. Is it healthy to enjoy one sport and be committed to that sport (after trying many sports for 4-5 years as smaller kids)? What is the impact of that? 4.) Soccer coaching level. Once at club travel team level, our expectation was that the coach understood the game of soccer, and would coach offline (at practices, not as much at trainings). What is the right amount of coaching a coach should do from the sidelines (and at which ages levels)? At younger ages it would seem more, as they get older less? 5.) Coaching. Reprimand privately, praise publically. Is this not still accurate for a coaching style? You lead by example and have discussions with your team or I social athletes privately if lessons need to be taught, but praise and cheer in public. Is that the right approach? Not yelling at the athletes and screaming during games, correct?

Israel Vigil

I would like our soccer or any sport facilities to be more oriented to include the entire family. It would be very helpful to have a park or any sort of playing structure for the sibling or siblings who are not participating at the sporting event. Every day I see younger siblings, those too young to play, glued to electronics or simply extremely bored because there is nothing available for them to play on. It is reprehensible that a city, like Santa Rosa doesn't focus in improving parks or again installing playing structures where they are badly needed. There are dozens of parks all over Santa Rosa, with playing structures that are over 20 years old , some of them broken and some of them with barely anything. I believe every league in this town should unite, rather than operate like adversaries to procure better facilities from this municipality . Remember, there is strength in numbers. Thanks for letting me express my thoughts. Respectfully Israel Vigil


Coaching my son and not being too hard on him

Jeremy Adams

The cost of participation at a competitive level excludes a lot of potential soccer players. To participate in anything beyond a local travel team can cost over $4,000 a year, this prices many people out of the sport. My goal would be to get more financial support from US Soccer to help provide low cost/free soccer training for more kids like it is in Europe.


Skills are still not taught travel team level, the strikers and midfielders still lean back and soar the ball over the goal.

Darren O.

The youth soccer has to many morning Sunday games

cliff roberts

Referees and parents. Refs have a very difficult job and there are not enough good people interested in the position to put up with it all, but they still need to be judged and held accountable, as there are some very poor referees who continue to be employed to help ruin games. Parents should have the right, and the duty, to rate the referees after the game, positive and negative. Referees should also have the right and duty to yellow and red card parents more often. The game should be stopped and the offending parent’s name and player should be noted, and all cards reported to their club. Referees put up with too much abuse, allowing parents to yell things across the field at them they would never say to their face.


The willingness to sacrifice the child’s human development and experience and all the good things that are available with playing an organized sport, in exchange for a team’s win/loss record.

Erin Goldberg

The biggest challenge with youth soccer is changing the culture. Although, soccer is making great strides over other sports to change the culture, we still have a long way to go . In addition to changing the culture, I would like to see more WOMAN involved in the sport on the youth level. I have 3 girls and they have all had male coaches with the exception of me.



Jason Feix

Generally she has had a great experience! I think the biggest issue with youth sports in general are parents on the sidelines. There is way too many comments toward refs and way too much "parent coaching". All of the comments from many parents is not only distracting but also causes unessesary confusion and pressure for the kids. Sometimes it's hard to watch to be honest.

Larry Kilmer

No matter what the type of league, level of play, the overall tone of a team is set by the coach or coaches of the team. Many of these coaches are parents too, and having the right positive attitude is critical to overall success of the whole experience for the player and team.


Stability in a club- my hope is that we will find or create an environment that is competitive with stability and talent.

Michael Mollay

All or nothing proposition; labeled a competitive player and pay the high fees, or be labeled a rec player with little chance or opportunity to advance your game.

Jeff Tipping

Superb. You give parents and youth coaches some brilliant ideas.

Michael Ayala

Hello Many kids are experience frustration in early ages like 7-10-12 and 14 years then it should be a main the reason of quit soccer before they get 17 or 18 years. So is it right to don not join them in tournaments before they reach 15 years? Thank you


Having a child playing DA for a MLS academy, it’s frustrating to see the lack of knowledge of the coaching staff for developing young players. Seems like some coaches still want to play the big and and the faster kids vs the kids that’s have vision of the game and are more technically skilled. They appear to be developing athletes and not soccer players. It’s also frustrating to see how some MLS academies just due the bare minimum with the kids, jut to meet the DA requirements. The minimums amount of practices, the minimum amount of games while other MLS academies are exposing their players to international tournaments, scrimmages.


Hello. For me personally, as the parent of three children, two of whom play soccer, the main concern is the safety of my children. I do not want to make them megastars, I just want them to play for fun. But after I learned about the statistics on injuries and mortality after collisions with the soccer goals and when it falls, I can not feel calm while the children are training. Only in 2017 three deaths. And this is terrible. Even more terrible is that now there are safe goals that fully comply with the rules of the game of soccer. This is a new invention, almost nobody knows about it. When I gave a link to the description of this goal, I was told that they would not change the goal anyway, since they had recently bought new ones. No words. Know that you can reduce injuries and eliminate the risk, and not do it.


Consistency in awareness by parents and coaches of the objectives for player development remains a challenge. The "why" what we do matters more than the outcomes that many are used to assuming indicate success.


The cost. I have 2 kids playing and I feel the costs are excessive. We keep buying new uniforms and spend a lot of money paying to the club/academy and on tournaments. It’s ridiculous! I grew up in South America where children don’t pay a penny, everything is bought through fundraisers and tournaments are free.


My greatest frustration is the time/money/travel commitment that's required for club soccer. My son is never happier than when he's playing soccer, but the entire family sacrifices a great deal in the service of his sport. I not so secretly wish he could just play on a school team like we did in the good old days.

Daniel Mena

My frustration as a youth soccer player is the fouls. Since i'm tall and big, whenevr I go up against a small I don't go shoulder to shoulder with them because I'll get a foul. When they run into me and they fall and I get called a foul i get frustrated. It's dumb because it's their fault byrunning into me so they should'nt be getting possesion for running into someone and falling.


Winning over development. Same question. Same answer. As long as parents are the customer and not the child - winning over development will always be the problem.


Jeffrey Tipping

Too much emphasis on the score of the game and not enough emphasis on technical execution. Why not give points for the number of good passes a child makes rather than number of goals the team scores?

Candy Vo

Lack of communication. We just finished our first year in a soccer club and I had no idea what to expect as a parent. We had several different coaches and we didn't get any communication outside of the schedule or text regarding the schedule. My child is in 4th grade and relying on a 4th grader (9 year old) to communicate to us what was going on wasn't always the most productive way to go about things.


My biggest frustration is the lack of programs available that have a strict emphasis on development. The youth soccer environment is so competitive that unless you’re the most talented there aren’t many opportunities to work with the best developmental coaches.


it is crazy what we pay to have our child sit on the bench. I also think our culture could benefit from family time that does not revolve around an organized sport. The pandemic has brought that to light. What will we do with our time. Crazy that we always need to be on the go.


That many coaches do not educate a GK's teammates about both the pressure a goalie is under and that criticism when a goal goes through is not helpful. There seems to be little emphasis on the skill involved in goalkeeping and how their efforts need to be celebrated. As it was said to me once, a GK can save 10 goals but if one is scored people tend to focus on that rather than the previous 10 that were saved. I think teams could do with appreciating that they have someone willing to do the job!


With the transition from Rec to select and the number of options available to our child in the area we live in we are struggling knowing where to go or what to do about it. As a former college player and current youth coach I am ahead of the game compared to most parents but still feel a bit lost. We want our child to play in our community with his core group of friends and teammates but do not have enough top talented kids to have a U11 select team. I am looking to transition from coaching his age group to coaching our daughters age group (U6) and would like to just be a parent. My fear is that if I do not continue to coach there will not be a team in our community and that makes it even harder to keep kids playing.


Our coach and club putting forth effort into our girls team and not always the top teams.


People not understand by not having the knowledge to understand youth soccer and development.

Mike Trombetta

The so called club system. Traditionally strong town travel teams are a thing of the past with the abundance of these pop up clubs. Especially in NJ but most likely felt across each state. There is an element of a diluted talent pool and it’s a money grab with parents willing to pay for better training because they’re being told their kid is going to be the next Messi. If your child is playing above their current teams skill level and it’s obvious, how does the club system work, do you go look for one or do they find you?

C. Knight

Getting her interested & motivated in sports


the main issue for me about my children in soccer is how to protect them against injury. my 5 year doughter likes soccer. But soccer is a contact sport. And my goal-to make her practice as safety as it possible.

David Lawler

She doesn’t like her coach and he has been her coach for years.


Coaches who are not open with the process, development of players, and coaches who play "favorites".

Deborah Imbriale

My biggest concern is the parents, I need guidance. My daughter is 13, her passion for the game, her skill level and commitment is now the new rare, especially for her team. That really bothers me. She shouldn’t be! Soccer now is bizarre! It’s if you have the money mom and dad will pay for you to play. That’s not normal! Soccer players want to play they don’t come out and say it the show it. Watching it is pretty damn cool. Yes I played, played with the best, played with real soccer players and not seeking my youth through my kid. Been their done it in regard to my soccer days. However I wished she hated it! I really dislike like saying that because it’s an amazing sport. Playing time is never my complaint, she plays the entire time. My problem is the constant switching of trainers/ coaches because parents complain. Their is no stability nor voice for the kids. They are confused! Literally. Parents complain about a trainer, (a) the trainer can’t make your kid move, (b) they don’t have a magic wand and (c) you’re kid just isn’t Asoclese player. ( how doesn’t a parent notice it) ?. The lesson it’s teaching youth players is disturbing as out right wrong. My child asks me why and is this how soccer was when you played. My answer is do you think this is soccer?


Fragmentation of organizing bodies with no one clear path to the top


Parent coaches and parent league managers can create big frustration. Because neither my husband nor I coach, our kids have not been prioritized the same way that coaches' children have been. This is difficult to watch and to explain to children when they don't see the same opportunities that sometimes less talented/dedicated players enjoy.


My daughter was not selected for her u9 travel team and there was only recreational soccer available in our area that year. She scored so many goals in recreational soccer that they made her play goalie. She is very fast and playing travel now but needs to make up for lost time on her skills.


The greatest goal for my daughters in youth soccer: to continue to learn the game, be a good teammate, improve her skills, and have passion for the game.


Release your child to the experience. Let them own all the failures and then they will know they absolutely earned the successes. As a parent, coach or supporter your job is to be there to cheer and encourage them on. If you don’t release them to the game they will always look to you for decisions & miss the whole point & love of the sport. This is their experience, we all had our chance now is their turn to fall in love.


Pay to play model. Many talented youth do not have the resources, thus are often overlooked and denied an opportunity, to play travel/elite level soccer.


Travel for competitive games


Finding the right developmental pathway for my children that will allow them to achieve their goals not the club or coaches goals.


Why at a young age there has to be tryouts, I feel all should be welcomed and encouraged, and placed in the best environment without having to say better luck next year.


It is frustrating fighting my own desire to be competitive for my child and just allowing them to experience youth sports naturally. I have gradually learned to keep my mouth shut when they mess up or don't pay attention during a match. I was thinking the other day I dont sit in their classroom and criticize them, so why do it during a soccer match. It annoys me when other parents yell from the sidelines, so I guess we all should look in the mirror at some point and self evaluate our behaviour on the sidelines.


Good facilities to train and play


How much it all costs, and then the barriers of politics within the programs.


My greatest frustration with the youth soccer experience of my child is the expectation that is put on an 11 year old regarding their dedication to the sport. Our current youth soccer experience has been one where the coaches are very distant from the team/players and simply coach but do not offer any connection or coaching when it comes to where each player is at regarding their position or confidence when it comes to their play. At the level we have chosen to play our daughter is there because she wants to be and loves soccer but she is 11 so there will still be moments of doubt in her ability and I would think that coaches of this age would also be there to provide a bit of encouragement when those moments arise.


The coach runs drills but does not explain the basics of defense (everything focused on the attacker(s).


I have been told by coaches and scouts in Spain and the US that my child is top 1%, but I have no idea how to properly support him.

David Sides

My main concern now for my daughter now that she is a sophomore in high school is managing club soccer with high school soccer and avoiding injury or over play. My daughter was a starting varsity player in high school when she was a freshman. She is also a key player / starter for her club soccer team which plays in showcase tournaments as well as SRPL and National League. Girls at this age and level play so hard and put so much into the game that injury seems inevitable. We have had several of our club soccer players get injured this high school season and it all seems to stem from over play.

Rebecca Holder-Otte

Because there is so much variation in club systems it takes forever to figure out how to navigate the system and find the best growth opportunities for your child. People hoard information and play political games to get ahead. Would be nice if it’s easy and transparent


More than 80% of youth referees (17 years old and younger) quit within months of certifying as referees due to verbal abuse from parents. A quick math calculation shows that within a few short years there may not be enough youth referees to cover all the matches. The verbal abuse piled on a young 14 or 15 year old boy or girl working a U-11 match borders on being criminal; yet yelling and screaming at these young referees is treated as a "right" of the parents if the referee makes a mistake. Why can't youth soccer be a "learning environment" for all participants that are minors?


Our club's 2010's boys elite academy team training sessions are not challenging my son.


The biggest concern I have about youth soccer is some of the coaches and clubs make it about the money. It becomes more about the business and not the truth of development for the player. Rosters are filled up to support the desire of income and not the best interest for the player to have playing time and be seen by college recruits. I have watched D1 and D2 talented players “ride the bench” during games because of the “need to win”. I am in the throes of moving my son to a new team for the sake of advanced development and ability to move up.


an over-focus on professionalization of youth soccer.


i am a referee and the way parents and coaches treat youth officials that is why nobody wants to ref

Dan Dwele

I'm responding from Kenya, The major challenge we face is lack of structures that can support youth soccer in our country


Greatest goal is to develop a work ethic that’s transferable into other areas of his life once soccer is over.


My greatest goal for my children in youth soccer is help foster their growth mindset and build their confidence as leaders and teammates.

Erin Marie Buckingham

biggest for challenge and goal for me and my kiddos is that our soccer program is new and it's hard to get the volunteers to support and run it.


Communication between parents and coaches.

Mike Thomas

I am a coach and it’s comments and constant questioning from parents that is the biggest frustration. Understanding from them that it’s not about results but development, knowledge and skill within the game that is the goal.


Learning the game as a new soccer parent!


The intensity and competitiveness of the sport starting at a young age


-Win at all costs culture -Pretenders stealing a living -Abusive behavior seen weekly from all parties (Coach, player, Parents and officials)

During my days as a Youth Sports Parent, I was frustrated with the process of having to book team travel. It was expensive, time consuming, and very frustrating. Was I getting the best Hotel deal for the team, would the other parents be happy with the rates I tried to negotiate? Would the other parents call the hotel to confirm their room and give the hotel their credit card, so my card was not the only one on file holding a block of 15 room.  This is the reason I started Pro-Am Sportz. We are a one-stop-shop for all that a Team Parent needs to manage a team and its travel. We offer a Simple online booking tool, where hotels bid for your business, offering Guaranteed lowest rates and savings of up to 77% off published hotel rates. We also offer a personal Account Manager to help in the process to make sure the team is getting the best rates and hotels amenities based on their specific needs. Best of all, this service is FREE of charge. The Pro-Am Sportz revolution is eliminating the stress of being a team parent or manager....I look forward to helping your Soccer Parenting Association Members enjoy their Youth Sports experience as much as possible.

Cost honestly.  Experienced coaching staff does cost money but I feel like Youth Soccer has taken a path that overlooks too many talented athletes (even though some clubs offer scholarships) determined heavily by the cost of ECNL/MRL leagues and travel.

Linking them to a football team without paying/lobbying.

I want my daughter to learn soccer and enjoy it.  The league she plays in is still considered an instructional league.  A good majority of the other coaches take it way too seriously and keep score, creating unnecessary pressure @ this age (U8).

Goal is to have recreational players and parents receive consistent messaging across the club, and that their coaches provide thoughtful and useful training sessions.

1. Obstacle?- Town league politics. 

2. Challenge? Helping  fellow Americans learn how to coach real, possession based, settled, organized, quality  soccer.

Balancing act as team manager to establish camaraderie with the team and the parents when you have coaches that want nothing to do with the parents. 

Parents are too competitive and won't just let the kids play and have fun. I love to hear the happiness of the kids at practice unfortunately tension happens when "winning" is involved.

Optimizing Talent

We're fortunate to have an amazing coach and staff for my 12 year old. They keep the game a "game" and emphasize that it's all about having fun. Our biggest challenge is calming his nerves for big games. He has always built up events in his mind and then when he goes to play, he struggles. We've tried downplaying things, making it all about experience but when it comes to things like tryouts, he plays poorly and gets frustrated. He lives and breathes soccer and wakes up excited on practice days so it's almost like he loves it too much.

My greatest frustration with with my son's soccer experience is that clubs tout that they are player centric and development comes first yet for every game experience the emphasis is on winning at all costs. Even in scrimmages I see the same "bench"players not getting opportunities to play and positions are set such that 90% of a team is not substituted. This is happening at u13 and lower levels in several clubs on our area.

Communication with the coaches

Our biggest CHALLENGE is cost - both money AND time. We have 3 kids, but only one of them - our oldest son - plays soccer. After playing on a local travel team for several years, we made the move this past Fall to a more competitive and developmentally supportive club about an hour away (and at 3x the financial commitment). We certainly didn't make the move blind; we did our homework and were well aware of both costs. The club offers financial aid, but we don't qualify. And there are no other U11 players in our area with similar practice times/days to assist with carpool. We're still only on the first couple miles of this marathon, but the silver lining for moment is that we think it was the right move; our son is thriving in the new environment. But it's still a challenge to make and balance such a heavy resource commitment.

Our greatest FRUSTRATION is that the highest level team in a given year practice on turf fields, while the every team under them practice on grass. So there are six U11 teams in the club this year, and my son plays on the B team. Despite all the rain we've had, Team A hasn't had a single practice or game cancelled all Fall. While Teams B-F have experienced an unprecedented number of cancellations. I know we've had an uncharacteristically wet Fall this year, and my frustration here isn't really with the weather. It's that all of us -from Team A through Team F, are all paying the same annual fee. So as parents, the frustration here arises from what appears to be a system that's less than equitable.  Again, this is our first season with the club, and it's probably a fair criticism to point out that field access is something we should've done a little more research into ahead of time. It just never occurred to us.

My greatest problem, challenge, and frustration with youth soccer is the Got Soccer points system used by Tournaments and Showcases.

I have a couple that are neck and neck, sort of related...1) watching coaches and parents placing their need to win above the need for the children to enjoy the game; 2) seeing coaches forget that they are primarily there to teach and support.

My son plays for a competitive club team and now for his middle school team.  As an 8th grader (13), he was one of two sixth graders to make the middle school team two years ago.  The coaching staff changes each year.  This year's coach starts him and plays him almost 2 min to the second and then benches him.  This happens every game.  My son's self-esteem is taking a nosedive.  Yet, when he plays on his U16 team, under a phenomenal coach, he really shines.  It's causing me and my son a lot of angst.

My son is still in Academy (9yo), and the fact that the club looks to form a "super team" at this level vs focus on development of all players is infuriating. Yes, there are some kids that a further along in their development, but having those that are not quite there play alongside them is one thing that aids their development. Having the "best" only play with the "best" doesn't push them and often leaves a star behind because he developed slower.

One of my greatest problems in youth soccer is the frustration with being able to get good refs to do an accurate job. Frustration for players and parents set in when bad calls or inconsistency from refs happens. I feel that more training should be provided to them and possibly more refs on the field. I know mistakes can happen but more often than not continual bad calls are made throughout a game.

Coaches that want to win over the development of the child and their love of soccer

My greatest goal is to support my daughters dream of being a professional goalie.

We have been very fortunate to start goalie training from the beginning of this journey with The Keeper Institute which is owned and operated by Jill Loyden so my daughter has been taught from the best early on – and how we became about meeting Jill was by accident when my daughter volunteered to be goalie in her 3rd outing LOL – and that is all she wrote!!!

Problem/challenges/Frustrations: we started out playing travel soccer with our township. when coaches wont practice or pay attention to what the goal keepers are being taught and they try to change the way the goal keeper is being taught to their way – I have offered my daughter’s coaches to come an watch her being trained but they always say – “they don’t need that, they know the game” when first of all they never where a goal keeper. My daughter is always so eager to use what she is learning from TKI and is always given the snubbed nose treatment. this is very Frustrating because I spend good money for my daughter to be taught properly about the goal keeper position from set shape, to mental toughness and also Jill teaches on how to be a better team mate not just an outstanding goal keeper. We have been thru many disappointments with coaches and also parents of our opponents – some of them are just RUDE – when my daughter makes a save – she has been cussed out!!! which of course gets my blood boiling and no one does anything about this – should we teach our kids sportsmanship?

I am a single parent and I did not think I had to put out a lot of money to have my daughter play on a team – also – play for our township was a pride thing but after a lot of advice given by other parents we went to the Elite Club scene and guess what they offer so much training in development and sportsmanship – also The Keeper Institute actually trains all their goal keepers!! so the coaches know what their keepers are being taught and encourages the lessons be used during practice and games!! I see my daughter developing into a confident goal keeper now – I get it – sometimes you have to spend money in this sport to get great results – there is a lot of elite clubs around but when I found out the SJEB used TKI as goal keeper coaches then We knew that was the team we had to play for!! The coaches teach development over winning – of course it is great to win – it boast confidence but we parents cheer for great distribution of the passes and the team communicating on the field – it is the small victories that are celebrated.

My daughter tried out for the ODP program and made it and she is thrilled to represent her State for 2018/2019 season!!

The other parents on the team and the inappropriate influence on the club and bad behavior at games

My challenge has been that my team is afraid to challenge other teams and be aggressive with the ball.

Our greatest goal is for our son to gain confidence with soccer.

Our greatest frustration was cancelation of practices and lack of clear coaching.

Hello !

My concern is that clubs don't seem to care as much about the parents. They want parents to drive, praise and pay and but otherwise stay away. Parents are the most important part for clubs to survive. More parents education when they enter the field of youth sport. Youth sport is not Pro Sport !

Pay to play

Cost is a real issue with club soccer. Also clubs who play to win, by playing non possession soccer, and using long ball tactics. Not only hurts there players but hurts the development of the clubs they play who use the tactics of possession and building from the back. And of course the age mandate from a few years ago. My daughter skip a whole year of soccer due to this.

To see my grandson stay fit, have fun, and bond with friends on the team.

Limited information and clarity on how to best manage transitions and interactions between clubs and school teams.

Greatest goal would be just to see her continue to grow and love the sport. Biggest challenge is the referees who are out there just to make money and don’t ref the game. Or they have bias towards a team and they don’t keep control of the game. More and more fights are breaking out on the fields between players. And it’s sad to see. My daughters team is scarred as they feel nobody (the ref) is there to protect them anymore. The practice of locking arms, slapping and pinching, elbowing is being taught to teams instead of fair play. It’s really gotten out of hand.

It wasn't that long ago that most communities had organizations that were mostly run by volunteers. These community members donated their time out of a love for the kids, their community, and the game itself. In the past decade it seems like those motives are gone. It seems now that even on the lowest levels of recreational play, board members and D.O.C's are constantly demanding kids to pay for additional training, camps, tournaments and all year long play. No longer are clubs dedicated to the kids enjoying the game and their childhood, it seems now, across the country, it is only about the money. And it’s pretty big money.

Disrespect of officials from all sides (coaches, parents, and players )

Adults behaving badly, mostly dads but not all. For example research shows the worst part of high school sports is the ride home in the car with dad. The dearth of referees is partially the result of disrespect and abuse by adult fans. These are games kids PLAY but that experience is often spoiled by overwrought parents (mostly fathers). Get the adults out of kids games!

I don't know if or how much individualized coaching my children are getting. That seems like a key to development. Where do they stand? What should they work on?

Parents. Everyone wants to be the coach instead of letting the coach be the coach.

Making sure DD is having fun, frustration having a bad coach taking the club two years to realize it.

By the time kids are 11, most competitive soccer programs encourage year-round soccer and lofty time commitments. As a result, many of the best athletes are quitting soccer in order to be able to continue to play other sports.

Our soccer experience has been very positive.

The only frustration has been inconsistency in how games are called by the referees.

I believe it is a training and coaching opportunity.

My greatest goal is that my daughter continues to love the game. The challenges we face with our soccer experience is we are a military family so staying in a club can be hard. Making sure she has the coaching/skills/training available for where we are stationed.

having kids of the same talent level play together

Keeping everything in perspective while encouraging optimal growth personally and technically.

To grow the appreciation of the game which will, in turn, provide some very valuable life lessons that extend far beyond the game itself.

making sure my kids don’t burn out early and quit soccer at an early age

Money. Bigger clubs charge entirely too much therefore parents think, “I want my kid going to the best club, since Club X cost 3x what Club Y cost, they must be better.” Then when all the talent goes to Club X, it perpetuates the system. To make matter worse, my kids team competes in a “competition bracket” they can actually compete in but the bigger club will bring “down” top several “top talent” just to produce a win.

Youth Soccer has become big business. Cost to play has increased significantly for youth players in major metropolitan areas. This has forced many families I know who have left the game altogether

The only challenge for my son is in the winter season we don’t have enough I door facilities to play every week 11v11. In the outdoor the rep program is excellent. Good team, excellent coach former MLS player and good parents. On our team if your behavior is unacceptable we as a whole will have u removed.

My child’s coaches don’t use a growth mindset in their interactions.

No matter how much I try to change the dialog of the team and why we do things, the system is set up for games on the weekends. The leagues schedule them. We are given uniforms for them. More family and friends come to them. And we provide special snacks for them.

The system is set up to reinforce the importance of a weekend game over everything else we do. All of this reinforces the importance of winning or losing over player development, fitness, and fun.

For coaches to be more positive with the kids instead of pointing out what they are doing wrong most of the time. For a coach at halftime and at the end of a game to give each player feedback both constructive and compliment them.

Comprehension of the game of soccer and how they or their position fits into the over all scope .

My son has ADHD which was diagnosed just this year. as a result he is very far behind his peers in skill level. he loves soccer very much and i’m trying very hard to get him to the same level as others his age but it is very hard as i have never played soccer only watched as a parent

My son LOVES soccer, he has lots of skill and physical gifts, but seems to lack in competitiveness and aggressive play, he just turned 13, I'm hoping that this develops.

Challenge: Finding the balance between pushing them towards success and overdoing it.

Deciding which league/organization is best ODP, ENCL, NPL, EDP, etc for my child.

Qualified coaching. Finally have my son on a team with an A license.

Lack of team players. Too many individuals that like to be the one who does everything. Last time I checked TEAM was not spelled with an “I”.

Coaches who are trained to properly coach children and think that humiliation is the best way to motivate a child

As a coach my greatest goal is to develop each player to there greatest potential, to help make them healthy, well adjusted adults.

Greatest frustration is the cost and the lack of inclusion that the cost creates. For parents to be paying $3000.00 or more for a season of soccer is nuts. This should be a low cost sport but somehow we have lost that.

The focus on the score and winning

Our greatest challenge is to keep the coaching level progressing at the same pace as the players.

The politics/agenda of parents who use their money/status to influence/manipulate coaches and club directors.

They don’t teach positioning especially for different situations or when players are in different locations on the field.

The pay-to-play system and a lack of a central organization that develops talent. Private clubs shouldn’t be the route to a college scholarship or a shot at becoming a professional. It isn’t that way for any other sport in this country even though private teams, camps and tutoring exist. Some kids think that the only way to become a good soccer player is to join some “travel” team rather than building skills outside of practice. The current system invites all manner of other problems. Some are comical, like the oft heard complaint that coaches prioritize good athletes rather than skilled players, others are sad like the parents who use participation in pay-to-play as a bragging right. The American system needs an overhaul, and that can begin at the grass roots level.

I really feel like the bad mouthing from teammates is hard and damaging on self confidence. I wish they weren’t so mean. The ball has to get through 10 other players

Coaches are focused on winning more than player development.

Greatest challenge is the amount of days required to play and practice. It is good for children to invest in down time, homework, and other sports and Ho bird

How the parents won’t just let the kids play. They have to tell them what to do all the time instead of leaving it up to the coaches.

Overbearing parents.

So far it was last year’s U8 coach who was so focused on winning. Not enough fun and development in terms of skill and decision making.

The national association needs to accept that American soccer will never follow the European model until parents are no longer paying the annual bills of thousands of dollars a year. America is a capitalistic society where there is a lot of competition for the dollars of parents to spend on extracurricular activities (soccer, football, baseball, volleyball, etc.). Parents have a choice on where, when and how to spend their hard earned money (some parents work extra jobs just to afford extracurricular activities) that fits with their parenting style and helps position the child for success in the adult word (For 99% of all soccer players, there is no adult professional soccer future that will pay the bills and keep them from living in your basement). Children are the parents’ biggest investment. If parents are not getting their perceived return on investment (RIT) towards the goal of making their children into solid adults, they will choose to spend their money elsewhere. Be it going to a different club, a different sport or a different activity. In addition to that, the professional teams cannot sponsor and pay for the players and teams and develop them like the European clubs. To do this will negate the child’s opportunity to EVER play in college because of UIL (Texas for example) and NCAA rules.

The national governing body needs to stop allowing the promotion of “if you do this, scholarships are in your future” to get the money. They need to come clean and show the actual statistics of what percentage of the high level players get scholarships and to where. Currently clubs in my area are dictating everything the player does (school work load (as in take a light load and avoid AP classes because of too much homework), what other activities they child can participate in (school sports, school groups and even prom) and their diets down to what supplements these kids need to take) all while telling the parents “this is the only what to a scholarship.” By the time kids get to be teenagers, they want to be like the other kids, they want to be part of their high school activities.   For higher performing players, finding a club that allows this is almost like finding a unicorn.

If the national organization wants to govern all the county then they need to actually govern all and weed out the bad apples that damage the youths’ self image and self esteem in the name of non-existent future scholarships for all. There is no accountability or real discipline system from the bloated national organization to prevent this type of manipulation to get the parents’ money and no recourse for the parents to rid the system of coaches like this. The national organization pushes it off on the local organization and the local organization says our hands are tied by the national organization, typical catch 22 for parents. Ironically, the national association can’t seem to figure out why kids are burned out or too injured to play in senior high school and college. Exchange the word player with employee and would you want a work environment like this?

In summary, soccer needs to get back to the principles of playing because of the love of the game and developing the whole child, not just chasing a minuscule chance of a scholarship.

Volunteer Coaches who do not have the best interest of the kids in it. They only look at their own kids.

It is generally driven by $$ and old rigid organizations with old rigid non-progressive individuals. In addition it is fragmented by competing philosophies.

Greatest challenge: my son’s attitude when games aren’t going well

Greatest problem: parents that yell/coach from the sidelines

The late practices

Refereeing, a foul is a foul, but called differently at different levels. My son has played many levels and what is a foul at rec league is not at travel, and then the DA level is a whole different game.

Balancing competitiveness wants with balancing family time and other obligations.   Wanting my kid to develop skills and a killer attitude on the field but be the sweetheart we all know and love outside the lines.

Clubs do what's best for the club and not for the players and their development.

Knowing which programs are worth spending money on. Money for soccer is finite. How is it best spent?

The cost is a huge challenge. Also, politics/favoritism within club soccer.

Having coaches not develop each and every player on the team….only developing the A players on an elite team rather than helping the entire team.   Concentrating on the win opposed to the development.

My current frustration is how to decide on the best club for my kid.   The clubs seem to be run completely different from club to club. The Colorado clubs have tryouts at the same day and time, they schedule ‘mixers” or practice before 2 day tryouts during the same time as each of the clubs practice. This limits the ability of kids to try different clubs.

Things other than the skill of the players.

The way the kids go through a season (Nov thru May) as one team and then are asked to go through evaluations before they know if they will stay as the team they have worked so hard with all those months.

My biggest frustration is Coaches and directive staff that refuse to communicate adequately with parents !!! and also the fact that sometimes they worry little about the development of the kids and worry too much about politics of the club and money! Crazy!!!

Paying travel fees that have become more expensive and coaches who do not instruct individuals on technique to help the players/team improve instead use scrimmaging at practice and hope the children will recognize their own challenges then blame the child/team for losses instead of teaching them how to learn from them.

There are times when we don’t know which coach from the club is going to show up. It wouldn’t matter if there wasn’t a big drop-off in the coaching we receive depends on who is there.

Lack of qualified volunteer coaches. A very close second:. Poor so-called pro coaches who don’t know how to be age-appropriate.

My biggest challenge at the moment is trying to bring my child’s soccer confidence up when she gets switched around between different levels.   Its hards to go from the elite team down to the lower team. My goal is to always see the positive in whatever team she is placed on.

Frustration: Programs and coaches joysticking young kids (10u and younger) and little encouragement of development of technical skills, creativity and taking chances and risks in order to learn from them

Parents trying to influence coaches on playing

The greatest frustration in my Youth Soccer club is having the athlete have confidence in themselves

Parents not understanding the rules of soccer and thus scream at the refs for supposed infractions that never occurred.

The year round schedule and constant practice. It's no longer a seasonal sport.

Show your children that ref’s ( and bosses & customers,) make mistakes. Deal with it and move on. Life is not fair.

It feels like the information is hidden and secretive versus other sports. For example, my son is a kicker in football and all parents and coaches are very transparent about what he needs to do to be noticed by college recruiters. It all feels extremely collaborative and collegial. He is also in track and coaches are very transparent in what club programs he should participate in over the summer months in order to train and develop. Once again, there is communication between school and club coaches and we all root for each other’s kids. It just feels good. In soccer, it feels like parents are constantly trying to one up each other and be secretive about development opportunities   etc… It is a very difficult landscape to maneuver. Why is this?

It is so difficult for kids to play multiple sports these days.   Competitive leagues are year round.   I worry my son will get bored and/or lose interest in the sport he loves from playing it all year. Plus he likes other sports, but if we sign him up for another sport then juggling schedules and letting down his coaches and teammates because of scheduling conflicts is an issue. Year round sports allow those that keep it up, to develop and improve at an exponential rate of those playing one season a year.   Just taking one year off a sport will cause your child to fall behind the curve. I love that my son has improved greatly as a soccer player in the past year, but am sad he isn't enjoying other sports I grew up playing.   Hence my love/hate relationship with competitive soccer and year round sports in general.

To try and make all the kids I see the very best they can be

I understand that at younger ages you're more focused on keeping the kids engaged and having fun in the sport but if we're not teaching the kids from the start the basics of the game besides kick the ball into the opposite net then we're not going to be developing or improving skill.

It's unfortunate that we had to go to competitive to get this level of coaching and I understand that with Rec all the coaches are parent volunteers but we should be making sure the kids understand how to play the game

I will say I did turn around and said to her that “that is my daughter and she did nothing wrong but play the game”. Well she just went off. I guess since I stood up for my kid and wouldn’t be bullied, she just had to keep at it. Mind you, if my daughter was playing “dirty” I’d be the first one to call her out on it and have it corrected immediately. Even when the game was finished she was saying snide comments to me. I ignored her the entire time, but come on, why?

Reason for the story: The ref’s need to stand up to those type of parents. All of the parents of the other team sat far away from her, and now I know why. Her daughter looked totally embarrassed, I felt sorry for her. That is not team building nor supports positive self esteem to the kids. Nor was it fair to my daughter having a parent saying nasty things directed to her from the sideline.

Thanks for listening!

Our kids (12 and 8 yrs old) play club soccer and balancing the commitment to those teams with allowing them to participate in other sports is difficult. I believe that specialization in one sport is not good for their health and general athletic abilities. We have our 8 year old in multiple sports but our 12 year old is only playing one starting this year. It was his desire to just focus on soccer but I worry he may either get hurt (overuse) from just doing one sport or get burned out.   I fear our 8 year old may have this same path.

That try outs are fake. The kids are told that it’s based on your skill and attitude, when in reality it’s based on many other factors out of their control.

Lack of knowledge coaches

Keeping everything in perspective while encouraging optimal growth personally and technically.

Joystick coaches. Sideline parent coaching.

Goal: enhance my child's skills to catch her up to her club teammates who played together for a year before she joined the team

Far and away our biggest frustration has been the kids that refuse to play their position but insist on running all over the field, inserting themselves into every single play and it’s NOT corrected by the coaching staff. It’s incredibly frustrating when you have 1-2 girls on a team that think the only way the team can possibly win is if they have the ball. I’m still holding out hope that at some point, my girls will land with a coach that can correct this and allow everyone the opportunity to develop.

Far and away our biggest frustration has been the kids that refuse to play their position but insist on running all over the field, inserting themselves into every single play and it’s NOT corrected by the coaching staff. It’s incredibly frustrating when you have 1-2 girls on a team that think the only way the team can possibly win is if they have the ball. I’m still holding out hope that at some point, my girls will land with a coach that can correct this and allow everyone the opportunity to develop.

It is too difficult to know what you are getting when you sign up for a team or a club. Whether the coach is a volunteer or not, the values of the club, how they are implemented, and what individual coaches bring is difficult to know without a direct reference or signing up and finding out.

Getting them to practice and to listen.

Problem is Youth soccer rules have been changed with an excuse of protecting young players and keeping the process faster, however, I do not think that those rules such as the offside applying lines are compatible to those in other countries.

Challenge and frustration are at the age of ten, how much my child has to commit to be a player in a Select team. I am concerning that age of ten might not be too young.

Youth programs have become a very profitable financial machine and the development of players has taken a secondary role.

As always, parents

i love what you and Changing the Game are doing. It needs to catch fire in order for it to make a difference, especially in rec leagues. It can. i know parents are volunteer coaches, but a meeting before each season with specific examples might go a long way to make them think twice.

when i coach i of course wanted to win but i never let that affect my sideline behavior where most of the time i would sit.

that is all….Thanks

Bottom line – if you don't have money, specialize in a particular sport early, and have access to good training – you will most likely never move out of non-competitive recreational sports. For some that will be fine. For others it will feel incredibly frustrating.

I don't think there are any answers without MAJOR shifts in thought.

We do LOVE the growing emphasis on player development vs winning and the idea of positive coaching. We see the benefits in our club!

Frustrated with team work being emphasized in practice and then showboating during a game being rewarded.

It doesn’t matter who mades the assist. Only who makes the goal.

We come from a small community and our program is just starting out. Community support is growing, but not fast enough to benefit my children. I wish we could get more players involved and get parents to see that soccer is a “real” sport just like baseball, football, and basketball.

As a parent, the greatest goal is help guide my son (9 yrs. old) to right style of development in youth soccer in order to perform well and see if he can reach his God given potential in the next level, whether college or pro. The challenge is finding good, licensed coaches in our area that are in clubs who care more about development than winning trophies. There are good coaches but many are not licensed or educated enough in their respective age groups.

The over physical approach that coaches instill into there teams at u7/8/9 and 10’s. I take it out of my kids so they only think of football as a creative expressive game and they are constantly encouraged to try new skills in their training matches. I run an u9’s and u12’s but why does our local league insist on creating cup competitions from u8 posting results, all mini tournaments are competitive and at u12 they have to go into a league system. Are we developing kids or teaching them to win as development or building to win are at opposite ends of the spectrum, winning comes last. Tactics, structure, discipline at what point are we going to allow are kids freedom to play and use there imagination which = creativity. Yet we wonder why our national football has been so poor for so long, we are void of expression. For years we listened to commentators saying how there was no personalities, characters in English football, is it any wonder why when we take it out of our kids at the most important time

Training sessions that fail to teach fundamentals and inconsistent coaching styles within a club.

My biggest frustration is when parents are not patient with the process of player development.

Club politics

I have no desire to groom my son to be a professional soccer player. I wish for him to have a coach who can continue to advance his skills by sharing proper techniques, while also promoting creativity, and building confidence.

Too much emphasis on winning and not enough on player development. It translates to the big, fast kids get too much playing time at the expense of smaller, skilled kids because size and speed can overcome skill at the youth level.   Also, no one has to coach speed and size, so that’s another reason it “wins” over skill at the youth level.

I could make a reasonable argument that if Lionel Messi were born in the US, he would never have even made it to the pros…

My greatest goal is for my kids to learn to love the game. Yes, I want them to be the best player they can be but I feel that loving the sport will help guide them to becoming the best player. I want my kids to “want” to go and play not to “have” to go and play.

Conflict with soccer player dad vs sons u10 coach

Fairness in the tryouts/selection process at the club level, particularly in older age groups. Too often, coaches know who they will select for their teams before the tryout process begins … makes it very difficult for the late bloomer to move up the ladder because there is a perception about his/her play from earlier years! A kid that makes ODP squads on merit should at least have honest consideration for a A level team slot, rather than the coach telling the parents ahead of tryout time “I’m happy with my squad as-is”

My frustration is the naturally-occurring divide between Town and Club soccer. With the amount of time that Club players spend on the pitch (both in-season and between-seasons), it’s challenging (or impossible) for Town players to keep pace … if, of course, they’re even expected to keep pace.

Poor coaching at the volunteer level, then the high cost to join a club for supposedly better coaching.

Our greatest challenge is communication from coaches. Our daughter plays for the academy and we pay a lot. We wonder, are we doing the right thing?  It’s where she wants to be , this is her dream. We would appreciate feedback. What should she be working on. Is she in the right place for her development. I worry we could be just a number to help them pay for their program.

As a coach of youth and HS soccer, the biggest frustration is the parents. Youth leagues need and should be about kids learning the sport, not so much on wins and losses. Although the kids need to develop a will to win. As kids get older sports are designed to be competitive, state championship for example. Another issue the parent who thinks their kid is the superstar of team. Only sends them to practice, no camps or outside work. Then wants to complain about playing time at the higher levels of competition. Also I feel parents need to be educated in the sport, so they get an understanding of rules and styles of coaches. I don’t coach for the money, I coach to help the kids develop into better players, individually and to work as a team. A lot of life lessons can be learned through Sports

It’s always the parents. Please trust the process and let the coach coach your son and daughter

unrealistic parental expectations

Quit putting them out there in tournament games where people pay hundreds of dollars to play in. Train them at the lowest level possible. Evaluate them and see if they have what it takes. Do not move them up until they are ready. Unprepared officials will get a rouse out of fans. All officials should be evaluated not just the young ones. This is one of the few jobs where they are not evaluated. Conflict management. Train them in this.

Finding a coach who is a teacher of the game and not simply a trainer or manager of talented players. Finding a coach that praises the kid who makes a good simple pass, the player who makes the overlapping run, even when no pass is made, closes down the space to delay the attacker,. A coach who shares the history of the great players and teams so that our kids appreciate the evolution and history of the game. Not just an ex college player who loves soccer but never shows passion for all elements of the game. By teaching our kids how to be students of the game, all kids no matter their skill can come to appreciate all sides of the beautiful game and enjoy it on a deeper level.

Seeing my son happy makes everything worthy! Frustration: my son club doesn’t have a home pitch so all of his matches are away. End pay to play or at least make it more affordable to families everywhere.

Putting club success ahead of player development at younger age groups.

Allowing my athlete to progress at their own rate without being judged/compared to players who have

superior skills at this age. In short, having progress measured in some manner other than games won (playing the “best” players to maximize chances of wins).

The subjectivity and unfairness in who gets chosen to advance as elite players. The way some scouts and coaches rely on their relationships to make choices and the impact that has on the kids who were elite under one set of eyes and not chosen for development under another. The lack of consistency and objectivity in choosing who will advance and who will be left behind. I have seen many elite players stop playing after getting benched or sidelined from an elite team because there is nowhere else for them to go. Moving down to a less competitive environment does not serve them or help them develop. At age 13, they have been playing at the top and want to continue to fight to develop but if a coach says otherwise what can a parent do? Intervening makes it worse. My son is still in at the elite level but I see others fall off & I wonder is it just a matter of time? Will he make it long enough to play at college? Or get cut at 14 or 15 and be one of the top players in his position in his region and not have a team?

Bad coaching

My greatest frustration is the adults on the sidelines yelling directions to the kids and acting like the outcome of the game is somehow of paramount importance.

My goal is to teach the sport of soccer in a fun and engaging way to those who are still developmentally learning the game. Also, to create a challenging yet enjoyable learning environment for those who are further down the developmental path. My frustration at time can be partially with myself when I struggle to motivate players.

Ensuring my child enjoys playing the game and doesn’t look at it like a chore or grow to no longer enjoy it.   My goal is for him to grow up being a fan and loving the game, like his Dad.

They enjoy going to practices and games, but they aren’t interested in practicing on their own.

Lack of coach availability and clubs thinking they can take your money and provide coaches who’s experience is clearly not to the level they are being asked to coach.

Coaches new to soccer not being taught leadership and coaching skillsets for the age group( or maybe not given the correct age group for their skill set).

Coaching 5 year olds is wildly different to 10 year olds, too many times I’ve seen kids being run around a field because they’re not focused on the coach!!!

Parents being mean to kids and sometimes not just there own…

My greatest frustration with youth soccer is coaches that think of the team as ‘their’ team. Too often the coach is more invested in winning games and tournaments then actually developing players abilities. This is especially true with parent coaches who start off with the best intentions but become obsessed with winning at all costs and see the teams success or lack of success as a reflection on them.

The egos of many of the coaches at the Academy and Development Academy level is detrimental to the development of the child. Specifically U-13 and younger. There is a persistent prioritization on winning over the focus on the individual players need to be challenged and supported in their growth to be a better player. Too much focus on tactics over technical development. Many coaches believe they know everything about the game and think that every player is to be taught the same way.   This is not all coaches but far too many.

Therefore, my goal would be to simply the leagues/clubs/teams. We have too many umbrella organizations (FIFA, US Youth Soccer, AYSO, YMCA, State Soccer Associations, Regional Soccer Associations, US Club Soccer, ECNL, NPSL, not to mention public and private school teams and leagues). If a kid just wants to play, have fun, get better, enjoy good competition, it should not be so complicated, or expensive, or involve travel to places hours away, especially at the middle school or younger ages.

Youth soccer is a joke. There are too many “premiere” clubs selling they are the best. There needs to be an actual limit on the amount of “premeire” to actually reflect the population of talent.

Trying to score a goal

Lack of transparency on the best training opportunities (private training, camps, clubs, competitions). Having no soccer background, it took us a long time and much effort to find the truly best coaches for my child. Hard to discover, much less evaluate, what opportunities are best worth our time and money. And not sure that even DA is best.

I am the parent of 4 -now older – sports children.   All 4 played soccer at some level. With my first, I had now idea what the opportunities were and there was no information sharing locally, so if he did have potential to be great, we were clueless. That child became a nationally ranked tennis player. With my third son, I got more involved and I learned about opportunities accidentally because I was on mailing lists. But tad far as learning about opportunities, it was the same. The parents wouldn’t even share information about Super Y summer teams.   My third was not the caliber player my fourth is, but loves the game. My 4th son is an amazing goalkeeper. It was a full time job to get him the training he needs to develop him even then, I was told by his coach that he was no good.

Greatest goal is to keep it fun and challenging for my kids. Challenge is to find quality teams for 15 and older teens for spring season to maintain their skills until fall season. frustrations include parents thinking they know they game and want to not only coaches their kids but tell the referee what to do and they do have required education.

irresponsible parent / spectator sideline behavior

The expectation of transparency from players and parents, but not the same given by coaches and clubs. We are part of a girls team in North Texas. I’ve had to fight the LARGE club for keeper training, all while keepers are required for 2 years before training is allowed. Also, coaches that have 9-10 teams, which doesn’t allow for development, but is just for cash flow. Lastly, coaches that don’t seem to have to perform continuing education or even have certain levels when coaching the pre-select kids. This club has DA girls teams, but it doesn’t appear their organization is really looked at as a whole. Sadly everything is about the coach and not really about teaching.

I’m a coach and a parent. The biggest challenge for my children’s youth soccer experience is keeping the parents from coaching from the sidelines. With my team, the parents and I have a good understanding and they try their best to keep quiet. I communicate with them frequently on why it’s important for them not to coach. However, when I go to my kid’s games, it’s not the same. There’s always one or more that think they have to coach. I think your org is amazing and I thank you for all you are doing.

Keeping my daughter healthy at the highest level with the practically year rounds demands of her team.

There is too much emphasis on winning rather than kids developing as a player.

The fact that even though the club says they want to represent and develop the whole child, the time commitments and financial commitments can be burdensome; they don’t allow for much else in the child’s life. In addition, all the research points to developing children not playing the same sport everyday of the week, yet there are 3 practices and at least 1 game every week. Not to mention tournament weeks-How do you begin to balance the demands on the growing body? Hands down, more time should be spent on the warmup and cool down in every practice. Just my 2cents!

Interaction and follow up between parent and coach. Youth soccer should have three meetings.   One to set expectations. One to monitor progress and the final meeting.   Did everyone do their part?

Lack of communication and lack of transparency with coaches, trainers, and the club my daughters play for.

The egos of adults ruining the game.

Parents not understanding the time and effort involved in Coaching. Being negative on the other sidelines to the point that other Parents move away from them to try to enjoy the Game!

Out of control parents

It feels that coaches do not take enough time to provide meaningful and remotely adequate feedback to my child (or any, for that matter). As a result, my child never really knows where they stand, what they need to work on most, and how they can best improve. As a parent, I find that really poor and unprofessional.

The “always win” attitude over the desire to teach the kids the fundamentals, help them love the sport and help them learn life lessons through the game.

Communication, or the lack of it, from coaches and directors.

The focus on the win and not the development of all the kids.

Lack of confidence

Problem:   continually motivating and driving habits for self-improvement

Challenge: time management w/ other sports, school, family activities

Frustration: cost and travel time to compete at higher levels (elite clubs)

The pay to play system and the lack of quality local programs.

Coaches(doing the best they can) but not being able to get proper training or burdened with the high cost of certifications

Sometimes I think the kids would be better off by being dropped off at games and then parents should then pick up the kids after the games

My greatest goal is that my child enjoys playing football and has fun. Unfortunately this is also a challenge and a source of frustration.

Accessibility. Competitive soccer is out of the reach of most inner city players. Players that can and do make a difference because of their will to get themselves out of poverty through the beautiful game.

Edgar Fuentes

One frustration I have is that at a competitive level there are too many teams. I see teams that are a few really strong players and then the skill level drops. If you are able to have fewer teams but really strong then as our kids developed through high school and college US Soccer would stronger. We need kids that have the ability to play at a high level to be push by high level players, NOT sub par players.

The coaches are not trying to develop players at our club. They prefer the older, bigger, boot the ball players over the smaller, younger, technical players who possess the ball and try to play the correct way. I get the feeling that all the clubs are this way and that is why they all have to do it, because if you can’t win the balls in the air against your opponent (because they are big) then what good are you? My son has been on the top team his entire soccer career and it has been amazing to watch.

We’ve been playing 2 years of recreation soccer. I was “voluntold” that I was coach or we wouldn’t be able to play. Fast forward to now and I am in love with soccer but have been trying to educate myself via the internet, books and people willing to help me. I wish there was legit training for parents turned coach with no experience.

My greatest FRUSTRATION is with a few of my parents who have taken their kids out of our club to play for ‘select’ teams (B teams – not even the A teams) because either they think the training/competition is better, their child will play a ‘better’ position or get more playing time or because they want to give their child a competitive advantage, possibly.

My biggest CHALLENGE is maintaining the balance with my GOAL and FRUSTRATION so I can keep as many of these players together. If I lose too many core players, the more competitive players will also leave which leaves me (and my daughter) without a competitive team.

The PROBLEM seems to be that there are way too many ‘elite’ teams and leagues that are tearing apart the hometown teams too early and unnecessarily. Parents are looking down the road to scholarships without enjoying/respecting the process.

My biggest concern and the problem is playing time for the kids. Some of the kids they supposed to play as much as they can and not be sub but because other players on the bench while waiting to play . It doesn’t matter what the results of the game is they have to play.

That the sport has become too inundated with and dominated by academies which cost way too much and deliver too little in terms of real player development and growth. In many cases players are not even rostered or play at all if rostered so how will they ever learn and build confidence and ability on the pitch in real situations? What does that say about the #1 priority for these coaches? It’s winning at all costs of course….In addition the forced limitation not to play other sports (which a lot of the academies impose) at a young age is not a positive in my view and can lead to more injuries as well as missed opportunities in other sports for well rounded athletes.

Pushy parents who treat their kids as a commodity

My son U12 enjoys soccer and improves by playing in competitive situations such as 1 vs 1, 4 vs 4, and full scrimmages. However, there aren’t enough games and competitive situations at his club practices. Too much lecturing. Too many drills with lines and waiting. Too much performing skills with the ball with no pressure. Coaches seem to think we’d think less of them if 75% of practice was small-sided games. But that’s what kids want and need, at least at younger ages.

Team placement, training, and gameplay determined by politically charged administrators and coaches.

The directors of our Club coach teams. Some even coach 3 teams which does not allow time for coach oversight and development. The directors and the Club do too much and cannot service the teams and players…


Your site has been a breath of fresh air.   I can see the girls who’s parents never played the game but get badgered by their parents to perform.   You have to fail to succeed in anything you do in life. More importantly you have to go through it yourself. No class or manual will tell you how to get through it. This is what I love about soccer. Hopefully coaches realize they have the opportunity to have an impact on how to identify things, make a plan and execute.   That takes creativity and I just don’t see it here in the states.

Too much emphasis from fellow coaches and parents on winning vs development.

Everything in the news is very negative about youth soccer and American soccer in general and what needs to change. What about those of us with kids now?   My kids will be out of the system in 10-12 years. My kids play with a club and coach that emphasize skill development over wins and they are really thriving. What else is an average soccer parent supposed to do?

Lack of an easily accessible “club” facility/ “home” fields that create team chemistry and a feeling of belonging, pride throughout the week (for players, parents, coaches and the neighborhood/village) as compared to those open, bare and naked fields basically reachable by car only rather than bike, bus or even just walking

The absence of meaningful player development in the US youth soccer system.

I suppose biggest challenge I’m concerned about atm is how to keep it fun and engaging and deal with disruptive kids during practice.

Parents that value wins over development. I have had my daughter on a team where the coach valued development and all the parents complained to the DOC because the team didn’t have that many wins and it ended up causing the team to break up. We then landed on a team where winning was the main goal but we saw no improvement of the team or in my daughter as the season progressed. While the wins were fun, seems like we spent an awful lot of money with nothing in return. Until the clubs and parents change their values club soccer will decline.

My challenge is that there isn’t a top level boys DA coach in our local area in my son’s age group who has all the qualities that I feel a top level coach should have. (I’m not talking about the license.). My son’s coach is good and he is doing a good job teaching the game to the boys, but my wish for my son is that he could have a great coach who really cares. I wish the coach could develop a great soccer relationship with the boys and that the coach could inspire my son and his teammates to be the absolute best they can be. I feel that the coaches these days are just out there doing their jobs, but that they aren’t truly passionate about mentoring and developing the young kids.

Finding the most appropriate training to match my child’s current level of development. Most clinics/trainers are doing a one size fits all curriculum

Coach-centered and not player-centered. Coaches focus on themselves and their role in winning, and not development and improvement (U6-U12 experiences).

Too much practice in premier. Takes away from family, siblings and well rounded children.

Their teammates don’t consistently show up for practice or games.

This would not be acceptable in any reputable business. I know this varies across cultures….ours is far behind.

Coaches split between multiple teams on game day leading to schedule conflicts.

The continual coaching and terrible behavior from many of the parents during the game.

The kids who have better skills get more practice then those who need it more.

Playing against teams who want to win at all costs.

Coaches/club more worried about winning than about the individual development of their players. This results in some kids not being placed at the correct level–this in turn causes problems on teams that result in the first concern we have.

The coaches who talk like they are all about development of children but don’t practice what they preach. The hypocrisy inherent in all of it. Coaches step on the field and become different people in the same way that some players step on the field and become different people — not in a good way. In a crazy, competitive, win-at-all-cost way.

Parents who will step up as volunteer coaches. 

Challenge: Finding volunteers who are willing to learn

Frustration: parents who want to pay very little but expect a professional coach to work for free.

In a word– Parents. Specifically, parents who arrogantly think they know how to coach their kids when they really don’t, and parents who don’t control their behavior on the sidelines. I am a youth soccer parent and volunteer team manager. The two worst things about parents is that some of us, no matter how much we’re asked not to, coach from the sidelines, and some of us curse on the sidelines, which I especially hate because there are younger siblings of the players around. Also, as a team manager, I wish all parents would just read their email and do what I’m asking them to do. I try not to ask too much, and I do a lot to help, but there’s some things I just can’t do and parents must do to help their children.   If, for example, I reminded you several times during the summer to get your kid registered with our club, then get your kid registered! I know we’re all busy, but there’s got to be a few minutes you can take to do what you’re supposed to do for your kid. And it just makes more work for me when you don’t.

Teams are too large to get enough playing time. Once the girls warm up and begin to flow as a group they are mass substituted. 

Greatest problem is other parents who are criticizing kids on my child’s team during a game. You can tell that they say things to their kids too because of the way some of those kids treat other kids. I will miss silent September

My goal is for my son to play soccer @ College; my frustration is how the US Soccer changes the rules of the game and makes the USA even more disadvantage than the rest of the World, I am referring to the no heading allow for youth players.

The desire for perfection. We see soccer games on TV or attend a live game, and then we watch our kids play.   We attempt to project what we see at the Pro level at the youth level. 

Other parents

They do not always get positive coaching as envisioned by the Positive Coaching Alliance principles, and they do not live soccer so much that it doesn’t matter to them – their enthusiasm was waned in part due to lack of positive coaching

Our biggest frustration is family dinner time. Our kids are usually not interested in eating dinner at 4:30 and dad isn’t ever home that early. We value that time together as a family and being able to sit down together for a balanced and nutritional meal, but when practices run from 5:30-7:00, it means late night dinners for the family and then bedtime directly afterwards. With 4 children playing travel soccer, we have practices every night of the week.

I don’t have an issue with my children right now because they are playing AYSO. AYSO (at least my region) though is far behind in educating the coaches and parents the right way. I have a little different view since I am a soccer professional, but my biggest overall frustration I think is why some parents are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for their kids to participate in cheer, dance, and music (4-5 times a week) , but when told the same amount of time is needed for soccer, the look on their face is, “Are you nuts?” While I understand the, “That is a lot of time for an 11 or 12 year old,” thinking- why is parent culture different for dance or ballet than it is for soccer?

Helping the weaker, less talented players find value in a sport where the stronger, offensive players seem to get all the credit. They are often overlooked and not “passed” to by their teammates.

Lack of training (good)

My biggest frustration/challenge is the politics involved in the travel clubs of today. The “It’s all in who you know or who knows your child’s name”  Attitude is awful where we live. I understand that everybody is looking out for the best supposed interest of their child but going behind coaches’ backs and pushing to have your child placed on a higher level team is terrible. Especially when it’s just a status thing to the parent while their child needs more time at the lower level that’s right for that child to continue to develop the necessary skills needed to play at that higher level.

From a parent perspective: The cost vs return on investment. Paying way to much money for disfunctional clubs and lack of coaching knowledge and skills. Soccer loses the best athletes due to the cost and the elitest attitude.

For a coaching perspective: Too many dysfunctional clubs that lack philosophy, strategy, knowledge and organization. And parents unrealistic evaluation of their child’s athletic ability. Many parents in the soccer world were not athletes themselves but have their kids playing soccer to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. They do not understand the development cycle of an athlete.

My greatest frustration that I have with the youth soccer and my context is based on my experience in Georgia as a parent of an ECNL level daughter, has been the focus on athletes over technical players. I’m tired of seeing track stars with no foot skill beat out hard working technical players simply because they hit puberty first and/or American coaches by in large are incapable of teaching possession (play from the back) and opt for direct, over the top soccer that caters to the track stars. It’s disheartening because the beautiful game is being taught that way and it carries over to D1 level too at some of the top ACC and SEC schools. I understand that the US women have dominated with this type of play or something like it, but Japan, France and the rest of the world will catch us soon, with skill, jenga and tactical advantages. 

My son plays on a high level club team which brings many benefits but also much pressure. My goal for him is to have fun. Playing soccer is the time he gets to “play” with his friends. He gets to compete and learn and grow, but it only works if it is fun. It is a game, after all. As parents, our biggest frustration/ challenge is when a coach does not talk to his/her players. When a coach takes a few minutes to talk to his/her players to explain where the player is at on the field or why playing time is what it is, that goes a long way. Setting honest and realistic expectations through conversation is so important. When a coach does not do so, it only sets the relationship up for confrontation and mis-trust. Even when my son does not like the message he may hear at times, the level of respect he has for his coaches that talk to him never waivers. That respect and trust is not the same for coaches who don’t.   So, please treat your players as people first.

My goal is to support my daughter and keep fanning the flame of desire to play

Parents who think the “investment” in their child’s soccer should have an ROI of a full ride D1 scholarship. Its a youth sport for your kids not a consumer product.   People who think that way are the parents who are the biggest complainers on the sidelines about coaches referees etc

Lack of transparency regarding quality and consistency of coaching at any program (e.g., club, ODP, DA, camps).

I have 13 U7 boys and the biggest challenge I have is keeping them focused and engaged in what we are trying to do at practice. Game time doesn’t seem to have the same issue while they are on the field, but practice is a big issue.

Frustrations of not being able to get unbiased guidance or recommendations from my daughter’s travel soccer club’s coach and DOC on which path for my daughter to take for soccer development and growth in order to train and develop within her age group and compete at the highest level possible without the club’s fear that we would leave for another program.

Problem/Challenge: How to accomplish the Goal.

Frustration: there are so many frustrations – which one is the greatest perhaps is keeping my heart whole and together – keeping myself centered in the process.

Helping kids see the value of training to reach their goals. They hate losing. But hate practicing (even on their own) more.

Communication!!! I know the coaches and directors always have my child’s best interests in mind, but the biggest challenge is definitely the inconsistency in communication methods and seemingly lack of administration organization.

My greatest frustration with girls youth soccer at the moment is the emphasis on physicality in game play over the use of foot skills. With the disparity in sizes at this young age U11/U12, the bigger team often wins thru muscle alone rather than skill. We are certainly more concerned about technical and tactical play but it’s frustrating watching kids get coached to play so physically- often times dirty. 

Watching my child overcome challenges and enjoy playing soccer is a greatest goal.   To accomplish that the next goal is to making sure my child is on a team with excellent coaching. Quality developmental coaching is key.

I want my daughter to reach the goals that she has set — not that others have set for her.

too many teams, too many levels, too much politics, best teams are too expensive

Getting them to focus on playing the game and not socializing.

I don’t get feedback directly from the coach on what my daughter should be working on and without soccer experience myself i struggle with practicing with her at home. I wish there was a parents clinic on how to train with your kids at home with minimal skills.

My goal is simple… to teach the game in a positive and nurturing environment. To develop good soccer players and good citizens.

A lack of transparency as to how decisions are made when setting rosters, who the coaches will be, why the best players are not on same teams, why we don’t level up talent until grade 5 when other towns do, etc. This has not been true in our club experience (switched to club and pulled son from town soccer) o date but, the town league has been incredibly frustrating in terms of getting a straight answer to the point we pulled son out for a year.

There are many goals, challenges and frustrations — all at different times/ages/etc…

Right now — we are frustrated with finding the right coach– we understand no coach (or person for that matter!) is perfect but hard to find a really good one that will help develop your child and work on technical skills, etc…

Although I have seen many parents display poor behavior towards coaches, refs, and youth players, I have not seen many articles that deal with the issue of coaches ‘purposely’ making incorrect decisions. Some of the reasons I believe coaches make wrong decisions is due to ‘politics’ and favoritism. But, I do realize coaches have very challenging job.

Goal – to keep children playing soccer for life

Problem- tryouts and shuffling of teams every year

Challenge – to become a better soccer parent


Poor Refereeing due to an inconsistency generated by US Soccer.

Better coaching 

learning the game and proper respect for coaches, parents and each other.

Instead of teaching the skills of the sport coaches just want to win.

Greatest challenge on our club team is my daughter being one of the top nine girls on a pool team of 30 and her along with the other top nine not being challenged with more advanced skills. This is U12 soccer, they need to be moving forward with development not waiting for those not developed to catch up.

Finding the best pathway for my daughters to improve & thrive playing soccer.

Finding an organized league with committed coaches.

That it’s all about who you know and how connected you are, and not necessarily the skills or talents of the child.

I hate the tryout system for anyone under 13. Too much heart break for some of the kids.

Not enough endurance training and goal training.

I was coaching my 9yr u 10 team. We had an everyone play rule with a mandatory each player sit out for at least 12 min. The most frustrating thing was trying to explain to the team & my 9yr old why some coaches would not follow the rule & try to win at all costs including cheating. 

I have been the head coach of my sons teams for nine years since first grade and the biggest challenge is keeping it fun for my son while balancing that with keeping him challenge. 

Understanding the various levels of clubs (travel vs. premier) and choosing a club that best meets the needs and current abilities of my young player. it’s like car shopping where you are trying to buy the best product (experience and training in this case) while not being taken for a “ride”.

I find it challenging to find a club that matches the true philosophy of “kids first”. Their website may have a mission statement that looks and sounds great but their actions don’t actually follow this mission.   The bigger the club, the bigger the problem (usually). Additionally, they may have a code of conduct that must be signed by the players, parents and coaches but you still see inappropriate behavior from all. I want my daughter (U10) to first learn to love the beautiful game. This should entice her to want to learn more about it, practice and be her best. 

I believe that we need to remember that we are doing this for the kids and not for our own egos or aggrandizement.

No respect in the US, less chances for recognition in rural areas for recruiting (pro, div 1 college, etc), always trying to emulate other countries instead of adding and using strengths, push to have 1 sport vs multiple..I could go on. 

Other parents who grip about every little thing but refuse to be apart of the solution.


We don’t have a huge problem with parents because some parents just don’t care.


Leagues, Coaches, Teammates, Parents and Competition who practice & preach good sportsmanship.

I find that it’s not possible to understand the coaches expectations of the team or ‘my’ player. It makes it very difficult to know if we’re making progress or just going through the motions. I don’t care about shorelines but I’m vitally interested in making progress toward better play.

The competing teams parents that talk badly about our girls. The yelling and behavior of some parents as opposed to other sports they are involved in travel as well; basketball, and lacrosse.

When the girls’ director of coaching told the group of parents that after age 12, not to expect your player to be able to move up a team. It just broke my heart. That is the mentality of coach I now know to avoid. It is difficult, though, when there are only two big clubs within driving distance. Luckily I have found a top coach that literally looked into my daughter’s eyes and said, “I believe you can do anything.” But we have met quite a few toads along the way. The guys who think they can identify talent at 12 are poison. Period.

Not enough conditioning at practice

I find very frustrated w/the 2004 academy team my son is on mostly due to the nepotism and favoritism shown to a few specific players. Communication is prohibited between parents and the coaches. Only the 12 yr olds are allowed to to send a question or let them know if they are too sick to attend practice. I understand the theory behind this but also know that the connected parents have frequent contact w/said coaches. We thought the political crud would not follow us to academy but not so. And as one of the unconnected parents, we have nowhere to voice our concerns.

Inconsistent coaching. 

The emphasis some clubs put on winning over player development at young ages.


To have a positive experience for all, from the parents/friends on the side lines, to the players both on the field and on the bench, to the refs regardless of the negative chatter occurring.

We need to get back to allowing some kids to play for fun and not feel pressure to play in college and not have their classmates taken away from their team because of the birth year change.   We tell kids to go out and have fun…. but our actions speak louder than words, and all actions say it’s not about fun, it’s about playing in college or internationally. Very sad.

The politics that comes w the clubs!! 

Dealing with parents on the sidelines who openly put down the play of other kids to make their child appear “better”.

Lack of cohesiveness and understanding the overall gialsntules and regulations.

As a referee it has to be the uninformed parents and coaches who constantly bash the officials.


Abuse from coaches, parents and players – its the culture of the game (older generation say “but we’ve always done that, it’s part of the game”) 

Abusive parents and coaches. Also board members who refuse to act.

More development. Teams are too concerned about winning at an early age and not developing the players ability. Yes, winning is important but not enough to move down to beat less talented teams. For the money we pay for club soccer, there should be more development and a focus on improving skills.

Extreme competition for young children in soccer versus focus on skill development and the love of the game. I think if a child plays for years it can cause burnout.

the abuse of match officials by coaches, parents and players

Most of my focus now is a mix of the following:

college recruiting for girls

DA versus non-DA

will ECNL still be strong

is ODP still important now that DA doesn’t even let you participate

play High school or not

Greatest goal is to have my kids learn good sportsmanship while realizing their competitive and physical potential.

Even playing time

There is a huge difference at our club between the first and the second team in each age group. ECNL seems to get the best coaches, the best fields, the best practice times, and the best referees at the games. As a parent of a child who has been achingly close to making the EC NL team but not making it, I’ve watched the gap grow ever wider so that it’s almost impossible to catch up.

Parents lack of education allows Clubs to pass off winning, no matter how they do it, as proof of development.

Although I have a deep desire for development of players/teams, we forget that they are kids out playing soccer for the fun of it. The “recruiting” (ie. poaching) that occurs in youth soccer is absurd, parents jockeying to teams/clubs so that little U8-U15 can be assured of playing collegiately is mind numbing.   Let the kids be kids, let the true “stars” shine and be recognized…but don’t drive the kids away from something they like (and bonus…it’s exercise) because we drive them to be something they may not want to be.

Communication from the club/coach. Also always wondering if my kid should be doing more/less, are they in the right program, is the club doing things right, etc.

At a game right now, U9 girls Rep. As a parent sitting on the bleachers (indoor) the yelling from parents and the manager. As well as the coaches yelling from the other side of the pitch….all the yelling is deafening, distracting and discouraging. Completely takes away from the game and what successes the girls are having on their own. Very sad.

As a parent, I have 2 children playing soccer. My 9 year old plays Rec and we have struggled with parent coaches giving priority focus to their own children. My other daughter is 8 and again as a parent, would like to see more opportunities for girls her age within our club and community around soccer. As a coach, of U8 girls I struggle with clubs focusing on supporting male coaches and not providing the same support to female coaches and female players. An arrogant Technical Director also can make the experience/season challenging. Thank you.

Parent/spectator behavior, specifically on game day, and how it damages the overall experience and creates an atmosphere nearly impossible to teach in. 

The lack of transparency with the coach and club. I have twins and they seem to prefer one and play her all the time and only give her twin minimal time (10-20 minutes)

Teaching the kids that winning isn’t everything, want to win is. They are preoccupied with their parents obsessive need to win games, when we first must teach the kids, they need to find the desire to want to win within themselves first. 

Knowing exactly where they should be playing for their long term potential

The challenge is to ensure the game is played in the right spirit, and to show people of all ages that it can be played that way

The leadership and quality of coaches in our soccer academy is erratic at best. Parents are seen as the enemy. There is no way to address concerns about a child and feel confident that there won’t be repercussions. You can simply leave the program if you don’t like the coaching. Would love an ANONYMOUS suggestion box. Or a director who would give serious parental concerns attention and consideration.

Coaches wanting kids to specialize in soccer too early.

Soccer in the United States is a secondary thought and does not have the exposure that other sports like baseball, basketball, and football get. As such, short of private lessons, it is difficult to get quality training.

goal – for the kids to understanding the game . For the parents to stop coaching from the side lines .

Getting the coaches and parents to understand that this is just children’s soccer, not the FIFA World Cup. Everyone takes things too serious!! I just want to know that my son is having fun and is enjoying his time on and off the field with his team. I do not want to see/hear/hear about the coach dressing-down an 11 year old boy in front of his team because of some small blunder on the field.   The same thing goes for the parents.

When the coach is a child’s parents and they show them favoritism.

Frustration: Organizational in nature…decisions that hurt the entire local organization were made last year and now I feel my child is not on a team with equally skilled players, so his development is stymied. I’m glad he is able to help others improve.

Getting coaches to give young goalkeepers enough time in goal during practice.

When watching a game how do you tune out the sideline coaching by parents?

The greatest problem is getting a clear and honest assessment of the development of my child. I know my child is not a superstar but I also know every child can improve. 

As a club director and coach, I am one that typically helps families understand their options and opportunities. As a parent of a high level player, I have few places to go to get advice for my own son who is currently in the USSSDA system. He gets very little playing time with no feedback from the coaches or administration, the club as a policy, does not speak with parents. He is at a critical time, does he have a future with the DA, should we consider a residency program, should we consider the opportunities overseas?   He is a highly technical player of a small stature (late bloomer) and our system continues to favor size and speed….


Knowing when to suggest my daughter to take additional soccer lessons/camps/etc. or just let her play club and that’s it. I feel we have a responsibility to let them know what opportunities are there and let them decide if they act on it. However, by merely suggesting I feel like it seems to them we are pushing it on her.

I’m a children’s coach. I was with children for 4 years from 2012. My parents betrayed me. They do not need development, but the result. They now have another coach.

We live outside a major city and the soccer is pathetic in our community so we have to drive an hour for my daughter to play soccer.

Also, there needs more info on ENCL and opportunities for children that are good to reach their goals.

How do I ensure that when talking to DOC’S or even Program coordinators I am asking the correct questions to get the answers my child needs to make informed decisions. For example, When choosing a club some questions that come to mind are : style of play, development, DA Academy vs ECNL vs NPL 1,etc….


I come from Europe where playing soccer is not related to how much I can afford to pay!


The lack of Technical skill developments.

My biggest frustration is trying to make decisions with my child’s overall best interest in mind. Three issues come to mind. First: Most children are not clear on their goals and commitment level from season to season, year to year. Second: Couple that with their actual development and true potential in which we rely on a coaches feedback and gut instinct to determine next best steps.   Finally: Program pressure to commit more and more time, more and more money. I wish I had an expert personal consultant that was committed to my child and my family to guide us!

My greatest frustration with youth soccer is parental involvement with coaches. Even though my children both played on club teams parents managed to be in the coaches ear. Giving a feeling of the team being coached by a parent.

I’m a soccer coach and there isn’t a game that goes by that I don’t see the his type of behavior from coaches.


Right now I’m extremely frustrated with the lack of communication from our coach & leadership. We have no idea on the goals for the team or path forward. And I am the team manager.

That parents go for glitz and wins instead of growth and development of their children.

The dark side is taking over soccer. Larger clubs are taking up all the field spaces and making a ton of money off the kids! This includes tournaments that are making over $1,000,000 with the stay and play/pay rules in effect. Ethics are no longer important as clubs are out to win and that means cheating etc…. 

The greatest goal of youth soccer is to play and achieve the best quality training while maintaining the fun aspects of the game. The greatest problem at the grass roots level is involvement from the community in getting quality coaches or facilitators. I’m president of my local soccer club and just getting volunteers can sometimes be challenging but we never limit our numbers based on lack of volunteers we try to ease our parent coaches anxiety by offering training and support

Lack of communication from his coaches

I believe we need a nationwide educational program to insure that youth coaches fully comprehend that the welfare of that child is THEIR responsibility at ALL times.

If there is an area that schools have over clubs this is that area.

Over aggressive coaches and players in the recreational leagues. 

I wish kids could/would play pick up soccer games. I did all the time growing up. No adults involved. 

As a USSF certified youth coach myself, former player and mother to a daughter who plays select soccer, I have a bit broader understanding of the the challenges on all sides and tend to take a “how can I help” approach more than anything else. My greatest goal would be to educate parents to understand their child “athlete’s” temperament and lifestyle along with setting realistic expectations for themselves as parents and their players. Knowing how to interview and determine what club/coach and system best suits their child’s needs has a significant advantage in developing both the child and the player. Needs vary from child to child and you see a lot of movement of children from club to club here in North Texas 3-6 months in because the parents don’t know how to do the upfront work. On the back end the clubs aren’t all providing focused programs for players and parents either. 

Lack of communication from the coaching staff. 

 The new rule breaking up our kids into different groups based on birth year versus their own grade.     Very sad it was done for a few at the expense of MANNY.

Parents coaching from the sideline 

My one greatest problem is the adults that are involved (mainly coaches and parents) are doing a disservice to our youth with their priority of winning. Their behavior gets out of hand. They berate other coaches as well as our up and coming youth referees.

Adults need to let kids be kids 

Inconsistent experience with coaches has caused delayed development of skills.

Fear of questioning the coach and worried that the questions asked may somehow penalize the child’s growth opportunities with the future of that club. 

My frustrations lie with the poor quality of American soccer coaching.     Clubs function not by developing high quality coaching but by aggregating the best players to win the most games. Players develop on their own just by virtue of practicing with and playing against other high quality players. However, player weaknesses are not pointed out and strengthened through deliberate practice and they stagnate. I cannot tell if the coaches are oblivious to their poor quality (their teams win! they must be good coaches!) or whether they consciously don’t care (I’m getting paid!). One can “seek out” the rare good coaches but frankly even if you can convince your kid to leave his team-mates, chances are that after you’ve switched clubs and endured longer commutes, you’ll end up back in mediocrity the following year.

My frustration is the fun and enjoyment being taken away from the early years soccer experience. My little boy just loved to kick his ball around our house and garden, so I signed him up to some local classes. What a big mistake! It was all so serious, drills and rewards withheld for poor performance (he was only 2.5 years!). The fun was sucked out of the game for him. The lesson I have learned is no more Lessons for him until he is at least 6 years old and then they will be carefully vetted/monitored for the all important fun factor. 

I would like my children to thrive in a positive learning environment.   But my frustration is some coaches want to win more than develop the players and put the team before the individuals. I am also concerned with the expectation that they play all year long at young ages, 8-14. 

To improve communication between the club and parents to elevate the game and ensure a healthy environment for players to thrive.   Right now it feels like an us against them set up where parents are marginalized and not informed in a way to support the goals of the club on relation to the player. 

Getting quality coaching programs and support to get coaches the education they need to meet the needs of the entire child. (Mental, emotional, physical, etc).

As a coach, getting parent buy in with development down the long road may not look like winning at u9 

Knowing how to navigate the whole soccer structure set up. When I played soccer as a youth, I played on the recreation soccer teams until high school and then made the high school team when I was in 10th grade. Now my kids have a whole competitive soccer league set up before high school and there is all this discussion that you want to be on the highest teams possible. I think its important to stay community based- so I’ve stuck with my community league. But they don’t always have teams in all the levels. I think its tricky to know if I should support my league or go find another one with a group that has my kids’ level. Two of my kids have not made the upper division teams and two have. The coaching and push from the upper level teams are really quite a bonus and help my kids improve. The lower teams seem to struggle keeping kids over time to build the program- especially if the team loses all of their games. I think a team needs to win some games to keep it a positive experience for the players.   Also, I have always helped coach- when we’ve played in recreation league, but with the competitive league, you need a certificate. I’ve started working on it but I think its an interesting dilemma to know if I have a good enough coach who is already certified and I can support that coach or if I should pursue the training further. I’m not an aspiring soccer coach. I’m just a parent who played soccer and wants a good experience for my kids. I guess thats 2 problems or frustration with the youth soccer experience. Thanks for your education. I’ve enjoyed the information I’ve received from you. 

My child is dedicated to her team and is tired of the other girls on her team who are not dedicated to soccer, who don’t want to be there and complain the whole time. Or the girls that miss practice for who knows what reasons

Inconsistent coaching through the years. As my son put it, “Most soccer coaches are good at developing players, but few are good at developing people.” My greatest frustration is that I’m not sure that coaches realize, or think about, the effect (positive and negative) they have on children’s lives on many different levels.

Trying to get honest, constructive feedback on how to help my son develop. Politics and finances play such a large role in youth soccer that the development of the player is fogotten. If less than 5% of players jay in college then it is really important to get as much development as possible.

Boys teams getting preferential treatment over girls teams at the younger levels.

Inconsistency of coaches-in commitment, in relationship, in feedback, in their own knowledge base and in communication. As a parent, you feel at their mercy with no control and yet you know how much they effect your child’s life.

As with all sports, my greatest concern is getting kids on the fast track too soon and specializing in soccer too soon.   Our granddaughter is having a wonderful experience in soccer with a club. She didn’t start with the club until she was almost 10 years old, giving her a chance to try our some other sports and activities (e.g., swimming, gymnastics, dance). She love soccer and her club is outstanding. Still, I hope that within the soccer development program for our granddaughter there will be some room for playing other sports, at least for the next year or so. Also, I hope that her club will place some emphasis on upper body strength as well..

This is not unique among youth sports today, sadly. But as we often wonder why our US Soccer Development program struggles to produce top-quality, instinctive talent, we ignore the simple fact that kids are not encouraged at the younger ages to ask questions and play “uncoached” in pick-up style games, and therefore they lack the creativity and savvy to become impactful and instinctive playmakers as they mature. Instead of being outmatched physically, we are consistently out-thought and out-techniqued.

As a country, our approach is outmoded. I hope to see sites like succeed in creating more momentum for improvement.

 I played college soccer and now have very young kids (ages 5 and 3). My greatest frustration is that it seems like there is so much focus on games rather than on individual development and enjoyment of the game.

I believe this is my goal, challenge, and frustration. Having played the sport when American parents did not take the sport seriously (1970’s), I did not experience it until I became a parent. Parents need to cheer and encourage their children when playing. Parents do not need to coach and/or referee on the sidelines, unless they are actually the coach or the referee. Too many parents confuse the kids when the parent contradicts something the coach is trying to get the kids to do. During games parents who berate the referees drive me crazy. I have said on too many occasion that if they want to be a referee, the cost is about $100 and a day out of their life to get their referee license. Until then cheer for their kid and let them do their job. More often then not, the parent only embarrasses the child by their actions. I have become the parent who sits down at the corner of the sidelines away from all the parents so I do not hear and then say something to make things worse.

Right now – they are running 4-practices/week. Several of these practices end at 9:30pm! Then they throw in strength training on other days. All of it is “Mandatory”. Most people drive 30-60 minutes to practices and this is a major commitment, especially if we have to juggle other kids.

I really believe that they are losing their way by asking for too much of a commitment. Most of these kids are very passionate about soccer and love to go to practice, but they are also getting stressed from staying up late and trying to find time for school work.

Just 2-years ago our club only practiced twice a week. Now we are at 4-5 times. Starting with kids that are only 13-years old, this is a recipe for burn out.

When the kids only had 2-3 days a week commitment – they would still do training on their own. Or maybe play other sports (the crime of it!)

It seems that these coaches are just making decisions regarding the amount of practice on their own, without any parent input.

Lack of coordination (at best; antagonism and condescension, at worst) between “competitive” and recreational sides of club.

When in your opinion is the time to go with special physical training for youngsters?

Is it necessarily?

Too many games not enough practice 

Greatest Goal: To have fun and exercise.

Trying to support my child’s love for soccer while dealing with the politics playing at higher levels of play. How do I teach my son to compete at national tryouts where he should be looked at fairly and then when not chosen, because of the politics, can still hold his head high and continue to work hard for this sport.

Commitment of the coaches and club culture

Convincing spouse and daughter that year-round soccer and heading are harmful.

Frustration at the lack of care for the players as a whole person. Focus seems most on winning and not on player development or growing skills and confidence.

No Academy training past U10. So they are forced back into “rec” or club – neither of which I think is beneficial to them right now. That age range between 11-15 (when they get into High School) needs to have a lot of focus so they are not stuck going back into rec or paying high fees for club.

Coaches who care more about winning than developing talent.

A close second is that US soccer broke up local teams by changing age groups with no regard for the social bonds teammates had at a recreational level. This is really just an example of the first frustration.

I am frustrated that kids are expected to play year round. There is no room for other sports (if you can even afford them), despite the fact that studies have shown playing multiple sports is beneficial for children’s development. I worry about repetitive motion injuries because kids spend so much time playing one sport. Also, if you don’t have your child playing year round, you are made to feel that you aren’t doing the best you can to help your child excel in an activity and that they are not going to develop to their full potential. What parent wants to live with the thought that they prevented their child from excelling??


Convincing youth sports parents of two fallacious lines of reasoning-

1-earlier is better;

2-more is better.


Too much focus on winning and not learning. 

The focus of governing bodies via emphasis and funding on the elite divisions and players rather than a more balanced approach that supports the impact soccer can have on citizenship and social change.

Kids are pushed into activity after activity – adults fill up their children’s schedules with the best intentions.

Having them understand that less is sometimes more. We don’t need multiple long training sessions, tons of games and tourneys. Quite often rest is a good thing as well as time away from soccer for other sports, family time, vacation, school work.

Unrealistic parent expectations stealing the joy from youth sport participation.

Over involved parents 

Goal: instill a love of the sport for life in as many players as possible, starting with my children

Challenge: most people at in the game to ‘win trophies now’

Frustration: coaches who do not allow the kids to play, especially at the grassroots (U12 and younger) age groups

Problem/frustration: Too high a percentage of coaches focused on the team winning, rather than on each individual player improving. Too hard to tell what the coach really believes until you have already committed to the team (pre-tryout talk does not equal in-season actions).

As a basketball coach I am shocked how often parents push their daughters away from multi sport participation to year round soccer.   The delusion is rampant.   Clubs are selling the D-1 scholarship lie to the parents of many many players that have no chance to compete at that level.

Please note my daughter played 4 years of D-1 soccer on an almost full ride (90% ride)

The lack of discussion of league and team goals for the team…there are so many different levels of play and focus…when it is not clarified it leads to lots Of problems…it would be good if someone create a basic guideline of skill and goal levels that programs could use 

Greatest problem/frustration: My children informing me that while they are always focused on trying to improve they are on teams with teammates who don’t have the same focus, cause disruption, and make it difficult for them to improve and enjoy the environment.

Greatest challenge: Having coaches who honestly tell you about your child’s development and it translates to them rewarding them for that on the field.

For coaches it just seems to be about winning even at an early age


Greatest goal: Having my children reach their potential.

Greatest problem/frustration: My children informing me that while they are always focused on trying to improve they are on teams with teammates who don’t have the same focus, cause disruption, and make it difficult for them to improve and enjoy the environment.

Greatest challenge: Having coaches who honestly tell you about your child’s development and it translates to them rewarding them for that on the field.

The fact that coaches assume that all players are playing for a college scholarship and/or to “make” the US National Team.

Lack of quality coaching and opportunities in my area.

My kid’s greatest challenge is being fast enough. They play at one of the best girl’s ECNL club’s in the US where technical ability and improvement is trained, preached and emphasized but when picking top teams – speed tests weigh as much or more as anything they look at. A proven soccer speed and agility regime – by proven – I mean proven – that really works when it is measured would be a great help. They all train to get faster but how much proof do I have that what they are doing works and works best? 

Parents who either have unrealistic expectations and/or are living vicariously through their children

Lack of quality coaches and playing opportunities. We live in a rural part of the state and our club is very narrow minded in their approach. They claim to have a mission but it is not at all adhered to, except for with the club director’s child’s team.

No to very little unstructured play for youth 8 to 12.

Consistent developmental style coaching at the young age groups

I realize that 90% of youth soccer players are 1st generation players and that that number is down from 98% 20 years ago. This ratio will drop to 70% or 60% in the next 20 years and eventually we will start having 3rd generation players and 2nd generation players as a majority of the youth players. Maybe when children have parents who played soccer and grandparents who played soccer, the problem that I consider frustration with you soccer will solve itself. Currently. the biggest problem in youth soccer is the inexperience of the coaches.   The quality of our coaches, for the most part, is appalling. There are almost no coaches teaching the kids what to do when they don’t have the ball. (at least not effectively teaching) I can take any team in the bottom half of the table in any division and move them to winning over 50% of their games within 3 games, and have done so on several occasions. This is easily done by teaching the players what to do when they don’t have the ball, particularly when the other team has the ball. In todays youth games, (and largely in the MLS) there are typically 2 – 3 players from each team involved in the play at any given time. As a starting goal, this needs to be reversed so that there are only 2 – 3 players on each team who are NOT actively involved in the play at any given moment. We must start teaching our youth that if their team is not in possession of the ball, then they are defenders, regardless of their assigned position on the field.

It is to fragmented in how we develop players thru the ages. Every team has values, shared beliefs and convictions that guide its decisions and ultimately determine success or failure. For some teams, values are super clear so decisions are easier and more is accomplished with less time and resources. When values are vague, time and resources are misspent and often wasted. We seem devoted in meetings, but when given the opportunity, we take shortcuts. in letting players figure out the game…. To be fair, this may be the fault of leadership.

The pressure to succeed. It feels like it’s never about development…just athletic prowess.

Clubs that have lost control of their coaches and/or don’t bother to set and enforce downtime and training for recovery and fitness and instead have players on a soccer field multiple times per week for 48 weeks of the year.

My greatest frustration with my childrens’ soccer experience in our area is our local clubs misguided belief that we are a premier club – we are a recreational club and will forever be one. Let’s make decisions that reflect that fact and stop pretending to be something that we are not and will ever be.   Let’s be the best club we can be in our state for our recreational players. As you have mentioned so many times, the most we can hope for are high school-level players who love the game, have a healthy activity they are competent in for the rest of their lives and have been treated with respect and dignity throughout their career.


Parents don’t believe in development, they feel their child(ren) need to win to grow, they feel results (the only thing they understand) are the measuring stick.

Over-involved parents consistently yelling and coaching from the sidelines and clubs / refs / coaches not making it clear and then ENFORCING any rules that prohibit that behavior. It is so toxic and absolutely ruins my enjoyment of the game while it impedes the kids’ growth and I have not figured out how to change this culture within my own kid’s team.

Politics. Certain players getting opportunities due to their parents on boards or friends with the coaches or managers. Perception is reality when it comes to sport teams and although this may not always be the case, optics prove otherwise.

Direct and clear Communication from coaches

Enter your text here...