Monday, June 15, 2009

Phil Jackson: Role Model Coach

Jim Thompson of the Positive Coaching Alliance tells it like it is: "Watching the Lakers win the NBA title, last night I began to count the ways that Phil Jackson is a model for youth coaches."

For all of you who believe a good coach must be loud and directive during games, please read how Phil Jackson coaches. He is an excellent professional coach yet is calm and quiet during games. While adult professionals enjoy this, it is even more important for our kids -- who are still in the process of building their self esteem.

Please read Jim's article at and let me know what you think.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

They Play, I Coach, You Cheer!

To encourage coaches to finish all their training (and to encourage positive coaching), AYSO Region 64 gave all fully certified AYSO coaches (coaches with both Safe Haven training age level appropriate training) a special custom coach shirt as a reward. This shirt also helps them encourage positive behavior at games. Here is what the shirts looked like:

The AYSO Store also had another coach shirt design available that looks like this:

We chose to use the simpler text as it was louder and clearer. Both these shirts are available as custom orders from the AYSO Store.

The stock version of the above shirts without anything on the back can be seen at


Tim Oey
Spring Coach Administrator
AYSO Region 64

AYSO Soccer Rocks!

The American Youth Soccer Organization is the main reason I've become a big advocate for Positive Coaching. When looking for sports programs for our kids, AYSO really impressed me and my wife. No other youth sports program seemed to deliver as high quality an overall program for as low a cost. And now that i've been volunteering for the program for 8 years, I realize a hidden benefit is that AYSO not only develops better soccer players, it also develops and improves its volunteers.

AYSO is a remarkable organization that is the role model most other youth sports programs now follow. AYSO has been instrumental in improving how youth sports is approached. For its work in creating a positive environment for youth athletes, AYSO earned the Positive Coaching Alliance’s 2009 National Leadership Award

AYSO strives to give every child an excellent soccer experience based on it's six philosophies:

1) Open Registration -- so all youth, regardless of capability, can experience the joy of learning soccer on a team.

2) Everyone Plays -- so everyone on a team gets roughly equal playing time, no one is forced to sit on the bench. National AYSO mandates at least 50% playing time at every game and many regions such as Sunnyvale Region 44 shoot for a minimum of 75% playing time.

3) Balanced Teams -- so all teams have a reasonable chance of winning some and losing some and no teams dominate all others, there is much to learn from both winning and losing.

4) Positive Coaching -- so players, parents, and coaches all have a positive and fun learning experience.

5) Good Sportsmanship -- so we all can learn to be better sportsman (and citizens).

6) Player Development -- so we remember that developing our players is the focus of the program (this sixth philosophy was just added in May 2009 although it has been core to AYSO from the very beginning).

AYSO offers the very best in player and volunteer training. All of its training programs (management, referee, and coach) are well thought out and thorough -- but particularly its coach program.

The AYSO coach training program is the only national youth soccer program that is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Coaching Education. And it is one of only two national youth sports programs with this accreditation. The other is Special Olympics. All AYSO training is designed by soccer, coach, and youth development pros to make the AYSO soccer program efficient, effective, and fun for both youth and volunteers. The AYSO coach training program will make you a better coach, a better parent, and even a better manager. Positive coaching skills are good for everyone.

To learn more about AYSO, please see There are also some good videos at

My local Sunnyvale AYSO Region 44 and all other national AYSO regions are now registering players and volunteers for the fall 2009 soccer season. For Sunnyvale, please go to to pre-register online.

Sunnyvale AYSO provides one of the best values in local sports -- it is only $85 per player for the fall 2009 season and financial aid is available for those who need it. Compare that to the costs of most other local soccer options.

Some other local South SF Bay AYSO regions are:
West San Jose -
Mountain View -
Cupertino -
Saratoga -
Los Altos -
Palo Alto -

For other regions in the US and some even world wide, visit

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Blowout Challenge

The goal of sports for kids should be so they can learn and have fun.

Kids learn best when they are challenged, have fun, and experience some success. Games that are blowouts are a loss for both teams. For the team that "lost" it can be disheartening and frustrating. For the team that "won" they probably were not challenged and so were not able to learn much from the game. Plus a game is no fun if it is too easy to win every time -- it becomes boring. Ideally only well matched (balanced) teams will play each other but this is not always possible for many reasons. So it is important for every youth sports team to have a blowout mitigation strategy.

In soccer, if you are up by 2 points very early in the game or it otherwise becomes very obvious that one team is much stronger than the other, it is best for a coach and team to use one or more blowout prevention techniques. A blowout in soccer is typically a score differential of 5 or more goals.

Here are some techniques you can use to prevent blowouts in soccer as well as improve the skill of the stronger team:
- Positions -- Put players in positions where they are least comfortable (most challenged), play strong scorers as defense or goal keeper, play weak scorers as forwards and mids.
- Opposition -- Reduce the number of players on the field for the stronger team (1, 2, 3 or even more players), increase for the weaker team
- Passing -- Every player must touch the ball before a shot is taken
- Passing -- Two-Touch, every player can only have two touches of the ball in sequence, no dribbling
- Passing -- Must complete 5, 10, or more passes before shooting.
- Shooting -- Only take shots from outside the opponents penalty area
- Shooting -- Each player can only score 1 goal, must pass to a player that has not yet scored for a shot
- Shooting -- Only 1 designated player can take shots until they score once, then another player becomes the designated shooter
- Shooting -- All shots must be with weaker (off) foot [added 3/30/2009 based on feedback from AYSO-L]
- Crosses -- can only score with a cross and 1 touch kick (U10 & under)
- Crosses & Heading -- can only score with a cross and header (U12 & up)
- Do two or more of the above at the same time

These techniques will force your players to play harder and learn more in the process. It is after all just a game and they are likely to have more fun too.

Some additional options which involve sharing players with the other team:
- If the weaker team is playing short to start with, loan them your best players (good players often enjoy playing against their own team)
- Swap a few players (spot balance teams)
- Swap offensive lineups so that your forwards and mids play against your defense and goalkeeper - this will usually result in very balanced teams and each group knows some of the others so can play reasonably well together. This option usually requires that both coaches have a full set of pinnies for both teams and the referees are ok with the challenge.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Taking coaches to new heights

Well, I've become an AYSO Coach Instructor so am training new coaches this spring in AYSO Region 64 (in addition to coaching and being a stand in coach administrator).


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Game Day Saying

One of the best game day practices and sayings I've run across is:

They Play
I Coach
You Cheer

This is great to put on the back of coaches' shirts and jackets to remind those behind them of what is what on game day.

The game is the teacher, especially in soccer. It's best for all to honor the game. The kids play the game. The coaches are responsible for coaching. Everyone else should just be cheering for the players. It's all for our kids.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Become a Double-Goal Coach!

It's easy and will help you be a better coach. Everything you need can be found on the Positive Coaching Alliance website at

There is even an online version of this certification course that you can take at

The cost was $25. It took me just over an hour to complete the whole course (but I've been through PCA training twice before). It would probably take a new person about 1.5 hours to finish it successfully. One caveat -- be very careful on the test because once you click submit for a question, you can no longer change your answer (I mistakenly clicked too quickly on one and could not go back even though I knew I had mis-entered my answer when I had clicked submit). Still I got 90% (I validly missed a 2nd question with an incomplete answer).

The course was pretty well put together. It has well written text, good examples, some short videos, interactive worksheets, an overall table of contents, progress indicators, PDF handouts you can download and print if desired, and a concluding test where if you pass (80% or better -- at least 16 of 20 questions correct) you get an instant online certificate. I think it is worthwhile for very coach to become certified at least once if not yearly.

Coaching is challenging and coaches deserve to be well trained.