The Talented Coastal Bend

Soccer thoughts from Corpus Christi BayThe coastal bend has proven that we do have talent.  At this past weekends STSYA Fall State Championships, two teams from the coastal bend came away with state titles.   The VYSO U19 Girls won the Super II state title while the Santa Fe U14 girls won the D2 state title.  Now I realize that some people may think that a Super II or D2 title is not that big a deal (it isn’t D1 or ECNL).  However, for an area like ours that gets little to no respect from other parts of the state, it shows that we do have the talent to compete.   It also reinforces my argument that we need to join forces and combine our efforts.  The coastal bend sent 17 teams to the Western district playoffs and 3 teams advanced to state playoffs.  Of those three, 2 came away as state champs.  I still believe that we can have a better advancement rate, if we come together and bring all of our best talent together.  For now, that still appears to be a pipe dream.  Hopefully, the accomplishments of our local teams will not only show those around the state that we have talent, but will send a message to the Coastal Bend as a whole, that if we came together, we could do even better.

Concussion Awareness – Where is Youth Soccer Heading?

Courtesy SoccerRisk.com

Concussion awareness has greatly increased in all sports over the past few years.  In soccer, where the act of heading the ball is an integral part of the game, the discussion has been going on a bit longer.  Yet, youth soccer could be said to be behind the other sports in terms of developing and implementing guidelines for recognizing and diagnosing concussions.  Years ago medical studies on retired professionals indicated a heightened level of brain damage that was immediately (and not very scientifically) attributed to heading the ball.  Moreover, many people rushed to conclude that heading itself posed a risk to youth players based on a study of people who played and trained professionally over the course of decades.  The science wasn’t and still isn’t there to support such an inference.  However, it does highlight the need for awareness.

Most head injuries in soccer occur from collisions between players or between players and objects such as the goal post.  While we certainly should make sure coaches are teaching heading properly, our focus in a risk management area would look at the more likely causes of concussion, and establish a framework for managing concussion injuries.  What guidelines do you have in place for your club?

A few points to remember:

1. Concussions often occur with no loss of consciousness
2. Symptoms include a change in level of alertness, confusion, vomiting and extreme sleepiness
3. Players showing symptoms of a concussion should not be returned to the game and should be seen in an ER immediately
4. A player is not ready to resume competition just because symptoms have subsided.  Doctors will often recommend several weeks of no physical activity after the symptoms end.
5. Risk of permanent brain injury increases with successive concussions.

A concussion awareness plan should provide for (a) medical evaluation; (b) return to activity guidelines; and (c) tracking of prior head injuries.  At all times, be guided by the medical recommendations, not the subjective feelings of the player or parent.  Concussion awareness should be part of your volunteer training program.

For more information or help in developing a concussion awareness plan, visit our site.!

Philly.com article on concussion awareness.

The 10,000 Hour Rule

Courtesy Soccer Toughness

Many coaches, parents, and athletes have heard at some point throughout their involvement in sport that 10 years and 10,000 hours of practice are required in order to become an elite athlete. The 10 year / 10,000 hour rule, as it has come to be known, is prominent in popular “talent” books such as Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. It is also a popular topic of discussion at coach education workshops, and is identified as one of the 10 key factors influencing the Canadian Sport for Life Long Term Athlete Development framework.

Where did the 10 year / 10,000 hour rule come from and does it apply to sport?

In the first of a two part discussion, I will outline the origins of the 10 year / 10,000 hour rule, while Part 2 of the series will consider research investigating the 10 year / 10,000 hour rule in sport.

In 1973 the American Scientist published a research paper that would later become one of the most influential articles in cognitive psychology and the study of expertise (1). The research conducted by Herbert A. Simon and William G. Chase at Carnegie-Mellon University in the United States, was primarily focussed on the perceptual-cognitive processes associated with skilled performance in chess. Among a number of fascinating findings, Simon and Chase identified that:

“There appears not to be any case (including Bobby Fischer) where a person has reached grandmaster level with less than about a decade’s intense preoccupation with the game. We would estimate, very roughly, that a master has spent perhaps 10,000 to 50,000 hours staring at chess positions, and a Class A player 1,000 to 5,000 hours.”

And so the 10 year / 10,000 hour rule was born.

In 1993, K. Anders Ericsson, Ralf Th. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Römer extended support for the 10 year / 10,000 hour rule into the musical domain (2). In what was to become another seminal research paper for the study of expertise, Ericsson and his colleagues asked violin players of four different skill levels to estimate the amount of time they had engaged in a variety of practice activities throughout the entire course of their involvement in music. The four groups of violin players included students at a leading music academy who were deemed by their teachers to be most likely to attain a career as an international soloist (“Best”), students at the same music academy deemed by their teachers to be likely to attain a career as a performer in an international orchestra but not as a soloist (“Good”), students training to become music teachers, not performers (“Teachers”), and a group of professional violin players (“Professionals”). By the age of 23, all participants in the research study had engaged in violin lessons for a period of 10 years or more. The graph below shows that at age 20, both the “Best” students and the “Professionals” had accumulated approximately 10,000 hours of practice over the duration of their careers, while the “Good” students and the “Teachers” had accumulated less than 8,000 hours and 5,000 hours respectively.

To log your hours, coach tips on our website. Register now and the service is free.

The False Allure of One Touch Soccer

For years, working with select, college and Olympic Development players, I was always amazed at the eagerness of players, and even coaches, to play the ball away on the first touch.  While we see many examples of one touch play at the professional and international levels, effective one touch soccer among youth players is a rarity.  I do not believe that is because youth players are incapable of making one touch passes. I would suggest, instead, it is because they are not trained to make good decisions about when to play with one touch and when to take two or more touches.  I would also argue that if properly trained, we would see two things happen.  First, the number of balls played first time would sharply decrease.  At the same time, the success of one touch play would sharply increase.  In support of that argument, let’s look at several one touch situations.

Coastal Bend Thanksgiving Tourney

Soccer thoughts from Corpus Christi BayFor everything that I would like to change about Coastal Bend soccer, the one thing that I would NEVER touch is the yearly Thanksgiving tourney..  This year is the 32nd annual CBYSA Thanksgiving Tourney.  For 32 years players have converged on the Coastal Bend to play soccer. I played in the first annual Thanksgiving tournament all those years ago and then was a referee in later years.   I am thankful that the tradition continues every year and teams from across South Texas have this option.. The number of teams may have dropped as competition from other tourneys has arisen but throughout the years, the powers that be (whom I usually question) have ensured that this tradition of Coastal Bend soccer carries on.  For that I say thank you. I also appreciate fact that the tourney is “unrestricted” and open to anyone who wants to bring a properly registered team. I invite anyone looking for a tournament to take a serious look at coming to Corpus this Thanksgiving.