U11 Soccer - Coach's Kid Being Prioritized

Catcher Block

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Mar 7, 2006
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My U11/2013 daughter is wrapping up her second full year with a small club team in St. Louis. We originally picked this club in 2021 because they’re local to our neighborhood, and they try to field teams of kids from our town and a few surrounding towns, resulting in a really tightknit group. On a talent and competition level, they’re firmly in the middle of the pack, but that’s okay for us for our daughter's age. In a market dominated by a hyper-competitive clubs with high fees and several teams per age group, this club is more our speed. After a few months, we knew everyone at the club, and they knew us. It’s been a great setup.

My kid had been a defender out of team need, but last Spring they moved up to 9v9 and the team’s best forward switched clubs, opening up a spot for my kid to move to forward on a bigger field. It was an amazing opportunity and she ran with it. Try as I did to make her a no-nonsense defender like her old man, she has a nose for scoring goals and creating on the offensive end. Since switching positions, she’s been the team’s leading goal-scorer and top attacking threat. She’s comfortable creating for her forward partner or taking on defenders 1v1. Better yet, she takes all of the team’s offensive free kicks and penalty kicks. Well, she did…right up until the last game of outdoor soccer in the fall.

Beginning with that game and continuing to the current 7v7 indoor season, the coach has started allowing his daughter, the goalie, to take most of the free kicks in the offensive half and even some penalty kicks. This has not gone over well with my daughter and especially not with me as a knowledgeable soccer fan. My kid hasn’t missed a penalty for this team (6-for-6) and is one of the few kids who can drive the ball off the ground and over a wall (or goalie) from outside the box. She knows where the ball should go, when to pass vs shoot on direct kicks, and is the one who gets fouled to create the chances half the time. The goalie has the power to take goal kicks, so her free kicks can be okay, but her accuracy is dreadful, and her last two penalty kicks have gone several feet over the net. Her few goals have been high, lofting free kicks that happened to come down before the crossbar. She has yet to successfully convert a penalty (or stop one, for that matter). My daughter spoke to the coach and asked why the change, he told my kid he wants to give other people chances to take kicks, but it’s just his kid taking them.

We have voiced some polite displeasure with a few trusted parents and I’ve tried to approach everything from a common sense soccer point of view. Yeah, of course I want my kid taking these and racking up goals, but I’d even settle for a small group of outfield players who can place a shot stepping up as as the situations dictate. Our goalie is not very good at all at stopping shots; she sure as hell shouldn’t be running up to take them. One family shared with us that the goalie was also a part of a church league (CYC) soccer team, but she was not the starting goalie and her dad wasn’t the coach, and she quit that team because she didn’t play enough. On our club team, the coach rotates everyone evenly with hockey-style changes, which is another small annoyance. Everyone should play, absolutely, but there has to be a point in club soccer where talent dictates time. (I'm fully aware that sentence sucks for U11 soccer, but it's where I'm at with all of this.) Conveniently, his daughter doesn’t rotate with anyone, and I honestly don’t know if we have another goalie on the team or not—if we do, there’s no chance he’d let the two of them share minutes.

After this past weekend's game (they lost 7-2; my kid and her forward partner had the two goals; the goalie took one attacking free kick, a worm-burner hit directly into the first defender), I’m left with not entirely knowing how to proceed, and really trying to re-center myself to see this objectively. It’s U11 soccer, and this coach isn’t costing my kid a scholarship or anything, but she knows she’s getting a raw deal. She’s a good player, among the best on the team, and I know she could grow if she played on another team next year. That said, she’s 10, and she isn’t going to want to leave her friends on this team, especially as they start middle school together next year. My wife and I are convinced that we can’t be the ones to bring this up to the coach, because we don’t want it to affect our kid’s experience more than it has already. Likewise, it would be unfair for us to ask any other parents to do it as well.

Am I overreacting? Is there a way to tell him he needs to be a coach to all 18 players and not just his kid? I have considered trying to recruit a (better) goalie to our team and try and force his hand or suggesting to the club director that we have enough girls for two teams to move some pieces around the board, but I don't see that working out. A suddenly obvious drawback of the tightknit club is situations like this, where the coach's family has been involved at so many levels for so long that I don't see me changing any minds. Truthfully, just venting this here helps, since I’m less likely to do it on the sidelines within earshot of the coach’s wife. Any feedback or relatable stories welcomed.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Jul 2, 2006
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The coach seems like an asshole but I think you just let this one go. It would be one thing if your daughter was unfairly sitting on the bench or the coach's selfish choices were hurting your daughter's development as a player, but that's not really the case.

My guess is that this situation won't last much longer because at some point the players themselves, as well as other parents, will get disgruntled if their odds of winning are being hurt by the coach's stupid self-interested choices in assigning set piece takers. It'll take just one match where you lose by a goal and the keeper skies a penalty over the bar and they will all be talking.
 

opes

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How much longer is the season? I know the situation sucks. But I see it from this angle, its a good lesson to politely teach your daughter that life can be unfair sometimes. It sucks, but explain it happens to everyone once in a while. Explain to her you know she is better, but you could say to her, "Do you think you can give this other girl any help or advice?" They are kids, yes. But she wont remember this at all in high school likely. But the lesson she probably will.
 

Pesky Pole

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First, I'm sorry that your daughter is living sports parent politics already at that age.

A question before I try to offer any advice. Since this is a parent coaching, is this considered rec soccer or is this truly a travel/club team? I ask because I'd have different expectations of the two situations. I've coached rec soccer and travel soccer for about 8 years and then stopped a few years back. I've seen it all from other teams but my expectations for the $100/season league were much lower than they ever were for a travel/club season.

As an aside, those kids are nearing the age where the kids will start to police themselves. If this kid is keeping them from winning, they'll get on the kid themselves at which point the coach is doing his own daughter a disservice.
 

Catcher Block

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A question before I try to offer any advice. Since this is a parent coaching, is this considered rec soccer or is this truly a travel/club team? I ask because I'd have different expectations of the two situations. I've coached rec soccer and travel soccer for about 8 years and then stopped a few years back. I've seen it all from other teams but my expectations for the $100/season league were much lower than they ever were for a travel/club season.
It's club/travel. We don't travel much because the leagues here are great and there are so many tournaments in the STL area that we're always in one of those rather than driving to Tulsa or Memphis, but they're playing teams from Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, etc. We're in for around $1500 a year, which includes fall outdoor, winter indoor, and spring outdoor.

Aside from the mega-clubs, I understand the cost to be about average for club soccer here.
 

Pesky Pole

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It's club/travel. We don't travel much because the leagues here are great and there are so many tournaments in the STL area that we're always in one of those rather than driving to Tulsa or Memphis, but they're playing teams from Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, etc. We're in for around $1500 a year, which includes fall outdoor, winter indoor, and spring outdoor.

Aside from the mega-clubs, I understand the cost to be about average for club soccer here.
Assuming he/she seems normal, you should quietly talk to the overall club director. At a minimum, you can ask what age they transition to paid coaches. That should start the conversation. A good club won’t want to lose an age group to a coach playing favorites and they can hopefully watch a few games and make suggestions that don’t directly point back to you. Our set up has a director of coaching who you could talk to when you saw a situation that was not good for the club. They’d simply watch a few games and make suggestions to the offending coach if warranted. This one seems easy - “hey coach, you can’t have the goalie taking set pieces and leaving the team exposed at the back. You may get away with it at U11 but you need to teach them correctly now”.
 

4 6 3 DP

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Oct 24, 2001
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For many of us who played high level youth sports, this is an experience we have had - I mirror those folks here who have suggested that this is actually a really good experience for her to go through.

My advice would be to stay quiet and wait for the first opportunity to move her to a team not coached by the guy. She may not want to move teams but if you want to give her the best chance to grow, you move her. You don't need to tell anyone why.
 

lars10

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I think I'd ask her what she thinks.. if she's frustrated enough to want to move teams or if she's having more fun staying with her friends. Watching my sister over the years growing up, I wonder if there will be any self policing since I found girls (or at least my sister and her teams/friends) to be far more encouraging and less competitive growing up.. they just liked playing and seemed to want everyone to have fun. At least that was what it looked like from the outside...and she played in every kind of league in Needham with a core of friends that played youth all the way through high school.

With that said.. it doesn't make sense for a keeper to take all of the kicks.. it is teaching bad habits and it forces the rest of the team to cover for a keeper running back every time. I'd ask the coach why he think it makes sense.. even thought it's his daughter.. because it just constantly puts the team under pressure and can't be all that fun for his daughter as well.

edit: caveat to say that I don't have kids and my sister played in the 80s and 90s
 

Catcher Block

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Is there only one coach? Any assistants? If not, is that a role you or another parent could volunteer to fill?
There is an assistant coach. Nice guy, but very soft spoken. His kid is the other top player on the team. She plays slightly more than average, but still isn't really shown any favor. She's our best midfielder by far. Due to the wholesale line changes he makes, she and my kid are almost never out there together.

I would love to coach if I had the time, but my work schedule just doesn't allow for it. I did one season of fall soccer for my kid's school in 2021 and loved it. We still work on stuff after practices in our spare time so I can get some of that coaching energy out, but I really wish I could do it in a more official capacity.

One of the more like-minded parents who also thinks any goalie taking free kicks and PKs is crap is more involved with the club, and I've tried to lean on him a bit to get the message across. He's been big on understanding but short on action thus far. If we change clubs, his kid would likely come with us. We'd feel better about bringing this up to the club if that list was a bit bigger.

Anyway, I agree with those who said the whole circus is going to have to cost them a game at some point for the experiment to end organically. This feels petty, but even without her offensive offense, she'd still be a bad keeper who costs them games. They give up fewer shots than most teams they play, and yet her save percentage has to be somewhere in the .200s. And the coach is always quick to tell the defenders to help out more after each goal. His kid never gets any criticism, constructive or otherwise. It's maddening.
 

RG33

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Nov 28, 2005
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I must say, I never played or followed soccer until my youngest started playing at around 5 years old. She loves it, is quite good, and it has been fun to be a part of. However, seeing how insane the parents are - particularly at such young ages, has been pretty eye-opening. I played baseball and hoops my whole life, was pretty good, and am a very competitive person in general — but these club soccer parents are nuts.

With that said, I think you should probably let this play out on itself. These are 11 year old kids, and as others have said, it’s a good opportunity for your daughter to learn a lesson. If she wasn’t a star player playing so much, it might be a bit different, but honestly — you’re complaining about her not getting more penalty and free kicks (and, ultimately goals). It does come across to me as a “bit much”, to be honest.

My daughter is also 11, is one of the two star forwards on the team, and one of her best friends is the coaches’ daughter. She is a sweetheart, but she is overweight and not very good, and has been exposed this year in club. Everyone knows it and sees it (and the Coache’s wife, who is a friend, has said it has been painstaking for the Coach because he sees it and doesn’t want to jeopardize the team.

Your daughter will be fine — she isn’t going to suffer development at this age — and who knows, playing goalie is awfully boring at this age, so perhaps he is just trying to get his daughter some action knowing that no other kids are willing to play goalie. I just think everything will work its way out in the next couple of years, and I wouldn’t want to make a stink and come across as “that parent” over something that really won’t matter at the end of it.

For the record, I’m saying this all thinking that you’re a good soccer parent and not one of the crazies…
 

SocrManiac

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Apr 15, 2006
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Not much more to add, other than echoing that the coach is an asshole. As somebody on the other sideline, I am so sensitive to ensuring my kid isn’t getting any favoritism that the opposite is probably true.

Before I became a parent, I assumed that all of them just blindly assumed their kid is the best. Since having my own and interacting with others, it’s a pretty small fraction that don’t see their kid’s flaws. When one of those ends up in a coaching situation, everybody is miserable.

This situation seems pretty straightforward to address logically, so it’ll be nearly impossible due to an emotional component on the coach’s part. Unless the coach’s daughter idolized Chilovert, there isn’t a great argument within the tactics or strategy of the game that justifies a keeper taking free kicks, regardless of skill. I’d have two direct comments for the coach. First, it’s inappropriate at that age for any player to play entire matches in goal, again regardless of skill. It’s not time to specialize and anybody back there is losing ground they can’t claw back. Field awareness, timing, and spacing are the critical developmental goal at that age. Inability to do that now will preclude playing later. Second, I’d directly address it tactically. There isn’t any tactical advantage gained by having a goalkeeper sprinting back after a free kick. Much the opposite. The girls are supposed to be learning fundamental skills and tactics. Covering for an all at sea goalkeeper isn’t in that objective set.
 

graffam198

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Dec 10, 2007
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My U11/2013 daughter is wrapping up her second full year with a small club team in St. Louis. We originally picked this club in 2021 because they’re local to our neighborhood, and they try to field teams of kids from our town and a few surrounding towns, resulting in a really tightknit group. On a talent and competition level, they’re firmly in the middle of the pack, but that’s okay for us for our daughter's age. In a market dominated by a hyper-competitive clubs with high fees and several teams per age group, this club is more our speed. After a few months, we knew everyone at the club, and they knew us. It’s been a great setup.

My kid had been a defender out of team need, but last Spring they moved up to 9v9 and the team’s best forward switched clubs, opening up a spot for my kid to move to forward on a bigger field. It was an amazing opportunity and she ran with it. Try as I did to make her a no-nonsense defender like her old man, she has a nose for scoring goals and creating on the offensive end. Since switching positions, she’s been the team’s leading goal-scorer and top attacking threat. She’s comfortable creating for her forward partner or taking on defenders 1v1. Better yet, she takes all of the team’s offensive free kicks and penalty kicks. Well, she did…right up until the last game of outdoor soccer in the fall.

Beginning with that game and continuing to the current 7v7 indoor season, the coach has started allowing his daughter, the goalie, to take most of the free kicks in the offensive half and even some penalty kicks. This has not gone over well with my daughter and especially not with me as a knowledgeable soccer fan. My kid hasn’t missed a penalty for this team (6-for-6) and is one of the few kids who can drive the ball off the ground and over a wall (or goalie) from outside the box. She knows where the ball should go, when to pass vs shoot on direct kicks, and is the one who gets fouled to create the chances half the time. The goalie has the power to take goal kicks, so her free kicks can be okay, but her accuracy is dreadful, and her last two penalty kicks have gone several feet over the net. Her few goals have been high, lofting free kicks that happened to come down before the crossbar. She has yet to successfully convert a penalty (or stop one, for that matter). My daughter spoke to the coach and asked why the change, he told my kid he wants to give other people chances to take kicks, but it’s just his kid taking them.

We have voiced some polite displeasure with a few trusted parents and I’ve tried to approach everything from a common sense soccer point of view. Yeah, of course I want my kid taking these and racking up goals, but I’d even settle for a small group of outfield players who can place a shot stepping up as as the situations dictate. Our goalie is not very good at all at stopping shots; she sure as hell shouldn’t be running up to take them. One family shared with us that the goalie was also a part of a church league (CYC) soccer team, but she was not the starting goalie and her dad wasn’t the coach, and she quit that team because she didn’t play enough. On our club team, the coach rotates everyone evenly with hockey-style changes, which is another small annoyance. Everyone should play, absolutely, but there has to be a point in club soccer where talent dictates time. (I'm fully aware that sentence sucks for U11 soccer, but it's where I'm at with all of this.) Conveniently, his daughter doesn’t rotate with anyone, and I honestly don’t know if we have another goalie on the team or not—if we do, there’s no chance he’d let the two of them share minutes.

After this past weekend's game (they lost 7-2; my kid and her forward partner had the two goals; the goalie took one attacking free kick, a worm-burner hit directly into the first defender), I’m left with not entirely knowing how to proceed, and really trying to re-center myself to see this objectively. It’s U11 soccer, and this coach isn’t costing my kid a scholarship or anything, but she knows she’s getting a raw deal. She’s a good player, among the best on the team, and I know she could grow if she played on another team next year. That said, she’s 10, and she isn’t going to want to leave her friends on this team, especially as they start middle school together next year. My wife and I are convinced that we can’t be the ones to bring this up to the coach, because we don’t want it to affect our kid’s experience more than it has already. Likewise, it would be unfair for us to ask any other parents to do it as well.

Am I overreacting? Is there a way to tell him he needs to be a coach to all 18 players and not just his kid? I have considered trying to recruit a (better) goalie to our team and try and force his hand or suggesting to the club director that we have enough girls for two teams to move some pieces around the board, but I don't see that working out. A suddenly obvious drawback of the tightknit club is situations like this, where the coach's family has been involved at so many levels for so long that I don't see me changing any minds. Truthfully, just venting this here helps, since I’m less likely to do it on the sidelines within earshot of the coach’s wife. Any feedback or relatable stories welcomed.
This is awesome. I wish my parents were this open. First, 1500 seems pretty fair. My fees are 1300 for my team (U13/2011's) and my daughter's fees are 1900 (Same age, higher "level", allegedly). Based on age, it sounds like they played up last spring (should have still been 7v7) so assuming it's a pretty decent team. Sounds like they are playing a 3-3-2 if she has a forward partner? If she is a stud defender, she could still be the top goal scorer as a wing back. I believe FSU's top scorer (maybe it was BYU) this season was their wing back.

Anyways...Let me offer a slightly different perspective. I coach 2 teams and assist on 2 others. My oldest no longer plays for me but for the other 2011 coach. I think this is important since it informs my position :). My twins play for me on my rec team, but for another coach in club. One other item, I do not get paid. My other coaches do, but I don't collect a coaching fee. I do this mostly because my company matches my time, $25/hour, if I donate it (don't get paid) and it keeps my fees lower which means I am an option for less advantaged families. Last year I was able to "donate" 10k to the club through my time which enabled a bunch of kids to play for free. And, if I don't get paid, I don't feel the pressure to win at all costs. I can focus on development first.

First, any decent coach will always have a concern that they are coaching for their kid instead of their team. Like, am I setting the team up for success or my kid? Am I over playing my kid (Pause on that, since coaches kid is a keeper)?

I always joked with my spouse and girls that there are no benefits to being coaches kid. You have a microscope on you from everyone, you never escape coach, and all your achievements are diminished b/c you are...coaches kid. I.e. did you earn it or were you given it? But, this only holds true for a good coach (on the management side, won't talk technical). A terrible coach is going to clearly favor their own kid. And in the case they don't have a kid on the team they will have favorites (dealing with that currently).

Ok, with all of that out of the way, let me offer some thoughts. First, I love that you acknowledge it is U11 soccer and you are a bit hung up on that. At this age, in my firm belief (and US Soccers), FUN still comes first, Development second, winning last. This is the beginning of a tough age where kids are starting to discover other interests, burn out, move on. So you really want to keep it fun to keep kids in it.

Development. Kids, especially girls, are starting to mature. They are able to do more technical tasks. But they are still kids. So there is a ton of work to do there. Love that your girl is 6/6 on PKs. My daughter has a similar stat. It takes guts to send that ball to net. Lots of pressure. Everyone watching. But, in tournament play, when you end in a tie, and you go to PKs, she isn't taking all 5 of them. Need to have other girls w/that ability. So I do like that the coach let your daughter build up her resume and is starting to experiment with other girls. Now, the fact that he is giving it to his daughter could be seen as favoritism but maybe, (assuming a he, sorry if I misgendered), he is just trying to get her a win to build her confidence. Let her get a couple in and then swap girls out. I have a keeper who is absolutely trash. But I keep letting her play b/c the only way to get better is reps. So I leave her in the net (except for must wins) so she can get those reps. And I've had the conversation w/my 12 year olds. If I pull her now, her confidence is shot and she won't get better. Your job is to go out and keep scoring to make up for anything that goes in. And you know what? That honesty with the girls goes a long way. They support her, don't get on her for easy goals, and step up their play to "get it back". Not saying that is what your coach is doing, but, if it was my team, and I was trying to get more shooters, that is the approach I would take. Let her shoot until she gets success then replace. (As an aside, it is dumb to let the keeper do it, as @SocrManiac pointed out, she blows it off a post or a save, well, the counter attack has a wide open net...that's no good).

Big fan of equal playing time. At this age, US Soccer suggests 70% playing time for all players. Again, the only way to get better is touch. Not fully aligned with @SocrManiac on keepers though. I've been blessed with kids who want to be full time keepers (never had a back up until this year). And that makes my life easier. They practice w/the outfield players all week and our club has Keeper specific training that they attend. So they get to keep up with technical work, small sided games, etc. during the week with the rest of the squad. My main keeper claims to want to play wing, but everytime I play her there she reminds me that keeper is better. hahaha. Something about "all the running".

BTW, I love that your daughter spoke to the coach. Dude, that is so cool. I can't tell you how hard I work to get my girls to feel empowered to ask me questions. From their reviews, to practice, to in game, it is something I try to push. The fact that you have raised your daughter to have that courage is AWESOME. That is a life skill that is probably more important than anything else she gets out of soccer. I have had success with a few of them, but it is like pulling teeth at this age. And I appreciate the coach's response.

Another thought, on the free kicks. Love that she has a great goal kick. My main goalie (and the back up who stinks) have atrocious goal kicks. But, yours has power, no accuracy. One way of working on that accuracy is letting her take the free kicks. Not ideal, but a case could be made that he is just trying to get her reps so that her goal kicks are less blast and pray, but more accurate.

I do hate that he has 18 players. That is the max roster size, and as to the above, that means 50% playing time max. That isn't enough. I know you can have a roster that size, but for me, I like 12 on a roster at that age. Hell, for my 2011's I only had 13. Yeah, 70 minutes is a long time, but no one complains about playing more. (I have 15 now and am losing my mind. 4 subs? Embarrassment of riches!) But that is a choice I make as a coach because I prioritize minutes over wins. YMMV.

I mentioned favorites. Last year we blew up the 2011 teams. Basically, it was decided to make an "a" team and a "b" team. I took the "b" team as I only have a grass roots license and the other coach has their "c" license. So I gave up my 6 best players and took their bottom 6. Idea was "B" would develop and move to "A" while girls on "A" who weren't taking it serious, too much pressure, whatever, would come back to me and get "fixed". Well, the other coach sh*t the bed. The "A" team was trash, finished in last (I took 3rd last season, playing up a year with my squad) and is playing favorites with "their" girls. Why does this matter? Up until then, I had coached my daughter for 7 years. And I had the thoughts above. Favoritism? Coaching for her? etc. And what I found was that no, those were valid concerns but I didn't change my approach at all and my team is kicking ass. We are still "below" the "a" team, but not for long. The difference, from what you wrote though, is that I was hyper concerned with appearance and deployment. So my kid was always barked at, always over punished, and did not start every game. (Now, she played a lot b/c no one wanted to play mid, everyone wanted to play striker, so I had to brow beat girls into CM). Parents on the "A" team ask my constantly why my kid isn't playing mid, why other girls are getting more minutes, etc. And all I can do is "support" the other coach through "they are trying to develop players, they do different things, etc." And I am very strongly considering pulling my kid from their squad and bringing her back "home" to play with me.

Now, something to think about. If your daughter, and the other girl, truly are the top 2, I would consider moving. Why? It never behooves anyone to be the best on their team. You can't grow if you don't have a challenge or a goal. That is why I am hesitant to bring my kid down. She would be top talent on my team and I would rather her have to scrap it out w/other talented kids instead of being the stud on my team. Of course, all of her friends are on the "a" team too, but, at 12, she oddly enough isn't that torn about not playing with them. She would rather play where she wants. Be a good conversation with you to have with your daughter. Plus, it's a good life lesson for the "real world". We all have had bosses that suck. How do we deal with that, how much is enough to drive us away, and how do we play "their game" so that we win. Sucks at 11, but again, just like asking what they can do to get what they want, an important life skill.

TL:DR; nah, I don't think you are over reacting per se, just hyper aware of a potentially toxic situation and wanting what's best for your kid. Coaches do things that are funny or strange to many of us, and it's up to you to decide if the good outweighs the bad.

Edit: Two other things! PKs are converted like 75% of the time in the pros. Probably 90% or higher in kids. If you save one, you are a hero. If not, well, that's just how that goes. Second. Keepers are WEIRD. They are just different. Everything comes down to chutzpah w/those cats. When my keeper gives up a goal, I do not get on her. At all. In fact, I blame the other 10. I remind her that 10 girls in front of her failed to do their job in preventing a shot. Of course, if they are being lazy in the net I will bark at them. But for the most part, I treat them with kid gloves. Just my 2 cents.
 

graffam198

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Dec 10, 2007
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For many of us who played high level youth sports, this is an experience we have had - I mirror those folks here who have suggested that this is actually a really good experience for her to go through.

My advice would be to stay quiet and wait for the first opportunity to move her to a team not coached by the guy. She may not want to move teams but if you want to give her the best chance to grow, you move her. You don't need to tell anyone why.
Also agreed. If nothing else, tryouts are a great experience and chance to see what else is out there. Plus, you learn a lot about yourself and your skills by showcasing against strangers. I tell all my girls to go to all the clubs tryouts. If you like it and want to go, do it! If not, always have a home with me.
 

lowtide

New Member
Jul 20, 2005
15
My advice: it will get worse.

Unfortunately, your daughter will have many, many bad coaches (even at the paid club level) and very few good coaches.

It's like just like weather, mostly you just have to figure a way to deal with it.

I would tell your daughter, at this level, everyone should be given a chance to attempt penalty kicks and free kicks.

(I used to tell my team "goalies make the last mistake, not the only mistake".)
 

teddykgb

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IMO you’re being way way way too strong here. It’s u11, just chill. You’re talking to other parents and trying to influence outcomes and I can’t help but wonder why it matters who is taking FKs so much as to spend energy on this. I’d back way off and ask yourself why this matters so much to you.
 

Gdiguy

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Jul 15, 2005
6,382
San Diego, CA
I don't agree with the whole post, but -

It's like just like weather, mostly you just have to figure a way to deal with it.
This is kind of where I am with this... I mean fundamentally it seems like you want a team that's more focused on competing and having your (better) kid playing more, which we can argue about whether it's right or wrong for U11 but that's immaterial - the point is that it doesn't seem aligned with the way this coach is dealing with things. But I think 'trying to convince a parent volunteer coach to change their attitude' has a near zero chance of success (where success is defined as them changing behavior AND them not being irritated at you and your kid).

Like - to me it sounds like you want to have a professional coach who's making decisions in a completely unbiased and agnostic way, which is fine but isn't what you have. So big-picture to me your choices are either to switch teams, or make peace with the situation as it exists, but trying to have it both ways of staying with this team but being grumpy about it and creating tension seems to be the worst of both worlds.
 

Catcher Block

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Mar 7, 2006
5,989
St. Louis
Sounds like they are playing a 3-3-2 if she has a forward partner? If she is a stud defender, she could still be the top goal scorer as a wing back. I believe FSU's top scorer (maybe it was BYU) this season was their wing back.
Yeah, mostly a 3-3-2, but ends up looking like a 4-0-4 half the time because it's still an age where midfielders press too far up or retreat too far back. We have two standout mids on opposite ends of the field--the assistant coach's kid I mentioned who is a great #10, and another girl who has absolutely no ball skills but flies around the field and defends like her opponents owe her large sums of money. Due to roster size, they're almost never out there together, but the team has noticeably more balance when they are. When she gets to the HS level, I can definitely see my kid as a wing back. She has the pace and the vision for it--but the glory of striker might be the deciding vote. Either way, the family lineage of stay-at-home defending is dead.

Big fan of equal playing time. At this age, US Soccer suggests 70% playing time for all players. Again, the only way to get better is touch.
[...]
BTW, I love that your daughter spoke to the coach. Dude, that is so cool. I can't tell you how hard I work to get my girls to feel empowered to ask me questions. From their reviews, to practice, to in game, it is something I try to push. The fact that you have raised your daughter to have that courage is AWESOME. That is a life skill that is probably more important than anything else she gets out of soccer. I have had success with a few of them, but it is like pulling teeth at this age. And I appreciate the coach's response.
The 70% wasn't a figure I was familiar with, but makes all the sense in the world. I don't fault the coach for wanting to rotate people or introduce new starting lineups, have different captains each game. I'm on board with that. It's not really his fault that we have too many players. The roster size conversation is one I'm certainly going to have with the club director just to see what his thoughts are.

And I sent your comment to my wife, since she's always telling our daughter to advocate for herself. Can't say enough how much that meant for an internet stranger to basically give her a standing ovation. This place is great.

A very big thank you to everyone who has chimed in. The feedback--from praise to constructive parenting criticism to soccer talk--has been exactly what I was looking for. The perspectives offered have helped me center my own a bit. Please keep sharing your thoughts and I'll keep updating as I can.

I agree with the two possible outcomes at the end of our Spring season when the transfer window opens up: She stays with this team and coach knowing it's likely nothing will change until Fall 2026, which will be their first full-field, 11 v 11 season. (At that point, there's zero chance the goalie will be allowed to go anywhere near midfield. I won't be alone in my displeasure if that's the case.) Or she switches teams and we roll the dice with the next coach/club. There are tons of other possibilities, but none of those are within our direct control.

Frustrating as this situation is, I think I want her to stay where she's at. Outside of the favor shown to his kid, the coach just isn't very good, but the team is still getting better. They string passes together, they fight for each other, and it's fun to watch. The longer they stay as a team, the more success they'll have. In the end, the coach might always frustrate me, but it's still about my daughter's experience. If she's on board, so am I. We're candid about that with her. She also knows that a new player may walk through that door any day who is a better forward than she is, and adjusting to that will be on her.

One parting parental brag moment: Last night's practice ended with a PK contest where they lined up and took turns shooting until it missed/saved, and then the shooter joined everyone else in the (full-size) goal, with the whole team in there by the end of the game. My kid was the last one standing (thanks to a fortuitous crossbar bounce before the final shooter missed), and she told the coach walking off that she thinks that earned her the next PK in a game, to which he agreed. We'll see where that goes.
 

graffam198

dog lover
SoSH Member
Dec 10, 2007
1,894
Reno, NV
That seriously made my day hearing that!

Something to keep in mind when looking for a coach. In my experience, there are 4 components to the game, and almost 0 coaches can do all 4. They are: Mental, Physical, Tactical, Technical. Those 4 areas are what drive performance. I.e. you might have the best footwork in the world, but if you don't have the mental fortitude to do it in a game, who cares? Doesn't matter. Opposite is true, you might have giant brass tacks but have 0 business trying to do a stepover to get around a defender.

For me, up until this age, I think Mental and Physical are the most important aspects. Can you build up fast, confident, hungry kids. At about 10/12 ish, when hormones kick in, we are a little more mature, switch focus to technical and tactical, hopefully relying on the foundation of mental and physical toughness as well as whatever touch work has been done up until that age.

A great coach can do all 4. A good coach gets 2/4. Most coaches focus on 1, tactical, i.e. WIN. So, why do I bring this up? If you go coach/team/club shopping, just another set of questions for you and your daughter to focus on. What does she really need or want to be successful. How do coaches balance those 4 components. Etc. I really suck at technical. So I bring in experts. And I'm honest and up front with my parents about that. I also think it's good to have that talk with your daughter so she has a broader view of what the game is about. Kids are smart, they love this kind of theory.
 

NomarsFool

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Dec 21, 2001
8,815
First, sorry to hear about your frustrations. I've been on both sides of the youth sports playing time debate, with kids who were overutilized and underutilized and as a both a parent and coach. A few of my observations:

1) In my experience as a soccer coach, it was often extremely difficult to find someone who was willing to play keeper. So, there were many times I had to bargain with kids that if they played keeper for a half they would then get to play striker in the second half, for example. Having someone play keeper in exchange for taking penalty kicks, quite honestly, is a deal I would have happily struck on some of my teams. No idea if that is what is going on, just raising that as a possibility.

2) In my opinion, for U11 (and even higher) playing time should be pretty much as equal as possible. I would say that for a club team, where parents are essentially "paying to play" that would even be more my philosophy. The only exceptions I would make would be for a kid who is really hurting the team (which in my experience was pretty rare) or really not making any effort / clearly showing that they were only there because their parents made them be there. At a minimum, I always made sure that players play at least half the game - and if the number of players required some kids to play a bit more, then "yes" that extra playing time did go to those players who were contributing more. Managing playing time is not easy, especially since not all kids can play all roles on a team. You can't have your BIG playing point guard in basketball to balance out playing time.

3) I am personally a big fan of "hockey style" line changes. I know some people don't like it, and have heard other parents complain about it, but it makes my life so much easier as a coach. You are able to put together a somewhat cohesive unit of players with complementary skills, you can balance playing time easier, you enable those units to develop some chemistry together, and it makes it easier to keep track of who is covering who (in sports where there are person-person defensive schemes). As a coach, I also switch up the "starting unit" and the "second unit" so there is no clear heirarchy between the groups.

4) With regards to penalty kicks in particular, my philosophy was to let the player who basically 'earned' the penalty take the kick. This seemed to naturally result in different kids taking the kicks and allowing different kids to have the experience, even if meant that my best PKer didn't take the shot all the time. Winning is fun, I totally get it, and I try and win as much as possible, but at the end of the day - it's just youth sports. We're just trying to give the kids a good experience and that should be the #1 priority.
 

joe dokes

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Jul 18, 2005
31,405
Coached U13-14 and helped a U12 for a few years 10-15 years ago. Coached my 2 daughters along the way. Neither of them was especially good at soccer.

Maybe the PK contest was a way for the coach to break some upcoming bad news to his daughter. With skills as you describe, her confidence can't be all that high. By 11 or 12, the players generally know approximately where they fit on the skills scale ("I'm better than her, but maybe not her."). And they can certainly improve. But I suspect the GK knows about how relatively (not) good she is *right now.* This seems to be the least spot-lighty way to make a change. And he made your daughter earrrrrrn it, as John Houseman used to say, which may have seemed unfair at the outset ("I'm obviously the best at this, why a contest"), but probably gave her a huge boost in the end when she did it.

I think at U11, I'm with the "chill" crowd. And in my experience, the playing time didn't really start to sort out
until U13.
 
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Catcher Block

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Mar 7, 2006
5,989
St. Louis
I think at U11, I'm with the "chill" crowd. And in my experience, the playing time didn't really start to sort out until U13.
The more I read through these replies, I think this ended up being the question I didn't know to ask but needed answered the most. Looking back on my MA youth soccer time, I suppose it was the same for me when our town team started qualifying for tournaments and we had a set group of kids who started and played the majority of the game.

This weekend's game was a nice win, 3-1 against a very solid team. My kid had the tap-in GWG on a poorly controlled rebound....and also gave away the free kick that the other team scored on when she sent an opponent flying (one enthusiastic spectator felt it was shoulder-on-shoulder) while coming back on defense in transition. The girl she knocked over hit an unbelievable free kick that went bar-down and in from about 20 yards, and it didn't look like luck.

Post-game, the coach chatted with several parents and mentioned splitting up my daughter and her forward partner, who are generating the majority of the goals. Both of them overheard and came over to say that they hoped that wouldn't happen. They train together outside of practice and they work a 2-player game really well, especially in transition, and I'll be saddened to see that happen if he follows through.
 

Catcher Block

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Mar 7, 2006
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St. Louis
The experiment with the goalie taking the PKs has come to an end. I'll give our goalie a lot of credit, her goal kicks and defensive-half free kicks have really improved. It's rare we play a team who has a keeper with the leg to drive the ball into the air like ours.

My kid is taking the team's corners, PKs, and attacking free kicks. They've only drawn one PK this season so far, but happy to say my daughter converted it, even if it was the direct opposite of where she knows the ball is supposed to go. (Every time I say 'low and in the corner', her eye rolls could cause seismographs to move.) We've turned Friday Night NWSL games into a weekly video session and there isn't a prouder moment when you watch a pro player make a move, work on it for 15 minutes after practice during the week, and then see your kid do it at full speed in a game.

The coach has started to find more of a rhythm during games as well. They have a set starting group, and there are 3-4 girls who are first to sub on after several minutes. He's been more mindful about making sure they have 1-2 people who are comfortable on the ball on the field at all times. In particular, the defenders are swapping with the same player each time, so no one needs to take time to remember their position. As the game goes on, he's also willing to double-shift players at midfield and forward who seem to be feeling it that day. Credit where it's due, those things are a huge help.

It was a great start to the season, the team was undefeated after 6 games....and then my kid broke her arm a few weeks ago. (A mild "greenstick" break on one side and a slight buckle on the other when she tripped running downhill at school and used her hand to brace herself.) She's been in a hard cast for 3 weeks, during which the team has drawn 0-0 against another good team and then dropped a 2-1 heartbreaker to the bottom-ranked team in their division. The coach has tried plugging other girls into center forward in their 3-2-3 and it just hasn't worked and he won't change up the formation. The good news is that he is encouraging my daughter to be on the bench in their alternate uniform and talk as if she's on the field. She still leads pregame stretching and runs some drills in practice that don't require her to do any movement that would risk another fall. The broken arm sucks, but I've loved seeing this side of her, and I think she's enjoying it, too.

The club's director is playing with the idea of creating another team for this age group but has also asked a few girls on this team if we would be interested in playing on a mixed 2012-2013 team next year as a compromise. For our team's girls, it will be 11v11 and a Size 5 ball a year earlier than scheduled. We think she'll do it but only if she's allowed to play for her current team as well. We don't believe our goalie (coach's daughter) was asked to play, and my wife and I are curious to see how the coach navigates that next year. We're deferring to our daughter on it because we don't want to see her get burned out, but she's told us that she knows playing and practicing with better players will make her better.

As far as switching clubs, that's on the back burner for now, but for good reason. She has 10 more years of competitive soccer if she wants to keep chasing that dream, and has told us the friendships with the kids she's about to start a new school with are too hard to leave behind.
 

DJnVa

Dorito Dawg
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Dec 16, 2010
54,583
Sucks to hear about the injury, glad she's making something of it though.