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5 Ways to Win at the United Soccer Coaches Convention

IMG_3094It’s that time of year again where I make my trip to whatever city is hosting the United Soccer Coaches (former NSCAA) Convention.  It is great to spend 4-5 days talking, thinking and learning about soccer.  If this is your first time or you’ve never gone, here are some ideas on how to get the most out of the Convention.

  1. Decide – There’s more than enough going on at the Convention for just about any soccer coach/fan.  Deciding what it is that you want to get out of the Convention will get you much closer to achieving that goal.  It’s fine to spend some time wandering around the exhibit hall but it shouldn’t be your only activity.  Decide on some presenter that you want to see, Bill Beswick is one of my favorites.  Decide on the concepts that would really help your team, club or players.
  2. Don’t be afraid to be a paratrooper – This is my term for showing up to a session and deciding quickly that that topic, presenter or material is not what you were looking for.  Don’t be afraid to move on to another session.  There’s more than enough going on that you can have two or even three worthy sessions in each time slot.  So plan ahead.
  3. Engage – There are thousands of people here with the same passion as you.  The possibility for common ground is immense.  Although it may be more comfortable to only talk to the people that you came with, you’ll probably find that engaging with new people creates new possibilities.  This does not mean stalk Thierry Henry to pick his brain about how to fix your U9 girls team’s finishing problem.  There are more than enough people here who would be eager to talk to you about it though.  So step out of your shell.
  4. Get out of your lane – There are so many facets to this sport on display over the next few days.  Sticking to your own area is a great way to leave with the exact knowledge that you had upon your arrival.  Make a concerted effort to learn about something outside of your personal “wheel house”.  I once attended a panel discussion on club finances.  It gave me an insight into the work that my club’s treasurer was doing and helped us to prepare for some future financial concerns.
  5. Show up – Over the years, I’ve convinced several friends and colleagues to go to their first Convention.  Almost all of them are now yearly attendees.  There are many people in the soccer community that are disappointed in the qualification failure of the USMNT.  That problem will not be solved at this Convention.  However the solutions to American soccer problems will come from many of the people and ideas that are here.  As I hope that we’re beginning to see in many areas of life, a better tomorrow is not dependent upon the chosen few at the top.  It is incumbent on all of us who care to show up early and often to help get things right.

Enjoy the Convention if you’re already going.  If you’re not, get a one day pass and check it out.  Philadelphia is one of my favorite venues for the Convention.  The Market next door, the “Rocky Steps” and the city in general make it a fun time.

Thanks!

Pete

self-reliance

Everything But…

IMG_3064In this extremely fast paced world, it’s easy to get distracted from that which is important in favor of that which seems important.  It is the reason why we make shopping lists and set reminders for ourselves.  Getting caught up in the moment is not only normal, it seems to be a way of life.  Despite all of the technological and societal distractions, it would seem as though we might have accidentally thrown out all of our babies in order to make room for more bathwater.  Perhaps it is time to decide what is truly important and focus on it.

There are plenty of people who will get married this year.  They will painstaking search for a great venue, a photographer, delicious food, the right guest-list and register for the perfect gifts.  But before they did all of that hard work, they forgot to find someone worth spending their life with.

We have access to amazing communication devices in our pockets and at our fingertips.  There is the capability to reach the other side of the world, translate to almost any language and do it instantaneously.  But we rarely say things that mean much of anything.  There is so much coming at us that it all becomes devalued.  We tend to only listen in order to respond, not to understand or empathize.

Students and teachers are no longer bound by the bricks in the walls of their buildings.  All facts are available at a moment’s notice and the greatest minds are within reach.  Yet our young people are worried about grades that will soon not matter and facts that have little value.  The word educate comes from the root educe which means to bring out or develop.  The cramming information in might not be the best way to draw out our young people’s genius.

These are just three examples where we seem to be so caught up in the process that we have forgotten why the process was invented.  When broken down to the core, the world is a relatively simple place.  We are here to survive first.  Once that is taken care of we look to progress and we do both more effectively together.  So get back to the core of what you do and why it is done at all.    If you are in school, then learn, regardless of the grades.  If you’re in a relationship, then relate, give of yourself and be willing to be changed.  The superficialities of life can only sustain us for so long.  Our true progress depends on depth of experience and it needs to be found again.  Right now are you focused on ANYTHING BUT THE THINGS THAT MATTER?

Pete

 

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We’re All Pretenders

IMG_3059Kids pretend all the time.  They turn sticks into swords, a backyard into a jungle and anything has the potential to be magical.  Then as we grow, it seems to be trained out of us.  We tend to see ourselves in finite terms.  Our limits are not those of our imagination but rather of our circumstances.  We don’t consider the impossible or even the improbable because it has been trained out of us.  Pretending is child’s play and most of us consider ourselves too mature to do that.  The truth is that we’re all pretenders, we’ve just bought into a more sophisticated game.

If you have a dollar in your pocket, take it out and look at it, try to come up with another use for it other than to purchase something.  Possibly a book mark or it could be folded to straighten a wobbly table.  Thousands of years ago, someone came up with the idea of money and got enough people to believe in it, that now it largely runs the world.  At home I have some Ecuadorian Sucre coins and bills.  They’re worthless to just about everyone in the world because Ecuador stopped using the Sucre years ago.  New pieces are used in the game that they’re playing.

There are systems that have been put into place for decades, centuries or millennia.  Learning to negotiate within those systems is extremely important.  However you must always remember that we’re all pretending on some level.  I’m pretending to be a writer.  If I do a good enough job, more people will buy into that role that I’ve imagined for myself.  If I do a poor job, I won’t get to play that game anymore.

So since we’re all pretending on some level, why not go out into the world with all of your guns blazing?  Pretend so hard on the things that matter to you that no one will doubt that you are exactly who you’re pretending to be.  The other option is to take the role that you’ve been dealt by your circumstances because your not willing to pretend anymore.  Acceptance of the boundaries of your life seems a lot like a cage.  The origin of the word pretend is Latin.  It means “before the stretch”.  It is the precursor to growth.  So keep pretending until you stretch to your actual limits, not the ones that were thrust upon you.

Have a great day!

Pete

 

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Soccer in American Football Terms: Offside

It has come to that time of year where many American football* fans are without a team to root for until the Super Bowl when they hope for good commercials.  If you are a soccer fan and have a football fan in your life who is interested in learning about soccer, then I have some tips below.  (NOTE: Do not try to convert the unwilling football fan.  Save your energy for the father-in-law who has grand-kids that play.  Trying to convert the uninterested usually backfires.)

The most incomprehensible thing about soccer to most football fans that I’ve spoken to is the offside rule.  Luckily there is a pretty easy way to convey the concept using football terms.  The key is to take the rule that they already understand and tweak it to help them understand the soccer equivalent.  If you’re not a football person, you might first need to brush up your understanding of the carrying game first.

Offside in football is a foul in which a player is on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. This foul occurs simultaneously with the snap. Unlike offensive players, defensive players are not compelled to come to a set position before the snap.

FootballOverheadScrimmage

In soccer there is no line of scrimmage nor a “snap” of the ball.  Since the ball is almost continuously in play, the rule is a bit harder to police but understanding is all that we’re aiming for now.  First of all, only offensive players can be called offside and only in their offensive half of the field (nearest the goal they intend to score on).  The line for offside is not a fixed yard line but rather it moves with the last defender** equivalent to the defensive position of safety. (See Below)

FootballOverheadSafety

So since the ball is almost always in play, offensive players are moving around and can even cross the offside line.  A call of offside is made when an offensive player is in an offside position and the ball is played toward him or her.  In football terms, the wide receiver cannot run past the invisible yard line of the safety until the ball is thrown by the quarterback.  So the timing of streak (go), post and corner routes need to be timed very well.  If the ball is not passed before the intended receiver gets by the “safety”, he’ll be offside.  Curl and comeback routes can be effective in keeping a player onside.  But if he is offside at the time of the pass, receiving the ball in an offside position doesn’t matter (like a defensive lineman who tries to jump back as the ball is snapped).

FootballOnside
The Receiver on the 15 yard line is onside at the time of the pass.
FootballOffside
The player in the end-zone is offside because he’s beyond the last defender at the time of the pass.

The player possessing the ball cannot be offside.  So a player can dribble through the offside line.  Therefore if the quarterback or running back carry the ball forward, they are not offside.

 

That pretty much sums it up.  If I’ve missed anything, please leave it in the comments below and I’ll adjust it.  Pass this information along to a football fan that cares to learn.

* I don’t like using the term American football but I do it to avoid confusion.  I also dislike using one sport to explain another but have done this

**This statement is partially false.  The last defender needs to have the goalkeeper behind them.  This is something that soccer fans and even referees get wrong from time to time.  Two defenders (one usually being the goalkeeper) need to be between the offender and the goal line.  If the goalkeeper goes out of the goal a far distance, one defender is not enough to keep an offensive player onside.