I blame myself.

I really want to get some words down about this...

last night my older son Dean tried out for the U11 Stoddert Travel Soccer Team
so much to say about this
so much to say that I do not know what to say

THE NUMBERS GAME Thievery Corporation with Chuck Brown www.youtube.com

yes... the dice are loaded
yes... the deck is stacked
yes... the game is set

here it is... U11 Tryouts... the teams are pretty near set...
if you are in... you are in
if you are trying to break in...
well... you are competing with a number of other kids for a small number of slots
while the kids who were on the team last season are pretty much guaranteed a return slot

back things up...
a few years back when Dean tried out for travel his first time I was shocked
it amazed me the the number of kids and the difference in skill and understanding of the game
that day I realized that there were children who were products of different soccer experiences

the kids who were on the Rec teams with the "just for fun" mentality were really at a disadvantage
other kids had been introduced to a little more

I knew at this point that Dean's making travel soccer was a long shot... yet we tried out just the same
fingers were crossed... I hoped that the coaches making the selection would catch the moments wher
e Dean was playing strong and happen to be looking the other way when Dean made an error
really I knew what was going to happen

the kids with a stronger soccer background would get noticed
the kids who had that golden retriever chase the ball instinct would get noticed
the kids would ran fastest for the ball would get noticed
the kids who spaced out or stood flat footed would most definitely not get picked

at the early stages of the game each and every Rec team has a few stand out players...
the stronger players are usually the best not because of soccer skills... but because of athleticism and want

the kid who runs the fastest and wants the ball the most dominates the Rec situation
soccer skills have not really started to develop at this point

so... at U9 Travel Soccer takes a little off the top...
Travel Soccer is the peak of the Stoddert soccer program and the demise of the soccer program at the "recreation" level
for the most part each and every team looses their stand out players
add in the factor that a good number of the women move to "all girls" teams and there is total collapse of the house of cards

as can be inferred from the tone of the words above my son Dean did not make the U9 Travel Team a few years back
either you are IN or you are OUT and Dean was out...
getting in after the U9 Tryouts can be a tough thing to manage

the kids who make travel experience a change... it is no longer soccer season
it is soccer every season
the kids who make travel move from parent coaches with all the best intentions to trained coaches who have a clue
and lastly... and most importantly
the kids who move from Rec to Travel go from one day of practice a week and one game to three days of practice a week and two games... then throw in a few tournaments
and well...

it is clear that there will be some discrepancy in the learning curve

there is very little substitute for experience
practice... practice... practice
the kids on the travel teams are involved in soccer based activities more than twice as much as the average Rec level player
then... not just in the fall and spring... but they play soccer in the summer and winter as well

it is a self fulfilling prophecy...
the kids who make travel develop into being better soccer players
while the rec kids... well... the rec kids move at a much slower rate
especially with the "just for fun" coaching mentality

our kids are capable of much more
the Stoddert Travel players show the potential of our children... the Stoddert BLUE METROS were beautiful to watch
while the Rec level of play is an example of lowest common denominator... Rec Soccer can be tough to watch
instead of playing up... the kids play down

the best action a parent can take if they want their child to develop as a soccer player if they do not make the travel team is to remove them from the DC Rec Soccer program
it is that whole "just for fun" mentality
in most cases it is not a development opportunity
if a parent were to ask more of the rec situation they would be accused of being too "intense" or maybe taking the "fun" out of the game

Stoddert is close and convenient for us... I wanted to keep things close
I was not looking to take my son to Northern Virginia or Montgomery County for a more enriching soccer experience
we wanted to stay local
for that... we suffer

after the virtual collapse of the Rec soccer team that my son Dean started on we had him bounce around
he stayed on his original team for a season or two... then I looked for another team... not wanting to put him with a bunch of strangers I put him on a team coached by a neighbor whose son was a year older
I thought playing up with kids he knew would be better than being lost on a team with strangers
that did not work... it was a fine season... but Dean seemed a little intimidated... he was getting shut down by the older kids on the opposing teams
then we migrated to a team that had taken on a number of kids from Dean's original Rec team...
this team epitomized the "just for fun" philosophy

well... if your objective is "fun" you are not likely to achieve soccer
if your objective is "soccer" you may well achieve fun as a bi-product
but the "just for fun" model... the "just for fun" objective does not work
"just for fun" is not fun... just for fun is frustrating

results will be up this week for who made the U11 Stoddert Travel teams
we will log in and check to see if we made it
but really... I need to stay realistic
as good as Dean is... he lacks a certain level of intensity... he lacks aggression... he plays with heart... he has developing skill
but I am not sure if he displayed his best effort at the try outs
Dean is a strong little soccer player... one of the hardest players on his team
Dean always plays as if is Zero-Zero
works hard on offense and defense... working the whole field... trying to push the ball towards the goal... and never afraid to pass

as mentioned Dean moved around from various Stoddert Rec Teams
right now he is on a good team with a good group of kids and a solid coach
it is not a bad place to be... but honestly... I think that if they put a little more in they could get a whole lot more out of it
practice for an hour a week and then one game a week
not much compared to the travel kids and their three days a week of practice and then two games a weekend... ALL YEAR ROUND!

a few formulas here...
the more you put in the more you get out
that is the input to reward ratio

there is no substitute for practice
Rec Soccer should practice more as the kids get older

I feel that Stoddert would do well to alter their design
break up Rec into two levels
Rec and Rec Plus... and then TRAVEL
separate the kids who want to pick daisies and the kids who want to play soccer
the better someone is at something... the more they enjoy it

a better development program would benefit the kids
too many kids are getting a misrepresentation of sport and competition
the bar is set low and they are not even meeting that

really... at the U11 Travel Tryouts the Blue Metros appeared to be having more fun playing soccer than any of the Rec teams I have ever seen

enough on this for now
time to take the kids to the pool!

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