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Western North Carolina's
Home for Youth Soccer

Western North Carolina's
Home for Youth Soccer

ABYSA and HFC Parent Education Resources

Glossary of Subjects:
Research papers and related articles about common questions from soccer families

The Basics
I) Why kids play soccer
II) Why kids quit soccer
III) USYS Parent Guide - An Introduction to Soccer

It's Game Day!
I) Why does my 12u &under player not play on a full size field?
II) What does Game Day look like for _________:
i: Kids
  ii: Parents
III) The ride home: A time for analysis, snacks, or both?
        i) We won
  ii) We lost

I want to help coach my child's team. What should I know?
I) Benefits of coaching your own child
II) I've heard it can be hard for the parent and child. Is that true?
III) ABYSA Recreation Coach's Corner

Practice Makes Perfect
I) 10,000 Hours to Skill Mastery? How true is it?
II) Additional ways to help soccer development
III) Burnout: Is it real?

Soccer: A Lifelong Sport
I) What is a "Lifelong Sport?"
II) Why is a lifelong sport important for a young child's development?
III) Why should my teenager keep playing if they don't want to play in college?
IV) Why lifelong sports are important for adults

How Families Can Help Build the Soccer Community
I) Parents/Guardians can get involved with an Adult League team
II) Become a Certified Referee
III) Make your own Soccer Culture in the house
IV) Volunteer in the soccer community
i) ABYSA Outreach Programs
ii) Become a TOPSoccer 'Buddy'

Why Kids Play Soccer

BC Survey Respondent Breakdown (2,400 Players): 

70% - Seventy percent of respondents play at house/bronze or similar levels - [Recreation -> Academy]
25% - One-quarter at gold/silver/ Div. 1,2 or equivalent - [Academy -> Classic]
6% - Six percent played at ‘metro’, equivalent or above - [Regional/National Leagues]
They [respondents] have played with soccer clubs for an average of four years. 



Why Kids Quit Soccer

Elementary School:

"Many kids lose their passion for youth sports during these years because they feel they can't live up to their parents' and coaches' expectations."

Sports psychology expert Rick Wolff, author of Good Sports, stresses that parents of kids ages 5-12 need not be concerned with their child's excellence at such refined sports skills as corner kicks and drag bunts. "Those are unimportant," Wolf advises. "The key here is having your child develop a sense of passion for the sport." Parents and coaches need to be aware of what kids can accomplish at their differing developmental levels -- physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Don't make unrealistic expectations concerning your child's sports performance -- be it in the area of muscle coordination, dedication, or attention span. 

Middle School:

"Playing sports loses its enjoyment for them and "fun" takes a back seat to winning."

Kids start dropping out in big numbers at this stage. Playing sports loses its enjoyment for them and "fun" takes a back seat to winning. Pick-up games and just "playing for fun" should be encouraged. The key at this vulnerable stage is to keep them playing the sports they enjoy -- if not on school or youth teams, then informally with friends. Not being on a team does not mean they have failed as athletes. It just means that they have to find other pleasurable ways to continue enjoying their sports.

High School:

"By this stage, it's usually the successful high-school athletes who play both school sports and outside competitive-league sports. There are just so many positions to be filled on competitive teams. But what about kids who still love to play sports but can't because of their demanding academic, social, and work lives?"

By this stage, it's usually the successful high-school athletes who play both school sports and outside competitive-league sports. There are just so many positions to be filled on competitive teams. But what about kids who still love to play sports but can't because of their demanding academic, social, and work lives? Parents need to remind these kids of the fun they had playing these games and help them to find time to play them with family members and friends. Helping your kids stay connected to the sports they love now can encourage them to remain physically active throughout their lives.
           "Why Most Kids Quit Sports," Carleton Kendrick - Full Article

Why does my 12u & under player play on a smaller field?

"A study by the English FA determined that players get up to five times the amount of touches in futsal or small-sided games than they do in 11-a-side. But more importantly, almost all of these touches are under pressure. This makes them critical touches, and the player has to have some tactical application to what they are doing."
            "Futsal: Is This Simple Game the Missing Link in American Soccer?", Keith Whitmer: Full Article

What Does Game Day Look Like For _________?

“Adult spectators, coaches and league administrators are guests at the children’s games. We are guests because if no adult attended, our hosts, the children, could still have a game.” - Douglas E. Abrams, University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law" 
"The Challenges Facing Parents and Coaches in Youth Sports: Assuring Children Fun and Equal Opportunity", Douglas. E. Abrams - Full Report 

"If parents and coaches allow the children to have fun, most children will work hard because they want to win. But if adults browbeat them about winning, the children will not have fun and most will ultimately quit. When fun comes first, desire to win follows. But fun must come first."

"Competition is ingrained in American culture and most child athletes will be competitive no matter what the adults in their lives do or say. When the score is four to two, even six-year-olds know that the difference between having four and having two is the difference between winning and losing. When supportive adults make sports fun, the inherent challenge of athletic competition can still "toughen" children by teaching them responsibility, perseverance, poise, loyalty, self-control, self-discipline and similar virtues.
      "The Challenges Facing Parents and Coaches in Youth Sports: Assuring Children Fun and Equal Opportunity", Douglas. E. Abrams - Full Report

"It is no easy task to be a parent of a young athlete. Hard enough are the tasks of helping the child learn how to handle the ups and downs of competition. But perhaps most challenging are the demands on your own coping skills - learning how to manage emotions that are repeatedly tested under trying conditions... As a parent, you experience a rush of positive emotions when your child triumphs, a deflating sense of emptiness when they lose. This emotional process can almost become addicting."
                "How to be a Successful Youth Sports Parent: Escaping the Parent Trap", Shane Murphy, PHD - Full Article

The Ride Home: A time for analysis, snacks, or both?

We Won
"Did you have fun?," "Did you do your best?", "Did you learn something today?"

"When a child comes home from a game, parents send a distinct message with, "Did you win?" They send a much different message by asking three other questions: "Did you have fun?," "Did you do your best?," and "Did you learn something today?" The last three questions teach children to measure success by internal factors within their control (such as whether they hustled or improved a skill), rather than by external factors beyond their control (such as whether the other team was more talented or whether a teammate made a costly error)."
               "The Challenges Facing Parents and Coaches in Youth Sports: Assuring Children Fun and Equal Opportunity", Douglas. E. Abrams - Full Report

We Lost

Listen [to your player]
"If you’re like me, the temptation after a tough loss will be to “look on the bright side.” There’s nothing wrong with pointing out the positives in a situation, but first, let your child express her feelings. Long before you say something like, “Hey, at least you got to play goalie” or “Lots of kids don’t even make all-stars,” hear your child out. Let her tell you about her disappointment."

Help Put Things in Perspective
Once you’ve listened well and let your child say what he’s feeling, encourage him to talk about what went well despite the loss. Try your best not to provide the answers here; after all, you don’t want to be imposing your own sunshine on his cloudy situation. Just lead him to see the positives, asking questions like, “Did you feel like anything at all went well today?” or “What was your favorite play you made?” Again, you’re not minimizing his disappointment or trying to convince him that his feelings are wrong to feel. You’re just pointing out that the negatives don’t exist in a vacuum, that they are part of a larger picture that also contains lots of positives."

"Remember, your ultimate goal when your child is upset after a tough loss isn’t to make her feel better. Of course that’s a goal. But ultimately, you want to respond in a way that both honors her experience and feelings in the moment, and also allows her to learn the important lessons that come from the simple joy of playing, whether the outcome is the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat."
               "Losing is Hard on Kids," Tina Payne Bryson, PHD - Full Article

I want to help coach my child for the first time. What should I know?

"Before you decide to grab the whistle and clipboard and assume the role of soccer coach, sit down with your child and gauge how she feels about you overseeing the team this season. If you don't ask her how she feels, you'll never know. Many youngsters are thrilled to have their dad or mom as coach, and if you see that sparkle in your child's eyes when you bring the subject up, that makes all the time and effort you put into the season well worth it."

"Remember that you're still the parent. Whether the team wins or loses, you have to step out of coaching mode and remember that first and foremost, you're a parent — and that means asking your child whether she had fun and praising her for doing her best and displaying good sportsmanship. Take your child out for that post-game ice cream or pizza whether she scored a goal or tripped over the ball on a breakaway."

                "Balancing Parenting and Coaching", National Alliance for Youth Sports and Greg Back - Full Article


You’ll develop new skills
At the end of our most recent season, a head coach in the soccer league I convene told me that while he had only wanted to be an assistant coach, being a head coach had forced him to learn more about the sport. He gained a whole new appreciation for soccer and ended up loving the experience. Many leagues offer clinics to teach the coaches about their sport and about coaching techniques. It’s a fantastic and important thing to never stop learning. I believe it’s what keeps us young and helps us to relate to our children as they develop new skills. Plus it shows your kids that you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone, which is a really powerful thing for a parent to role model.

You’ll learn and re-learn life lesions
Many coaches have told me that while they know the importance of instilling positive values in their players, they themselves learn a lot of life lessons along the way. Jordan Elliott, a house league soccer coach of 8- to 10-year-olds, pointed out that while coaching can sometimes test your patience, it also develops it. Patience, along with fair play, responsibility, having fun, leadership, and problem solving are just some of the valuable lessons taught and learned in team sports. All the coaches that I have spoken with have reflected on having to adapt their teaching styles to fit the personalities of their players. Skills such as effective communication and developing self-confidence are tools that they have taken from the rinks and fields and used in their workplaces and in their homes.

You’ll have fun
The number one reason kids play a sport is because it’s fun. And honestly, so is coaching. Getting to know the kids, helping them learn, seeing them gain confidence, and taking risks is part of what makes it so great. But you’ll also get to run (or skate) around and play and that is, truly, fun at any age.
                  "7 Benefits of Coaching Your Child's Team", Susan Scandiffio - Full Article

I heard it can be hard for the parent and child. Is that true?

"If you are going to coach your child then you best understand yourself as a parent and a coach. What does it mean to be in each of these roles? In general, when in the coach role you should not show favoritism to your child AND you should not be overly tough on your child to prove you are not playing favoritism."

So, why does coaching your child often end in conflict? Usually this conflict is due to the parent’s and the child’s inability to separate the coach and parent roles. This means that while you are coaching you have to be a coach and when you are at home be the parent. You must remind yourself to click into your roles depending on the situation."
                "Should I Coach My Child?", Larry Lauer, PHD - Full Article

Practice Makes Perfect

10,000 Hours to Skill Mastery
Is it actually that simple? NO
Can it help you build an picture of skill acquisition and individual development? YES

"[A] lot more goes into mastering a skill than practice. "Even the greatest in the world are not perfect, but to become great, it is likely a number of factors, depending on the task," she said. "A combination of genetic factors, environmental factors, and their interactions, make us who we are and what we accomplish. This includes what we think of as talent, motivation, practice, and opportunity."
                "The role of deliberate practice in expert performance: revisiting Ericsson, Krampe & Tesch-Römer (1993)," Brooke N. Macnamara and Megha Maitra - Full Report

Only Playing in a League:

Goal: 10,000 hours to skill mastery (Soccer practice/Games ONLY)

Number of Sessions /Year

Hours of Practice & Game Time /Year

Number of Years Needed to reach 10,000 Hours

1 Hour a day for 365 Days




2 Sessions per week: 1 Game, 1 Practice (1.5 hours each)*




3 Sessions per week: 1 game, 2 practices**




4 sessions per week: 1 game, 3 practices***




4 sessions + 15 minutes 3 days per week***




* 2x 8 week seasons
** 2x 10 week seasons 
*** 2x 17 week seasons

With Camps and Clinics:

4 sessions + 15 minutes 3 days per week*** PLUS
One 7-day camp/clinic




4 sessions + 15
minutes 3 days per week*** PLUS Two
7-day camps/clinic




*** 2x 17 week seasons

Additional ways to help individual sports development:

Play anything in your free time
"Kids who are allowed time to free play – outside of the structure of organized sports – tend to be more creative, have better basic motor skills, learn more social/emotional skills, and find ways to just have fun while playing."
         "The Importance of Multi-sport Parcipation," National Federation of State High School Associations and Mark Rerick - Full Article

Physical Literacy Translates Across Sports
"The more sports and activities that kids are involved in early on in their lives, the more opportunity they have to develop themselves as an athlete, not just as a baseball, soccer, basketball, or football player. Many skills and techniques transfer from one sport to another and complement each other while continuing to further develop and build upon preexisting skill sets. When athletes develop their skills across different sports and activities, they are likely to find that their performance in other sports will increase."
"Benefits of Playing Multiple Sports," USA Baseball - Full Article

Developing your understanding of the game off the field
1) Play other sports with similar tactical concepts (Formations, tactics, on-field/court decisions)
2) Watch soccer game in your free time
3) Play sports video games that can help simulate decisions you would make when you play

Burnout: Is it real?
"Burnout in a sport is when the athlete is mentally fatigued from playing one sport too often. When athletes play one sport too often and too early on in their lives, it can result in the athlete losing the fun aspect of the sport. The athlete will then want to stop playing because they are tired of it, and it’s just not fun anymore. The sport turns into work, and they begin to resent going to practice or games."
        "Benefits of Playing Multiple Sports," USA Baseball - Full Article

Soccer: A Lifelong Sport

What is a "Lifelong Sport?"
"[Lifetime] sports have one thing in common. They appeal to physical fitness for the fun of it, not to athletic excellence."

"[M]any people have begun activities that are easy to learn and fun for the family. These activities are called “lifetime sports” because they can be enjoyed by participants at any time of their lives."
                "Lifetime Sports: The Road To Family's Physical Fitness And Just for the Fun of It," Edward Budd - Full Article

Why is a lifelong sport important for a young child's development?
"Evidence has been found that there is a positive relationship between the amount of physical activity, cognitive abilities and school success. The amount of motor skills that the child gradually acquires in the course of life are positively correlated with cognitive functions. The ability to coordinate movements, visual-motor function, and overall physical fitness predict school maturity and school readiness of the child. Physical activity has a positive effect not only on the child's cognitive function but also on the structure and function of the brain."
"Education of Children in the Area of Physical Activities as a Foundation for Lifelong Sports," Ludmila Miklánková - Full Report

Why should my teenager keep playing sports if they won't play in college?
[T]he exercise immersion experienced by high school students engaging in sports activities allows them to have a desirable perception of their health responsibilities. Since self-actualization and stable interpersonal relationships can lead to lifelong physical education through health promotion education, it is necessary to provide continuous physical education in high school.
           "Effect of exercise immersion experience on health promotion and lifelong physical education of high school students in sports club activities," Young Jun Ko and Jun-Su Kim - Full Report

Why lifelong sports are important for adults:
"Only a few lifestyle choices have as large an impact on your health as physical activity. People who are physically active for about 150 minutes a week have a 33% lower risk of all-cause mortality than those who are physically inactive. You don’t have to do high amounts of activity or vigorous-intensity activity to reduce your risk of premature death. Benefits start to accumulate with any amount of moderate- or vigorous-intensity physical activity."

Regular physical activity [as an adult] can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and anxiety and help you sleep better."

Regular physical activity as an adult can help reduce risks for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. It can also help manage arthritis and other rheumatic conditions affecting the joints. Among older adults, physical activity also reduces the risk of falling and injuries from falls.
          "Benefits of Physical Activity," CDC

How Families Can Help Build a Soccer Culture

Get yourself (re)involved in soccer!
No better way to learn or refresh your soccer skills and knowledge than doing it yourself!

Adult Rec Soccer (Powered by ABYSA) - Soccer for those who are focused on an enjoyable experience at any skill level

ABASA (Asheville Buncombe Adult Soccer Association) - If you are a new player, provide a quick bio and we can connect you with the captains and leagues that you are interested in. Contact ABASA here

Become a Referee
Why become a Referee?
Soccer has long been one of the fastest growing sports in the United States. However, one important part of the sport in the US has been struggling to keep up with this growth: Referees. With more leagues, clubs, teams, and tournaments popping up every day, the nation's supply of referees needs to grow too!

Click here for more information about becoming a referee through ABYSA (must be at least 14 years old)
Click here for more information about becoming a CERTIFIED referee from the NC Soccer Referees Association

Build your own 'Soccer Culture' at home!

Pick a team and follow the league! 
The United States has some of the best options in the world to view many of the top leagues from around the world!
England - Premier League - USA Network beginning Jan. 1, 2022 (Subsidiary of NBC, the current TV rights holder)
Italy - Serie A - ESPN +
Spain - Primera Division - ESPN +
France - Ligue 1 - BeIN Sports
Germany -  Bundesliga - ESPN +

GO LOCAL! Pick a LOCAL Pro or Semi-Pro Club to follow:

ClubHighest League Represented (2021-22 season)City
Asheville City Soccer Club (Men's and Women's)USL League Two ; USL W-LeagueAsheville, NC
North Carolina CourageNational Women's Soccer League (Highest Level in US)Raleigh, NC
Charlotte FCMajor League Soccer (Highest Level in US)Charlotte, NC
Appalachian FCNational Premier Soccer LeagueBoone, NC

Atlanta UnitedMajor League Soccer (Highest Level in US)Atlanta, GA
Nashville SCMajor League Soccer (Highest Level in US)Nashville, TN
North Carolina FCUSL ChampionshipRaleigh, NC
Greenville Triumph (Men's and Women's)USL League One ; USL W-LeagueGreenville, SC
Charlotte Independence SC  (Men's and Women's)USL League One ; USL W-LeagueCharlotte, NC
Charlotte Eagles (Men's and Women's)USL League Two ; Women's Premier Soccer LeagueCharlotte, NC
NC Fusion (Men's and Women's)USL League Two ; USL W-LeagueGreensboro, NC
Wake FC (Men's and Women's)USL League Two ; USL W-LeagueHolly Springs, NC
Tri-Cities FCUSL League TwoJohnson City, TN
Charlotte Women's FCWomen's Premier Soccer LeagueCharlotte, NC

Talk about what you're watching as a family

Volunteer in Your Soccer Community

ABYSA Outreach Programs
ABYSA Outreach Programs bring soccer to to over 800 under-served youth throughout the local community. Through ABYSA Outreach and our community partners, we are always working to make sure that every family has the chance to participate in soccer with the goal of providing children and families with the health, social, and developmental benefits of youth team sports in an age appropriate and emotionally safe environment.

Click here to learn more about ABYSA Outreach Programs and how to get involved or contact Josh Jackson at [email protected] for upcoming opportunities and information.

TOPSoccer Program
TOPSoccer (The Outreach Program for Soccer) is a community-based training and team placement program for young athletes with disabilities. The program is structured in a way that players are assigned a “soccer buddy” and are grouped by age or ability and work through stations on the field with the focus on “High Fun”.

Click here to learn more about TOPS Soccer and how you can get involved

Contact Us:

Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association, Inc.

ABYSA/HFC PO Box 895 Asheville NC 28802-0895 

[email protected]

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