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O’Sullivan: The race to nowhere in youth sports

“My 4th grader tried to play basketball and soccer last year,” a mom recently told me as we sat around the dinner table after one of my speaking engagements. “It was a nightmare. My son kept getting yelled at by both coaches as we left one game early to race to a game in the […]

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By | April 2, 2014 | 8 Comments | Tags: , , ,

The massive importance of free play

The best athletes PLAY sports. They don’t work them, they play them. Soccerwire.com featured columnist John O’Sullivan looks at the role of play in the training and advancement of aspiring young athletes.

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By | March 14, 2014 | 3 Comments | Tags: , ,

Hall of Famer Len Oliver speaks up for D.C. United stadium: “We will all benefit”

Len Oliver is an icon of American soccer, a lifelong servant of the game via his many distinguished contributions as a player, coach, administrator, referee, thinker and writer. This week he is speaking out in support of D.C. city mayor Vincent Gray’s plan to build a $150 million soccer-specific stadium at Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C. in partnership with MLS club D.C. United. Oliver wrote a letter to members of the D.C. city council and has kindly made his message available to the wider public.

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By | March 4, 2014 | 0 Comments | Tags: , , , , ,

steaua-dinamo

Bitter political history lingers in Romania’s Eternal Derby between Steaua, Dinamo

It certainly won’t get much love in American soccer media, but Steaua Bucharest and Dinamo Bucharest’s meeting on Saturday is huge. As with most games around the globe, and certainly ones in Eastern Europe, the history and politics behind the clash cannot be separated from what happens on the field.

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By | February 27, 2014 | 0 Comments | Tags: , , , ,

The Fourth Path: Rethinking early player development in the United States

When it comes to the development of young soccer players in the United States, many parents and coaches come to that proverbial fork in the road, and are unsure what path to take. Best selling author and SoccerWire.com columnist John O’Sullivan says we need to blaze our own trail at that fork, we need a “Fourth Path” to how players are developed in the USA.

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By | February 24, 2014 | 28 Comments | Tags: , ,

euro 2016 map

Euro 2016 qualifying draw set for Sunday; France involved despite automatic bid

The UEFA European Championship competes with the FIFA World Cup to be the best national team tournament around these days. An expanded, 24-team field will compete for the Henri Delaunay Trophy in the namesake’s home nation of France in two summers. The journey to the final tournament begins on Sunday, as UEFA draws the nine qualification groups.

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By | February 21, 2014 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

Virginia Tech women's soccer players celebrate in the 2013 NCAA tournament. Photo property of Va. Tech athletics.

A look back at the 2013 Virginia Tech Women’s Soccer season

The 2013 season was a historic one for the Virginia Tech women’s soccer program, as the Hokies earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to their first-ever NCAA College Cup. Sophomore goalkeeper Caroline Kelly had the following players’ perspective published on Hokiesports.com and gave us permission to reprint it on SoccerWire.com for your enjoyment.

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By | February 18, 2014 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

A former player’s personal reflection on James Ritchie’s time as coach of Kitsap Pumas

When local fans think about the Kitsap Pumas, they think of James Ritchie. That makes the head coach’s departure to the Oklahoma City Energy of USL Pro that much more unthinkable.

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By | February 14, 2014 | 2 Comments | Tags: , , ,

When should my child specialize in one sport?

The pressure to have your child specialize in a single sport at a young age has never been stronger. Soccerwire.com featured columnist John O’Sullivan examines a different healthier path that produces better athletes.

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By | February 4, 2014 | 12 Comments | Tags: , , ,

Chalk Talk: Valencia’s defensive discipline stymies Barcelona at Camp Nou

A steadfast and defensively committed Valencia yanked FC Barcelona off the top of the table on Saturday with a 3-2 away win. Lionel Messi’s first league goal of the calendar year wasn’t enough to earn a point, and he missed a chance in stoppage time to pull Barça back even.

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By | February 3, 2014 | 0 Comments | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Much praise, three D.C.-area clubs mentioned in Daily Mail story on Gedion Zelalem

Arsenal teenager Gedion Zelalem, who spent part of his childhood in Maryland, made headlines with his first-team debut on Friday in the F.A. Cup. What followed was a flurry of stories announcing that manager Arsène Wenger would sign the 17-year-old to his first professional contract.

Continue Reading Much praise, three D.C.-area clubs mentioned in Daily Mail story on Gedion Zelalem

By | January 27, 2014 | 1 Comment | Tags: , , , , ,

Organized Chaos: The key to Brazil’s soccer success, Part 2

NWSL player Kika Toulouse returns to SoccerWire with another thoughtful passage inspired by observations from the futsal courts of Brazil during her offseason stint in Cotia, São Paulo.

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By | January 24, 2014 | 1 Comment | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Part 2: Should we teach gamesmanship in youth soccer?

SoccerWire.com’s John O’Sullivan continues his discussion about the presence of gamesmanship in youth soccer, and asks himself — and the coaching community at large — if there is any legitimate place for teaching these “dark arts” to our young talents.

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By | January 23, 2014 | 3 Comments | Tags: , , , , ,

Should we teach gamesmanship in youth soccer?

Gamesmanship is rife at many levels of soccer, leading John O’Sullivan to pose the question: “What should we be teaching our young players about these situations where breaking the rules can led to great success and minimal punishment for the offender?”

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By | January 9, 2014 | 1 Comment | Tags: , , , ,

Chalk Talk: How defensive pressure changes a goalkeeper’s positioning

Soccerwire.com’s Liviu Bird analyzes the tactics of how defensive pressure changes a goalkeeper’s positioning.

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By | January 3, 2014 | 0 Comments | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Five thoughts that will change your youth soccer experience for the better

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But […]

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My 10-year-old is a star, now what? Advice on parenting, coaching elite young players

A lot of time and attention in the coaching world can be spent helping parents of young players who struggle to keep up technically or physically with the game compared to others, but what if your son or daughter is the elite player, the coach’s favorite, the one who plays all the games, never gets subbed, and is asked to play on every all star team around? You have just as much work ahead of you, sometimes even more.

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By | December 24, 2013 | 12 Comments | Tags: ,

Simon Kjaer.

Getting it right: Why “talent selection” doesn’t work well enough

Highly trained, professional coaches cannot say with certainty who will make it to the professional level and who will not, even at 15 years old. So why, wonders SoccerWire.com’s John O’Sullivan, are U.S. youth coaches making similar judgments about players as young as 10 years old?

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By | December 19, 2013 | 16 Comments | Tags: , , , , , ,

The best thought provoking books of 2013 for soccer coaches and parents

Soccer Wire regular contributor John O’Sullivan reads a lot of books and has taken the time to review his three favorites of 2013. These three were the most thought provoking books he believes should be on the reading list of every coach and parent.

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By | December 16, 2013 | 3 Comments | Tags: , , , ,

Our Biggest Mistake: Talent selection instead of talent identification

Many youth sports coaches claim to be great talent identifiers, and point to the results of their 11-year-olds’ all-star team as proof. Yet they are not talent identifiers. They are talent selectors. The difference could not be more striking, and it’s keeping us a step behind in international soccer, says SoccerWire featured columnist John O’Sullivan.

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By | December 13, 2013 | 51 Comments | Tags: , , , , ,

Organized Chaos: The key to Brazil’s soccer success

Washington Spirit player Kika Toulouse makes her SoccerWire debut with a thoughtful blog post on her offseason stint in Brazil, where she is experiencing a whole new attitude towards the beautiful game.

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By | December 10, 2013 | 10 Comments | Tags: , , , , ,

GRIT: The missing ingredient

Can we measure “grit” and determination in athletes well enough to predict future success? As John O’Sullivan explains, recent research suggests we’re not far off.

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By | December 3, 2013 | 7 Comments | Tags: , , , , , ,

Chalk Talk: Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich uses counter-pressing against its creator

By Liviu Bird Bayern Munich’s 3-0 win at Borussia Dortmund on Saturday came as a shock perhaps not in its result, but in its scale of dominance. In the victory, Pep Guardiola’s side used its high-pressure defensive system to great effect, suffocating the home team’s ability to play. The newfangled term for Bayern’s defensive style […]

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By | November 26, 2013 | 1 Comment | Tags: , , , , ,

Our unhealthy obsession with childhood athletic success

From the Little League World Series to “American Idol,” we have an unhealthy obsession with ‘discovering’ the next generation of great youth talent in this country, especially when it comes to sports. John O’Sullivan believes this process is fundamentally flawed, and explains why

I am not saying it is bad to identify talent. Our problem lies in how we define talent at the youngest ages, how and when we select it, and what we do with our newly discovered “talent.”

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By | November 19, 2013 | 8 Comments | Tags: , , ,

More important than talent? The willingness to suffer

Noted author and youth sports expert John O’Sullivan makes his SoccerWire.com debut with a blog post about one of the pivotal characteristics for young athletes truly committed to reaching an elite level.

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By | November 14, 2013 | 6 Comments | Tags: , ,