Ep 28: Navigating Youth Soccer with Former MLS Goalkeeper and Current MVLA ED Joe Cannon
Charles Boehm, SoccerWire Resident Analyst, is back to host Episode 28 of The SoccerWire Podcast with special guest, Joe Cannon.
The former MLS Goalkeeper and Current MVLA Executive Director joins Charles to chat about his transition into youth soccer, what his club is doing to help develop players, U.S. youth soccer development challenges and solutions, the effects of COVID on his club, and more.
[2:35] – Joe and Charlie offer some banter about the throwback MLS Goalie Wars
[3:45] – Joe explains how his playing career winded down and why he decided to forego any remaining playing years to jump into coaching
[5:48] – Joe shares that he began his youth soccer career at his former club as the Executive Director, a position that was created for him. He goes on to share how his club, MVLA, is working to reduce costs for players and still paying the coaches by generating revenue in unique ways
[7:39] – Discussing how youth club sports have an incredible opportunity to impact future generations
[8:31] – How youth soccer has changed since Joe grew up in the era of ODP and the USYS National Championships being the only path, including the alphabet soup of leagues that is growing
[10:03] – Sharing how the transition is going from a professional player to coaching. Going to a youth level creates better coaches. Sole focus should be on the players as people first.
[11:43] – Joe discusses how he has shifted to Zoom training during COVID to coach his U-13/U-14 squad. He has been using this time to get to know the players better as people and figure out how he can help them advance.
[12:53] – Sharing that he prefers a possession style, even though he hated that as a player, and how he can help his players become better.
[13:38] – The pace of the game and the refereeing of youth soccer almost made Joe want to quit because he wanted to change too many things. He shares he has since learned how to use this to help his coaches become better.
[14:58] – Discussing the philosophy of development and what it actually is for players. It is more than just soccer but includes them as people and is ultimately about inspiring the kids. The focus should be on the bigger picture and planning.
[18:25] – How Joe and MVLA are navigating the pay-to-play model amid the COIVD-19 pandemic. The goal is also to keep the kids on the field longer than they are in the car. Notes how fortunate his club is to be located in California and other regions have to travel more. Joe believes that national competition doesn’t have to be as frequent when there is local competition with quality opponents.
[21:58] – Joe shares his thoughts on the collapse of the Development Academy both at a club level and personally. He discusses the impact of the player pool becoming much larger due to the collapse. States he wishes it was a smoother transition and that the moves should be revisited regularly. Clubs should focus on the experience. Helping coaches get better helps the kids get better.
[27:35] – Discussing how to navigate the players’ development and not focus on winning or catering to the parents who push only for winning. Overbearing parents have led to kids being burnt out. The kids have to be the ones driving the development and wanting to get better.
[31:11] – Joe fills Charles in on how he handles being a soccer parent and whether he falls into the typical “soccer parent” stereotype. He understands how hard it is for a parent to practice restraint on the sidelines. Encourages parents to find out what kids really want and take a backseat to them.
[36:21] – Joe talks about how standings should be abolished prior to U12 and no referees at U10 and under. It would shift the focus to the players having fun and developing rather than focusing solely on winning. States that this works for businesses, like GotSoccer, but it doesn’t make sense from a player development standpoint. He also drives home that clubs should embrace their community and how they can make it better.
[43:59] – Joe shares with MLVA is doing surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement.