August 2014



TOPSoccer Program

Adapting the Program to the Players

Your special needs program is up and running.  Six players with various abilities have decided to play in the program.  After reviewing the medical information and consulting with the parents.  You chart the players to assist you with appropriate playing format, law modifications,and player activities

Name    Age    Height   Weight     Notes

John 10 4'3” 90 lbs. Slow learner, good mobility, kicks hard
Sue 8 4'  62 lbs. Slow learner, good mobility, leg brace
Peter 16 6' 180 lbs.Slow learner, poor mobility
Jack 8 4'2” 73 lbs. Adequate learner, wheel chair
Sarah 12 3'9” 98 lbs Fast learner,ball shouldn't contact neck
Beth 15 5' 110 lbs.Slow learner, sight impaired, great mobility

Now it becomes easier to decide what is best for the children. You decide on the following:


  • 1. A Nerf ball will be used to protect Beth and possible neck injury to Sarah.
  • 2. An area of 5 yards by 10 yard . And a 1vs.1 format appears appropriate.
  • 3. After parent consultation, and a player medical evaluation, it is determined that the players do not require a Soccer Buddy at all times.
  • 4. Because Soccer Buddies are unavailable a decision is made to pair:
  • -John with Sarah – Sarah's neck would be at risk from a ball kicked hard.
  •  -Peter with Sue – While their abilities are similar, it would be dangerous if Peter should fall on Sue.
  •  5. The best pairing will be:
  • -Peter with Beth – Ability, age, size and weight.
  • -Jack with Sarah – Similar comprehension and mobility.
  •   -Sue and John – May require some additional attention from an assistant.

Note:  If Soccer Buddies were available at practice then almost any combination would be acceptable.


  • 1.           A Nerf ball will still be used in the games.
  • 2.            A field size of 15 yards by 25 yards would be appropriate.
  • 3.           Field markings will include goal lines, touch lines and a goal box.
  • 4.           18”high cones or flags will be used for goals.
  • 5.           There will be no goalkeepers.
  • 6.           A drop-ball restart will occur if a mobility device traps the ball.
  • 7.           There will be no restriction on the number of times a player can kick the ball on an indirect-free-kick.
  • 8.           SoccerBuddies will be available for games so a 3 vs. 3 format will be used.
  • 9.           The game pairings for disability balance will be:

-Beth, Sue with Jack – Team One    -Peter, John with Sarah – Team Two

  • 10.        Soccerbuddies may not score goals.

Hopefully this example illustrates how easy it is to accommodate a team with various special needs.  Send your questions or comments for TOPSoccer program to:

Article Source: “Miles & Miles of SoccerSmiles” Handbook, Co-Authors: Peggy Neason/ Former US Youth SoccerTOPSoccer

                    Karl Dewazien D-7 Recreation Administrator

Blue’s Clues Will Make You a Better Youth Coach
(Themes 1; 2 & 3 & 4)   By Brendan Donahue

One of the most critical aspects of being a successful coach is knowing who you’re coaching, and how they best learn. This sounds straightforward enough, but adults often fail to recognize that children view the world differently and what we, adults, may find boring and monotonous may be novel and engaging to them, and in turn, vital to their learning process. I believe that if coaches can incorporate four major themes from the show to our coaching we’ll be doing our players a great service both from an enjoyment and developmental standpoint.

Theme 1
. Construct your practice in the same manner day to day, week to week.  
Consistent structure will help the players establish a comfort level on what is expected of them and how the session will flow.  Being consistent is a very important dynamic for a coach at any level, but even more so with the younger age groups.  Once the players gain a familiarity with the practice format, it should also put an end to the question, “when are we going to scrimmage”.  If you always finish each practice with a game, they’ll know that the scrimmage is coming and can remain focused on the exercise at hand.  On a personal note, I would recommend beginning each practice with a street soccer game as an arrival activity. This helps address the same question listed above as well as giving the players an opportunity to express themselves.  

Theme 2
. Progress Simple to Complex.  Allow for early success to establish a baseline and confidence in all the players.  Increase the complexity and difficulty in a manner that is challenging, but not overwhelming.  It’s okay to make mistakes as the practice progresses, this enhances the learning process, but you don’t want to begin the session with an activity that is too difficult and plants the seed of doubt in the players mind from the outset.  Remember, the proper ordering of the clues is vital to the show’s success.

Theme 3.
Provide Repetition.  An adult considers constant repetition boring, because it requires reliving the same experience over and over again.  But to preschoolers repetition isn’t boring, because each time they watch something they are experiencing it in a completely different way. This is not to say that you need to run the same session with your team for 5 straight practices, but often by repeating an exercise or two from one practice to the next brings out a higher performance level since the players now comprehend the rules or objectives of an activity and can now focus on developing within the activity itself.  I caution coaches against changing the activities for their own enjoyment, when by doing so you may be hindering the enjoyment-and development- of your players.

Theme 4.
Be a Guide- Steve has many characteristics of an ideal coach.  He poses questions, pauses long enough for the children to respond (a good listener) and methodically rehashes what they’ve learned along the journey.  As coaches, we should look to incorporate Steve’s skillfulness in asking questions with our players.  Asking questions engages the player and makes them active participants in the learning process.  Steve doesn’t provide the answers; instead he leads the children to discover the answers themselves.  This concept of Guided Discovery is one all coaches should embrace and seek to improve upon.
Editor’s Note: Coaches who have studied, understand and are using the ‘9-Step Practice Routine’ know how necessary these themes are in their practices & how well they work.. !

District News

A District-7 SUCCESS STORY - (Porterville United U-17 Boys)
Efrain Vasquez, Porterville United U-17 Boys Coach wrote the following on behalf of his players and parents:     
To you guys, Kathy Killion and all CYSA North staff “Thank You” for all your hard work and dedication.  We have many  memories and experiences playing a game that we all love.  Winning Presidents Cup four times in a row enabled most of our boys a chance to see places that they would never have a chance to see.  The majority of our players come from Porterville and the rest from even smaller towns like Lindsay, Pixley, Exeter and Terra Bella.  The last four years have been incredible.   We have seen Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Oregon, and Arizona.  While the ultimate goal has eluded us, we have been competitive at the highest level.  We made it to two quarterfinal games and one semi-final.  Nothing to be ashamed of.  Our coaching staff and players have been overwhelmed with the professionalism and respect that everyone has shown us.  We will be moving up to under 18’s this August.  Perhaps we shall see you at State Cup.  Thanks for everything!
Efrain Vasquez, Porterville United U-17 Boys Coach

Kathy Killion, Programs Coordinator Response:
Thank you for taking the time to send such a thoughtful email.  I will be sure to share your sentiments with the Board and Staff.  It has been my pleasure to follow the journey of these young men over the past four seasons. Having the opportunity to watch the team play and win the CYSA Cal North Presidents Cup and advance to Region IV Presidents Cup over the last four years has been a delight.  Having the honor of serving as a Cal North representative for the teams that traveled to Salt Lake, Denver and Boise was a high point in my youth soccer career.  Watching the boys prevail in PKs this past Saturday in the quarter final match was so enjoyable.  I knew that particular victory had taken so much out of them that it was going to be a daunting task to come back and give the same energy again on Saturday night.  But as you said, they have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of!  These boys have played for each other, for their league, for their district and for their state association with such heart and determination that we are all very proud of them.  They should be proud of themselves and savor the journey they have experienced along the way. The places they've been and the things that they've seen because of their participation in Cal North Youth Soccer will be memories that last a lifetime!
Having the opportunity to serve our membership is the primary goal of the Cal North Staff and we work hard to make sure your Cal North experience is a positive one.  It is my privilege to have been of service to you, your players and their families.  I look forward to future opportunities to follow the exploits of the Porterville United team!  Enjoy the rest of the summer and thank the boys for providing us with such a memorable four seasons in Presidents Cup.
Kathy Killion, Programs Coordinator

June 12, 2014
We have 3 teams participating in the Presidents Cup Regionals.  

Play began and here are the results of their first game:
• Cencal  Un (Hanford) U 16 G   lost to Nevada 6-0
• Roosevelt Rev U 16 B won against Utah 2-1
• Porterville U 17 B   tied Washington 2-2

June 13, 2014
Here is an update on our teams at Presdents Cup Regionals
• Roosevelt U 16 B   tied 2-2 Nevada
• Porterville U 17 B   won 4-1 Colorado
• Hanford Cen Cal U 16 G   lost 0-5 Alaska

That means Roosevelt and Porterville are tied in their brackets for first place.  Both have a good chance of advancing out of their flights as two advance in each to the quarterfinals.
Unfortunately with 2 losses Hanford will not advance.

June 14, 2014
OK, here we go with the last scores from Presidents Cup Regional Finals.
Regretfully we do not have any teams advance to the National.

6/13  WON 3-2 OVER IDAHO




More Information on Coaching


That maxim may sound trite, but when it comes to developing world-class soccer stars, that cliche might be the key to success, according to Davis Paul, an American-born former MLS player. Paul recently returned from Brazil, where he made a video series about “the beautiful game” for GoPro in the lead-up for the World Cup.

The skill that exists down there is something that doesn't exist in the masses in the United States,” Davis said,adding that during the 16 days he spent in Brazil playing and filming pick-up games Brazilians on the beaches of Rio and the streets of the favelas he was most impressed with the kids.

To me, it was pretty amazing to see these kids go into a caged field — no referees, no structure — [and] put a ball down and literally just have the confidence to try to dribble and take every player that was in front of them,” Davis said, telling a story about playing against a 7-year-old kid as an example.

Instead of being afraid because I had played pro, he wanted to take me, he wanted to try to get through me.”Davis explained. “It was like they weren't really playing the game as much as they were just doing what they felt like they wanted to do.”

For Davis, that lack of an imposed structure when first learning the game is one of the reasons why Brazil has been able to develop players like Pele, Ronaldo and today’s Neymar,while the United States has not.

In the U.S. we have these big grass fields and big parks and we learn the game at such a slower pace,” Davis said. “It’s very much like ‘trap the ball,’ ‘kick the ball 30 yards,’everybody runs… It’s very cautious … I think we have to start doing it differently.

Besides letting kids follow less rules and have more fun when they first start learning, perhaps a change in where kids initially learn needs to happen, as well.

Every game I stumbled upon [in Brazil], it’s in tight little complexes, where there are fences, and so the ball never really goes out of bounds, it’s always in play,” Davis said.

This more ad hoc, more nonstop approach that many kids in Brazil use to train their feet and bodies to manipulate the ball teaches them to pass quicker and develop finer skills,Davis said. “They were just so sharp versus when you coach and 8-year-old team here in the United States.”

Editors Note: Creating 'That Lack of An Imposed Structure' is the main goal of the District-7 Recreation Programs'“Pre-F” course.  We hope you join us when a 'Pre-F' course comes to your community..!  

Referee Corner

Youth Soccer and Fouls
by Pat Ferre

In a youth game, two players are challenging for the ball when one player falls to the ground.  What the parents of the down player saw was a foul, illegal play, and something that the referee should be whistling in their favor. Parents of the other player saw a legal challenge, the player tripped over his own feet and there should be no whistle blown. What did the referee see?

Unlike what players and parents see in training films, television, and the like, the dynamics of a youth game are much different than the higher and professional levels.  At the younger levels, parents and spectators are not, in general, well experienced in soccer.  At this level, most adults are learning what the rules of soccer really are.

Parents are naturally protective of their child and tend to see what their own child does as acceptable and what is done to their child as unfair. As their child grows older, parents grow in experience as well and learn more about what is acceptable and fair play.

Players at a young age have little knowledge of what a foul is and are learning the basics of what is acceptable and what is not.  At the same time they are learning to control their bodies and many challenges are “unfair’ not because they are trying to cheat but because they lack the control of their own bodies.  At a young age, players can often be seen falling down even though there is no other player around them and they trip over their own feet.

As children grow older, their soccer skills improve and they have more control over their own bodies.  Since children improve and grow at different rates, the skill level within a game may vary greatly.  As players join new teams they also find themselves with teammates with more or less experience.  This can cause problems as the more skilled and experienced players may dominate play and take advantage of the less experienced players.  That dominance will cause other players to try hard to stop these players and create situations where sorting out fair from foul play can be difficult.

The referees of these younger age groups are faced with several roles.   The major role is to keep players from hurting themselves, being hurt and hurting others.  While trying to improve, some players may be influenced by trying to emulate older more experienced players and may be trying to play at a level beyond their own skills.  This may lead to players unintentionally hurting themselves and others.

Another role of the youth official is to teach the Laws of the Game.  At the youngest levels it means that the referee may actually stop the game for a “careless” foul and explain to the player that what they did is not considered fair play.

Ultimately, referees are the guardians of the Laws of the Game.  They must balance the need to keep the players safe and the game flowing while teaching what is fair and not fair play.

Pat Ferre
USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus,USSF Referee Instructor,USSF Referee Assessor,USSF Referee Assignor
District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)

July Smiles - just for Laughs

Sixth Grade Research
By Emery Haggin

Many youth coaches are bound and determined to by-pass working on basic skills.  They seem to ‘think’ that skills can be gained by just playing the game.  Their focus is solely on the tactical aspect of the game.  I wonder if they will continue to work on the ‘mental part’ of the game after reading the following which are actual responses made by sixth grade students. I can really relate to these because some of my own sixth grade students have handed in materials similar to these:  

• Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

• Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea where they made unleavened bread which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the Ten Commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

• Solomom had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.

• The Greeks were a highly sculptured people and without them we wouldn't have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

• Send an 'actual' comment you have heard for future smiles and receive a bonus gift from the editor of this newsletter.


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