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The Soccer Sidelines

131 EpisodesProduced by David DejewskiWebsite

Join Coach Dave on the sidelines as he brings you in on what’s going on behind the scenes and the stuff that really matters in youth sports. Understand the game, development, and ways you can support your young athlete at home!


Effective Weather Policy for Youth Soccer

Who Cares?
"How's the weather?" is a common conversation opener, but when I hear it, I brace myself for a boring discussion. I get it. This is important stuff though. People have been hurt or killed, and thousands of games get cancelled or delayed every season. I've heard parents and coaches complain about a closure or delay and I understand that too. We came to play soccer, not sit in our car or worse - go home without grass or turf jammed in our cleats. 

An effective policy is one that keeps players and spectators safe, and protects the fields from damage. 

It's Just Rain...
I hear this one a lot. A little rain never hurt anyone. While probably close to being true, a little rain might hurt a field. Well... the rain actually just softens up the field most of the time. It's a stampede of 14 to 22 pairs of cleats running across the field that causes the damage. 

Soft grass fields can be damaged easily. Cleats kick up clumps of grass. Mud slicks and holes are left where the grass used to be. Those slicks and holes grow. They become trip hazards, slip hazards, and ankle twisting hazards. The pool with water which hides their depth and bend player's knees backwards when they misread the terrain. 

Rain by itself ins't much of a threat. It makes the ball wet. It makes a ball slap hurt more than usual. It can get in a player's eyes and cause them to misread a header or slip and slide into another player. But the rain itself isn't much of a threat. In fact, one may argue, rain and mud makes the game even more fun! At least that's the way we looked at it when we were kids. 

Rules about playing on damaged fields have evolved over time. Today, playing on a damaged field is something we try to avoid. In fact, we try to avoid damaging the field at all. This way, we get a full season of play time out of it. 

Keep in mind that when fields are closed for rain, it's for safety of the players and protection of the fields. In our area of the country, the general rule is if there has been 1/2 inch of rain or more on a field in the previous 24 hours before an event, the fields are closed. Our County government makes that rule. What's the rule like in your part of the country?
Thunder and Lightning on Soccer Fields
Whether we see lightning or hear thunder, it really makes no difference. You can't have thunder without lightning, and either one means you're in a bad spot if you're on a soccer field. 

What do they tell you in lightning storms? Get away from trees because the tallest thing is more likely to be struck than things that are low to the ground. Experts teach us to seek shelter, minimize our exposure, minimize the damage. 

Take it from a guy who's done CPR on a full grown man who had the misfortune of 50,000 volts of electricity through his body. High voltage and the human body don't mix! Think overcooked turkey and the smell of burnt hair here. Freaked out? Good. 

On a soccer field, the players and spectators are very often the tallest thing on the field next to the goal posts. That's like having 8-22 lightning rods running around. 

The illustration above, done by Ted Slampyak for The Art of Manliness, shows you the best position to assume if you're caught in a storm.

And don't go for the goal posts in case you're thinking that it's safer near them. Lightning spreads out across the ground when it strikes something like a tree, a goal post, or a human crouched in lightning position. That's why experts also have us spread out 100 feet between people - so if one gets hit, the others might still survive!

The right thing to do here is clear out! Get off the field. Get into a car, a concrete bathroom house, a nearby building... Just about any shelter is better than hanging around in the open on a soccer field. 

You should stay clear for 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder or strike of lightning. Anything less than 30 minutes and you might still be close enough to a storm to get struct by a bolt.

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