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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!


Inspiring Aggression, Confidence, and Competitive Mindset

Twice this week, I was asked by parents - each from opposite sides of the country - about how to improve the competitive mindset of their children. One dad is father and coach of a 7-year old in California. The other is a mother of a 9-year-old in Maryland. In this episode, I will share the questions and their context and do my best - with the help of a couple of friends of mine - to address these listener questions. 

There is a lot of stuff in this episode, so make yourself comfortable while we explore the question of aggression, confidence,and the competitive mindset. 

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Setting the Stage with The Questions
First of all, shout out to listeners of this show! You always inspire the best episodes with your questions and comments, so thank you for sharing! Don't sleep on the SpeakPipe integration I have with my Website at SpeakPipe a cool tool that I pay for that gives you a simple press-to-talk button on your mobile device or computer where you can leave me voice feedback, ask questions, etc. I can't think of an easier way to communicate. 

My first question came last Sunday at 10:30 PM Eastern from Paras. Paras writes from California:

Hi,I am a dad of soccer kid who will be 7(born Nov 2012) years old next month.. I played lot of soccer and other sports in Asia during my school days. I today train my son and is also in U8 academy at local club in California.. My son skills, strength and pace is good for his age.. Besides U8 ,I enrolled him for a rec program for 2011/2012 , which was for two months at local club just to get games exposure . I noticed in these games that he was not aggressive (positive aggression) which may be because his cognitive is in developing phase ... He has a feeling that older kids will be hard on him and do something negative.. The club should have conducted the games for U8 only rather than 2011/2012..  His games with U8 kids are good.. Can you please share your experience on how can kids develop the mindset to overcome this? I am using strategy like watching with him European soccer leagues and talking /discussing with him about how players are being strong with the ball, soccer drills, motivation.
Paras Tiwari
 The Soccer Sidelines Listener Community
My second question came to me in person during one of my Culture Walks this weekend. Culture Walks, you may recall from very early episodes back in 2017, is what I do as Club Officer to walk the sidelines of my games every weekend, evaluate coaches, connect with parents, and in general support and maintain our club culture. Conversations from my Culture Walks inspired this show. 

This soccer mom in this case is wife to one of our assistant coaches, very involved with multiple sports with her kids, and generally active in the youth sports community. She asked about her 9-year-old & was wondering what she or her husband can do to improve their child's "aggression" on the pitch. 

Her child plays in a recreation league, in an age band that included 9 and 10-year olds, and has played for a few years in our Academy program for younger players, ages 3-8. 
Please: support the show and join our community as a Patron through my Patreon page

Unpacking the Issues
Paras' question is actually several great questions, relevant statements and assumptions rolled up. They deserve some unpacking as we dig into what's going on here. First for context, we're talking about a 6-year-old player. Per United Soccer Coach standards, this is a Stage 2 player. Next, we're talking about a child born in the 4th quarter of the year. See last week's episode #102 about Relative Age Effect ( to understand more about why this is important. His son will son be 7. His player has a mixture of academy and recreation games experience and Dad noticed that his son is not as aggressive in the game environment as he...

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