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MRH Youth Sports

2017 Fall Survey Results

We received over 110 responses to the 2017 Fall Surveys.  Thank you for taking the time!

Individual comments are being compiled and shared with the coaches.  We received over 150 comments, the vast majority of them positive.  Below are most every comment that wasn't directed at a specific coach, broken up by theme. 

Issues with team size/creation:
  • Every year has been the same problem, that several kids on the team just don't want to play at all, leaving the team without subs when someone is sick or out of town. My daughter liked playing, but didn't want to play without breaks.
  • There were a lot of games with one or no subs on our team and my child didn't like that, especially when it was hot. He wanted to take breaks.
  • Having to play the entire game because teams are so small
  • Registration is always crazy not enough team spots
  • Registration was handled poorly, should not be a waiting list while registration is still open, team had too many players
  • Not having much play time at the actual games
  • I don't feel like the registration process is organized. Maybe you should shorten the registration. And only let so many people in so there is no problem with finding volunteer coaches.
  • This year, even though my team had the capped number, one dropped out and every game several people didn't show up. As such, we usually only had 2 or 3 subs. I understand that the idea is that the kids have equal playing time, but I can tell you first hand many of the kids want to be part of the team, but they don't really want to play half the game.
  • I have been coaching several years, and I have my team right where I want them--for their age/chemistry between them. I am always happy to take new kids, but I don't want to lose my old ones. As the teams get older, you hope to become more competitive in the league we play in, and starting over with a new team every year definitely puts the teams at MRHYS at a disadvantage when you are playing teams who have always been together.
  • I have expressed in the past that I think MRHYS should have a modified approach to how teams are formed. I feel this way as both a coach and parent. I think there is a lack of equity, transparency and clarity for both parents and coaches.

MRHYS response:
Team creation is one of the most difficult things we do, (as evidenced by the fact that we got negative comments on both sides of the team size issue) and we hope to provide some clarity here. 

Our primary mission is to provide the opportunity to allow children in the district to play sports, in order to develop what is hopefully a lifelong love of the sport and physical activity - and to prepare them (hopefully) to play for MRH high school some day if they want to.  The most-cited reason that kids quit sports is that it's "not fun". A George Washington University study that tried to quantify "fun" in youth sports found "getting to play in games" as the third most-important thing that made sports "fun" for kids ("Trying my best" and "Being treated with respect by my coach" were 1 and 2). As a result, we try to keep the teams as small as possible to allow kids to play as much as they can.  On the other side, we also realize, especially at younger ages, that MRHYS is not always the highest priority and life happens so we try to have enough players in case people miss or kids just decide they don't want to play that day.  

With that in mind, here's the rule for soccer: Absolute minimum team size is the number of players on the field, plus 3.  Anything less (and sometimes even with that number) and you're asking for games with no subs, or not enough to field a full team.  Maximum size is twice the number of kids on the field (and ideally, if you're playing with a goalie, one less than that).  Sometimes in PK and K, we may push the maximum a little further to 9 or 10 because of the attention span issue - but realize we have no way of knowing ahead of time which kids at this age group will be motivated and which will be picking grass.  If we get to a point where it looks like there are too many for one team but not enough for two, (or too many for 2 but not enough for 3, etc) we will do a number of things to try to add players, including leaving registration open and calling players who played the previous year to see if we can encourage them to return.  We also need to have enough coaches for all the teams, which is always a problem at PK and K since we don't have as many returning coaches.  We prefer to try to find coaches for the number of players who sign up, rather than limit signups to the number of teams we know we have coaches for - some coaches don't sign up until the very end of registration!   Once registration ends, we have our players and our coaches, and it's time to try to match them up.

Once we have a certain number of teams, we take the practice day question and see if there is a scheduling need to put some players on the same team with a coach that has the same constraint.  If we get a report of bullying issues between players, we try to separate them if possible.  Occasionally, parents report that there was a personality conflict with a coach.  Finally, we do the best we can to try to make the teams as even as possible.  We don't want to have a "select team" or "a-team" and an "other team" or "b-team", and as much as we appreciate the desire to keep a team together, our goal is to be as open and welcoming as we can and encourage equal development of all players who sign up.  As much as we aunderstand the desire to be competitive, it is our philosophy that the education and development of all players is more important.  After all, by the time they get to high school (if not by 5th grade when they start playing 11 a side and teams need a minimum of 14 or 15 players), they'll likely all be playing on the same team, regardless of what we as coaches want.

Issues with St. Luke's League (1st & 2nd grade):

  • I know you don't have control over the 1st grade league, but it was pretty awful. The late notice of the schedule was hard to plan our family schedule and the lack of refs to help enforce rules made for some really frustrating games.
  • It is an instructional league and I'm not sure they learned much from the game. For example, having the ball start in the middle after a goal, or helping guide them where they should be on the field.
  • The schedule being released as the season goes on is not ideal. Makes planning a bit difficult.
  • Not enough teams to play in our league played against our friends alot
  • Wish that the schedule would have been available sooner and that we would have played more teams. We played against the same team 4 out of 8 games. And other teams we didn't play at all. Seems like poor planning.
  • I wish games were Sunday after noons or first thing Saturday mornings as has been the case with our older daughters soccer games. Noon on Saturday was hot, and made it hard to plan anything else the rest of the day.
  • The scheduling at st. Luke's took too long
  • The schedule came out so late and for just a few games at a time. That communication was not soon enough which was frustrating.
  • I wish the St. Luke's would make one schedule for the entire season. Parents have complained about this often.

MRHYS response:

St. Luke's used to run a really great, cheap, convenient program.  In the last 2-3 years, it's fallen off tremendously.  There used to be refs who would help explain the game to the kids, the schedule used to come out early, there used to be 6 or 8 teams... 

Starting next season, we'll be leaving St. Luke's and enrolling the 1st and 2nd graders in the Clayton league along with 3rd-8th.  That will raise the cost of play some amount for those grades, which is why we stayed in the league as long as we did, but the overall experience should be better for our families.  Thank you for your feedback.

  • Website bulky.
  • Registration was a little convoluted for a first timer. Otherwise awesome.
  • Love the newest website. Easy signup process.
  • Easy to register, communication was great.
  • I had some confusion on the website trying to register two children.

MRHYS response:

We've tried our best to find a website that is inexpensive to run (so we can spend money on programs, not a fancy website) but still powerful enough to handle everything we need it to do. If there are things you specifically think should be changed, or additional content or explanation we can create to make the process easier and less bulky or confusing, please let us know by emailing [email protected] and we'll try to improve it for next season. 

Behavior issues:
  • Even though it is just for the kids to have fun , kids need to know that like class time , practices and game times need to be taken seriously.
  • That the team would goof off and not listen to the coach during both the practices and at some of the games.
  • Players were too talkative at practice
  • Always a good time, except when parents fight.
  • when some girls come to practice and or games and don't try hard or don't listen or screw around
  • I really felt this year that too many parents used me as a babysitter and often it was for the most challenging kids on the team.

MRHYS response:

This season, for the first time, we created a behavior agreement, and let the coaches know that there was assistance and enforcement available. Nobody requested it. We strongly feel that coaches are not babysitters, and if a particular child is a behavior issue, there are resources available to the team that we can provide. In the future, if you see something being an issue, please bring it to our attention during the season and perhaps we can assist or intervene to make the experience better for all.

  • I think the pre-k teams should have different color shirts with the MRH logo
  • Did not get uniforms on time before game time.

MRHYS response:

We tried something different this year with Pre-K and K: all teams got the same jersey.  This allowed us (in theory) to order jerseys without having teams finalized first, to easily swap players between teams if something came up during the season, and even to quickly and easily allow one team to loan players to another team at game time if players didn't show.  Unfortunately, it seems to have caused more confusion than we hoped for.  We'll go back to different-colored jerseys next year.

As far as timeliness, we screwed up and didn't order some of the jerseys in time.  We've talked thorugh how the ball got dropped and we'll make sure to do better next year.  

  • It was good, but had kids that practiced different nights and it was exhausting for parents
  • (PK-K) i wish the games were at 10 or later those 9am games were hard

MRHYS response:

For PK/K, we try to divide up the teams predominantly by practice day requested. Upper grade practice days are set by the coach; all coaches get together and "draft" practice dates and times from the available field times, set up to try to maximize our ability to get the most practices on the fields we have available. If your child's preferred date isn't matched by one of the coaches we have for his or her grade, unfortunately sometimes you wind up with multiple days of practice.

As far as the PK/K start time, depending on how many teams we have, we may be able to push the start back a little. What we don't want to do is have games when it can still be pretty warm out running much past 11 for that age group for heat reasons

Other league issues:
  • Why no headers?
  • Maybe there needs to be some fresh leadership? It seems like the same people in the same positions every year, the organization might benefit from rotating coaches
  • The coach was great but the registration process and communication w/ administrators is very poor whether it's volunteer or not.
  • My family was not happy with the Clayton league….Either costs need to go down, or standards needs to go up. If there are different league options to explore, I'd be in favor. Clayton league was not a good experience in the least.
  • The only negative: It seems like some teams had been together with organized coaching for years, maybe the private schools, and the public schools had not, so the teams were way off balance in terms of skill and experience. Consequently games were not as fun and skill practice during games not as beneficial for either team.

MRHYS response:

US Soccer as an organization (the governing body for soccer in the US) has tried to push organizations to restrict heading for kids under the age of 12, with the goal of preventing concussions - not necessarily from ball contact, but from two kids trying to head the same ball and colliding. Clayton's league sets their rule so that 6th grade and under are not allowed to head.

If you're talking about organizational leadership, we are currently looking for new leaders. If you're interested, please email [email protected] and let us know. If you're talking about coaches, generally if a coach wants to come back and they have a survey rating that isn't a cause for concern, they're allowed to return. If teams contract because of larger rosters so fewer coaches are needed and we have more coaches than teams, we take the coach with the most returning players on the team.

We're always trying to improve communication - hopefully this helps!  If there is a specific improvement we can make that would help improve the registration process, please let us know and we'll see if we can do it.

We're sorry if the Clayton league was a bad experience.  We've used them in the past for 3 major reasons. 1, they allow registration by grade, not birth year (US Soccer is also pushing all leagues to change to birth year registration but Clayton has resisted that thus far). 2, they are a lower level of overall competition than many leagues - for most good players in this league, this the "fun" league to be with their friends instead of on their competitive team.  3, it's relatively close - the farthest anyone ever has to drive is Stacy Park in Creve Coeur.  (and 4, we're not required to be part of the St. Louis Archdiocese...)  We don't know of another league that meets these criteria, but if one were available, we'd certainly look into it as an option.

We're trying hard to improve the coaching education we provide to improve the overall training that players receive, in the hopes that our players will get more organized coaching as well!  Having said that, however, realize that for a lot of the private schools, they have multiple kids where this is their 2nd team; they play with Ajax or Gallagher or Lou Fusz or Liverpool or Real in SLYSA and this is a chance for them to play for fun with thir friends.  In that case, it's less that their teams have been together for a long time then that several players on their team have been practicing 3 days a week 6-9 months of the year with other clubs.  We as parents and coaches can help by setting attainable goals that are process-driven instead of results-driven (growth mindset instead of fixed mindset), and to look for and complement positive efforts in every game, regardless of the score.  The results that we should be striving for are kids who have fun and are becoming better soccer players: measure them by their improvement as opposed to their win-loss record.  

  • I also think at this age they need more that one coach. It is hard to have all of their attention and have them understand what to do. But our coach did his best.
  • He didn't seem to teach much - he ran the same drill for so long.
  • Way too structured, not enough actual playing, not enough scrimmages, too much talking, not enough focus building on girls' strengths.
  • Certain kids played for nearly the entire game at each game. They should have been rotated more evenly, even if they are that good. No child should be allowed to play for nearly every game without being taken out. It's not fair to the other players, and it's not necessary. They can take turns on the bench along with every other team member.
  • To the question about playing all positions, we decided that since our group was made up of 9 and 10 year olds, we tried to help them develop a position to be strong in, based on what they said they liked and what we observed. We let them try other positions if they asked.

MRHYS response:

All the coaches are volunteers. We'd love to assign 2 or 3 to each team, but unfortunately not that many people sign up to coach. We have been working in the last 2 years to prepare coaches better and have tried to do a number of things to provide more support, but if you see that your child's coach needs help, please offer to help. Even doing things as simple as setting up cones for one drill while the previous drill is going on, being a "line parent" to help keep the kids focused and make sure they know when it's their turn, or shagging balls that have been kicked away helps the coach stay on task and minimizes opportunity for kids to lose focus. Also, under 5th or 6th grade, if you can maintain a good relationship with the kids and be energetic, you can coach without having to be an expert in soccer. Please volunteer next year.

Coaches are asked during training to plan practices so that drills should not last much longer in minutes than the age of the players, plus 2 or 3 at most. Anything under 5th grade shouldn't have drills lasting more than 10 minutes- the kids aren't mentally mature enough to stay focused that long. This recommendation comes both from US Soccer and from the US Olympic Committee's guidelines on youth development in sport.

With a limited amount of time for practice, hopefully the coach is structuring practice to minimize downtime - although if there are lectures in practice and that's the "too much talking" you're referring to, that's not good. Missouri Soccer's coaching certification curriculum (which we share with all coaches) says to avoid "The 3 L's": Lines, Lectures, and Laps. Any time that the players aren't active in some way improving a soccer skill is time wasted. As far as scrimmages are concerned, US Soccer suggests that no more than a third of all practice time is dedicated to game play - HOWEVER, for all ages under 13, US Soccer says not to play full-sided scrimmages, and that "game play" should be small-sided (1v1, 2v1, 2v2, 3v3). There are two reasons for this: 1, under the age of 13, most children's brains aren't mature enough developmentally to think tactically such that a full-sided scrimmage would actually benefit them, and 2, if you have a full team and one ball, no more than 2 players at any point are working on their skills and players are more likely to either "check out" or crowd the ball. If you have multiple 2v2 games going on, every player on the field is either on the ball or knows they can reasonably expect it to come to them. Finally, from a developmental perspective, coaches should be praising players for things they do well, but sports practices - like school classes - should be targeted at improving skills that are weak, not concentrating on skills they already have.

We could not agree more. One of the tenets of MRH youth sports is that all players should be given as close to equal playing time as possible, so that all players can develop their skills. Surveys that have been published in sport and child psychology journals consistently show that kids -by 3-to-1 or more, depending on the survey - would rather play and lose than sit the bench and win.  This was a topic this year in the coaches' training, and we'll be sure to bring it up again.

There's a fine line between trying to give a kid confidence by getting them comfortable at a certain position and making a kid think that the only thing they can be successful at is playing a certain position. We should be trying to develop all players as soccer players, not as left backs or strikers or center mids. From talking to coach Robertson and coach Jordan at the high school, they like it best when kids show up in high school willing to be flexible, willing to work hard anywhere on the field, and willing to try whatever the coaches ask them to do to the best of their ability. Those are all skills and behaviors that we can give and encourage in these athletes at a very young age, regardless of their soccer skill level. Everyone should try at least one game at each position (except goalie, and anyone who wants to should be allowed to try that) - and if everyone knows that's required, the rest of the team should be supportive and not put too much pressure on players playing "out of position".