Smart Soccer Blogs & eNewsletters > 2012

By Neil



December Newsletter

November 2012: Guy Fawkes & Turkey Trot

July Newsletter

July 2012: Summertime..& soccer is easy

April's Newsletter

April 2012: Spring Has Sprung

January's Newsletter

January 2012: Happy New Year!


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November 2012: Guy Fawkes & Turkey Trot

As the fall season draws to a finale the blog title acknowledges the month of November and famous celebrations from both sides of the pond. I didn't want to keep you guessing on that in case somebody thought they were soccer tournaments! Perhaps they are?

I hope Halloween was a safe and successful event for all. The CBAA u5 players certainly had fun at our Halloween themed soccer event as the picture here will attest. It was quite fascinating, for example, seeing a Power Ranger and a Chef go head to head! the photo shows Spiderman, Tigger and Iron Man ready to Rock 'n Roll! Great job by the kids and parent and lots of fun! Visit our halloween photo gallery!

In the world of professional soccer my life has been dominated recently by, as always, The Premiership but also World Cup Qualifiers with England barely convincing as they try to confirm their place in the 'Samba Soccer' World Cup in 2014. Well at least the fingernails are safe for a few months now. Given the hosts surely there can only be one winner the rest of us are just invitees? I'm fairly sure it won't be that simple.

Since the last blog both the summer camp season and fall season has come and gone. I have spent much of the past months on the soccer field with thousands of young players and their coaches. I would also like to acknowledge the other Smart Soccer coaches who have assisted me with the fall training programs. As always the theme has been the dual objectives of keeping soccer fun for the kids while teaching skills and trying to advance their understanding of the game. I continually stress to young players the importance of being able to receive and pass a ball effectively, particularly at that all important age of 9-12 where the players are developing the coordination to effectively learn the skills alongside the desire to do so. They are like sponges so feed them the correct information! For me personally when I see a young player take a good first touch and make a conscious decision before using the ball it is a Eureka moment! The aimless kick up the field should have gone out with The Crazy Gang (pictured right). No offence to Vinnie and company they could play a bit as well!
As always I invite you to visit and like our Facebook Page. It's always great to hear from friends old and new. 

Don't forget the indoor soccer skills sessions begin at Highpoint in January hope to see you there!




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July 2012 : Summertime………..and the soccer is easy

I hope all are well and staying cool - summer is here and the heat is on! 

I've spent the past month riveted to EURO 2012 where England provided the odd thrill and a fine social time among friends. That being said come the final the two deserving teams emerged with Spain crowned as the true and rightful Champions. The Spaniards have certainly set the bar at the International level the big question now becomes can anybody knock them off their perch at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil - will be intriguing to find out. In general a lot more attacking play was evident at EURO 2012 than the 2010 World Cup here's hoping that trend continues.

It would not be right if I didn't tip my hat to the upcoming Olympics in this blog and I am quite happy with the news that Giggsy will captain the GB team. A gold medal to complement his many Premiership titles will be just more icing on the cake as this legend continues in the (seemingly endless) final phase of his playing career. Compare that to poor David who is sadly missing out. Another icon of the game but you have to respect the manager I'm sure it was far from an easy decision for him.

Have you visited out Facebook Page recently? Please stop by and check out some photos - including young Matthew's excellent pic (below) of all his Smart Soccer camp shirts! Even the dog's wearing one! My hope is that recent and latter day campers will eventually send in their photo memories from camp and we can have quite a gallery. When you consider tens of thousands of campers have passed through our camp program over the years I think it's a realistic objective!

We begin two weeks of the Smart Soccer Camp at Philadelphia Sports Club on July 9 and look forward to seeing everybody. Our pledge to provide a 'fun and educational' soccer experience continues. Of course a main concern at the moment is the heat hopefully we get a break as the summer progresses. We will certainly be taking every precaution to keep campers hydrated and safe and parents can always help by providing them with extra water, individual cool down fans and a damp wash cloth to help lower temperature. If your child is registered for camp you will receive a detailed pre-camp notice including our 'beat the heat' tips.

Hot on the heels of camp will be the fall soccer season many players are registered and (I'm sure) raring to go! As usual I will be offering several clinics for volunteer parent-coaches and will endeavor to make them fun as well as offering hints on youth coaching plus specific activities that motivate young players and help them develop their skills. If you have registered to coach this fall season please make every effort to attend the pre-season clinics! We also have one or two summer coach games lined up it's great to get all the coaches out kicking a ball every session has been great fun! Lets keep it going!

Hopefully your child is kicking a ball somewhere this summer - of course attending one of the Smart Soccer Camps is still a possibility - REGISTER TODAY!

Hope to see you on the field soon.




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April 2012


I can hardly believe it's been over a year since my first blog! Since the last blog we have concluded our indoor winter training at PSC Highpoint and are well into spring soccer, aided by some glorious weather!

Some recent news…Smart Soccer is on Facebook and I would like to tip my hat to the 50+ souls who have 'liked' us so far. Among the plans for the Facebook page are some nostalgic elements, including photos of Smart Soccer camp T-shirts through the years and a photo gallery of our camps since 1987. Posting all of this information will take time but the hope is by sometime in the month of May. It would be nice to hear from former campers who might have some good memories and / or photos of their camp experience, and their camp and coaches, back in the day. Even better some photos of them wearing their Smart Soccer camp T-shirt with the year and location of the camp.

Switching gears an interesting article appeared on the BBC site today listing your club and mine, Man UTD, as the wealthiest 'football' club in the world. Richer even than the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys! The amount of money in professional sports at the top level is truly staggering, as are the salaries commanded by the top players. 'Just for kicking a bit of leather around a field' as one 'wag' from the past once understated! One of the other big stories doing the rounds at the moment is the continued interest of David Beckham in representing Team GB at this summer's London Olympics. Given the high profile of Beckham in 'pop culture' one would surely not bet against it! However Lineker begs to differ so two great icons of the game find themselves on opposite sides of the fence. With a manager named 'Psycho' I would expect Team GB to do quite well! My final comment on the professional game is a reminder that UTD & City clash on April 30 in a potential title decider as EURO 2012 hovers on the horizon - lovely!


Speaking of Euro 2012, all games will be shown locally at Villa Capri Pizza (Doylestown) and the Side Door Pub (Warrington/Chalfont). Please see our April newsletter for more details!

Back on the 'home front' I'm currently coaching soccer clinics every day of the week, for various ages, and every session is an adventure and great fun! Keeping fun at the forefront is always the focus and I am happy to say the kids and their coaches are also doing a great job of that! Alongside long term player development keeping the game fun and attractive to young players must always be a key priority.  

It is great to see kids having fun playing soccer. On the flip side we do need to keep reminding ourselves of the pitfalls of too much competition at too young of an age. To help address this it would be great to see, for example, clubs cooperating to raise the minimum age at which we introduce travel team play. Currently many clubs have u8 travel teams so we are asking 6 & 7 year olds to confront the complexity of team play in an 8v8 environment when they should be playing 3v3 & 4v4 small sided games. Until there is a consistent approach on issues like this the status quo will continue - not the best environment to nurture future soccer stars!

Keep on kicking and don't forget to please visit our Facebook page, consider registering for the 2012 Smart Soccer Camp and enjoy the weather - while it lasts!




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January 2012


First of all I would like to wish all of our friends in the soccer community belated yet sincere best wishes for a healthy, happy 2012!

This is a relatively calm time of year as preparations are being made for the upcoming spring season we are running indoor soccer clinics and some private soccer lessons but for the most part all is quiet on the Western front (as the saying goes).

In the world of professional soccer my lifelong team Man UTD have been proving they are human recently with defeats by Blackburn and Newcastle but remain second in the league and poised for a great run in with the likes of City and Spurs. Since those 2 teams play each other this weekend something has to give there, while UTD have an easy game at the Emirates (tongue firmly in cheek). If all of this is double dutch to you then I respectfully suggest you make 2012 the year you familiarize yourself with the intrigue, the drama and the weekly soccer soap opera that is The Premiership.

Speaking of UTD one response to their recent hiccup has been to drag The Ginger Prince out of retirement. Paul Scholes is now 37 and is already proving he is not out of place back at the top level - I think here in the US we could learn a lot from this I have had experience of high level coaches in this country who think that any player over the age of, say 25, should be put out to pasture! Somebody needs to tell them age is just a number! Quite a lot of top players are in their mid thirties and beyond, current players include the afore mentioned Scholes, Ryan Giggs (38) and David Beckham (37). As I have often said at coaches clinics and to older players soccer really is (can be) a game for life.

2012 promises to be an exciting soccer year at the top level in addition to the Premiership the Olympics and EURO 2012 will both showcase high level International soccer - can't wait!

So much for the professional game, now it's time to consider a youth soccer issue:

As the spring season approaches consider the following question as it relates to a youth soccer program.

Name one approach that can be used to increase the effectiveness of a recreational and a travel team program?

For this blog lets consider the recreational soccer environment and the situation of one team dominating a game. How might coaches look to address this situation so that all players can feel positive about the game experience?

2 suggestions that are often offered in such a situation are:


  • Removing a player or two from the stronger team
  • Putting conditions on the stronger team before they are allowed to shoot / score.

(examples might be the stronger team must make 5 passes or score with the weaker foot)

Both of these solutions have merits and are among those addressed in this Youth Soccer Insider article worth a read:

Youth Soccer Insider - Dealing with Lopsided Games

The article deals with an older travel team although my experience has shown this situation to be quite frequent with much younger ages - even as young as u6!

The solution I always propose to coaches in this scenario is not listed above and is quite simply to encourage coaches to share players once it becomes apparent that a game is no longer a contest. Redistribute the players, form two equal teams and continue the game. There are several benefits to this including the stronger players will be challenged by competing with each other and all players will benefit from a close and keenly contested game. It can be a win-win!

The drawbacks?

First coaches insisting that their players do not want to switch and play for the other team. If coaches take the time to explain to players from the outset that player sharing with other teams is an option and the reasons why it is healthy my experience is they will have no problems.  

Second the refusal of a coach to share players because this is "my team and I don't share players".  Fortunately I have not found this to be a common situation though have encountered it from time to time. Since such 'possessiveness' is not in the interest of player development or the club program in general it is essential a club lays down concrete guidelines so that all coaches understand the 'players come first' philosophy.

The key to success in this, and many other youth soccer issues, is really coach cooperation, which should be achievable at least in a recreational league where all teams play for the same club!

That's it for now hope to see you at indoor soccer and look for updated entails on our 2012 summer camp schedule to be posted soon!



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