As a long time amateur soccer player, referee, coach and soccer league manager, I have observed players behaviors, compiled statistics about fair play, and most importantly monitored what quality human beings who play Co-Ed and amateur sports have in common.
Great kids, Gentlemen, and classy ladies who play sports and have a great time doing it are very competitive and very fair play at the same time.
The fair play or sportsmanship check list below highlights what they all have in common and is the recipe for success in Co-Ed and amateur sports:
- They arrive at the game on time and don’t leave before the end of the game unless it is an emergency or they have suffered an injury.
- They dress properly and safely. For soccer for example, they wear indoor shoes for indoors, outdoor shoes for outdoors, shin pads, long soccer socks, soccer shorts and tee-shirts or soccer jerseys. They don’t wear rings, chains or any other unsafe objects that can hurt themselves or their teammates or opponents.
- They respect the referee or game organizer no matter what decision they take.
- They respect all their team-mates and opponents.
- They don’t argue with the referees and they don’t argue or complain about the rules of the game.
- They play hard, but aren’t too aggressive, especially when they are facing slower or weaker opponents.
- They stop the action whenever a player is down. They help team-mates who are down injured.
- They don’t dismiss or talk down to players who are not playing well, they encourage them instead.
- They call their own fouls and don’t waste time arguing about a call.
- They applaud great play or great goal even if it is scored against them.
- They control their temper, They don’t use “F” word or any other derogatory word; they are respectful towards everybody involved in the game.
- They don’t insult anybody and never start a fight no matter what.
- They always make sure that everyone is ok after a contact.
- They play with the mercy rule in mind: If their opponent is too weak, they are not going to keep scoring for the sake of scoring. They will slow down and even let their opponent scores some goals on them to try to balance the game.
- They are always positive, always smiling whenever they play well or not, and they don’t take themselves too seriously in a good way.
I have also noticed that people who are competitive and follow the check list above when they play sports are most of the time very successful and live a very peaceful and happy life.
In Soccer or European football, the offside rule is one of the hot button issue during games. A game can be decided by that rule if it is not correctly applied.
Let’s start by explaining that rule: A player is in an offside position if he is closer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last defender (which is usually the last outfield player), but only if the player is on his opponent’s half of the pitch. “Offside position” is a matter of fact, whereas committing an “offside offence” occurs when a player is “actively involved” and is subject to the interpretation of the referee. Goals scored after committing an offside offence are nullified if caught by the referee.
As you can see from that definition above, that rule is not simplistic and even the top rated referees get it wrong sometimes. The question is : Is it really necessary to have the offside rule? Who needs the offside rule? IS the game more or less fun without the offside rule?
In professional soccer, that rule is part of the DNA of the game. Its existence is not debatable, but is it really necessary to have it in amateur soccer ?
I’ll say no. As an amateur soccer league player, owner and as a former soccer referee, I have noticed that the offside rule creates nothing but troubles. The game is constantly interrupted because of bickering about the call or non call of offside. Referees are abused whether they call it or not. Players engage in fights and insults because of that rule and at the end of the day it makes the game less fun. There are fewer goals scored when that rule is strictly applied.
Amateur soccer is supposed to be fun and that rule takes that away.
After cancelling the offside rule in my amateur soccer league, our games became so much fun. Players score more goals and enjoy the games more. All the bickering and fights and referee abuses have stopped.
To conclude, I think amateur soccer leagues don’t need the offside rule. Professional soccer leagues can keep using that rule but it must be enforced with video replay to help the referees call it correctly.
Who are the best fans?
If you have ever played, coached, refereed or attended a youth soccer or hockey game, you have probably noticed that the majority of spectators are moms and dads. They are always there to support their kids, no matter how busy they are, no matter how cold or hot the weather is. They come to practices and even team meetings.
When you watch professional games on TV or from the stadium, you see a lot of young people in their 20′s and 30′s in the stands. They provide the energy, the noise, the cheers, the boos. They are the fans, the heart and soul of those games.
The question is who are the best fans? What is the difference between Soccer Moms, Hockey Moms and the young sport fans? What do they have in common?
- Knowledge of the game :
Most of the time, Soccer and Hockey moms just cheer for their kid’s team no matter what. They don’t always know all the rules and don’t compile stats like young sport fans.
Advantage: Sport fans.
Soccer and Hockey moms always attend the game whether their kids are playing well or not. They always support their kid’s team whether they are winning or not. Sport fans sometimes boos their own teams or don’t show up at the games when their teams are not playing well or when they are losing consistently.
Advantage: Soccer and Hockey Moms.
- Emotional attachment:
Soccer and Hockey mom go through fear and pride when they watch their son or daughter play. When the kids are hurts, they jump immediately on the field and you can feel the emotion they are going through. They are worried only about their child safety. Sport fans worry a lot more about their team losing when a best player is injured.
Advantage: Soccer and Hockey moms.
- Who cares more:
Soccer and Hockey moms care for their kids happiness. If they win, they will be happy for them. If they loose, they will be sad to see their son sad. Sport fans care about the game. Their pride is hurt when their team loose. They are not worried about the players being sad, but for their teams and players they identify with.
Advantage: Sport Fans
Soccer Moms, Hockey Moms, Parents and Young Sport Fans are all very important for Sports. They humanize and contribute financially the most to keep the sports alive.
Soccer and Hockey are both great team sports and we sometimes face a dilemma when it is time to encourage our kids to choose between those 2 sports. Below are a set of facts and perceptions about those 2 excellent sports:
Soccer is far more popular than hockey and is played all over the world. Hockey is popular only in Nordic and cold countries like Canada, Russia, Finland,… Advantage Soccer.
Mandatory Hockey equipment are very expensive (skates, sticks, puck, protective gear,…). Joining a hockey team is also very expensive compared to joining a soccer team. Ice Hockey fields are far more expensive to rent compare to outdoor soccer field that are almost free. Advantage Soccer.
Soccer requires players to have a lot of body strength and high levels of fitness because a soccer game entails many kilometers of running around the field. Hockey requires higher levels of complete athleticism, which is a combination of skating stamina and body strength, enabling players to hit their opponents on to the side boards.
- Objective: The essence of the game in both soccer and hockey is basically the same: to score, albeit using different objects. In soccer, players will try to score as many goals as possible by putting the ball behind the opponent’s goal post which is guarded by a net, while in hockey a puck is shot towards a smaller goal of the opponent. Game progression also differs greatly. In soccer, a player uses his feet to move the ball forward towards opponent’s goal, making passes to teammates to maintain ball possession. Also, a player can dribble when he goes past opponents, although this requires a lot of personal skill. In hockey , however, progression is made by skating and a hockey stick is used to pass the puck to other teammates during play. The passing and shooting here happens at great speeds of the puck so the goal keeper requires great levels of concentration to stop it.
- Playing Fields: Hockey is played on a not so usual surface of ice called a skating rink, and that is why it is mainly popular in those regions that are sufficiently cold for natural ice cover that can last a whole season. However, artificial ice rinks have made it possible for indoor games year round. Soccer on the other hand is played on a soccer pitch (field of play), which is essentially a rectangular field covered with leveled grass or an artificial turf.
On a statistical perspective, there are more injuries (Concussions) in Hockey compared to Soccer. Fighting and Pushing players on the wall is acceptable in Hockey and this results in many concussions that can have a long term impact on players health. Most soccer injuries are reduced to knee, ankle, hamstring and usually have no long term effect on player’s health. Advantage: Soccer
What to Choose:
At the end of the day, we excel in a sport that we enjoy more. It is always about the love of the game. We should expose the kids at an early age to different sports and they will always gave us signal about their favorite sport.
Read more: Difference Between Soccer and Hockey | Soccer vs Hockey
One of the most important goal of amateur team sports is to get non professionals to play their favorite sport in organized leagues. That goal is achieved only when the players can exercise, have fun and enjoy the games safely.
To get there, amateur sport leagues are organized by level of play and/or by age group. In each division, we usually have men leagues and women leagues, but there are more and more Co-ed leagues that are created mainly in adult divisions and more and more players are attracted to that type of game.
In Coed leagues, it is mandatory for each team to have on the field a minimum number of players of the opposite sex at all time during the game.
Here are the Pros of Co-ed team sports:
- Players behave more responsibly when they play with or against the opposite sex. Most Co-ed leagues are recreational and this obliges most players to be far less aggressive than if they were playing with players of the same sex.
- There are generally less injuries in Co-ed games compared to same sex games, because stronger players usually slow down unconsciously or not when they face players from the opposite sex.
- Co-ed leagues are very social because they represent both sexes and are more representative of the society.
- Most players who have partners from the opposite sex can sign up together and enjoy the game as a couple by playing in the same co-ed team.
- The speed of the game is always acceptable and enjoyable : At the same skill level, Co-ed games are slower than men games and faster that women games.
- Co-ed games bring up the best side of players from both sexes: There are less complains, almost no trash talk and very few fights compared to men only games or women only games.
- Co-Ed games cultivate more patience from men and help women improve their skills and strength because men are generally faster and stronger players than women in team sports.
- Players are always excited about the opportunity to meet and socialize with other players from the opposite sex and it gives them another reason to go out and play and behave responsibly.
Despite all the the nice things said above, Co-ed games also have some disadvantages. Here are the cons of Co-ed games:
- Some teams have a hard time finding the required number of players from the opposite sex to be on the field and end up loosing the game by default because of that.
- When Co-ed teams don’t have enough players of a specific sex to rotate from, the few players available are obliged to play a lot and are sometimes very tired by the end of the game and the team in question suffers from that.
- Most men who are usually faster and stronger than women can be frustrated to slow down when they face women and end up not enjoying and expressing themselves fully.
- Some women can be frustrated for not being taken seriously during the game by some men who are afraid to hurt them or overpower them.
- The fact that Co-ed players try to be gentle to each other can affect the game in a negative way and some players might end up not enjoying the game as they would love to.
- Injuries that occur between weaker and stronger players from opposite sex can be dangerous.
- The potential attraction from players of opposite sex can sometimes create conflicts and jealousy from other players that can affect the game negatively.
In conclusion, I think that Co-ed games have more positives than negatives , but i will recommend it mostly for mature and older players, because they are very likely to be able to control themselves and be patient enough for that type of game.
Here are some resources about Co-ed vs Non Co-ed games:
1) Women’s soccer vs Co-ed soccer
The conventional wisdom tells us that a team sport’s game requires 2 teams playing against each other in a certain amount of time. This has been going on for years and it is the obvious way of playing and determining a winner for a game.
In amateur sport, playing a game with only 2 teams has a lot of flaws:
- Some players have more playing times than others who stay on the bench.
- The games have a lot of boring sequences especially when both teams are tired.
- Players get complacent because they know that they have enough time to make up for their mistake or their lack of efforts.
- Weaker teams are easily embarrassed by lopsided scores.
- The winner of the game is known relatively to one opponent team only.
There is an alternative to that conventional game’s system and it consists of playing a game with 3 teams.
That game’s type is usually played in non organized pick up games when there are not enough fields to organize multiple games at the same time.
ShowUpAndPlaySoccer has adopted the system of playing a game with 3 teams in their Drop in Soccer league and it is a huge success.
3 teams of 5, 6 or 7 players each rotate every 10 minutes and the winner of each sequence stays on the field for a maximum of 3 sequences in a row. In case of a tie, the most recent team on the field stays on the field. In case of a tie in the first sequence, a coin toss or gentleman agreement is used to determine which team leaves the field.
There are multiple advantages of playing this type of game:
- A single game can be played with more players than a 2 team’s game. This is a financial boost for amateurs teams, because with more players in the same game, the fees per player can be reduced considerably.
- The game is more competitive because if your team wins, you are rewarded by staying on the field and if you loose, you get out.
- Each team has 10 minutes to give its best and win and have a shot to play another team in the same game.
- After a loss, you have 10 minutes to regroup with your teammates, get some rest and come back better prepared for the next sequence.
- The entire game is never boring because there is always a new fresh team team on the field that wants to win and send their opponent out.
- When your team is out, you have time to talk to your teammate and get to know them better.
- This type of game eliminates the bench that usually frustrates a lot of players.
- If your team plays well and wins, you are rewarded with more playing time.
There is a real possibility that this type of game will be implemented in professional leagues because of the financial advantages and mostly because the game will be more competitive and more interesting.
Playing indoors sounds easy in theory because we don’t have to worry about the wind, the rain, the cold, the snow and the unexpected weather.
In Canada and in some parts of USA where it is snowing from November to March, you don’t have any other choice than to play indoors during that part of the year. Many players who like the outdoors just sit out during the winter or turn to other appropriate outdoor sports like ski.
In addition to the advantages of not worrying about the weather, there are other motivations of playing team sports indoors:
- The fields are usually smaller than outdoor fields and most of the time are cleaner, flat, and we don’t have to worry about the uneven and flawed characteristics of some outdoor fields (bumps, uneven grass, stones and dangerous objects on field, water poodle,..).
- The games are faster and more fun because we play with walls and the ball barely goes out of bounds.
- Most Indoor fields have score boards and we try harder when we are reminded that we are loosing.
- The crowd is close to the field and it creates a very fun atmosphere.
- Indoor fields are more appropriate for technical players because they can control the ball and their movement faster and with ease because the fields are flat and the turfs fields are very comfortable.
- We exercise more when we play indoors because we are always running and the games get rarely interrupted.
Despite all those assets of playing indoors, we sometimes forget that playing in a controlled environment that offers a complete protection for unexpected weather can be a problem itself.
The temperature in the arena, the condensation, the air volume, the size of the crowd, the nature of the the turf or floor affects the game in a major way.
There are also a lot of disadvantages of playing indoors:
- We play in an artificial environment (temperature, no wind, no sunshine,….) that is completely different with the natural settings of outdoor sports.
- You are limited in your freedom of kicking the ball and running because the indoor fields have walls and roofs and they are sometimes too close to the field.
- The walls around the field affect the game in a major way and can be a disappointment for purists who like playing the game in their natural settings.
- Playing indoors is very often more expensive than playing outdoors because indoor fields are very expensive to rent compared to outdoor fields that are almost free.
- The are always fewer and less available indoor arenas and most of the time you have to travel very far and very late to have the chance to play indoor sports.
- Indoor team sports injuries can be very dangerous especially when you get pushed on the wall by reckless players.
In conclusion, I think that at the end of the day, the weather dictates our choice and based on where you live , you can play indoors during the winter and play outdoors during the other seasons.
Keeping the score when playing team sport is a natural thing to do, but more and more youth leagues are starting to throw the idea of playing without keeping the score.
There are pros and cons of that notion and I’ll list them below.
Pros of Keeping the Score:
- We play to win and keeping the score is the only way to determine the winner.
- Knowing the score makes us play and try harder, therefore helps us improve.
- The games are more interesting and more competitive.
- Players improve their competitive spirit.
- It feels good and it is exciting to score and to win a game.
Cons of Keeping the score:
- Kids don’t learn the fundamentals of the game because all they think about is to score goals.
- Lopsided scores are humiliating for the loosing team and there is no fun playing when you are loosing.
- Kids loose their self confidence when they play in teams that are always loosing.
- Playing itself is a win and we don’t need the score to validate that.
- Keeping the score makes the games very competitive and players are more likely to be injured.
What to do: Based on my experience playing soccer and basket ball, I have noticed that the games are more fun when we keep the score or at least when we know who is winning. It is the ultimate drive to play harder. Even when we play drop in games , the intensity of the game goes up whenever someone reminds us the score.
For kids under 10, not keeping the score can be a good idea to help them focus on learning to play. Scoreless soccer for kids is already considered in Calgary and you can click here to read this article at CBC to learn more about it.
An alternative of not keeping the score at all for some soccer leagues is to reset it or stop counting the goals when there is more than 10 goals difference.
When it comes to playing our favorite team sport, the first thing that usually comes to our mind is to register for a team and play in a local league.
In theory, it sounds very easy to do, but in practice it is not that easy and before registering or signing up for a team, you need to consider certain relevant factors and make sure that you will get the most and be able to afford and enjoy the games.
I have played soccer and basket ball with teams in local leagues for more than 10 years and I have also been playing and organizing drop in games in the past 3 years.
I have learned and gathered enough data and information about those 2 different game types and I will outline their pros and cons in the following lines.
Below are the advantages of playing for a team in a regular non pick up league:
- You play in a real team in a league that has referees, that keeps the score of games with fixtures and rankings .
- You play with the same group of people and you get to know them better and sometime become friends.
- You travel around your city or state to play against different teams in your league.
- You have a long term objective for your team and you try to work as a team to achieve it.
- You have a team color to defend and a great motivation to play to win something.
- The leagues are organized by divisions (from lower to major ) and you can stick to the adequate division that matches your skill to avoid being embarrassed when you play against stronger teams.
- You have the chance to travel with your team and play exciting tournaments and win trophies.
As cool as it may sound, there are a lot of things and factors that can alter the advantages of playing in a non pick up league and give you a very bad experience.
- To play for a team in a non pick up league, you need to find a team first and sometimes you end up with a group of people who behave a certain way that is very different with your values and you are stuck with them for the season after paying your fees.
- A lot of teams advertise open spots on their roster, but they never tell you your responsibilities and duties until you are selected to play. Sometimes, they let you bond well with the team and even let you play a couple of games before telling you that you need to pay your fees that sometimes average 300$ per season (18 to 20 games in average).
- Some games are played very late at night or very far and sometimes your work, school or family duties don’t allow you to play those games, but you still need to pay for them.
- A lot of teams are sometimes created, led or taken over by a couple of good friends and that circle of friends sometimes try to make sure that they always play and give other players (mostly new or non popular players) very few playing time. It is very frustrating to pay the same fees as everybody else and stay on the bench most of the time.
- In addition to paying your season fees, most teams participate in different cups and tournaments during the season and you need to pay for those extra games. Most of the time, you are not aware of that when you sign up for a team and it can be very expensive and time consuming down the road.
- A lot of teams have at least 1 practice session per week and you need to attend those practices to have the chance to play. If you don’t have time to practice, you won’t play and will end up being frustrated for paying for the season and not playing.
- If you pay for the season and for whatever reason you are unable to attend practices or games, you will very likely not get refunded.
- Some team’s coaches are very strict and create a boring atmosphere by always substituting a player whenever he attempts to dribble or try a fancy trick. If you like having fun on the field by trying tricks , you will be sent to the bench very often and you won’t enjoy the games.
Drop in game or drop in leagues are the answers for those who want to avoid the drawbacks of playing for teams in non pick up league.
The main advantages of playing drop in sports are:
- You play only when you feel like it and you pay exactly for what you play.
- There are no practices and you just go and play whenever you want and when the games are scheduled.
- You meet new players and play with different people all the time and it is very exciting.
- Most of the time, the games and field locations don’t change very often and you can adapt your schedule to attend the games very easily.
- Playing drop in games are a lot cheaper than playing for a team in a non pick up league. The average fee per game is 5$ per drop in game and you pay only for the games that you play. You spend in average 100$ for 20 games compared to 300$ for a 20 games season when you play for a team in a non pick up league.
- Playing drop in games allows you to try tricks and take risks because it is an open game and there is no big pressure to win the game.
- You can invite friends to play with you in drop in games and have a lot of fun with your buddies.
Below are some inconvenient for opting to play drop in games:
- Drop in games are not always available. A quick Google search proves how hard it is to find a reliable drop in or pick up league in your city. I have created a databases of drop in games and league in North America to help solving that problem. (See http://www.djamga.com/pick-up)
- Most drop in games are not well organized and sometimes you get to the field and few people show up.
- The lack of team leaders or captains can give a bad impression that there is no game plan and that anyone can do whatever he wants.
- There can be a huge skill gap between players of drop in games because it is usually open to anyone who wants to play.
Having played in both drop in and not drop in leagues, I came to the conclusion that you need to choose your sport league type based on your availabilities, your age and your budget.
- I recommend young players and minors to play mostly in organized non drop in leagues to work on their skill, their knowledge of the game and their competitive spirit.
- For students and adults under 25, if your budget allows, you will be better served by playing in a non drop in league to take full advantage of your strengths and be competitive.
- For adult over 25 and professionals, the best option is to play in organized drop in or pick up league to have more fun, build your network and choose to play only in certain games based on your availabilities.