Silent Soccer

NOTE:  The 2019 Silent Soccer is SATURDAY, May 11 - NOT Sunday. 
Sorry for the error.  

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What is Silent Soccer?

Silent Soccer is an annual Arlington Soccer Association tradition, one that is also exercised in other leagues throughout the United States, travel and recreational alike. Silent Soccer is one way for ASA to encourage parents to let the kids play the game their way, rather than the way adults want them to play. We want our coaches and parents to let the players explore their potential by making their own choices on the field, instead of being told what to do throughout a game.

This is our association’s way to try and give the game back to the players, and let them learn how to play a soccer game the way we did when we were kids - without parents dictating every move. This is the essence of a child-centered sports philosophy. The best players in the world affirm that their early "street soccer" experiences were the foundation for becoming highly skilled and inventive players with a real love for the game. While our objective is not necessarily to create world-class players, there are enormous benefits to giving children the opportunity to enjoy exploring the game's possibilities without the distraction of being micro-managed from the sidelines.

The American youth soccer system has recently recognized that over-coaching our young players stifles their creativity and development, which the international soccer community has been telling us for years. Silent Soccer is an opportunity for parents and coaches to learn that youth prefer to be stimulated, rather than instructed. A player's opponent provides all the stimulation they need to develop good soccer instincts, which is further enhanced if the game is structured to be age-appropriate. In such a game, players have many opportunities to make decisions, move the ball, explore their primary roles, adjust their play and, most importantly, make mistakes and learn from them by themselves.

Coaches and parents will always see more than their players do, so it requires patience and self-discipline not to say what you think they should be doing. Let the players play the game their way. They are all doing their best, given their age and experience, and don't need to be urged to play harder or smarter than they already are. Build an appreciation for the patterns you see in their development. Once you do, you will discover many subtle moments to applaud.

What is the role of parents in Silent Soccer?

The parent’s role is easy: bring your child to the field, tell them to have fun, sit in your chair and enjoy a cup of coffee while talking to your friends as the game goes on. Watch the game as an observer, not as a participant. If you see a good goal, or a great dribble, feel free to clap! However, if you see something wrong, take a sip of your coffee and forget about it. Ref makes a bad call? Who cares; time for more coffee.

What is the role of the coaches in Silent Soccer?

Coaches have more to do than the parents, but not by much. Bring your team’s gear, get your team warmed up, help the referee with check-in (if there is one at your age), and tell your players their positions and game strategy. Make sure you manage subs throughout the game and get excited when you see a player do something well that you’ve worked on in practice before. Don’t remind players to spread out; don’t tell when to pass and when to shoot. Pretend that your players know more about the game than you, and you’re watching them learn how to play! When your players come off the field at halftime, talk to them about strategy and changes you’d like to see them implement, have a cheer, and send them out there again.

Will Silent Soccer happen every week?
No. It’s just an official ASA event one time each year (during the spring season). Enjoy your time off while it lasts, coaches and parents, but if you enjoy Silent Soccer, feel free to employ it within your team from here on out!

What is Silent Soccer going to achieve?

For every person, the experience will be different. Some players will love it, while others will hate it. Some coaches and parents will enjoy the day off, while others will turn blue in the face trying to keep from talking. However, the goal is to let the players make their own decisions and see what the outcome of those decisions are. Think of Silent Soccer as a test at school: teachers prepare their students for a test, but during it they don’t give them any answers. It’s up to the kids to show what they have really learned or not. Silent Soccer is the same idea: let’s see if our players can spread out without us constantly reminding them. Can our players shoot on goal without us yelling it out? Are our players actually learning this season, or are they just acting out our commands from the sidelines?

Arlington Soccer would appreciate your feedback after Silent Soccer concludes. Let us know what you think! Was it positive? Did your players enjoy it? Hate it? What can be done to make it better?

As always, thank you for your evolvement and commitment to your child’s youth sport participation. Please remember that Silent Soccer wasn’t created as a response to things coaches and parents are doing poorly, but as a way to combat ever shrinking opportunities for young people to express themselves as children.

Have fun out there!