First, and most important, a league must ‘rent’ fields typically from their city, or through a local school. The league has no control over the fields regarding the field operations. The city/school makes the decision whether to rent/not rent, or have the field to be open, or closed. If a decision to close a field has to be considered, the decision may be delayed until shortly before the usage date, to ensure that there is a need to close a field. Some decisions may be made earlier, from what appears to be a formidable weather forecast.
A common question can arise, when it comes to rain and field closures. A party may state ‘the weather is so nice now, why are the fields still closed?’ There are several items that factor into a decision to close a field. Some of these factors are:
· The predicted upcoming weather
· The type of grass
· The composition of the soil
· The slope, or lack of a slope, of the field, for determining how quickly the field will drain and dry
We will use Burmuda grass as an example of the grass type, which is in a good soil composition, with good drainage capabilities.
Bermudagrass forms a tight-knit, resilient playing surface with lots of lateral stems (rhizomes and stolons) growing on or near the surface. Bermudagrass wear tolerance is great during the summer and early fal, but it can be easily overused in late fall or early spring when the grass is dormant (brown). If the above-ground foliage is worn off during heavy fall play however, it is not likely to recuperate in the spring.
When you have steady rain for many days in a row, the ground gets very soft and the mud goes deep. It becomes very easy to tear the grass out of the ground in patches, because the ground is so soft. Cleats can do a number on grass, in very soft grass fields.
A field may have been closed to due several days of rain. After the rain ended, it is sunny and bright, for the next two days, but yet the fields still are closed. Many parents and coaches don’t understand why the fields need to be closed when they look dry and it’s been sunny out.
Even if the thin top layer of dirt seems dry from the sun, the inch or so of dirt below it will still be soft. Then it becomes very easy to tear the grass up, and as you’ve all seen in front of the goals (where it just wears down in normal use), once that layer of grass is gone, it takes a lot of time for it to fill back in, especially when the fields are in almost constant use. In very cold weather (below freezing) the field may be closed because if the rhizomes are frozen, simply walking on them can destroy the frozen internal cellular structure and kill the dormant layer. This is also why some areas will not allow you to walk on/play on fields which have frost on the ground. So even without rain, there are times the fields will be closed.
It can seem like dice are being rolled with decisions to open/close the fields. It can pour buckets for half a day, and the fields are open within 24 hours. Some water is on the ground, but the ground is firm. Play on and hope the goalie’s like mud – because their area is already bare. Yet it can moderately rain for a few days in a row, and the fields are closed for a week. We got less rain, but what we did get didn’t just run off, it soaked in deep, loosening the grass. We get rain that starts right before games and we play anyway. Yet it’s sunny and warm out for a few days after an extended rain storm, and the fields are closed.
Seems to not make sense – but hopefully now you see what goes into making these decisions. The cities want to protect the fields so the grass remains thick to endure the constant playing of soccer. As anyone has seen, once the grass is worn down to dirt, it’s very weak and very muddy. It then takes time, money, and total field closure, to get the field back into playing shape.
The cities/leagues appreciate everyone’s concern about missing practices/games, but a few missed practices/games during the fall/winter can mean plusher greener grass later for spring and in the Fall. Everyone wants good fields to play on, there is a price that must be paid to achieve this goal, which requires some degree of scheduling sacrificing. What is available to use in the fall/winter is always controlled by the weather, which no one has control over
Small Sided Games
US Soccer has issued new rules for soccer playing/skill learning for young soccer players. These new rules are designed to ensure that youth players get frequent play on the ball, by having fewer players on the field of play. This ensures that the players are more involved in play. This helps to focus on their soccer playing skills, and their enjoyment of being directly involved in play.
Leagues began implementing these plans as of August, 2016, and the small sided game initiative was fully implemented, in all leagues, at the start of the August, 2017, season. This is part of the US Soccer 'Player Development Iniitatitive'. This is a combination of playing standards/philosophy and a 'Concussion Initiative'.
This new initiative will change the size of the field of play, field design, and half time for U9/U10 age groups. Coaches will have to develop practice session scenarios to match the smaller player numbers on the fields, and field design.
The following video gives a perspective of small sided game play:
It's For Fun!
US Youth Soccer has a wide variety of helpful material for a coach. Select from the followings areas, to find information that you may be interested in. Click on any item, to see what it offers.
Volunteers Are Always Needed And Appreciated!
Jack Smith - District VIII Recreational Committee Member
If you want to have some fun, and enjoy watching players have fun, watch the entry level age group games (U5, U6, etc.). For a new coach, with no experience, this is a great place to start your soccer career. There are minimum expectations, with the greatest emphasis on the players having fun on the field. As a coach progresses through the age groups they are expected to take coaching license classes, which gives the knowledge needed to pass onto players. The lower age groups generally require at least an ‘F’ license. Check with your league for their coach license policy and classes offered.
You can find a league near you by using the new Cal North league search tool. You may find the tool here .
Prevent dehydration - USSF Heat & Hydration Guidelines.
Modified Playing Rules
In the fall of 2017, the US Soccer Player Development Initiative (PDI) went into effect, with mandatory playing rules for all affiliated leagues/clubs/associations. These rules covered play in the U10 and down playing groups.
For the U10 playing group, a new field marking was added for play, named the 'buildout line'. This new line brought an associated group of new rules of play for U10 games:
Recreational Playing League
The basic CYSA Recreational Playing League is classified as a non-competitive playing league within CYSA. This league is comprised of teams that normally play within the boundaries of the league.
3-2-1 Blast Off! CDC’s Injury Center has developed a mobile game app on concussion safety for children aged 6 to 8. Through a futuristic world of galactic racing adventures children can learn the benefits of playing it safe and smart!
The app aims to teach children:
Download the HEADS UP Rocket Blades app at no cost.
Concussion Safety and Rocket Blades
Parents and Coaches: Kids want to hear from parents and coaches about concussion safety.
Rocket Blades Video
Watch this video to learn more about HEADS UP Rocket Blades and how you can get involved!
With a coach license in hand, the next item that you will need to learn about are the league rules regarding age group play, CYSA Modified Rules for U10 play, and the FIFA Laws of the Game. Check with your league for information on these items.
The emphasis for the recreational playing leagues is for fun and ensuring that players get ample opportunity to have field playing time. Some leagues have policies which state that a player must play at least fifty percent (50%) of each game. This policy is totally league driven and league dependent. Players learn soccer skills as they proceed through their age groups
Typically league registrations for play in the fall (play starting typically in August) often take place in the Feb.-April time frame, depending on the league. Some leagues have spring playing leagues and registration for these leagues could start in late December/early January. You would need to check with the league that you are interested in, as for their actual seasonal registration dates. Some leagues have co-ed play and others do not for spring season. Most of the teams for fall play are established by gender, unless it is a small league, where they may combine genders, to insure enough playing teams. Please note, you are not limited to signing up to play in just your city. If there is a league in another city, and you are willing to drive, you may sign-up to play there. This would also mean though that you would have to drive to weekly team practices in that city.