April 20, 2012
Mia Hamm's advice for girls, parents and coaches

American sports icon Mia Hamm debuted for the U.S. national team at age 15 in 1987. She helped the USA to two World Cup and two Olympic titles. The 158 national team goals she scored before retiring in 2004 remain a world record. We asked Hamm to reflect on her early years and offer advice for coaches, parents and young players.

Interview by Mike Woitalla (from Soccer America's Youth Soccer Insider)


December 05, 2007
'Artistry and Potential'

"At a youth soccer game you'll probably hear parents and coaches on the sidelines yelling, 'Pass the ball! Pass the ball!' ... When we continually tell our young players to pass the ball, we're not allowing them to develop their full potential, especially those who have the ability to take their opponents on and beat them one-on-one. As a result, we run the risk of diminishing a player's artistry and potential."

-- Tony DiCicco, who coached the U.S. women's national team to the 1996 Olympic Gold Medal and the 1999 Women's World Cup title. (from "Catch Them Being Good: Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Coach Girls.")

October 31, 2007

"Why are exceptional dribblers a rare commodity at the higher levels? Probably because players are so often discouraged from dribbling in their early years, which is like telling toddlers to shut up when they're learning to speak."

-- MW

October 29, 2007
Freedom of the Game

"Here in the United States, more kids than any other country in the world are playing soccer. In my opinion, they play soccer because of the freedom of the game, because they feel freedom to be creative on the field. They can express themselves on the field and freedom is something the kids love. We have to take advantage of that, and guide them to use that freedom in the best way."

-- New U.S. U-17 boys national team coach Wilmer Cabrera, the former Colombian World Cup veteran who moved to New York four years ago.


Cabrera becomes the first Hispanic head coach of a male U.S. national team at any age level.

Click HERE for quotes from U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati and Cabrera from the press conference announcing his hiring.

September 17, 2007
WORDS OF WISDOM: Rinus Michels

"Good coaches use the basic criteria of street soccer for their vision of grassroots development; they realize that these elements produce a natural process that gives the most efficient training for young kids."

-- Rinus Michels, who coached the "total soccer" Dutch national team of the early 1970s.

August 22, 2007
The Game is the Best Coach Dept.

"I am grateful to my father for all the coaching that he did not give me."

-- Ferenc Puskas, legendary Hungary and Real Madrid forward.

May 18, 2007
WORDS OF WIDSOM: Manny Schellscheidt

"The game is the best teacher. The coach is really a substitute voice. We want the players to hear the silent voice, the game. The game is actually talking to you."

-- Manny Schellscheidt, head of U.S. Soccer's U-14 Development Program.

April 17, 2007

''Too often in this country, youth coaches sacrifice learning skills for winning games. Often coaches won't let players take chances by passing the ball around a lot. The quicker you get the ball forward, the less likely it is that it will be stolen and lead to a quick counterattack. While valid, this shortsighted philosophy can be counterproductive to developing athletes who can play the game with the same grace, skill, and power that has come to typify the U.S. women's national team.''

-- Mia Hamm ("Go For the Goal: A Champion's Guide To Winning In Soccer And Life")

March 26, 2007
Words of Wisdom: Landon Donovan

''It's amazing to me that people put so much emphasis on trying to be tactical and worry about winning when it doesn't matter when you're 12 years old. It's sad. That's something that's going to have to change if we want soccer in this country to develop.''

-- Landon Donovan

March 23, 2007
Words of Wisdom: Bob Jenkins

''If you want your 8-year-olds to win tomorrow, you're going to address that group differently than if you say, 'I want my 8-year-old to win when he's 18 years old.'''

-- Bob Jenkins, U.S. Soccer's Director of Coaching Education.

March 19, 2007
Words of Wisdom: Freddy Adu

"In America, coaches take the fun out of the game for kids. They do. They coach them to play one touch, two touch. It takes the fun out of it and the kids aren't creative. It's no fun when you're not creative and when you're not expressing yourself out on the field. I think coaches should do a better job. [Players] need to express themselves and enjoy the game. That's what happened to me. I enjoyed myself. As time goes on, as you get older, you start to learn to play with your team and working within a team, knowing when to dribble and when not to dribble. This stuff is eventually going to come, as long as you just let kids enjoy themselves."

-- Freddy Adu

March 18, 2007
Words of Wisdom: John Hackworth

''The emphasis on winning is a detriment to young players because it prevents us from developing technically proficient players. And we're not giving them the ability to make decisions. You can't find a youth soccer game where the coaches aren't screaming the whole time, telling kids what they should do and how they should do it.''

-- U.S. U-17 national team coach John Hackworth.