Back to Back Issues Page
Soccer Parents KICK, October 2003 -- Preventing Bunching
September 30, 2003

Soccer season continues at a frantic pace.

The weather was great in Arkansas last weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed the three games I got to referee and the one game I coached.

I have selected a drill on bunching for this newsletter because I know that is a common problem and one that is hard to handle. I hope this helps you out.

As always, email me if you have a content suggestion for an upcoming newsletter.

Table of Contents

1. World Cup Schedule
2. Laws of The Game Ė Dissent
3. Preventing Bunching
4. Clueless Parents

1. World Cup Schedule

Oct. 1 Quarterfinal 1: Brazil vs Sweden Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.) 4:30 p.m. ET ESPN2
Oct. 1 Quarterfinal 2: USA vs Norway Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.) 7:25 p.m. ET ESPN2
Oct. 1 Quarterfinal (Rebroadcast, TBD) Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.) 9:55 p.m. ET ESPN2
Oct. 2 Quarterfinal 3: Germany vs Russia PGE Park (Portland, Ore.) 7:25 p.m. ET ESPN2
Oct. 2 Quarterfinal 4: China vs Canada PGE Park (Portland, Ore.) 10:25 p.m. ET ESPN2
Oct. 5 Semifinal: Q1 vs. Q3 PGE Park (Portland, Ore.) 7:30 p.m. ET ESPN2
Oct. 5 Semifinal: Q2 vs. Q4 PGE Park (Portland, Ore.) 10:30 p.m. ET ESPN2
Oct. 6 Semifinal (Rebroadcast, TBD) PGE Park (Portland, Ore.) 1:00 a.m. ET ESPN2
Oct. 11 Third Place Match The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.) 3:25 p.m. ET ESPN2
Oct. 12 Final The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.) 12:30 p.m. ET ABC

2. Laws of the Game - Dissent

Dissent is the fancy word used in the FIFA Laws of the Game for arguing with a referee, a.k.a. back-talk or lip.

Dissent is a cautionable (yellow card) offense. Like many rules, it is at the discretion of the referee as to when dissent should be ignored and when it should be confronted.

The USSF Advice to Referees says:

12.29.2 DISSENT. Dissent is committed by words, actions (including gestures), or a combination of the two. The referee should evaluate dissent in terms of content (what exactly is said or done), loudness (the extent to which the dissent can be seen or heard widely), and whether it is clearly directed at an official (including assistant referees and fourth officials).

I had assistant referee duties at a doubleheader this weekend, responsible for the team side of the field. During the first game a player was cautioned for dissent. He loudly argued a handball call. No, it wasnít even in the penalty area.

Between games I overhead one of the coaches lecturing the team on dissent. It was a good presentation and I was impressed that the kids were being taught about authority and how it should be respected.

During the second game a new assistant coach was on the sideline. He took it upon himself to loudly argue and second guess a multitude of calls, many of which he had no way of clearly seeing from the sideline. The center referee had to verbally caution him to settle down. He was a big A$$umer, if you get my drift.

This was a recreational U-12 game.

HELLO! Can we not just let the kids have fun?

I relate this to you for a reason. How do kids learn to dissent? You guessed it - BY EXAMPLE!

OK. Iím not going to preach about respect for authority and how that spills over into other areas of life. Actually I just deleted an entire paragraph I had written on the subject. But I want you to hear this:

Parents and Coaches, consider your words, their consequences, and the eyes watching you the next time you feel obliged to yell at a game.

Hereís an idea - learn the rules yourself. I am now able to offer a two-hour audio download of youth soccer expert Karl Dewazien explaining the Laws of The Game. Check out my review and you will see why I can recommend this without qualification!

3. Preventing Bunching

I have a sneaky suspicion that some of you may be frustrated by the bumblebee formation that many young soccer teams use over and over again. Here is a great game for teaching the kids not to bunch.

Courtesy of

Preventing Bunching

I coached U-8 boys to an undefeated season and difference was that we didn't bunch. Not bunching allowed us to pass. Passing allowed us to control possession. Possession yielded shot opportunities. Shots lead to goals: 39 goals for, 7 goals against. Here's the drill:

Scrimmage using a Dutch 4X4 training method field - 40X30 yds.

Two goals 6-8 feet wide at EACH end set nearer to the side than to each other. Indirectly teaches spatial thinking (very hard to do).

Attackers could look up (new concept for 7 year olds) and make a choice as to which goal to attack, i.e. which goal was most open. Forces defenders to cover an open goal AND a goal that was likely to be attacked. Whenever defenders magnetized to the ball and subsequently got burned when play quickly switched to the more open goal and a goal was easily scored, I would stop and give a 15 second lecture, citing the situation that just occurred, about why its wrong for every defender to race to the ball. The situation was repeated many times before they finally started catching on. When the players start bunching remember to blow the whistle and ask why; before too long. they will scatter as soon as they hear the whistle blow. -- Thanks to: Mike Edwards

More soccer drill resources can be found on the Soccer Drill Page.

4. Clueless Parents

Are you still struggling to learn the game?

Still donít understand the basic rules?

Are you guessing about the proper technique for passing and shooting a soccer ball?

Donít know how to teach the kids to play in different areas of the field?

I have a godsend for you - The Clueless Parents 3-Pack. It will cover all of these basics and much, much more. Do yourself a favor and


Until next time.


Pass It On - Feel free to KICK the newsletter downfield to any friends, parents, or coaches who could use the information.

Back to Back Issues Page