Silent Soccer is an annual West Side Soccer League tradition, one that is also exercised in other leagues in the New York area -- competitive and recreational alike -- as well as across the country. Silent Soccer is one way for the league to encourage parents to let our kids play the game their way rather than the way we want them to play. It's an opportunity for coaches to notice how players learn from each other during the course of a game and appreciate all the subtle ways the game teaches. We expect coaches and parents to let our kids explore their potential by making their own choices on the field instead of being told what to do throughout a game. We want our players to be free to set their own level of competition rather than play to our expectations.
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 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 Weekend 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, and adjust their play.
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.
When Is Silent Soccer Weekend?
Silent Soccer weekend will be held on the third, fifth, and seventh official weekends of West Side Soccer League play.
If WSSL is playing a team outside of our league and the opponent's league or club is hosting Silent Soccer, WSSL parents, coaches and players will comply with the wishes of the other team/league/club to practice Silent Soccer.
Should Players and Referees be Silent also?
Players on the field should continue to work as a team, and that includes calling to each other. Players on the subs bench can also cheer on their team but not relay instructions from the coach. Referees should use whatever communication is necessary to manage the game to make it Safe, Fun and Fair.
If you have any questions about Silent Soccer, or would like to propose changes to WSSL policies then please contact the Commissioner.