USSoccer D license feedback

As for your main points, I thought I did them, but I guess I did them wrong. Do you think you could be more specific?

By soccer gear I assume you mean shinguards and socks? I didn’t know I needed to wear them, sorry, I will wear them next time. You wore khacki cargo shorts. Wear soccer gear as a coach. You don’t need shinguards but you do need look like a coach and not a parent
What wasn’t specific enough? How I can get more specific than escorting a player to the correct spot and demonstrating what they should do? You moved players and said cover, balance, support. You never showed them the angle to defend, discussed the amount of pressure, where the cover was or angle to move them and why based on the attacking players. You just repeated 1st defender, cover, and balance through the session and asked them who they are without any technical points.
The final freeze – I know that was on the attacking half, but the other team never got control of the ball near the back four. I kept waiting and it never happened so I worked with what I had. What should I have done differently? Keep waiting? (If I did that I picture you saying something like ‘find the freeze quicker’ or ‘everyone plays defense, even the forwards’ :( ) You need to be patient and stay on topic. Your topic was defending zonally so it needed to be in the defensive third with the defensive line.
Could you explain what you mean by ‘what angle to defend’, please? It could mean several things and I’m not sure how it applies to keeping players in a line/shape. Yes, this is why we asked you to attend the E license course so you would understand the basic concepts that are in the coaching buzz words with a better technical understanding. Angle to defend means which way you are pushing the attacker to go. Are you pushing them to the inside or the outside, right/left, is it a bent run so your teammates know where to cover and balance, is the cover player giving the first defender communication to angle the defense to certain side based on team shape or where the help is. The amount of pressure is it to contain or win the ball, compact as a team. Angle of coverage as the defensive line in the zone, moving as a unit
Same for ‘which way to defend as a unit’. Is this different than teaching pressure, cover, balance, or trying to get them to stay in a line? There is spacing between the line based on the amount of pressure on the ball and where the ball is for the defensive line. If the ball is in the middle, who applies pressure to the ball and what does the rest of the line do to keep shape and be compact. Who steps to the ball on the outside and what angle are they pressuring the player? How does everyone else on the line move to cover and support. Who do they cover? It depends on the position of the attacking team and the situation in the game. You never adjusted based on the attacking team just said “pressure, cover, balance” and moved players to spots but did not discuss where to cover with the attacking player, how close, how to see the ball and the attacker for balance.
5 W’s I’m pretty sure my coaching points answered most ‘W’ questions. Did I need more? Did I do it the wrong way? Was I supposed to be more explicit somehow, maybe ask the question myself, or quiz them?

I’m not trying to give you a hard time. Really, I don’t know what you’re looking for and any specifics you can give me is appreciated else I will end up making the same mistakes. Yes, we recognized this when you attended the D with Rick Ceh and myself. We have asked you to attend the E course because we believed you did not receive the information or did not completely understand it.

Rick Flores will attend the next session with you. Please choose another topic and send the lesson plan to him prior to the coaching session.

Misquoting Jesus and other books (Pat Tillman, World Cup, Writing, The Janus Report)

Completed several books this week:  Misquoting Jesus, Boots on the Ground by Dusk and Where men win glory (War and Pat Tillman), Eight World Cups and The World is a Ball (Soccer), Several Short Sentences About Writing and Bookmark Now, Coaching Youth Football, and something called the Janus report which was not what I thought it would be (it is just a collection of anonymous yes/no surveys about sexual behavior).

Misquoting Jesus is a worthwhile read for anyone who has ever read The Bible.  Not only is it a personal account of one mans spiritual journey that is shared by many Christians today (including myself), it thoroughly yet succinctly details various mistranslations of the Bible and how they happened.  The quality of writing shines.  Highly recommended.  Grade: A+

Where Men Win Glory and Boots on the Ground were about Pat Tillman and ‘friendly fire’ in the Iraq/Afghanistan war.  Boots on the Ground by Dusk was by Pat Tillman’s mother and had an amazingly evocative first chapter or two.  Where Men Win Glory (A line from the Illiad) was by the author of Into Thin Air, the book that took away my desire to ascend the heights of Mt. Everest.  Grades: B+

Pat Tillman.  I had heard about the name way back when but never knew any details.  The authors make some damning revelations – General McCrystal’s memo to Rumsfeld saying “If the story gets out”, Rumsfeld denying getting it; the commander in Afghanistan flying to Iraq for one day, the day of Tillman’s death, and then saying he wasn’t there.  Commanders denying giving orders that their subordinates insisted they did.  Testimony changing after a commander asks the interviewer to ‘step out of the room for a minute’.  The guy who first opened fire on Tillman (Thus causing the rest of his team to follow his lead) getting a field promotion.  The initial investigation disappearing.  The lull in fire where Tillman came out behind the rock (He was screaming how he was on their side), where his own squad resumed firing, killing him.

The craziness that they document is almost beyond belief.  The commander in question assigning himself to lead the investigation.  Another commander calling Tillman “Worm Food” and not investigating because Tillman wasn’t Christian.  Yet another commander surveying the canyon where they got ambushed one day earlier, then ordering Tillman’s squad to travel in daylight and separate the squad, both which were against regulations.  The team leader ultimately got blamed – except he was retired!  Tillman’s diary was burned.  His armor stripped and destroyed despite orders to keep the armor.  Hospital records saying they ‘attempted CPR’ when Tillman was missing most of his head.  Dates changed, memos redacted, reports lost – It’s a mass of incompetence.  Those who say it’s a conspiracy are wrong – conspiracies are organized.

The books also have some non-Pat Tillman stuff.  Did you know the first US Soldier’s deaths of the Afghanistan war were self-inflicted?  Someone called in an air strike, but instead of dictating the enemy coordinates, he instead misread his instruments and reported his own GPS location.  It also injured the Afghani we were planning to put in charge of Afghanistan.  Oops.

Oh and Jessica Lynch, supposedly captured by the enemy, turns out the ‘enemy’ was actually trying to save her.  Her injuries were from a car crash, not from enemy fire.  She wasn’t in prison, she was in a hospital.  The Iraqis tried to drive her to an American base but were fired on at the gate.  A thousand troops were assembled to ‘save’ Lynch, instead they just marched into the hospital, took her out easily, and ignored the four other American ‘captives’ because they weren’t cute 19-year-old blond females.
I didn’t know any of that.  I thought she really was captured.  Now I know better.  It’s depressing how badly the media screws things up, reporting the first thing they hear from someone who couldn’t know the facts.

The other books were meh.  The soccer related ones were okay – well written, occasionally humorous, but mostly describing soccer games that happened long ago, which just doesn’t work well on paper.  I miss the World Cup.  Bookmark Now was a bunch of clever short stories about writing by writers.  Several Short Sentences About Writing I had already read years ago and forgotten I had read it.  It’s kind of a stream-of-consciousness thing about the mystery of self-expression.  It reminds me of Pascal’s PensesTeaching youth football was about American football and was full of jargon and code words I didn’t understand (I was hoping to study other sports’ tactics for my book).  And the Janus Report, well, the only thing I remember that stands out was that over 20% of men say they have ‘had a homosexual experience’, whatever that means (it was never defined).  I find that hard to believe, which is why I remember it.
Grade: Four Sandwiches.

Fail, USSoccer, Fail.

Right away let me say “Go team USA!”  They just played a superior game against Portugal to tie 2-2.

A few hours ago I got back from the “D” license course for soccer coaches in Arlington Heights.  I had a horrible experience last time, failed, and vowed to not return but supposedly “everything changed” in 2013, that it was now more professional and standardized, and so I decided to give it another try.  The actual test is next month but I figured I could use a refresher so I showed up, unannounced, at an earlier session (which was today – the US Soccer website says players who sign up for the test are encouraged to attend the instruction session).

Once again, I asked ‘what activity should I coach for my topic’, once again I was was told it’s not important, they don’t care, that “It’s not what you coach – we judge you on ‘how’ you coach”, once again I copied the activity the instructor used on a previous day, once again it was my lesson plan they criticized (as opposed to how I coached it) and told me it was not an appropriate choice of activity, and once again I failed.  They even told me not to show up for the next session, that I needed to start over with the E license.

I sort of saw it coming.  I’m getting used to recognizing the lack of smiles/nods, blank stares, and not answering my questions as asked.  So this time I corralled the instructors (both of them!) after the course and made a point of asking “why?”
The conversation went like this:

Me:  “So what is wrong with my lesson plan?”
Instructor:  “This activity is not a good choice to use.”
“Ok….  Why?”
“It’s not a realistic situation.”
(Pause as I reflect on the irony.)
“Do you agree?  This is not what happens in the game?”
“Yeah, but then neither is any of the drills anyone did.”
“It’s not active enough.  Too much standing around.”  (No its not, and even if it is I just make the field or groups smaller.)
“It does everything you said I needed!  Exactly!”  (Yesterday he gave me a list after I kept pushing on the ‘how do I know what an activity needs.’  Answer: Provides a way to score, to win, goals, pressure, direction, and includes the topic.)”
“I just don’t think you get the philosophy US Soccer is trying to teach.”
“What!?  Are there specific criteria or not?”
“You should take the ‘E’ course again.  We have one in a month -”
“Wait, that’s a ‘technical’ course, like how to kick a ball and stuff.”
“Yes, but that’s where we introduce lesson plans.”
“I can understand you not liking this choice of activity here on this page, but now you’re making it sound like I don’t know how to do a lesson plan.”
“You need to keep an open mind here.”
“I’m trying!  But what is wrong with this activity?”
“These are just suggestions.  We’re just saying this is what you need to succeed.  We want you to succeed too.”
(Recognizing a cop-out when I see one) “You’re the boss.”
(Other instructor visibly bites tongue.  She recognized the insinuation of personal bias and is thinking “It is not us, its USSoccer.”  Both say nothing.)
(Sigh)  “Thank you for your feedback.”

And I vowed not to argue this time!  ARG!  Next try I’m going to be completely silent.  Not a peep.  Complete mute until they say its my turn.  Nothing.  Zip.  Of course, that means I will have to try not to listen, since this time my first argument came after the statement “Attackers are usually numbers-up in a real game.”  I couldn’t help it – a “What?!” burst out of my mouth.  I swear I won’t ask a single question next time.

I already signed up and paid for the official test in a month.  But they advised me to not even attend since they “know I will fail”.  What does that mean, I “Don’t get the philosophy??”  They make it sound like a religion or something!  Since when is belief required to pass a test?  So frustrated here.

You fail, US Soccer.  Fail.

I need an agent!

I need to find an agent!  This book writing thing keeps getting more and more complicated.


Here’s my query letter.  What do you think?


My proposed book is a non-fiction, self-help or reference book intended for the average soccer player or coach. It will consist of short, easily digestible lessons written in second person with the occasional light-hearted anecdote, which is the style of the book Soccer IQ. Soccer IQ was, according to the author, the number five best-selling book on (I don’t know how to verify book sales numbers). But whereas Soccer IQ was short and unorganized, my book will be more comprehensive and organized by topic. My working title is Winning Soccer.I’m aiming for 70,000 words.

My book is aimed at the average player or coach, meaning the non-professional adult player or youth coach. Apart from Soccer IQ, I cannot find any other books that fall into this category. Most soccer books seem to be either for the complete beginner, or are fan-based, meaning they focus on a particular team or professional athlete. I’m hoping to fill a much-needed gap.

My book might also serve as a textbook for soccer camps or soccer licensing clinics. It would need diagrams and references, but the material is there. Currently the book used in U.S. Youth Soccer federation licensing/certification courses (which everyone is forced to buy) is a Dutch-written book titled coaching soccer, which for whatever reason is so disorganized, inane and at times just plain wrong as to be unreadable and at times incomprehensible. I’m certain my book will be better than Coaching Soccer.

In America, the sport of soccer is growing rapidly and will someday reach the level of enthusiasm and professionalism as the rest of the world. Right now it’s in its infancy. This may be over-ambitious, but I see no reason why my book couldn’t be “the” definitive book for coaching and learning soccer in America.


Thank you for your consideration,

John Dax Ktejik

Review of Les Miserables, the movie

Happy mothers day.

I finished reading Les Miserables the other day, and just finished watching the movie.  I had not seen it before.  I was pretty disappointed.  It was modeled after the musical, not the book.  Meaning little dialogue, and song after song after song.  What dialogue there was, they sung!  It was pretty painful to watch.  Couldn’t they have tweaked the dialogue to make it rhyme?  They tried, I think, a little, but it didn’t work.  They really needed to just speak the dialogue without trying to sing it.

The only actor that made the sung dialogue work was Sacha Baren Cohen.  He rocked. That sort of crazy mischievous character is perfect for him.  His wife, Helena Carter, also did a fine job playing off each other.  The song “Master of the house” was as good as, if not better, than the actual broadway musical.  Every other actor and song was meh.

Anne Hathaway did not do the weak damsel very well, imho.  Her teeth were too white.  Her last role was Catwoman and she kicked ass there and it was tough to not see her as a superhero.  After I realized the main character, jean valjean was played by Hugh Jackman aka The Wolverine, I had a hard time concentrating when he sung.  I just kept waiting for titanium blades to shoot out of his body.  Russell crowe with his sympathetic eyebrows made a pretty poor Inspector Javier.  His suicide at the end of the movie didn’t work, not after they had him standing on top of the city singing to the stars.  I think he should have played the main role of Valjean.   Marius and Cosette were also poorly cast.  I thought for ten minutes the blond companion of Marius, I forget his name, was Marius.  That is how he looked in the book, and his character as a determined, slightly tragic lawyer, fit the blond guy’s character.  Instead we had this young freckled-faced smiley guy.  I didn’t like him.  And amanda seyfried as Cosette, while not a bad choice, didn’t quite work.  She is supposed to be playing a 15 year old!  Instead she looked older than Marius.

The directing was pretty bad.  Besides making Jean Valjean actually look younger as the movie went on, the camera work was boring.  Just a closeup of the actors face as they sung.  I heard this was one of the very few television musicals where they did not dub over their voices – what you saw was what you heard.  Consequently, the director didn’t want to miss a word that came out of their mouth.  No cutting, no camera pans or zooms – Sound of Music this wasn’t.  Also the actors just stood there as they sung.  Give them some props or something, jeez.  it was almost boring.

And for my last complaint, the magic that made the musical what it was, the big death scene on the barracade, was all wrong.  They were supposed to die singing, waving flags, no cannons, no blood, no explosions, no special effects.  Instead they sung their song, then they all ran inside the building and hatcheted up the stairway and got hunted down in groups.  No singing, no flag waving, just background music and cuts to Valjean getting into the sewers.

On the upside, I thought the sewers were very realistic.  In the book they came across as kind of clean, and I never could picture what a quagmire looked like.  But the movie made that clear.  It was also the only point in the movie where I thought they weren’t trying to make the actors look ‘pretty’, which was good.

Grade:  C+

How to sound authoritative

I started my soccer book. I wrote an outline and tried to go point by point but in the end just rambled. Its up to 8,700 words. I’m having a crisis of respectability. I keep trying to explain my statements and using analogies and anecdotes from coaching, and I invariably mention kids… it sounds like my advice only applies to coaching kids. I have no professional coaching or playing experience. Where are my credentials? Why should anyone take what I’m saying seriously? The more I try to convince my reader of my opinions, the more frantic I come across. Some of my statements directly criticize textbooks that are considered “The” standard in soccer coaching. I genuinely think some of what is taught is wrong, and years of experience and observation confirm this – but how to convince my readers? How to give my writings an aura of respectability? I fear this will be an impossible task.

Nook vs Kindle.

I got a Kindle! They are really nice! I also have a nook from the library.

My two cents: The nook feels more like a book. It is squarer and has more heft. The kindle is so light I’m afraid of breaking it, and so flat that I cannot one-hand it without getting cramps from pinching it. The nook is slightly more user friendly menu button, with its single (if awkward to press) button at the front bottom, while the kindle has no menu button. I am constantly accidentally tapping too close to the top of the page which brings up the menu. I have long fingers!
The kindle also has a super tiny charging port, making it impossible to plug it in in the middle of the night whilst reading. You have to get up and turn on the lights.

So the nook wins the “less-annoying-to-use” category, but ultimately I’m going to have to say the kindle is better. There are three reasons for this:

1. The kindle has a built-in dictionary. Click and hold on any word and the definition pops up. No internet required. I LOVE this feature. I am constantly writing down new words that I mean to look up later but then forget. No more with the kindle.

2. The zero-power screensaver. When one first opens the Kindle box, you think there’s a film over the screen, because there’s a beautiful sepia-toned picture. Then the picture changes and you’re like ‘Holy crap, this thing is on! Do they ship them all powered on? Does the battery really last months and months?’ But no, its a zero-power screen saver. I don’t know how a screen saver can consume zero battery power. It seems like a defiance of physics. Yet that’s what the Kindle claims to use.

3. The screen feels like paper. Yup, thats right, they made a touch-screen that feels like paper. I close my eyes and cannot tell the difference. When the virtual pages turn with a tiny hiss of sound, I close my eyes and imagine I smell fresh ink on new paper. Or maybe I’m just smelling my new Kindle. Yeah! Kindle rocks! I already bought a couple books (They are all half price what you would find on the shelves.) and, to any soccer player, I recommend the book ‘Soccer IQ’.

Easy and cool backgrounds for webpages

You have a webpage that needs a background.  A basic gradient does the trick – but that’s so, well, basic.  Try this:

Open photoshop, click gradients, then – and this is the key – set the mode to “difference”.  Its a little dropdown at the top.  Now make a few random gradients.  After two or three clicks you should see something cool appear.  Pick a color (just one works fine – something light and muted) and experiment away!




My first Android App

This is a step-by-step guide that you can copy to get a working app.

Getting started:

You will need:

  • A computer with internet
  • An android phone.
  • A way to connect it to your computer (USB cable or I hear there is another app you can use to have your phone talk to your computer).

Get Set Up

1.  Download and install the Android Software development kit

It will take a while.  While waiting:

2.  In your phone, find and turn on the ‘debug mode’ setting.  Different versions of android have it in different places.  The latest version of android (4.2+ I believe) requires you to tap 7 times at the bottom of the settings screen!  The point is to get your phone to allow downloads from your usb cable without warnings or needing anything signed.

3.  Connect your phone to your computer.  If you get a warning saying ‘drivers not installed’ then you will need to look up the model number of your phone and find the driver online and install it.  For example, my phone was a Kyocera Rise Model c5155 so I just googled that and it took me to the page.

The code

4. You can find your own code online somewhere or you can just create an empty file called index.html and put an image it using word or whatever.  If you want to use my code, go and do File->Save Web Page and save it as index.html.

5. Zip it up.  This means selecting the files we made/saved and right-clicking them and “add to zip file”.  If you don’t have winzip, go download it.  You can also use winRar (free).

6.  Submit your zip file to PhoneGap (click here for link).  You will need to make an account.  Submit your zip file and wait a bit and it will show you it building.  When the Android build is done (It also will build windows phones, iOS, blackberry versions of your app), click on the .apk button for the app and it will download to your computer.  In my case the file was called crApp-debug.apk.  Now you need to get it on your phone.

Getting it on your phone

7.  Run the Android Debug Bridge.  In your Android SDK you downloaded and installed (You do remember where you installed it, right?), find the platform tools folder.  Somewhere In there is a small executable file called adb.exe and a couple .dll files.  You will probably have to look a bit to find it.  We need to run that adb executable with the command “INSTALL” and the name and full path of your app.

Command line way:

Copy the .exe and .dll files over to where you downloaded the .apk file.  Now in the windows command prompt (Windows->run->’cmd’) navigate to the directory you copied the files.  (or add the directory to your PATH environmental variable)  In my case it was my downloads directory c:/users/J/Downloads.  So I type ‘cd C:/users/J/Downloads‘.    Now type:  “adb install -r crApp-debug.apk” where crApp-debug is the name of your file.  The -r stands for ‘overwrite’.

Windows shortcut way:

Make a shortcut to adb.exe (right-click->send to desktop) and edit the command line properties (right-click->properties->target).  In my case it looked like this:  “E:\Program Files (x86)\Google\ADT\sdk\platform-tools\adb.exe” install -r e:\users\j\downloads\crApp-debug.apk

8.  Done!  After running the ADB.exe it should be on your phone.  Scroll through your icons till you find it.  Click on it.  Whatever files you submitted to the site will now execute.  In my case I have a crappy bird app where I have to tap the screen to guide my block through a bunch of other blocks.


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