By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
September 28, 2023 – Philadelphia sports fans can be ruthless. After all, Santa Claus was once hit by snowballs at an Eagles game.
But they tried something different this summer with a struggling Phillies player. Perhaps Philadelphia shortstop Trea Turner was feeling pressure after signing an 11-year, $300 million contract in the offseason. He was having the worst season of his career, batting .217, being dropped from second to eventually eighth in the batting order with his defense suffering too.
A spontaneous social media and sports talk radio campaign on August 4 recommended the boos greeting Turner being replaced by standing ovations and chants for him. That night, he hit an RBI single. The next day, he homered. Since then, Turner has hit .346 with 15 home runs and 36 RBIs in 40 games.
“What transpired here is something I’ve never seen,” Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long told Newsday. “I truly believe that it had a positive impact on where Trea was at the time. It helped him relax. You want the people who are coming to watch you the most to have your back. In your toughest moments, if they have your back, just think what they’re going to do when you start performing well.”
“We’re all human. We feel things,” Turner explained. “It allowed me to take a deep breath. It reminds you that you’re a good player and they know you’re a good player.”
And since positive reinforcement helped a professional baseball player to dramatically break out of his slump, imagine what it could do to a youth soccer player. Think of what would happen if there was much more positive reinforcement than negative yelling by coaches and other adults at youth soccer games. The youth soccer landscape would change dramatically:
• Players would no longer approach referees and ask them, “Could you please ask my father (or mother) to stop yelling at me?”
• With truthful and specific praise plus constructive criticism by coaches, performance would improve as well as the chances that kids will play sports longer.
• The number of players quitting youth soccer would decrease. No longer would leagues have approximately half the number of Under-19 teams as they do Under-12 teams.
• We lose more than half our referees in their first two years of officiating with verbal abuse by adults being the number one reason for quitting. Even with the anticipated increased number of teams in the older age groups, our referee shortage would subside if everybody was more positive and having a good time at youth soccer games.
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 10 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Children With Special Needs. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log on to http://www.enysoccer.com/