Book review: “What Size Balls Do I Need?” offers advice for sports parents

Book review: “What Size Balls Do I Need?” offers advice for sports parents

Parenting kids in sports can be a daunting business. From the early days of childhood play to the grand heights of elite juvenile competition, how can parents navigate the maze of programs, expectations, and occasional buffoonery that crop up in youth sports? 

In his book What Size Balls Do I Need? A Roadmap for Survival in the Dizzying World of Youth Sports, soccer dad and seasoned coach Steve Morris provides insights for parents. 

After years of running regional soccer programs in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, and coaching his three kids from early childhood to senior high school, Morris has seen everything a parent might encounter in the world of youth sports.

His new book is a memoir where he shares the lessons learned. It’s an account infused with humour, wisdom, and cautionary messages aimed at helping other parents to steer clear of the most common hazards, misconceptions, and delusions in youth sports. 

What Size Balls Do I Need?

Author: Steve Morris
Format: Hardcover and Kindle
Target audience: Parents
Publisher: Coast Sports
Price: $38

What Size Balls speaks to every topical theme in youth sports today: the dynamics of competition, the role of fun in learning and development, the lure of college scholarships, the illusion of unlikely professional careers, the perils of premature specialization, and the different types of coaches that kids and parents might encounter. The final chapter of the book is especially current—dedicated to the challenges of playing sports in the brave new world of COVID-19.   

Related read: Are youth sports too serious?

Many readers will enjoy Morris’ descriptions of the different types of kids, coaches, and parents encountered in kids’ sports, together with the situations that can emerge between them on and off the field: The dad who disrupts the dynamic of his daughter’s entire soccer team by putting her every whim above the needs of the team, for example. Or the boy who gets attacked by an adult club official for countering his insults in kind.

Others who enjoy the hard data of sports will appreciate his coverage of the facts and figures surrounding everything from the incidence of adolescent ACL injuries to the stunningly miniscule percentage of kids who eventually join the professional ranks. 

A mild criticism of the book might be that almost all of the anecdotes and discussion revolve around youth soccer—and specifically youth soccer in southern California—as opposed to youth sport in general. Readers who have a keen interest in kids’ soccer are likely to enjoy it, but those looking for something a little less soccer-centric might grow tired.

Regardless of the strong soccer focus, What Size Balls provides a solid contribution to the popular literature of sports parenting. Morris shares his time-tested experience and advice with good humour, making this title a worthy addition to the bookshelves (or e-reader) of soccer parents and coaches, as well as youth sport parents in general.  

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