What are Switch the Pitch Challenges?

Team Challenges are experiential learning opportunities designed to integrate right into your team’s regularly scheduled practices, games, and/or team time. Challenges range in time commitment from 15 minutes to over an hour, and in emotional intensity from from low to high. Most challenges require few, if any, additional materials beyond your typical coaching equipment.

There are three types of team challenges: Educate, Exchange, and Activate.

Educate

Educate challenges focus on “me” through individual learning, reflection, and discussion. Educate challenges primarily include some individual homework followed by a team discussion in a classroom setting.

Exchange

Exchange challenges focus on “we” through sharing of teammates’ perspectives and experiences. Exchange challenges primarily take place on the soccer field within a team practice session.

Activate

Activate challenges focus on “us” by mobilizing teams to take collective action in their community, engaging other stakeholders such as parents, referees, opposing teams, and club officials. Activate challenges typically take place on game day or during team time.

Sample Challenges

Educate: Stories from the Field

Module: Activism & Leadership

Leadership is about motivating others to action and leaders come in all forms of people. “Stories From the Field” Challenges draw on real-life examples from the soccer world to engage players and teams in meaningful discussion about soccer, race and society. In this challenge, teams will read one of three articles about athlete activism featuring Adama Traoré, Tommie Smith, or the WNBA.

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Educate: Card It!

Module: Preventing & Responding to Racism

Racism has many forms – some are more overt than others, but they are all harmful. In this challenge, players will categorize different types of racism using analogies to soccer. Coaches will guide players through different scenarios involving racism that are seen on the field. After hearing the scenario, players will categorize the incident according to two different types of fouls in soccer – a yellow card or a red card. Each card represents a different type of racism, covert or overt, and acknowledges the fact that while they may be different, all incidents of racism are harmful “fouls”.

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Activate: De-center and Re-center

Module: Access & Resources

Donating equipment is a common way for communities with more resources to give to communities with less resources; however, not all equipment donations are helpful or welcome. In some cases, donations can actually cause more harm than good, despite the good intentions that inspire people to donate equipment. This challenge is about learning how to run an equipment donation that benefits the recipient(s) and moves towards building a more equitable world.

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Exchange: Finding Your Power

Module: Power & Policies

In this challenge, teams will explore the concept of power and its ability to impact different environments. In society, power influences people, and gives certain advantages depending on who is wielding it. In this drill, teams are going to demonstrate that concept through a possession drill where certain teams are given powers that give them an advantage. Just like in real life, different people might wield power differently, so how players choose to use their power will impact their results in the game.

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Exchange: Starting XI

Module: Identity & Perspectives

In this challenges, players will create their own “Starting XI”, where they can examine the most important influences in their lives, both negative and positive. The influences in our lives work together to impact the ways in which we see the world around us, so it is important to be aware of the effect they may have on us. Examining our own worldview allows us to create more empathy for the worldviews of others, which in turn helps foster a more inclusive environment for us all.

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Exchange: Over the River

Module: Allyship & Collective Action

This challenge takes a classic soccer activity – Over the River – and focuses on the experience of the outnumbered defenders to spark a conversation on how to be an ally. Through a series of progressions and questions, players will consider ways they practice positive allyship in soccer and in their everyday lives.

 

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Choose From Team Challenges Across Six Modules

Identity & Perspectives

Key Coaching Points:

  1. Our identities are complex and shaped by what we see – and don’t see – in our everyday lives
  2. We all have biases; we must work to understand how stereotypes influence our perceptions of and interactions with others
  3. To build inclusive teams and communities, we must practice empathy and connect with people who have identities different from our own
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Activism & Leadership

Key Coaching Points:

  1. Anyone can be a leader; to lead effectively, we each should develop a style that stays true to who we are
  2. We must find courage to speak up and speak out in order to influence others
  3. Activism requires communicating a vision for a better future and inspiring others to join

 

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Allyship & Collective Action

Key Coaching Points:

  1. Allyship, like being a good teammate, means we show up and speak up for others
  2. Genuine allyship requires that we see, hear and support the needs of others
  3. We must reach out to others to grow our team of allies because it takes all of us to make lasting change

 

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Power & Policies

Key Coaching Points:

  1. We must each recognize the ways in which we have power, and the ways in which we lack power
  2. We are more powerful in groups working collectively than as individuals
  3. We must ensure that people in positions of power are good representatives of those they serve, and are held accountable by transparent systems and advocacy

 

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Access & Resources

Key Coaching Points:

  1. In soccer, as in US society, increased access and resources are directly related to increased opportunity and better outcomes
  2. Forms of interpersonal and systemic racism continue to create barriers to access and inequitable distribution of resources for players of color
  3. A creative, collective effort integrating anti-racism is required to make US Soccer more equitable and inclusive for all participants
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Preventing & Responding to Racism

Key Coaching Points:

  1. Each of us must understand that racism exists, and that racist incidents happen every day at every level of soccer
  2. We must learn to recognize and respond directly to incidents of racism
  3. As a team, we must be clear on our stance against racism, and how we will inspire others by our example

 

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