Monday, August 05, 2013
A coach wrote in with this scenario: "Good afternoon, Sam. I am a member of a youth travel club which is experiencing some growing pains and differences of opinions among the board members and coaching staff.
The main concern, for today at least, is mixed age and mixed gender scrimmages within out club. We have had a case where a U14 boy’s team "scrimmaged" a U10 girl’s team. I use quotations on the word scrimmage as there were many restrictions on the boys with none on the girls and several coaches were present and some even on the field to supervise and ensure things did not get out of hand.
I would like to ask for your opinion on this. Is there any benefit that outweighs the risk of injury (both physical and psychological) to the younger players? What would be the appropriate age/gender gap for such a scrimmage?"
There are indeed benefits to pick-up games with mixed ages and even mixed age groups. However, the range of ages must be prudent. If the scrimmage had indeed been in the neighborhood or on the recess ground at school, the odds are good that 14-year-old boys would not have included 10-year-old girls in their game. I suggest that when coaches do arrange for a scrimmage with another age group and/or gender that they keep it within the three stages of biological growth that pertain to youth soccer.
1. Childhood – 4 to 9 years old
2. Puberty – 10 to 14 years old
3. Adolescence – 15 to 19 years old
These are the general ages of each stage. Some persons will enter a stage sooner or later than their peers.