Monday, August 25, 2008
Several years ago the state Directors of Coaching of all 55 state associations wrote a paper on Position Statements. These are statements on factors concerning youth soccer that they feel must be addressed to improve the quality of the youth soccer experience. Over the last few years each state coaching detector has been working to implement these Position Statements into the fabric of soccer in each state. I will share with you over the coming weeks these Statements so that as we all begin a new soccer year we can perhaps team up to grow our game in our country.
Playing Numbers - Small-Sided Games #1
The intent is to use small-sided games as the vehicle for match play for players under the age of twelve. Further we wish to promote age/ability appropriate training activities for players' nationwide. Clubs should use small-sided games as the primary vehicle for the development of skill and the understanding of simple tactics. Our rationale is that the creation of skill and a passion for the game occurs between the ages of six to twelve. With the correct environment throughout this age period players will both excel and become top players or they will continue to enjoy playing at their own levels and enjoy observing the game at higher levels. A small-sided game in match play for our younger players create more involvement, more touches of the ball, exposure to simple, realistic decisions and ultimately, more enjoyment. Players must be challenged at their own age/ability levels to improve performance. The numbers of players on the field of play will affect levels of competition. Children come to soccer practice to have fun. They want to run, touch the ball, have the feel of the ball, master it and score. The environment within which we place players during training sessions and matches should promote all of these desires, not frustrate them.
· We believe that players under the age of six should play games of 3 v 3. This will provide a less cluttered and more developmentally appropriate playing environment. No attempt whatsoever should be made at this age to teach a team formation! These playing numbers should be implemented by September 1, 2003.
· We believe that players under the age of eight should play games of 4 v 4. This will provide a less cluttered and more developmentally appropriate playing environment. Players in this age group can be exposed to a team formation at the start of the game, but do not be dismayed when it disappears once the ball is rolling. The intent at this age is to merely plant a seed toward understanding spatial awareness. These playing numbers should be implemented by September 1, 2003.
· We believe that players under the age of ten should play games of 6 v 6. This will provide a less cluttered and more developmentally appropriate playing environment. The coaching of positions to children under the age of ten is considered intellectually challenging and often situates parent-coaches in a knowledge vacuum. Additionally, premature structure of U10 players into positions is often detrimental to the growth of individual skills and tactical awareness. This problem is particularly acute with players of limited technical ability. We also believe that the quality of coaching has an impact on the playing numbers. We recommend that parent-coaches would best serve their U10 players by holding a Youth Module certificate. These playing numbers should be implemented by September 1, 2003.
· We believe that players under the age of twelve should play games of 8 v 8. This will provide a less cluttered and more developmentally appropriate environment. The U12 age group is the dawning of tactical awareness and we feel it is best to teach the players individual and group tactics at this age rather than team tactics. These playing numbers for the U11 age group should be implemented by September 1, 2004. These playing numbers for the U12 age group should be implemented by September 1, 2005.