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craigl

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by akommers
Craigl thanks. In my original post I state that it's 6vs6 with a goalie. Not sure what more context is needed, I'd be glad to provide.  So 5 out on field.  I am taking good notes here.  So Craigl you coached U8 13 seasons? Wow.  So if I understand you, when you send the girls on the field to start a game, besides goalie you don't tell any of the girls what positions they are playing?  They just walk out there and start with no formation?


4v4 or 5v5 with keepers is likely 25Y x 35Y field, I do not send them out in positions typically.   I introduce things with the concept of what a last defender is responsible for doing and what a target forward player is responsible for doing.   The idea that we take turns with 1 player in that role and that we may naturally alternate who is in that position.    I may assign a particular person to perform that role when the game circumstance dictate it.

with a larger field say 40x50 and an increase in the number of players say 6v6 or 7v7 it more necessary to have positions.   The field space and ability of the players factor into the decision.  Pretty much you need to have positions with these numbers and field sizes.

With limited time, I focus on skills and learning to read the game with U8 4v4/5v5 game.  I think positions are way down on my list of priorities.  There is limited time.   The players are not equal in ability and need to adjust to actual circumstances anyway.  The kids these ages see everything as an absolute so I prefer to focus on skills and things that are concrete.  Positioning involves making trade offs and reading the game.  You learn to defend 1v1 defending 1v1.   You learn to defend 2v1 defending various 2v1 situations.   A coach who tells a kid to stay only on one side of the field shuts down his decision making.  It is making decisions both good and bad that develop the player.


coachkev

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Reply with quote  #22 

For positioning, a great little concept is the Clock Method

This is where you have say, 5 outfield players plus a GK in 6 against 6 in a 2-1-2 formation:

........X4........................................X5


.............................X3

........X2........................................X1

............................GK

.....................|................|

What happens is that all 6 players are designated one of the positions X1 to X5 plus the GK.
Then after 2 mins or after every shot on the opponents goal, the GK stays in goal and the rest move one position clockwise before the game is restarted.
i.e.
X1 to X2, X2 to X3, X3 to X4, X4 to X5 and X5 to X1
Each player gets to experience a different position for each 2 mins.
Its also a great way to coach different aspects of defending, midfield and offence


 

paulee

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Reply with quote  #23 
Thanks for the kind thoughts Alan.  I am fine up here.  We had a welcome temperature drop of about 10 degrees and that was it.
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paulee

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Reply with quote  #24 
Quote:
Originally Posted by akommers
Thanks Paulee for answering my question.  In your opinion they should play with positions.  Looks like there is debate on both sides of this, which is fine. Again, I get all that about not having rigid positions and teaching principals and concepts.  But I need a starting point, positions or no positions. I'm conflicted myself, as I see both arguments for and what I think I'm reading as against. 

At the end of the day, it is your decision to make.  What I will tell you is that it doesn't matter whether or not you give them positions, just so long as you know why you are doing what you are doing.

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akommers

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Reply with quote  #25 
Craigl very good point about the size of the field.  Again, it's 6x6 with a goalie.  The field is quite large.  I will get the specs but it is pretty big.  So in one sense if we don't have two 'backs' that might be too much running for the girls.  We have 7 girls on our team, 4 can play offense and defense and are decent goalies.  The other 3 are pretty much completely lost out there with almost no skill.  In our second game I went with two 'backs'.  I feel if I don't have the backs it's just 'swarm ball' with some of the stronger girls with more endurance who are always the ones chasing down the other team on defense.  I know it's ultimately my decision, but after two games I'm kind of lost. If I have two defenders or 'backs' we always seem shorthanded when we are trying to score. If we don't have backs it seems like asking the better players to run too much. Thanks for listening to me as I try to talk this out.  I know not to concentrate on positions too much, I completely get all of that. I just need to decide whether to have them or not.
AFB

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Reply with quote  #26 
Akommers,

Develop your plan. A major part now should be on developing ball skill. Tweek the plan after each game based on what you learn from watching the players.

Do not let any one game influence you. There are too many variables for that.

Tell the parents the focus is on teaching basic skills. Most parents still do not understand soccer. Their expectations are absurd. You need to teach them as much as you teach their children. (Having parents participate in a "training session" and being "coached" by their daughter can be enlightening, amusing, and a learning experience for all.) It can help by comparing it to a sport they may be more familiar with, such as basketball. You need to teach them to shoot, dribble, pass and receive the ball. If they cannot do these basics it does not matter if they position themselves perfectly.

As they gain proficiency in passing and receiving the ball (first touch) they will spread out more. Notice the comments above concerning support. How far apart the players can be and accurately pass will determine the distance they are able to support.

The more effective they are in passing the more the ball does the running and players can be less fatigued.

You are assemblying pieces of a puzzle. The whole picture will take time to develop as you align each piece. Do not expect or lead others to expect a complete picture for years. Do not dispair. There will be black days when everything seems to fall apart (usually the morning after the girls all had a sleep over together). There will be games where everything goes perfect. The hardest part of being a coach is not falling victim to either extreme - this is one reason a long term plan is very helpful.

Focus on coaching basic skills such as first touch, how to dribble, how to make a push pass. Build on these basics by then explaining how to defend 1v1 - how to stand, when to tackle and not dive in. Teach the attacker how to beat the single defender, which foot to attack, how to accelerate - explode - various feints.

Build on this by adding the cover defender (2nd defender), teaching them where to stand based on the location of the ball and the stance/position of tbe first defender. As this develops teach the dribbler how to adjust for a second defender and add a second attacker that can be passed to. Aid your players be showing them how to read the signals a player gives off - how is she standing, is her weight on her heels making her slow or is she crouched and primed, which way is head pointed?

All of this in the beginning stages of learning to play the game is far more important than "positioning."

It is in vogue to say winning is not important. That is bunk. Winning matters. If your players are competitive they want to win. Their parents want winners. Your goal is to win. As you look at the game you see goals conceded and losses that could have been prevented by a player or two "who were backs in position." This seems an easy, logical fix. It is not either; it is an illusion and often as rewarding as an oasis mirage to a parched wanderer in the Sahara.

Wins and success that are lasting come from a strong foundation. That foundation is skill development. Craig wrote of the limited time any coach has in practice to convey these skills. He rightly suggests your and your players' limited time is better spent on developing skills and building in a step by step process.

Many have written how players at these young ages see the world in simple, absolutist terms. Tell them to stay "back" and they will. They never learn about Vulnerable space and when to exploit it by moving forward. The simple "fix" of today creates the greater problem and bad habit for next season and years to follow.

Best wishes.


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akommers

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Reply with quote  #27 
Excellent post AFB.
craigl

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Reply with quote  #28 
Quote:
Originally Posted by akommers
Craigl very good point about the size of the field.  Again, it's 6x6 with a goalie.  The field is quite large.  I will get the specs but it is pretty big.  So in one sense if we don't have two 'backs' that might be too much running for the girls.  We have 7 girls on our team, 4 can play offense and defense and are decent goalies.  The other 3 are pretty much completely lost out there with almost no skill.  In our second game I went with two 'backs'.  I feel if I don't have the backs it's just 'swarm ball' with some of the stronger girls with more endurance who are always the ones chasing down the other team on defense.  I know it's ultimately my decision, but after two games I'm kind of lost. If I have two defenders or 'backs' we always seem shorthanded when we are trying to score. If we don't have backs it seems like asking the better players to run too much. Thanks for listening to me as I try to talk this out.  I know not to concentrate on positions too much, I completely get all of that. I just need to decide whether to have them or not.


7 players with 6v6 should allow lots of playing time.  If you have 4 that are very active you may have an above average team.

It is your team to coach.  If you feel it best to have positions then use positions.   My recommendation is to just focus on what you believe is best for your players.   Don't be afraid to try out what works for you.   I already told you that I probably would use positions given the number of players and a larger field size.

Somethings to consider:

It is always a challenge deciding where to spend your limit time with this age because it is always easy to see so many things that could be improved.  You can never be too good at shooting and attacking/defending 1v1.  So, be sure to get some time on this.

The kids can play faster as they understand the ideas of the game.  Just keep it simple.

Matchups, speed, and technical ability probably matter more than positions.

You may want to consider what the other coaches are doing because it may allow you to prepare the kids for situations that are likely to occur.  My leagues most teams played 2-3 with 3 aggressive attacking players and either one defender or a keeper that could play to the forwards.  So, I prepared the players for it.   We had some Colombian coaches that would have very good dribblers and back heel passes so I would expose them to it in practice. 

At this age the players may work better initially in pairs than in threes.  You want to try and keep things simple.  Ideally, you teach them the same vocabulary/concepts that they will use later.

Try to get the timid girls involved.  Encourage them to get touches on the ball in the game.   Have them take throw ins, etc.   Play 1v1 in practice and match up the girls to the same level of opponent and rotate them lots of times.   Then, give the timid kids a few chances against the strongest players.  They learn best against equal players, but you want to expose them to the game level condition against the top players before the game.

When defending a strong dribble, stay between the ball and the goal and keep eyes on the ball not the body movement.

At this age, get excited and always praise effort.  Be careful to find precisely what people do right so you are giving them positive feedback.   (praising vague feedback or bad action is not positive feedback).

Keep things in perspective and smile and laugh. 




craigl

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Reply with quote  #29 
Sorry, I forgot.

Great drill for timid players.  I call it shoot out.

All players in 2s with a soccer ball between them.  Both feet on the ground.   Ready, set, go and both players go to do a pull back to see who gets the ball first.   It is a quick reaction drill.   You can later use "ready, set, stop, go" or "ready, go"  to change it up.

After 4-5 times, progress it to who ever has the ball after 3 seconds.  Play a few rounds to find a winner.   All the kids in pairs can do this at the same time.  Have a parent or yourself even up the numbers.

This game is fun.  It gets them making decisions and moving their feet quick.  They naturally learn to hold the ball and win the ball under pressure.

This will help the timid player get involved and get touches.  Pair up like players for this game since it is a competition and it can be more fun.   Then rotate the kids every other battle for variety.
akommers

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Reply with quote  #30 
Thanks craigl.  Yes lots of playing time, out of the 7,  4 sit out one quarter and 3 play the whole game.

Right now I am rotating the girls pretty evenly.  We played a 2-3 last game.  We play our best when 3 of our 4 good players play the 3 line.  Here's where things seem to go wrong:

If one of my good 4 is out, we have 3 good players left. (The other 3 have very little skill)  If one of the good girls is playing goalie, one is a back, and one is on offense, we tend to go no where because one girl cannot dribble through the whole rest of the team.  If I have 2 up front, one on defense, that is a little better.  Then there was last game when I had our weakest girl in goal. I put two of the good girls as defenders to help her.  Well with only one decent player on offense (the 4th was resting) we were always on defense.  The defense didn't play very well and the ball and the other team kept getting behind them in the goalie box.  Our poor goalie could barely pick the ball up, we gout outscored 0-4 in the quarter. Painful.  I told myself at beginning of year I wouldn't try to 'leverage' positions to make us better.  But I have a feeling other teams are doing it.  I mean the weak three could always play 3 quarters and we would be more competitive with our players who can actually play soccer on the field more. Many teams have 8 players in which all players play 3 quarters.   Right now I'm playing all the players equal playing time, and equal at every position.  This might cost us a lot of wins. To be honest I don't even know if the parents with the weaker kids care and would rather their timid daughters get a break each game.  I sense the majority of parents want us to be more competitive. I mean, competitive games are more fun.  


craigl

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Reply with quote  #31 
akommers,

Soccer is like this.  Sometimes you have to defend for a time.  Sometimes, your two best players are out of town.   Sometimes, you are strong because the other coach has his top players out.   Sometimes you win.   Sometimes you lose.   You get to feel each situation and then you can decide which one you like better.   You can decide how to handle when you do not get your way.  The players are watching you and their parents and they are learning.

Best thing is to improve your weak players.  Try to still find ways to help stronger players improve, but the more you bring up the weakest player the better your team can play collectively.

Regarding playing time you need to know how you want to do it.  At this age, I would balance it out over the season.  So, against the top team the 4 strong would play a little more.   Against the weaker opponents,  the weaker 3 would maybe play more so the games are more balanced.   But, as a new coach, it is probably easiest to just balance it and not worry too much.  Sometimes, a player will surprise you.

The games you do not get many chances are better when you have good shooting because maybe you only get 3 chances and score 2 goals, it becomes a better game.   With good defending and keeper, the other team gets 20 chances and scores 3 goals.  It is a better game.

You can watch/track other things besides goals.

How many touches are your timid players getting?

How many opportunities to score?

Is the ball making out of your half?

Is the Keeper making the easy saves?

Is the team learning?

How far can the players shoot?

Can they control the ball on the dribble?

Do they win 1v1 battles?

who has scored a goal this season?  everyone?

Can your players pass and shoot with both feet?


everything

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Reply with quote  #32 
Hi akommers, I learned quite a lot here over the years. I don't pretend to know much, but here is some of what I learned from the more experienced coaches, applied to mainly rec level.

- 7-8 year old rec players won't understand tactics other than 1st/2nd defender, 1st/2nd attacker.
- having 2 people standing around is not developmental.
- if you want to do development, do 1v1 and 2v2 and 3v3.
- I much prefer 2v2 after a long time:
   - need great 1v1; reinforces 1v1 skills.
   - learn 1-2s and splits
   - learn overlaps
   - learn pressure/cover
   - learn 1st attacker / 2nd attacker
   - learn how to form angles and "triangles" w/o a 3rd attacker
   - in the "real" game there are constant pairings: 2 holding mids, 2 center backs, 2 strikers, wing/wingback combo, 1 AM/1F, 2 AMs, etc.
   - physically much more taxing than greater numbers.
- if you do all that then do 3v3, 6v6 will start to make sense...
paulee

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Reply with quote  #33 
AFB's post is pretty spot on, but there was something that I wanted to expand on.
Quote:
Originally Posted by AFB


 It is in vogue to say winning is not important. That is bunk. Winning matters. If your players are competitive they want to win. Their parents want winners. Your goal is to win. As you look at the game you see goals conceded and losses that could have been prevented by a player or two "who were backs in position." This seems an easy, logical fix. It is not either; it is an illusion and often as rewarding as an oasis mirage to a parched wanderer in the Sahara.  


The kids are going to want to win.  That is normal.  But they (and their parents) can be seduced by the illusion AFB mentions.
It's not the win, that matters so much as HOW you win.  I'm pretty sure that I could put together a team of athletic kids that would dominate AFB's team by simply putting my girls with strong legs in the back to whack it up to the fast girl up top who outruns his entire team.  Do this 10 times a game, and she'll probably convert at least one of those chances.  And I've won.  But have I really developed them as soccer players?  In a year or less, his team is going to be running circles around mine.
That is what everyone is talking about when they say build the foundation.  You're going to lose some games now, but as you continue to build that foundation, the wins are going to come, and sustain themselves in the future.

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ianrudy

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Reply with quote  #34 
As usual all the vets that provided me great insight over the years have weighed in (AFB's positionless isn't radical either.. so awesome for truly teaching the principles). The only thing I can add to the conversation is to keep it simple and make it memorable.

1st and 2nd Defender was translated to "Whose got ball" "Whose got their back" because that was a concept the kids could understand and is simple. I also even got them to yell that out and because I was coaching girls (who love to communicate anywhere but on the actual field!!) you need to really work on communication as well. Remember the Dutch TIC (Technique, Insight, Communcation).. which I try to remember in my head as HOW, WHY, WHO from the USSF world. Communication is more than WHO but to me communication is all about the connection of the team so that really is The Who on the field for me. Whose got ball and Whose got their back is a very simple concept but lots of the principles can be layered over time using that simple concept and you can evolve it over time. Recovery runs, getting goal side, 3rd defender and balance, proper spacing and compactness, transitions between 1st and 2nd defender when the 1st defender is beat I step to become that 1st defender.. "I go" and the old 1st defender now needs to recovery run to get my back. Built from 1v1 and 2v2.. reinforced during 4v4 games.. part of every single pre game and half time speech.

The make it memorable part is to have those catchy phrases or personality things that stick with them, that's the lasting education part of it. So a few weeks ago I was working on getting a group of U12 girls to really focus on receiving side on and not face the player passing them the ball and getting their first touch positive. So the idea was they need information to make good decisions and to do that they need to be able to see the field. If their butt is facing the way they want to play.. towards the goal they are trying to score in.. how can they get any information to make good decisions. Memorable phrase "Think with your head not your butt"... they still talk about it. And this is some of the same group that came up with whose got ball and whose got their back and it's pretty much ingrained in them.. they still call out I got ball whenever they step to become the first defender and still call out I got your back. Some of them over the years have shortened it to the "I go" that I still use playing pick up to this day..

Coaching to the principles and in this way is hard (i.e for long term development).. it takes TIME.. stay the course it is worth it! We all questioned ourselves when we got beat by the direct jungle ball team of kids that had already hit puberty when our kids where half their size. The thing that kept/keeps me going.. is that one time when these "little" kids create that awe inspiring beautiful soccer goal when they play 2 wall passes get the return ball, nutmeg two defenders, return the ball to the original wall passer who kept is run going forward who 1v1s a defender so bad they fall over and takes the ball wide and gets the goalie to attack them and then just slots the ball back post for the teammate who was nutmegging everyone who just taps it into the back of the net... there isn't a huge loud cheer that erupts from the sideline, it's quiet because everyone is still in that momentary state of shock at what they just saw (we lost 6-1). I coach for those moments.
akommers

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Reply with quote  #35 
Our field size is 150ft by 75 ft.  (46 meters by 23 meters)  A lot of good advice here, a lot to keep in mind as they grow.  Age specific these girls are in first and second grade.  Very short attention spans, it's hard to 'explain' anything to them. I liked to do some repetetive fundamental drills for my U10 team a couple years ago.  We practiced shooting and inside foot passes at every practice. It served them well, we ended up winning the league by going 9 for 9 in penalty kicks in the playoffs.  I want to get the 8U girls technique right as well.  But I can tell they prefer silly soccer games which is more fun for them, but sometimes less actual repetitions.  That's my practice challenge, I have to combine technique with fun/silly.

As for the games, I could tell the parents weren't thrilled with losing 2-6 last game, so for for our third game I 'leveraged' our team a little bit, by having our best players play more together. The parents probably thought we really improved but I knew it was more about where I put the players.  For 6x6 our first game there were no backs. Our second game there was two.  I think I might settle on one back.  If it's one of our good players, I might give them the option to roam if they can get back on defense in time. Our 3 week players if they are the back I have to keep them behind the center line or they would never be able to get back on D.  It seemed to work well.  The #1 challenge right now is when we turn the ball over, to get all the girls to run back between the ball and the goal.  Half my time as coaching is yelling out to the girls 'get back'. Also I need to be careful, if I discover the best lineup that makes us the best team, do I start to play that lineup more.  Like, if our team starts to have a predictable 'look' then maybe I'm not rotating them enough. Ok I'm just carrying on now.
everything

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Reply with quote  #36 
Definitely trying to rotate is good. You could try to always have 1 strong girl in the back as some balance. 

At this age/level, something I found that works well as training is have 1 coach throw out a ball and have 2v2 to try to get the ball and pass it back to you (and you move to make it easier or more challenging). That requires absolutely zero lecture, is hard physically, is hard technically (1v1 and 2v2 skills including dribbling, defending, getting head up to see you, passing), is scalable (even advanced players can learn more from it). Is super easy on the coaches. Requires NO SETUP. If you have assistants you can have them do it. It doesn't have to be conceptual, but there is 1st attacker, 2nd attacker, pressure/cover, shoulder checks, etc. going on quite naturally with NO LECTURE. Effectively there is also a triangle because you are the 3rd attacker w/o talking about that.
ianrudy

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Reply with quote  #37 
Yep good suggestion one of my girls favorite games is called Pink.

2 teams in colored pinneys (call it red and blue) lined up on either side of the coach who has a pile of balls.  Coach calls a number and a color and plays a ball out.  So "2 Blue".  Blue teams send 2 players out to retrieve the ball and the other team "Red" sends 1 less player (makes them think).  Whichever team can pass the ball back to coaches feet wins the point.  Play to 10 points.  Whenever the coach calls a number and PINK so "3 PINK" both teams send that number of players out so 3v3.  Lets you manipulate any combo you want.  "1 PINK" is great for 1v1s and you can get a couple going at a time.  Works a bit of fitness if you keep the tempo high as well.  Girls play it forever and ask for it all the time.  Just make sure you get them to keep track of the score and that's a good time for a bit of a rest too.
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