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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 
After coaching my oldest lads team from u10-u14 our club asked me to look after our minis and start from nothing at u7s with my youngest lad.
It will be 5 a side with a max squad of 10. We currently have anywhere between 11 and 13 players turning up each week so very close to having enough for two teams but not quite.
So my dilemma for the moment is who doesn't make the squad?
Of course everyone can still train and imo ability doesn't matter, I'd rather have players that listen, behave and help each other.
How would you select your 10 players knowing only one will miss out?

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Posts: 6,435
Reply with quote  #2 
Let's begin by asking why we have games? Games, not practice though practice can and should be fun, are the reason the child is there. It is during the game that a child should able to reap rewards for the effort in practice as well enjoy the freedom of making their own decisions. For the child the game is the only reason they are there.

For the coach the game has a different role: it is the test of what was learned in practice and provides guidance as to what should be worked on in future practices.

With these precepts in mind, why would you not want to have two teams? With a full roster, assuming you are working to get each child maximum playing time, at best you can only get them in for half the game. As a coach you only have half the chance to observe and evaluate. For the player left off the roster who is allowed to practice you eliminate the incentive to train and for you, the opportunity to test.

What is magic about a roster size?

I coached this age for years. I never rostered more than six players to a 5v5 side. At times I took only 5 on a team. Initially, the parents would fuss, at times referees or other coaches would generously offer to hold off starting until "the rest of your players arrive." I always explained we were all here and set to go.

At these ages the players are more than capable of playing an entire game. If one is sick or injured play short. It does not harm anything. (It makes the sidelines a bit lonely, but subbing is a breeze.)

Long term it produces great players. Each team I started this way lost no players through attrition (see the topic on attrition and "fun"). Further, each "team" became one of the top two teams in our State. The last team I started this way is now U16. I retired after 25 years a few years back from running the club and coaching and the girls I last worked with split into two teams on different clubs. This weekend those six girls, split now evenly onto 2 teams met for the State Cup. It was nice to see them gather afterwards, still friends, still playing after nine years for a group picture.

I usually would start two or three "teams" a year like this. The long term goal was to merge them into one team at U13. They trained together. When we entered tournaments I would blend team. I did not separate players into hierarchical groups. For long term cohesion such "ranking" creates issues.

I was very selective on who I took on these teams. My major requirements were intelligence and competitive drive. Both can be observed in training and watching players as they "play." It is critical that players be sorted so that you have players with similar drive and ability teamed together. With mixed ability your focus in training is diluted and usually the best and worst players are held to the level of the middle. When this occurs, the former become bored and lose interest while the latter become overwhelmed and lose interest. Soon you become frustrated and lose interest.

The archives of this forum are a rich resource of experiences, thoughts and coaching plans. Search them.

Best wishes.

Some wisdom from Winston Churchill:

"Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened."

"You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life."

"You can always count on Americans to do the right thing—after they’ve tried everything else."

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Posts: 14,673
Reply with quote  #3 

The big problem is that when we 'mature' and become adults, we lose the simple imagination and structure of what it was like when we were young.

I have learned over the years to become a 'kid' again.

Kids are experts on Games - whether playing them physically or on computer consoles
Adults cant compete with kids so what do we tend to do when coaching?.....
We set up 'Games' which have so many elements and take so long to set up that kids are mentally bored and switch off.

For a Game to work it has to have:

* Simple rules
* Straightforward aims
* Competition
* Small Challenges to solve
* A real reward for success

What most inexperienced coaches do is create complex rules and conditions, provide no real aim, remove any competition, introduce big challenges that are too hard to solve and there is no real reward.

To say that "Playing is the reward in itself" is speaking as an adult
The best 'teachers' are the kids themselves. Ever since I became a granddad, I have been 'allowed' to venture into their world.
They were happy if I was happy..... a used toilet roll becomes a rocket flying into space...a crawl on the carpet means I suddenly become a Dinosaur....

All the young kids that I coached for the first time were not bothered with what I had done...they kept my feet on the ground and I constantly had to gain their trust....

I 're-learned' how to engage with players who knew practically nothing about HOW to play, just that they LOVED to have FUN.

To answer the original thread...
Its NEVER about ability...its about DEPENDability
Select the ones that pay just enough attention for coaching to take place.
Give them all a ball each and ask them to spend about a minute doing anything they wish (short of carrying the ball in their hands)
Then observe which ones immerse themselves into that minute and not worried about how they will look.
Then a 'game' where the challenge is "Who can keep the one ball the longest?", and observe who 'wants' the ball and who wants to keep the ball the most.
Obviously, you make sure they dont kick each other can say things like "You can only use your feet to get the ball" etc, but keep it all light not serious and stop it immediately if any player goes too far.



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Posts: 7,924
Reply with quote  #4 
I'm with AFB, if you've got that many coming out, make 2 teams.
"When you start, you may have to move tons of dirt to find a gold nugget .... but when you start mining for gold, you overlook the dirt."
-Andrew Carnegie

Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #5 
In the end we had two players (both our girls) decide not to play anymore so went with just one team. After a couple of matches we're now getting 12 at training with potentially two more joining in the coming weeks. It looks like we will have two teams early next year, luckily plenty of parents have volunteered to take up one of the teams. 
We just have the issue of how to split them up.
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