who are short on time:
For coaches of
kids aged 5-8:
For coaches of
kids aged 9-11:
For coaches of
kids aged 12-15:
For coaches of
who need warm-ups:
Balls, cones and kids
footy4kids soccer coaching newsletter
16 - April 2006
I'm often asked about the pros
and cons of various seven a side formations.
1-2-2-1, 2-2-2, 2-1-2-1...there
are many possibilities. There are also benefits and drawbacks to all of
them, as the debates on the footy4kids
soccer coaching forum
But should coaches of very
young soccer players even be thinking about what formations to use or what
positions to ask their players to play in?
positional play for U6 to U8 players
by Rick Meana - Director of Coaching,
NJ Youth Soccer
Formations and "designated positions" are not
appropriate for U6-U8 play.
Why, do you ask?
Because children at this age do not understand, do not have the capacity
to grasp the concept of "functionality." They don't understand that the
pieces make up the pie as a whole. They only can understand that pieces
exist, but don't understand how they contribute to the make-up of the
whole. In school they learn about basic math, reading, and writing, with
an emphasis on fun discovery and development. They are not grouped by
accountants, lawyers, or doctors, each having their own curriculum.
Everyone receives the same basic curriculum that helps form a foundation
for later education and applications.
Before players learn functionality, they need to first experience basic
movements. Through spontaneous uninhibited play, children can learn to
solve problems, invent, create, and become aware of their physical
relationship with their environment. Small-sided game play offers all
these factors, and in addition, contributes to skill development. This
becomes a foundation for the next levels of play.
Besides, the use of terms such as 'defenders', 'fullbacks,' 'midfielders',
and 'strikers' are analogous to asking a six-year-old to describe the
duties of an accountant or lawyer. Do defenders just defend? Not attack?
Does that mean that they need to stay close to their goal? (Usually, these
players have been seen standing on the edge of their penalty box 50 yards
away from the action - after being instructed by their coach to stay
back.) These are literal definitions of positions that are misconceptions
of the game of soccer. Usually, these misconceptions derive from other
sports where positions literally are constants of what action players'
perform/areas of the field, i.e., baseball. This is not true in the modern
game of soccer.
Let's take a look at the modern "adult" game to gain a perspective.
Players who are termed "defenders," are becoming notorious for scoring
goals, while "forwards" who have become famous for their scoring prowess
must now be able to defend and chase down assertive back players. Coaches
have also had to convert forwards to defenders because of a shortage of
attacking defenders. Players today, no matter their position, need to be
fluent in all "soccer skills."
Midfielders, once known for their ability to launch attacks and work at a
high rate for 90 minutes are being converted to defenders, and so on. All
this goes to show that positions and formations aren't the answer.
Besides, it is not necessarily being in a designated "position" or being a
part of a formation that helps the players solve the problem/situations in
the game, but rather the ability of the player to read visually the cues,
that is the movement of the ball, movement of the teammates and opponents,
and quickly execute a movement/decision that will be effective.
Soccer is a game where the players are constantly changing their movement
and activity patterns because the game demands - fluidity,
interchangeability, unpredictability, quick thought and execution.
Adherence to the formations will not aid players in developing the
foundation of the game needed to meet these demands.
The activity in "small-sided" games, where players are not inhibited by
formations and positions, result in a variety of movement patterns, more
contacts with the ball and other players, and is more challenging to a
player physically. It also offers many opportunities for players to make
decisions and solve problems based on the conditions that are encountered
in the game. This is the "learning environment" that is best for the
players at this age and maturity level.
Further proof that this environment is best; can be seen in those
professional coaches, who in order to economize their practice,
efficiently use small-sided games often, to provide a more challenging
environment than 11-a-side play. And that is proof- positive that
small-sided games, are important for this age group, however, formations
and designated positions should not be used by coaches of U6-U8 players.
coaching the swarm - a guide to teaching positions and positional sense
11 a side
selecting positions and team formations in youth soccer
soccer coaching and the very young child
characteristics of six to ten year old soccer players