Allocating playing time is a subject many youth soccer coaches often
What kind of coach are you? It seems as though when you're coaching a youth soccer team, you can be regarded as a win-at-all-costs coach who doesn't care if he lets the
same child sit on the bench every week or you're seen as too soft on the players
that really can't cut it?
You can't win. Or can you?
Let me tell you how I allocate playing time with my youngsters.
I don't have a blanket policy of playing all my players for the same
length of time in matches. If a player comes to soccer coaching practice, pays
attention and does her best, she gets some playing time in every game
regardless of what the score is.
I also use playing time as an incentive. A player who comes to all
soccer coaching sessions on time, pays attention and tries her best, gets more
match play than someone who misses training and doesn't pay attention,
regardless of how skillful they are.
Most importantly, I never leave a player sitting on the bench for the
whole game. It's hard to imagine anything more demoralising for a child
(personally, I think it amounts to child abuse) and I'm glad to see
that some of the more enlightened leagues have 'minimum playing time'
So everyone plays for some of the match with the better 'team players'
getting more time than the rest.
That's the way I work. My playing time policy might not be suitable for
everyone but it
works for me because:
a) I apply it consistently;
b) I explain my policy before the season starts to my players and their
parents at a special meeting. That way everyone has had an opportunity
to have their say before the first match and no-one can say they didn't
know why their little Susie was sitting out for most of a match when
they know she messed about at the previous training session.