Soccer ‘sumo’ and the ‘shirt pulling game’

This year my U14 girls played physical games like “soccer sumo” (largest player gets in a small circle of cones, send in a player to shoulder challenge to try to push her out of the cones within 15 seconds) and the “shirt pulling game” (grab partner by the shirt up near the shoulders, place a ball 3 meters away. Partner who touches ball with her foot first wins — nearly anything short of punching goes – long nailed girls are likely to break one).

To mediate this competitiveness I also try to create an environment where everyone feels valued as a person — not just as a player. There is no stigma in losing as long as you are working to improve. The competition is there to improve the team, not to demean anyone. Let’s compete hard, but keep it all in perspective.

With girls from U-11 though U-17 I think you really need to have this dual focus — competition, but also the security and safety that comes from knowing that you are worth more than your soccer ability and that EVERYONE on the team has something to contribute.