No game sense

Discussion in 'Coach' started by elessar78, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Nov 25, 2005
    Actually it should not. We are supposed to make our training game-like. The concepts are not really the same. The brain works on pattern recognition in a sea of data. The video game only performs patterns programmed into it, with the intent of rewarding "proper" responses. It literally trains users to think conventionally because it uses conventions.

    Your example is a good foil for a point I did not make earlier. What age are we training? Watching the tactics in an adult game is educational if you are trying to teach team tactics, but we should not be trying to teach adult game tactics to U-Littles. We should be teaching them fundamentals first. So for U-Littles highlights of Messi, Pele, Maradona, Zidane, etc. moves is a much better choice than having them watch combination play. And watching reality--video clips of Messi's moves--is what you want kids to learn moves from, not playing a computer simulation of Messi's moves.

    Young children are typically not going to see adult games like an adult does. There are child prodigies who can think and perform as adults in skilled areas, but even if you have a child capable of learning adult tactics you would still teach fundamentals first for other reasons.


  2. Beau Dure

    Beau Dure Member

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    Good point and good question. I'd think with a thread title "no game sense," we should be talking about U9s or the earliest age groups in which we add a few players to the field.

    For U6s and so forth playing 3v3, you're right -- no need to talk about team tactics there. So I assumed -- maybe a faulty one on my part -- that we weren't talking about them in this thread.

    I do get so amused, though, when I see a U6 coach assign each of his players positions in a 3v3 or 4v4. They dutifully move to that "position." Then we kick off, and we have magnetball as usual.
  3. Guy Smiley

    Guy Smiley New Member

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    Oct 15, 2012
    This is a cool discussion. My 2 things to add are kind of the same thing when it comes to game sense.

    First, chipping, not to be an ass - but it is something I personally do very accurately. A lot of years of rugby helped. After a time, I noticed that with my own kids, playing with me all the time, they were the only ones on their team to begin seeing chip opportunities and then having the touch to make it happen. Way ahead of anyone. I realized it might be because they'd been on the other end of mine like 50,000 times.

    And this is the same thing with game sense. There is a woman here who is really mobile, coaches a bit, but is always willing to play with our girls' teams. I get her out there just because her movement is exquisite and absolutely relentless. She keeps the pace so high and runs them into the ground. So, basically, by example, just being surrounded by the right movements into space the right number of touches the right places for their eyes to go to continue the buildup, it's beginning to rub off.

    I too wish I could make the girls watch 5-10 hours of soccer on TV a week, but it just doesn't happen. Even just learning how an analyst sees the game and what they point out as positive and negative can be a big help.
  4. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    One of my failings this go around is getting my players to really understand movement. Per your example, I think I should have played more in their SSGs and scrimmages. And making them take note of how I move—but we don't want to give them the punch line all the time and let them discover the game on their own. But what if they don't?

    I'm really torn about this point between spoon feeding them and letting them muddle along for seasons. There's just so much to learn, movement, technical skills, etc I worry about overwhelming them.


  5. J'can

    J'can Member+

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    Spoon feeding would be being a joystick coach (see, i am catching on to the terminology around here). Playing with them is leading by example. A great idea and one that I will use more
  6. Beau Dure

    Beau Dure Member

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    I've scrimmaged with them at times, but I'm too lazy/fat to move anywhere.
  7. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Nov 25, 2005
    This is where kids who also play unorganized soccer have an advantage. They are playing in mixed aged neighborhood groups. For U-Littles it is a good complement to organized soccer where the emphasis is on skill development.

    It is also a reason that USSF recommends 2 year groups--hoping to get a more varied group. In practice you don't see many 2-year teams. It is one advantage that an academy structure has over a league/team structure for U-Littles.
  8. Ihateusernames

    Ihateusernames Member

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    Two things. My wife is still starting to understand the nuances of the game so we started playing FIFA to help her better see things. It's not an end all, obviously, but it does help her understand player roles and positioning. She's gotten better about being able to see things before they happen even when we got to a live game. This is, of course, when she's not confused and shooting on our own goal ;)
    Secondly, yes, if you are able, I'm all for coaches playing here and there in scrimmages. Not all the time, mind you, but at times. I've also found it helps leaders emerge because it will "click" for someone (when you are trying to get a kid to move or make a pass) and this new on field leader tends to step up. They have the potential but it's getting them to realize what they are NEEDING to do. Many times, it's just talking to teammates but that might be for another thread.
  9. VegasFootie

    VegasFootie Member

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    Experience (games, practices, play with friends, video games, matches watched, other sports, etc) and culture are the big difference makers in players developing game sense.
    I've watched new kids grow loads in their first season at all ages because of the time spent with the ball when not at practice. (Brand new ball dead in three months from use!) I've seen others with years of experience and an appalling lack of soccer skills because they never touched a ball outside of organized/structured time. I've had six and seven year-old Latinos that could have dominated on some of the u11 rec teams I've coached because they'd kick every can they saw and are growing up in an age of dedicated soccer channels. I've also got some teens with years of mediocre play and coaching that possess two left feet and such horrible tactics no amount of goading will change them.
    Always play with your teams and allow them completely free time. Both are part of the experience package.
  10. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    I recalled a conversation with a friend who was a D1 keeper a few years back and he said that he always learned more from the players he trained with than his coaches. I might echo that sentiment.

    In my own experience, part of game sense came from watching the older players. I didn't grow up in this country and we played for inter-scholastic teams starting at about 3rd grade. But it gave us the opportunity to watch the older teams play before/after ours. We didn't have to "discover" everything—I saw things older players would do and just incorporate it.

    When I coach again, I think I'll try to have a regular dose of training with older and/or better competition. I think that's one of the under-utilized aspects of being in a club.
  11. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    That was the story with two of my kids who played keeper in U10G and U14B. When they were little tikes I took them to my games. They were like mascots. You know how it is. They watched my adult team's keeper constantly and I think his example inspired them to playing keep. Later they imitated him in their own games. Neither hesitated coming off their line and both played extremely aggressively. For three years I cringed whenever my daughter left her line to dive headfirst on a ball at someone's feet in the penalty area. She was never injured. My son was extremely big and strong for his age so I wasn't worried about him. (What can I say, I can't help having a double standard.)
  12. maximo954

    maximo954 New Member

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    I agree get the kids playing with other age groups. Have the older kids facilitating almost. We have a little argentinian kid who is exactly like Messi in stature and looks and wears the national 10 strip. He is probably around 14 0r 15 and my 8 year old keeps going on about the day he nutmegged him when he was 7. I laugh as I remember that he was on his team at the time. My son thinks this makes it even better. Let them play more and let them experience different ages in their playing. My son plays tag outside with all different ages. Why not soccer.
    J'can repped this.
  13. Timbuck

    Timbuck Member

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    I wonder how much of it has to do with the fact that kids are playing organized, coached soccer at such a young age. Sure, we played in Kindergarten back in the day, but only in the fall.
    My U8 daughter has played 7 seasons and some summer tournaments already.
    Back in the day, we'd play at recess or on the weekends without coaches or parents around. We learned about the game by playing with the older kids.
    If there was a "corner kick" situation and a younger kid made a mistake, the older kid would pick on him for it. That was how we learned.
    We would go into the backyard by ourselves and dribble and shoot the ball against a tree or something. We didn't need an organized "play date" to have some friends and parents come over. If the kid that comes over doesn't like to play soccer, then the kid that wants to play has to do whatever the guest kid wants to do (IE - video games, tag, etc).
  14. saabrian

    saabrian Member

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    Of course that's part of it. When I coached middle school, I had "organized pickup" sessions during the summer time once a week. I always encouraged the kids to come and do pickup sessions on their own, since the goals were there all the time. But some of the kids told me that their parents wouldn't let them come to the park by themselves (the incidence of random crime in this city is extremely low). This is why I had the organized pickup sessions in the first place.

    When the kids came, I mostly let them do whatever they wanted. All I did was bring pinnies and let them figure out themselves what they wanted to do. Depending on the mix, some of the kids had no idea how to simply "make it happen"... they just stood around clueless like they'd never been in a situation where they had to organize things themselves. In truth, maybe they hadn't.

    After a parent complaint or two, I started making it clear that this was not a training session, that I would not be 'coaching' them. I would occasionally give a kid a tip here or there during the course of whatever we were doing - no different than I might do to a teammate during a game - but I tried to be as low key as possible. It was just an opportunity for them to kick around. Of course some parents saw no value in that.

    One of the best things we used to do is have big pickup sessions with the high school kids, recent grads (many of whom were playing college soccer) and other alumni. It was a great opportunity for the high school kids to learn little things, the "game sense," from more experienced players. A chance for the recent grads to mentor the current high school kids. Of course, it died out due to the ever-suffocating liability issue.
    cleansheetbsc repped this.
  15. cleansheetbsc

    cleansheetbsc Member+

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    I do the same thing in our club. Same results - kids have a tough time breaking into teams, starting a match and God forbid if there are no lines or need to play without goals (in case the field is shortened).

    I usually do younger kids, say advanced U-8's through new U-14's. The funny thing is, once the teams are made, the games are usually pretty good. Little kids LOVE playing against/with older kids and yeah the big kids find a comfort zone playing against younger kids.

    Like you, I bring the pinnies, set a few ground rules, some minor coaching points, and I'll even play on occasion. One rule to parents "Shut up - it is pickup soccer. Let them play, don't cheer or say anything." Some kids don't come back, certain that parents determine that this isn't structured learning etc. Its the best when a kid comes up and tells you how much fun the pickup is (one kid once told me "its fun to play without parents yelling")

    And yes, a kid will learn something new when an opposing player does something to them. That is the learning experience.
  16. nicklaino

    nicklaino Member

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    Are the kids allowed to talk to each other? Do they communicate eith each other or do they play silently as well.street soccer is when all ages play together not just one age. I used to go to a place in Brooklyn called ave j park. My oldest son who is now 40 would go with me when he was 9 yrs old and I was still a very active player. The neighborhood was all Haitian we played on a big field no markings s cone on each side of the field was the goal you hit it you scored. Age group 7 yrs old to my age St that time in my 30. Number of players any where from 4 to 13 on a side one ball. Time dawn to dusk continuous playing. We all had a lot of fun including me. I got a lot of good players from their.

    Funny in league play they would stand in an offside position and call for the ball. Until we showed them what offside was functionally.
  17. equus

    equus Member

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    I've played in the occasional scrimmage of my U12s to show them how to drop or square a pass, find space, etc., but it seems they're so busy playing their game that they don't really see what I'm doing.

    I've been pondering picking a player/position for a scrimmage and shadow them during it to show them in-game what to be looking for. It wouldn't be smothering them with instruction but let them know what you have in mind, then follow them specifically a few yards from them and when a moment presents itself, interject quickly with a "try sliding out to the wing", "don't crowd the player on the ball", "make a curving run", etc. Then peel off and let them go.

    I can't decide if that would be a help or hindrance.
  18. Timbuck

    Timbuck Member

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    I'll play on the field once in a while, but I found that a short-sided game of "No Running Allowed Soccer" can be pretty effective. It gives the kids time to think and react to what is happening around them. I also throw in an occasional game of "handball" (where they throw and catch the ball. Whoever has the ball cannot move and the ball can't be taken from their hands. They have 5 seconds to throw it or it's a turnover).
  19. Rebaño_Sagrado

    Rebaño_Sagrado Member+

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    You know what I remember about playing multiple sports at a young age? I wanted to be out there, I wanted to beat my neighbors so I could talk shit, or at least, not hear them talk shit. So I would learn some of the nuances or look for advantages, like quick throwins, time wasting, even fake play calling when playing football.

    I just don't see that type of attitude, competitive/fired up, or behavior from most young kids nowadays.
  20. GKbenji

    GKbenji Member

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    I've done the shadow thing occasionally. How I do it is I step in for the player and have them follow me, and explain what I'm doing as I go, and why I'm doing it.

    I have noticed that if I step in and play in a scrimmage or practice game, players start making runs they don't normally make. I think it's because they know I typically won't lose the ball, and will manage to find them, so they feel they can go ahead and make the run. I guess they don't trust their teammates as much, which is an interesting psychological issue we try to address.
    rca2 repped this.
  21. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    I don't think it is coincidence. The absence of unstructured activity time and the degraded mental skills appear to me to be related. And I don't think kids suddenly lose creativity and cognitive skills when they put on soccer cleats.

    Over-protective parents (and over-protective coaches) are creating problem-free environments for their children (and players). That has to have some impact on the population. And the problems we see in soccer have to also be present in the children's other activities.

    The converse is also true. The mental skills we teach our players will carry over to other activities too.
  22. maximo954

    maximo954 New Member

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    --other--
    This is a great warm up game and to progress it and keep it a great warm up with plenty of bending and stretching I tell them that they now can only roll the ball to feet and pick it up. So now they are looking for the ball on the ground option which helps them be more available as an option rather than a throw over the head of the opposition.

    The progression moves to playing the ball with the actual foot, no tackling only intercepting to win the ball back.

    I can then take this to a game to zones to score.And obviously from here you can add neutrals targets etc etc to help bring out your Coaching points /topic.
  23. Ihateusernames

    Ihateusernames Member

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    I've found it helps. GKbenji kind of explains why I think this is so. It's one thing to tell a kid to do something but if you show them and have them make the run, it seems to sink in more.

    In addition to this - something I've found even at the college level sometimes - is that if someone doesn't make a run, then the passes stop being made. If the passes stop being made, the runs stop being made. It's really a vicious cycle. I hate making great runs only to be NEVER rewarded because someone either doesn't have their head up or they take too long and I'm either then covered/offside or a defender smothers the passer. If anyone has any drill to help combat this, I'm all for it. I've tried just general off the ball movement and I've tried giving them different runs to make but many kids (and adults) just think too slowly and too negatively. It's almost like they are afraid to try. I always tell my kids that it's ok if they run offside and the ball doesn't come. The defense still has to look at it. Just get back onside ASAP. Eventually the ballhandler should see the run and make the pass. If the timing is off, I'm just happy they tried. It will come in time and only takes once.
    rca2 repped this.
  24. equus

    equus Member

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    Same here. When I'm in there the light goes on and I feel like they finally get it, only to be discouraged when it goes right back to the same play once I get out. This is a great example of why playing with knowledgable, older kids in unstructured play is good. My son's futsal training he's in now has a small group of kids from 7 to 13 in it and they all scrimmage with each other.

    I like maximo's progression from handball. When you have a group play handball for the first time, it's beautiful. The only way to progress the ball is to give-and-go and they figure it out pretty easily, only to forget it once the power of the dribble and the single pass come into play. Getting those off the ball runs to come to them naturally can be tough to overcome.

    Our rec girls only got a 1-2 off three times all season, even though they did it all the time when we played handball. It's the recognition that they're the same thing.
  25. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Nov 25, 2005
    I don't know of any drills. As an adult coach (and in my own playing) I remind players (and myself) that the first attacker should have 4 or 5 passing options, so that on average runners should only get the actual pass once every five runs. Even more runs if you figure that the first attacker has options to dribble or shoot the ball too. The off the ball runs distinguish the good players from the others. It is a mentality rather than a tactics or skills issue.

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