Rant about U8 Soccer

Discussion in 'Coach' started by jmnva, Nov 13, 2011.

  1. jmnva

    jmnva Member

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    Feb 10, 2007
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    My U8 rec season ended today and I have a new pet peeve. We play 4v4. I can't stand that players instruct a player to stand back at the top of their own goal box and serve almost as a sweeper. When their team is attacking,this player simply stands there and watches.

    Can anyone explain why this makes any sort of developmental sense?


  2. ChapacoSoccer

    ChapacoSoccer Member

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    Jan 12, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles
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    Los Angeles Galaxy
    its horrible, and every coach in our rec league does it as well. In our league (4X4 as well) kids play 3 quarters=30 minutes, 10 minutes of which is spent standing in front of the goal doing almost nothing. Basically, players are spending half of the game bored out of their minds on the sidelines or in front of the goal. I really wish the Reyna would get AYSO to publish rule #1, thou shalt not assign u 8's and unders positions. I'm sure some really good coaches could pull assigning positions off, but the other 90% of coaches are going to station a kid as quasi goalie and ruin the fun.

    This is probably the biggest reason I am looking for a club next year, my son wants to play soccer, not stand in one place on the field.
  3. cleansheetbsc

    cleansheetbsc Member+

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    --other--
    Pretty good chance that you'll see it in club soccer as well. I know we did.

    Sometimes, even if a coach doesn't want that to happen, some kids are so naturally fearful of giving up goals (and /or natural defenders) that they will hang back.
  4. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    May 12, 2010
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    I hear ya. It doesn't end. These coaches' tactics "grow" with their kids.

    Pretty soon it's a 3-person back line that never leaves the 18---> 2 sweepers and 3 marking backs (really, wtf?). Then all these back line players (who probably never get to play another position) are never corrected that there's things to do other than boom the ball out of there.


  5. ctsoccer13

    ctsoccer13 Member

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    Manchester United FC
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    United States
    funny you should mention this just now. My son is 6 and we did an end of season round robin with 6 teams. 12 minute "games". Everyone had an awesome time, but I noticed the same thing. I told my son to move up with the play and he said "no", that his coach told him to play defense and not to move forward. I almost died. For years when I get defenders that stop at the midfield line i tell them "when I find the coach that taught you this, i'm gonna pop him in the back of the head". Well, I found him. He means well, but the problem is he's going to keep coaching and following these same kids as they move through the program. And the club can try to educate the coaches as much as they want, but has a hard time "making" coaches go. Plus he told my son he was a "striker" and that was the center fullback. Ugh. I let it go and corrected my son later, feeling slightly guilty that I might turn into "one of those parents". We sat and watched a game later and I showed him how the defenders moved up. I couldn't coach this season because of High School coaching, but i'll be able to do it from this point forward so I do feel a little better about it.
  6. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    No fault of their own, but I find that many volunteer dad coaches tend to be risk averse. Just my observation I don't mean to offend anyone here.
  7. slaminsams

    slaminsams Member

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    Mar 22, 2010
    I wish more people would take your approach. There is no reason your sons soccer coach and team should be the only exposure to the game.
  8. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Nov 25, 2005
    It is ironic that the defense is actually stronger if the fullback is within supporting distance of the midfielders. These parent coaches don't think about the "midfielder's" ability to fall back and cover for the lone fullback. Or that they are conceding pentetration into the defensive third. They must be golfers, because most team sports have similar tactics. When I was coaching U-Littles years ago the parent coaches were using the 235 in a similar manner. Some things haven't changed.

    To the OP, having the "fullback" remain in front of the goal not only doesn't serve any development purpose, it negates the development value in playing 4v4 without keepers.
  9. equus

    equus Member

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    Jan 6, 2007
    A lot of it stems from what most novice U8 volunteer soccer coaches "think" soccer is. They associate "futbol" with "football" because they're both played on a rectangular grass field with goals on either end...here's the defense, here's the offense, as if they are two separate squads. They never see soccer played on TV or if they do, they don't pay attention to it and see how outside backs make runs down the wings or center backs moving up beyond the 18 to support the attack.

    What they should be doing is looking at it in basketball (or even hockey) terms. Do 6' 11'' centers and 6' 9' power forwards stay back and defend the rim while the other three attack the opponent's basket? No, they all attack and they all defend by running back to close down fast breaks and space.

    I've had U8 parents ask me why I don't make my backs stay put. First I tell them the fun is up there where the ball is, and if they want to defend they need to hustle and sprint back and cut off the attacker. Plus I don't want to leave a huge gap between my attackers and defenders where the opposing team gets a head of steam going toward the goal we're defending. I'd rather defend "out there" than closer to the goal.

    Yeah, they get beat sometimes, mostly because they think they can just jog back. but over time they learn to either not commit so far forward so they can recover if they lose possession, or they learn to get on their horse and sprint back to head off the opposing team's attack.

    If we lose, we lose, but the kids learn. They're not learning if they're standing there, even if the team wins.
  10. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Nov 25, 2005
    American Football and Soccer use the same basic principles of play. You won't see a "prevent" defense unless it is late in the game and the defense is protecting a lead. Otherwise the object is to stop the penetration as far upfield as possible. And in American Football all 11 players play every play.

    The major tactical difference in the sports is that Attacking tactics are not taught to the players in American Football except to the quarterback if he is allowed to call plays. The attacking tactics are found in the playbooks.

    Former competitive American football players should understand soccer attacking and defensive tactics if they were a quarterback or played in the pass defense.
  11. jmnva

    jmnva Member

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    Arlington, VA
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    DC United
    Thanks all.

    I got lots of good points I can add to the discussion as I work with our club technical director on coaching ed issues for this age group.
  12. Pragidealist

    Pragidealist Member

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    Mar 3, 2010
    They are also used to american football, baseball, and even basketball to an extent where everything seems to revolve around "positions." Without a pretty advanced understanding of soccer, its the parent's natural inclinations.

    Its also how they are learning the sport. They first learn the "positions" of the game. At a simple conceptual level, its easier for them to understand that way. As someone said, their conceptual understanding develops alongside the youth. So their understanding and priorities are naturally short term focused.

    Then add the winning is everything culture that the US has with sports. Even if a youth coach doesn't believe in it, I think it takesa consious effort to not coach that way.

    I don't like it and I wonder how I will handle it when my son starts playing (he's 11 months old now- so i have some time) and my daughter (due in January. Hopefully I'll just coach them myself. ;-) Having coached travel at the upper levels, the need to focus heavily on technical and NOT restrict the kids' conceptual development of the game is so obviously clear- I hope I can take that and coach them at the early years at least.

    Then I will of course have to deal with all the parents that want them to play a certain way or want them developed a certain way. :rolleyes:
  13. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Nov 25, 2005
    These points are true of any similar team sport, such as basketball. Any athlete who has played on an organized team with a professional coach is going to understand this too, because that is going to be how he or she was taught. Professional coaches at every level are always concerned with "fundamentals."

    The problem is when you get a non-athlete parent coach who doesn't know any fundamentals to teach and never seen good coaching practices.
  14. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

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    Arsenal FC
    What I hope to do in the next cycle is be more active in educating parents about what the kids are learning and why. I sent an open invitation to my parents to come "sit-in" on practice, ask me questions and what not. I got no takers though. I had a few come for a closer look, but overall no one asked. I don't think they're not interested, but it's hard to be the one that breaks the ice.

    Additionally, most parents aren't interested in what they don't know. They accept the confirmation bias of what they see as proof that what they know is right. Jessie outruns a defender and scores a goal in one game, ergo Jessie should play forward every game.
  15. Pragidealist

    Pragidealist Member

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    Mar 3, 2010

    That is a really good point and may be a centeral problem with youth development in the US. Not enough coaches in the US have a good basis on the fundamentals. They can be learned by non-athletes and non former players, but it takes research and study. Not things most dad's are going to do for as a volunteer of a young rec team, where most US soccer players begin their education.

    Its a problem of an adult teaching a child from an adult's perspective of the sport.
  16. Lower90

    Lower90 Member

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    Aug 26, 2009
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    I posted a couple months back about some problems I was experiencing at our youth academy with someone new to coaching and they also played very little in their lives. Everything he did was focused on not taking any risks and playing positions in 6v6 and ridiculous large number scrimmaging. Even when I was able to talk him into SSG's he tried to put them in positions - I mean what does midfield even mean in a 20x20 grid? And yes he would make someone stay back in the SSG's thus encouraging players to stay put. All goal kicks had to be the outside and all throw ins down the line. I had to fight like crazy to get individual technical and first touch work in.

    I had to miss several games due to conflicts with some older teams I coach but last week I finally got to watch 2 games. On several goal kicks they kicked it almost squarely off the field and not one time did a throw in go to or even towards a player. They knew it was going down the line so all of them would run to the sideline and basically run into each other and lost the ball. The players would just try to dribble through the defenders no matter how many they were taking on. It was just awful, it was basically an exact replica of practice - static players afraid to do anything.

    I have to relay one incident. Often he would approach me with what was going on in the games and if I had ideas on how to work on those aspects. One night he said we needed to work on spreading out and not getting in packs. So I did some warm ups, some technical stuff etc. I broke the group into teams of 4 and made 2 small grids. Object was just to stop it on the line of opponent. Got them into diamonds. Really over emphasizing what getting wide means. I would vary which corner of the diamond we started with but I would play the ball in and they had to make at least one pass to one of the other three to begin play. When I played to the top of the diamond it quickly donned on them they were going to lose the ball if they did not make a quick back pass to one of the support players. That then started moving to other parts of the grid as players would move in and support dribblers. It was fantastic. Cue the record scratch.........about 15 minutes in he started telling the players to stop playing the ball back and take people on instead. I could not even believe my ears. After practice he told me taking risks like that would cost us goals after which I reminded him there were no goals in the league and that playing the ball to support is a soccer fundamental. It was pointless.

    I then took the advice of several fellow forum members and went directly to the DOC for help. He listened and did what I hoped, stepped in and started running at least one session per week. Going forward to spring he or the asst DOC will be running all youth training sessions with the assistance of a few of us experienced coaches. The games will be stress free with us just basically managing the players going in and out and words of encouragement. What a long 3 months, wow. And yes let's hope US soccer finally puts an end to allowing people to shape kids that don't know what they are doing, even with the best intentions.
  17. ChapacoSoccer

    ChapacoSoccer Member

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    Jan 12, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Well, I hope somewhere in driving distance in LA there will be a club that practices good development. If not, I guess I'll coach him again in Rec. I don't know the fundamentals well, but I will just let them play.

    -And another big problem with the sweeper is then the other kids feel like defense isn't their job, so they don't run back as much,
  18. DwayneBarry

    DwayneBarry Member

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    Aug 25, 2008
    We basically have one proper soccer academy in our area and they take a very developmental approach. I've got a couple of kids who have been advancing for the ULittle ages for a few years now and it is the same as every 8-10 week session begins.

    Inevitably there are parents who can't believe they aren't teaching U10 and younger kids positions. They start teaching "shape" with the 8-9 year olds. Even though the typical competitive situation is constantly shifting intra-academy teams playing one another in an informal environment, you will still have parents who coach their kid from the side-line to stand back by the goal! A couple of times it's gone to the point of telling parents that this club might not be for them. They just don't get it.
  19. guignol

    guignol Moderator Staff Member

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    mermoz-les-boss
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    Olympique Lyonnais
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    France
    coming from another planet it seems obvious to me that they don't make it 4 a side just to be more than 3 and less than 5: it's 2 forward, 2 back, 2 left, 2 right (hmmm, that's 8 already but never mind)... just enough organization to be a step above chaos and still not be "tactics". tactics? we don't need no stinking tactics!
  20. equus

    equus Member

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    Jan 6, 2007
    Another rant...do the games in your U8 leagues have disproportionally rough play?

    I've complained to the league in both U10 and now U8 recently about the overabundance of physical play. The rules for these divisions don't use cards and only penalty kicks for U10 and up, not U8.

    Whether it's just the kids themselves or they're being instructed to do it, the leg hacking, pushing, shoving and shirt pulls to the ground are getting way out of hand. The young refs either let this stuff go too often, or they call tons of fouls but the kids are never aware of why they are called; they just run back for a free kick. And the refs can't emphasize the fouls with cards or won't stop play to manage the game and educate the kids.

    I understand that some inadvertant bumping and physical stuff does occur and that's okay, but these are the ages there should be an atmosphere of using and improving skills, technique and learning the laws. The physical part of the game will be there when they get older.

    Instead, the ones who do use their technique get taken out. I heard quite a few "Get him!" shouts from opposing coaches against some of my more technical players this past season.
  21. ranova

    ranova Member

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    Aug 30, 2006
    It is not the ref's job to teach the kids the LOTG, especially not a grade 9 doing U-Little 4v4 matches. This is supposed to be as much a learning experience for the ref as it is for the players.

    Whether or not a coach expressly instructs the players to do it is irrelevant. It is the coaches' responsibility to train and manage his team. Even silently allowing the foul play is tacit approval.

    I didn't have a problem like this with youth teams, but I run into the same problem with opponents in adult matches. My first recourse is to complain to the referee (but all he can do is enforce the LOTG), but complaining in front of the other team usually calms them down. If not, then I ask the opposing coach to eliminate the behavior. The last recourse is to abandon the match. In the longer term, league management should promote good sportsmanship.

    If a player has not been taught the LOTG and how to properly tackle by his coach before the match, you cannot expect any referee to deal with that during a match.
  22. ChapacoSoccer

    ChapacoSoccer Member

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    Jan 12, 2010
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    Los Angeles
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    it would bug me if this were being coached, but otherwise, they are just kids, you know, they are going to wrestle around some and they don't have great control of their bodies. My reffing this season the U8's I occasionally take a kid aside and tell them to calm down and stay on their feet-in our association we are urged to teach the LOTG as refs.

    But if you watch just normal little kid pick up games they push and wrestle, just like they do in everything else. Its probably good for their athletic development overall. I bet Messi got knocked around plenty playing in the streets.
  23. DwayneBarry

    DwayneBarry Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2008
    Not seen it. My kids have played in ULittles in a couple different areas of the country and in different settings, mostly rec. but some club competitions. Physical play has been pretty mild. I agree though that when it happens the young refs often don't do enough to stop it, the biggest offenders seems to the kids who "slide tackle", your standard pushing and shoving though they seem to be pretty good at stopping.

    OTOH, I just as often hear parents protesting over something physical that is really just a couple of kids getting tangled up or legitimately battling for a ball. And I say that fully believing at some point the U.S. game does become overly physical mainly because the refs let it and the parents/players like it as long as their side is the one getting away with committing the fouls :)
  24. equus

    equus Member

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    Jan 6, 2007
    Yeah, I'm not talking about legit battles for the ball. I watch some of my former players and sit with their parents (something I have rarely done since I'm on the other side most of the time) and some ask me why I'm not reacting when someone gets shoulder charged off the ball.
  25. Monkey Boy

    Monkey Boy Member

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    FC Bayern M√ľnchen
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    We have the majority of teams playing this tactic right now in 4v4, even more so than when we were at U7 4v4 last year. It happens so much that my players feel it's unfair that the other team gets to have a 'goalie'.

    That being said, I introduced positions this fall to my U8 team. It's the first time most of these players have been put into positions - I've had half of them for about 3 years now. The positions are really roles though, with the emphasis of teaching teamwork.

    In this set-up, the defender must be close to the player with the ball in order to serve as an outlet to switch the point of attack, but there's not a set area of the field the players need to be in for their position. This doesn't make any sense. The position of the players is determined by the location of the ball, who has possession and open space available. Yes, the kids are just learning these concepts, so they make a lot of mistakes, but giving up a goal is a good thing to help teach them why that support and cover is needed.

    Using the roles in this way helps to provide a context for the players on the field regarding teamwork on both offense and defense. It seems to be easier for them to grasp the ideas of support, cover and off-ball movement with such a system. This is obviously more important for the players without the ball, but helps with the decisions made by the one with it.

    That being said, none of this means anything if the players are not comfortable with the ball first. Each player must be able to hold the ball, beat a defender, and make an accurate pass in order to be confident enough to review their options on the field. If they're not at that point yet and you don't have enough time with them, then don't waste it with putting a lot of effort into teaching positions.

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