Your experience with the parents

Discussion in 'Coach' started by strikerbrian, Nov 7, 2012.

  1. strikerbrian

    strikerbrian Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    Location:
    Queensbury, NY
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
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    United States
    There are a ton of positives in coaching. We get to work with some fabulous kids, talented athletes, the competition, the opportunity to stay in the game, etc. There are a few negatives as well. Poor fields, poor/uneven talent, bad administration. You name it.

    One of those things I hear all the time as a negative are the parents. Personally I have had a few run ins with parents that ruined my day but in general I've been lucky. I have always made it clear what kind of behavior was expected from them and they have, for the most part behaved themselves.

    I'd like to hear about your experiences with parents over the years. I'll share one myself to get it started.

    Just this year, while coaching high school ball, our program came up against a very organized group of parents who seemed to be bent on making the coaches lives difficult. Like I said, I have always been pretty lucky and rarely had parental issues. But this group was ridiculous. They would actually have meetings and come up with a plan on how to get what they wanted that involved multiple parents approaching/calling/e-mailing the coaches and athletic director with there issues. Doesn't sound like much but they would do this over several says, no one parent making there complaint at the same time/day, and all with the same complaint worded slightly differently and phrased as though it was there concern only. Some would be real nice about it but only after the nastygrams came through. Sort of a good cop bad cop thing I guess. We didn't clue in on it right away but some of the other parents who thought it was silly let us know what was up. It actually became kind of comical after awhile.
    saabrian and rca2 repped this.


  2. GKbenji

    GKbenji Member

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    Colorado Rapids
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    This is absolutely key! Setting expectations (behavior, playing time, cost, travel, etc. etc.) is the best way to head problems off at the pass. Numerous times when I've had parent complaints, I've been able to say, "Well, if you looked at the handout you got at the team meeting at the start of the season, it says....."

    That said, I had a couple seasons with one of the most difficult HS boys teams ever--players and parents. In one game, a mother marched across the field at halftime--as I'm gathering the team for our talk--and starts berating me to my face. "You're the worst coach ever, you should resign right now!" It was so over the top it was almost funny. I just kept repeating, "Please go back to the sideline, I need to get the team ready for the second half. Ma'am, you need to go back to the bleachers. Could you please leave the field, we're in the middle of a game." After a minute or so she ran out of steam and stomped back over to the stands. She did call our AD later and apologize (to him, never to me), but still. o_O
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  3. Twenty26Six

    Twenty26Six Feeling Sheepish...

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    Liverpool FC
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    The funny thing is she probably does that same thing at every restaurant she goes to, and they spit in her food. Oh, well. Karma gets us all, doesn't it? :D
  4. Rob55

    Rob55 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2011
    I've been lucky as well and have had very few parental issues over the years. The 1st season I coached I had a parent complain that myself and asst. coach were being too negative and demoralizing towards their daughter. Neither he or I had any clue that we were being anythign but encouranging and supportinve so we made effort to be rediculous with our praise towards everything she did just to keep the peace. 6 years and 12 seasons of coaching later and never had another parent issue so I just chalk that one up to a high-maintenance parent issue.

    I usually keep open door policy/email/phone with parents and want feedback if there are any problems or issues at all. I had some player issues that had to be dealt with from input from parents but parents weren't the problem in those situations it was the players issues and the parents brought them to my attention.


  5. J'can

    J'can Member+

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    Manchester United FC
    i am dying for you to give me an example. i mean, i am into my first season as a coach and i am up at night thinking about what i can do for whom to get them to learn more, to improve their game. i am losing sleep thinking about drills or how i can reach a particular player. then i have to deal with this crap!!! what, little suzie is being played as a support striker instead of as an attacking midfield and they had to get a petition with three hundred names to get you to change it??? sheesh.
  6. Mike C

    Mike C New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2012
    This is my 5th year coaching. I coach both my children who are currently U8(co-ed) and U11(girls). I have in general been lucky with parents until this U11 season. We play in a travel league in our state. This is everyone's first year in U11 including mine. We moved up to an 8 v 8 format and larger goals (16' x 8'). My town conducts tryouts and breaks the players into an "A", "B", and "C" team. I coach the "B" team.

    The season starts out with some parents complaining that their child was incorrectly placed on my team because the played on the "A" team in U10. Both players in question are very good players and probably did deserve to be on the "A" team. However, the are not that far ahead of the other players on my team and we were placed in a tough divsion so they would easily be challenged by our opposition. I explained to the parents that I was not involved in the tryout process or team sellection process but that this would be a challenge for their girls because they would be the top players on the team for once and would get to feel how that is like as opposed to relying on others like in the past. I am thinking that this quells matters. Wrong

    Parent 1: I send out my introductory coach's email discussing what will be happening this season, rules, practice times, schedule, etc. In this I include a comment that we will be rotating through a series of goal keepers to give whoever is interested a chance to try goalie with the larger net (in U10 all my players rotated through the goalie position). I immediately get an email from one parent (Parent 1) about how her daughter played goalie all last season and would be losing all she achieved last season by not playing goal every week. She wanted her in goal at least once every other week. In the end I wanted this team to be developmental and I had (6) girls want to try goal. Since this was our first season in U11 I thought this would be fine because it would give them a chance to try out the new goal in the U11 format. I was sure after trying it I would probably have less volunteers the following season. This is met by another email about how (6) is too many and her daughter is going to be left behind. I tried to explain that this would give her more time in the field which might actually help her perspective as a goalie (remember she rarely played in the field in U10). As the season goes on this parents notices her daughter's field play has really improved and she is really a dominant force on the field. When I speak to parent there is always a comment like "Wow I really think she is doing great in the field, but her goalie play is suffereing" or "she was awesome as center back but should could have done better than the goalie you had". There is always the backhanded compliment for pretty much the whole season.

    Parent 2: In her mind her daughter is a star forward. In my scheme I try to rotate players around to provide balanced strength and give them exposure to all positions. (I play a 3-3-1 format). The first (4) weeks her daughter has either played striker or midfielfer. However our team has struggled at defense and we need strong players in back. I know this girl does not want to play defense so I give her a pep talk before the game on why we need her back there. After the game her mother comes over and berates my assistant coach (I was luckily talking to someone else). I get home and I have a lengthy email about how I don't understand her daughter's worth to the team. How she is the only one who can score goals and I basically lost the game for our team by putting her in as center back. At that point in the season her daughter had scored (1) of the teams (3) goals. Again I tried to explain that we were trying to develop the soccer players and that her skills were just as important as a full back as she was as a forward and that it was too early to have a permanent position.

    I have felt challenged by parent 1 and parent 2 every step of the season. It has been my longest and most frustrating season. Luckily there is one game left this weekend.
  7. strikerbrian

    strikerbrian Member

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    Queensbury, NY
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    New York Red Bulls
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    Mike,

    Sorry to hear of your troubles. I think you are handling things fine.

    Parent #1 will never be happy untill her daughter wins the world cup and even then she will say her daughter would have coached the game better even though her team is coached by a world class coach.

    Parent #2 is the type that is the most frustrating. She is a glory hound. It's all about her daughter and what she can accomplish. Never mind the fact that she probably learned more during her time at center back than she would have on the front line.

    Good luck with your last game and future seasons.
  8. strikerbrian

    strikerbrian Member

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    Queensbury, NY
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    New York Red Bulls
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    This particular situation was related to player selection. The program stretches across three levels. Modified (7th and 8th grade), Junior varsity, and Varsity. We had made a decision to bring up a few talented 8th graders to bolster some weak numbers at the JV and varsity level. Some parents felt that we should have promoted other boys in addition to the ones we did. There was a whole string of decisions made that the parents fought tooth and nail because they couldn't/wouldn't see the whole picture. We as coaches are trying to run a program that crosses three levels and consists of nearly 60 boys. We have to manage the talent, numbers, and the general health of the program as a whole. Mom only wants us to worry about junior and his needs. Like I said it was ridiculous beyond belief.

    The key is to get the parents to buy in to the program as a whole. The goal is to create a winning varsity program while developing good young men. Players with character. This means results don't matter at modified. Development does. Results matter a bit more at JV but again the goal for these players is to prepare for varsity. There is no JV championship. And no championship is worth selling ones character for. Play hard and play right.

    Parents have a hard time seeing beyond the moment when there kids are playing. They want to watch there kid play. They want whats best for their kid. That is as it should be. But what is best and what their parents think is best don't usually align. So you have to get them to believe you know whats best, soccer wise, for their kid. That is a tough sell, always.

    Went off a little there but hopefully there is something in all of that that a new coach can use.
    saabrian repped this.
  9. strikerbrian

    strikerbrian Member

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    How about this one.

    One of my boys mothers e-mails me and asks if I would meet with his father after practice one day to discuss some "concerns" he has. We were still dealing with the issue I mentioned in my above post and since this kid is one of the young omes we brought up I assumed that the topic of converstaion was related.

    Right away I realize I haven't met the man before. I introduce myself and asked what I can do for him. Turns out he was upset that I had been playing his son as a center back and that he was tired of watching his son making up for the mistakes of others. He should be playing somewhere else on the field. I didn't know what to say at first. My AD just happened to be standing there and I looked at him with what I am pretty sure was disbelief. Seriously?

    He went further saying that I should be playing the biggest and tallest players at that position. "That's how it was when I played". Yeah, nearly 30 years ago. Granted the guy isn't a complete soccer dunce. He played for Hartwick many years ago but come on. "small guys shouldn't be playing back there." Again just shock at the ignorance.

    I asked a few questions. "Have you been to game this year?" ( we had played 3 or 4 by this point) "No I haven't." So I told him he should probably come to see a game, that his son was talented and that he played the position the right way. I explained that I like my center backs to not only be great defenders but that they need to have attacking skills as well as our game plan is to use those backs as support and often times as a starting point for attacks.

    I further explained that it was his son who made the initial decision to play defense. That his son was our best option even as an 8th grade kid. That even though he had the skills to play elswhere on the field he was number 2 or 3 depth wise nearly everywhere else. I explained that I try to get the best 11 players on the field and that his son is one of those 11. If he is playing at the back position. It was still early in the season and he would have an opportunity to play in different positions as the season advance but that right then we were building relationships on the field. Relationships that would last for years as the boys advanced through JV and onto the varsity squad.

    Luckily the AD was there and backed me up. I just couldn't believe that the guy wanted to complain that his boy who was starting as an 8th grader wasn't playing in the right place on the field. I have been coaching now for 20 years. I have had parents come to me and question their kids placement on the field. But for some reason this guy just blew me away.

    At least he came to me at the end of the season and thanked me for my hard work and told me his son enjoyed the experience. He even had the grace to look alittle embarassed when I asked if he had made it out to any of our games.

    Unbeleivable.
  10. J'can

    J'can Member+

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    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Parent: You have to play my son as a forwrd..
    Coach : Really, why would you say that? Have you seen him play as a CB?
    Parent: No
    Coach: Have you seen him play as a forward?
    Parent: Erm no......
    Coach: Sir have you seen you son play at all?
    Parent: that is not the point.....
    Coach: The team is now taking the field, can you at least identify which one is your son?

    :)
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  11. strikerbrian

    strikerbrian Member

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    Yep. That about sums it up. Hilarious. If I could rep you twice I would!:ROFLMAO:
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  12. nicklaino

    nicklaino Member

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    Brooklyn, NY
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    I treat parents like if I was management and they are employees. I don't make small talk with them. I am not their friend I work for the club. I don't work for them.

    But I love the player, and I want to see them all do well. Anyone with eyes can see that fact. The parents can see that fact. I am always honest with the player. So the player and the parent never have to wonder what I am thinking concerning the player their children.
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  13. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    This is the approach I plan on taking in my next go around. You can't be friends with them because at some point you have to make tough decisions about them/their kids and personal feelings may cloud that.
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  14. nicklaino

    nicklaino Member

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    Brooklyn, NY
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    So how are you guys doing who were in the storm. I live near the water, but I was very lucky as compared with some of my neighbors. My house and dock should be finished Monday. I was hoping it would be done yesterday but it was not to be.

    My daughter lives by the beach in Bell harbor she still has a house. But her street and parts if the house still has sand in it. Her board walk is gone she was told she can't move back in until July, but I think April is a better estimate.

    In the mean time and she got lucky she is renting a condo with a 6 month lease and after thst can go month to month.
  15. equus

    equus Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    I wish clubs would find the time to have a required parent soccer education session(s). I think that would go a long way in helping alleviate some of the issues (not all, of course).

    I'm a good example with my first experience as a club parent with my 7 year old in their U9 academy. In just about all of the end-of-practice scrimmages and the first two playdays during the first half of the fall season, I notice he's playing exclusively as a back, even though the CM and attackers don't seem as skilled as him. This is a kid who has great skill and technique for his age, is aggressive and scored lots of goals, like many who move from rec to club.

    His natural role at this stage is in the center mid role (attacks but likes to drop deep to get the ball), yet he's always being played as a back. He does well there because of his speed and closing down attackers. The parent in me would be asking the coach why he's only being played in the back, but the coach in me realizes that he needs to play as a back to make him a more well-rounded player. So I wait and see what happens.

    From the midway point to the end of the season I see a huge change in his game. Instead of the U8 rec player on a smaller field, who gets the ball and dribbles his way through every opposing player and scores, on a larger field in U9 academy he now wins the ball and beats his first defender, then looks up to see his options to pass or bomb down the wing if there's space. He now knows he can't do it all himself like he did in rec.

    He was then played more in the CM role he is naturally accustomed to, and now is more effective at it. A lot of parents can't recognize that change. If they had more education they might.
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  16. nicklaino

    nicklaino Member

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    His coach did the right thing by him. Saw he was effective on attack then moved him up more into the attack. Also gave him the freedom to attack as a back. Some coaches don't.

    Wait till he gets older. Some times it gets worse trust me I have seen it.
  17. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Nov 25, 2005
    His approach doesn't concede any power to the parents. I like it. A lot. Unfortunately around here it is common that elite team parents hire and pay the team's coach. At least that was common 10-15 years ago. I am out of touch now.
  18. saabrian

    saabrian Member

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    Upstate NY
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    AS Roma
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    I agree with strikerbrian. I find the kids to be relatively easy to deal with in most cases. They are the fun part.

    But I am convinced that the worst parents to deal with are not the ones who know nothing about soccer (or whatever sport is in question). Those parents tend to more often to defer to the coach because they understand the limitations of their knowledge of the game.

    The worst parents to deal with are the ones who know just enough to think they know a lot about the game but not enough to actually do so. Or they may understand the game in general but don't understand critical parts of it as it relates to youth coaching.

    Some don't understand that a coach may realize that a player is better suited to one position but is more needed in another in order for all the puzzle pieces to fit together.

    Some don't understand stages of development (eg: they think U8 is going to look the same as U19 only slower). They don't understand that you don't bombard elementary school kids with tactical training.

    Some don't understand the difference between coaching a stand-alone team vs coaching in a program like strikerbrian does and the different considerations coaches in each have to factor in.

    Some understand how the game was played 20 years ago but not how it's evolved today.

    A little knowledge is indeed a dangerous thing.
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  19. saabrian

    saabrian Member

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    Upstate NY
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    AS Roma
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    United States
    I've been pushing such a program at my club since my awful experience with parents last year. Haven't gotten anywhere yet but would still like to put something together. I think the myopic will always remain myopic but I think it would definitely help the average parent. If nothing else, it would fill in an information vacuum before it got poisoned with misinformation from the wrong kind of parent.
  20. saabrian

    saabrian Member

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    Last year, I coached at the middle school age level. I sent out an anonymous feedback survey for my own information. I got basically the same complaint from multiple parents. They accused me of being too fair.

    Yes that's right. I was too fair.

    I told both parents and players at the beginning of the season that although we would try to win games, our number one priority was player development. As a result, my policy was to give every player real playing time (not the insultingly token 2 minutes here or there when we were way ahead/behind) every game... unless there was a disciplinary or medical issue. And I stuck firm to that regardless of opponent, regardless of scoreline.

    The complaint was that I should've given most of the playing time to the talented players and just give the odd scrap to everyone else. They told me the kids don't care if they play. They just want to be on a winning team. Typical adult rationalization bullsh**. Every time I looked at my bench, I had 10 pairs of eyes focused on me praying that I'd call their name to go in. They didn't care? Baloney.

    We probably could've won as many as 2/3 more games if I'd done it their way. But I knew I was doing things the right way for the age group I was with.

    I lost that position following the season after over a decade in the post. I am still unsure if it was related to parent complaints but assume that played at least some role. I was saddened and angered by this. But I wouldn't have changed my philosophy. I did things the right way and can look at myself in the mirror.

    If you'd asked me when I started coaching a list of things I might be accused of, being too fair would never have entered my mind. So when I read strikerbrian's stories, I certainly identified with them.
  21. J'can

    J'can Member+

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    Jul 3, 2007
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    Manchester United FC
    Not sure if this belongs here or in anotehr thread but I figured out why coaches talk (joystick style) from teh sidelines. Well one of the possible reasons. parents are always yelling instructions from the sideliens some that run totally contrary to what you give to the kids (which in a lot of cases for my group not much insturction - let them play it out - dont want to coach their every move)

    I had one parent tell his daughter stay back when all in practice i am encouraging her to go forward get into the attack make your decisions on what is happening in the game. she "ghosts" really well and when she gets up there adds much needed power and skill to the attack.

    this same parent told his kid that i should station two girls up top so when the ball is kick out they would chase and score. granted it would work but one of hte kids who he wants up there and I have an ongoing battle. i told her flat out i catch you standing there waiting in the opponenets half for someone to hoof the ball to you i am yanking you from the game. she is big and stong and fast and has more than a beginning skill level (enough to be developed) so when she finds herself up top she outmuscles and outskill her opponenets who are two weak or slow to keep up so she will score. Probelm is as I told her and the other kid, what will you learn? here and now you are bigger and stronger and faster. what will happen when you play with the U16 when they aer all just a big and strong and fast what will you do then........ sheesh.... /end rant for now?

    anyway coaches sometimes talk so that they are not drowned out by the noisy knowitall parents....
  22. NBTHOMCCC

    NBTHOMCCC Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    There is a laundry list of reasons I stopped coaching and switched to refereeing a number of years ago. The breaking point was a nasty stupid parent. Rec level summer soccer. Championship game, a few minutes left we score to go up two goals and negate the other teams late game pressure. We're minutes away from winning the trophy, the kids are getting excited, its looking like a vindication of my mantra of practice (in a league with a 100% game/0% practice model) and equal playing time for all. All those hours of volunteer work coaching other people's kids and we've reached the penultimate moment... which is then wrecked by the mother who chose that exact moment to stomp around the field to rant at me for having just subbed out her son (a top player) and he gets less playing time (he didn't) than anyone else, and he'll never play for me again. I miss the rest of the game struggling to come up with empathetic polite responses when all I really wanted to do was tell her she was a stupid bitch and good luck coaching herself next year. A total killjoy in what should have been the highest moment of the season. Like I said, there are a lot of reasons that contributed to the switch from coach to referee, but #1 is because ****'s mom is a bitch. BTW, the kid was mortified to the point of tears.
  23. J'can

    J'can Member+

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    Jul 3, 2007
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    did you still get the trophy or did they throw your team out?
  24. equus

    equus Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    At the beginning of the season when we have the parent meeting, I put an emphasis on not coaching from the sideline, and if they can't help themselves they're more than welcome to join me and I'll share my way of doing things, and put them to work during practices and future games.

    The few times I've had a parent still trying to coach from the sideline and say the exact opposite of what I'm teaching, I've sent them an email on Sunday with my next training session plan and tell him/her what we're going to be working on and that he/she should arrive 30 minutes prior to practice starting so we can set up the session.

    Funny, I never get any takers... :rolleyes:
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  25. rca2

    rca2 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    I really liked everything you said, except this I do not agree with. The last rule change that actually had a significant impact on play was 20 years ago (i.e., the pass back rule introduced in 1992). Pressing was introduced way before 1992 as well as substitutions. For any aspect of play you want to name I will be able to point to its use more than 20 years ago.

    The biggest changes "recently" in PLAY are the allowance of substitutions and pressing. Pressing was a big component of the 1970's total soccer system of play. Except for the passback rule which prevents teams from killing the game by passing back to the keeper repeatedly and greatly transformed the play of keepers, there has been no real changes in how the game is played since Dutch total soccer.

    If you want to talk about what are popular systems of play, that doesn't mean play is different. It just reflects what is more popular currently. What is more popular really is of no concern to players. They should only be concerned with their present team's system of play and what their opponents are doing. 30 years ago you could defend man-to-man, zonally or in a modified zone. You still can. You still score by invading the opponent's half of the field and putting the ball into the net. And I always say that the system of play doesn't really matter. There are correct tactical solutions to problems and the solutions don't change because you are in a 433, 442, or whatever system. The solution might involve a cross from the flank into the penalty area. The system you are in doesn't change that solution, merely coordinates between the players which of them will be making the play.

    There are other changes. For instance now coaches are trying to control the players actions on the field. Soccer in the past was always a player's game. Coaches had no influence during matches. But that is not a change in how the game is played, just who is controlling the play.

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