Path for 11 y/o to play in high school and beyond

Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by soccermitchell, May 29, 2014.

  1. soccermitchell

    soccermitchell New Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Question about how proactive I need to be with my 11 y/o regarding teams/clubs.

    My son: 11 y/o, slim, but fast, great passer/team player, strong left as well as right, good but not great dribbler, good defender(way above his weight class). He's played 3 years on club teams but has been playing with players of his grade rather than his age (he was tested and pushed up a school grade 10 days ahead of the official schedule). This means he's been one of the smaller guys and consequently was put on 3rd teams (Challenge level) the last two years, but he's been OK with that b/c he likes to play with guys in his grade.

    The questions are - if his aspiration is to continue on to play in high school at a minimum and possibly into college - do we realistically need to drop him back to his true age bracket AND make efforts to try to get him on a higher level competitive team - like a Classic team - in order to advance his goals? So much of what I've seen is the upper competitive team placement is about size, speed, and aggressiveness with the technical skill, possession focus, and soccer brain sometimes not there. Will emphasis on the level of one's team history play fall away in high school or will he be stigmatized by continuing to play on lower competitive teams?
     
  2. mckersive

    mckersive Member+

    Mar 26, 2013
    New York City
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I have exactly (well almost) the same situation! Same age 11 (Oct. 2002) playing on U12 (8/01-7/02) team. One difference is that he is more of a dribbler/passer than a defender. The other difference is that he is playing with the top club team in his grade, which team is competing at premier level leagues (whatever that is, but at a minimum it means that the opponents are the biggest, skilled and fastest I have seen), but given his size and physicality his playing time is limited.

    I have also been think whether it would be better for him to "repeat" U12 again. My thinking is not necessarily for high school/college aspiration reasons, but purely soccer development for development sake reasons. Right now I am not doing anything about it because whatever benefits of playing on age, it may be offset by my son's negative reaction to having to play with the "younger" kids. I put younger in brackets because even if the U11 kids are in his age group, he feels that they are socially younger.
    I see this as well, but so far my compromise has been to rely on his current team's training to build up his physical and speed side of the game (I figured he would get this regardless of playing time) and supplement that with skills training (such as RDS program offered by Red Bulls in our area).
     
  3. high school coaches only care who will help them win. they don't care what club team/level kids play/ed on. every one of my daughter's friends that play on a top 1-10 team made varsity as freshman. some that play on lower level teams also made varsity as freshman but they are on less competitive HS teams. we had a freshman team and no one was turned away from JV.

    his size might hurt him because he is the youngest.

    my daughter has a good friend that plays up but is playing on grade. she tried playing her age one year and hated it because of the maturity difference. after that she chose an on grade B team with less playing time over an on age A team with more playing time.
     
  4. every one of my daughter's friends that play on a top 1-10 team made varsity as freshman.

    edit:
    every one of my daughter's friends that play on a top 1-10 team made varsity as freshman because they are skilled
     
  5. CalvinB

    CalvinB Member

    May 24, 2006
    Greenville, SC
    OP, that is a tough situation. I have a 13 year old and we have been doing the club scene the last several years (with Developmental Academy on the horizon). My advice would be to get him on the team with the best coaches and best players, if possible. Your concern about him being "stigmatized" by playing on a lower team is a valid one. He is not being helped if he is playing on a team with lesser players. Conversely, his development might suffer if he is placed on an older team and he doesn't get much playing time. The best situation is to have quality training (and lots of it) with a good coach; and being surrounded by other skilled players. At our club here in SC, the only players who "play up" are the kids who are very technically skilled and who can handle the more physical play. In my opinion, sitting on the bench does not help though. Hope this helps.
     
  6. SoccerCoach101

    SoccerCoach101 New Member

    Jun 8, 2014
    Club:
    CF Rayados de Monterrey
    find the team that he's happy with - enjoying - playing with skill and a good coach- the rest of the stuff will work itself out
     
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  7. nicklaino

    nicklaino Member+

    Feb 14, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    He should work on his dribbling ability, and his ability to take opponents on and beating them. Work on his ability to shoot and score.

    Him being small can be an advantage. He should have a lower center of gravity then the players he is playing against. That should help hid dribbling and his quickness especially his quick ness in a small space.

    His goal for HS is to make the varsity in his freshman year. To do that he has to work on what I said. And to play with and against better players now.

    You would think bigger players can knock him off his dribble. Get him used to using his arms and hands to help fight off his tacklers when he dribbles.
     
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  8. saabrian

    saabrian Member

    Mar 25, 2002
    Upstate NY
    Club:
    Leicester City FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Put him wherever his TECHNICAL skills will develop most, especially at that age. He's only 11. His physical attributes will come in time.

    In that vein, I generally think kids should play at their own age level. If a kid's really good, have him or her try out for an elite team. I'd only have a kid play up if there's no elite option available or if the kid's technical ability is so exceptional that he wouldn't be challenged even at the elite level (since the realities of 'elite" level vary quite widely). But from what you describe, your son seems average technically at this point in time.

    And as one commenter alluded to above, who knows? Maybe his HS coach won't even value technical players or know how to use them properly. Maybe he will (I prefer quicker, more technical players and they are more often than not smaller). You can't worry about that. Encourage - don't force - him to do ball work on his own outside of formal training. Just make sure he continues to love the game. Everything else flows from that.
     
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  9. saabrian

    saabrian Member

    Mar 25, 2002
    Upstate NY
    Club:
    Leicester City FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I don't think i'd phrase the goal that way. That sort of thing depends widely on the school as well as on the personnel available in any particular year. In my league, freshmen on varsity are not uncommon. At my school, it's pretty uncommon. At schools in my area (with much bigger player pools) in different leagues, it's virtually unheard of.
     
  10. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Woodbridge, VA
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Some great advice above.

    I would add--don't be focused on finding the "best competition" right now, because at his age that generally means bigger, faster kids, and that means that he'll be focused on keeping up with pace of the game and on not making mistakes. He needs to be comfortable enough to work on what he's NOT good at, which means being free to make mistakes without being instantly punished/exposed every single time. Playing up all too often produces two-dimensional players who have learned to specialize in a handful of skills.
     
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  11. jack0fspeed

    jack0fspeed New Member

    Apr 23, 2012
    Dallas, TX
    Club:
    Juventus FC
    My kid is age 14 and he is trying to make a lot of things come together to play at an elite level. Athleticism, decision-making, mental toughness, physicality, etc. Technical skill has to be a given at this point. Off the ball movement has to be a given. Playing at high speed has to be a given. Fitness has to be a given.

    Some of these things come from team play, some from individual work. The importance of the latter cannot be overstated. Have your kid juggle and work on foot skills for the same amount of time he spends doing homework for his toughest class. Advanced foot juggling (keeping the ball very low just bouncing it off his toes and hopping on one foot) will improve his dribbling skills and his touch in general. Also trying to juggle the ball off of different body parts (start with both feet then thighs then chest then head) will help with first touch and receiving. Don’t forget trying to juggle the ball on his head as many times as possible. Finally, sequences of 4-5-6-7 moves (i.e scissors, step-over, etc) done one immediately after the other and moving the feet as fast as possible will make footskills automatic. Do sets of 5 starting first with left foot, then with right.

    The team he’s on has to balance a lot of things. It’s hard to say what’s most important. Most of the time it’s a question of what your kid needs that season. At your son’s age, finding a team that plays fast is a good idea. It’s nice if you can find a team that can string a number of passes together . And finding a team that will challenge your son to get better but still be on the field at least half the game is important as well.

    In a vacuum, of course you want your kid to be on the best team possible as early as possible. But of course soccer is very much a long-term project and so the process has to be enjoyable. At the end of the day, I was willing to let my kid play on lesser teams in the interest of keeping him happy and focused on technique. He’s making the jump to an elite team this year and it seems to be going well so far.
     
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  12. Andy Braxton

    Andy Braxton New Member

    Sep 24, 2014
    Club:
    Tottenham Hotspur FC
    Hey @soccermitchell ,

    In my humble opinion,

    You should definitely have him play on the most competitive team that you can get him on regardless of age or grade.

    He should playing a minimum of one or two years up if possible.

    During this time he will be challenged by the speed of play, aggresiveness, and physicality of the other players.

    During this time you should have him develop his ball skills mastery, core strength, and speed with the ball.

    Here are a few goals for your son if he is looking to pursue soccer at a college level.

    Goal 1: Juggle to 25 with his right foot, left foot, right thigh, left thigh.

    Goal 2: Juggle for an hour straight without dropping the ball.

    Goal 3: Juggle a ball with no spin/foward spin 50 times in a row with both right foot and left.

    Goal 4: Master a 1 on 1 move (scissor, snake, or chop).

    Goal 5: Juggle with ball at speed with just the right foot from endline to half.
    -then just left foot.
    -then alternating both feet.
    -then just right thigh.
    -Then just left thigh.
    -Then both thighs alternating.

    Goal 6: 50 pushups with perfect form, 100 sittups with perfect form, 20 pullups with perfect form.

    (I stress juggling so much because juggling replicates the unique games situation, replicates dribbling at speed, as well as shooting.)

    Ive added some dribbling videos below that helped me make NJ select, NJ ODP, and Region 1 teams, and play D1 soccer.

    The first is a dribbling series called outside chop inside.

    The next is called outside outside inside outside inside.

    The next is called inside inside outside inside.

    Focus on smooth transitions from the left foot and the right foot.

    Also focus on having the up with the ball at the bottom of the vision.

    "Feel" the ball underneath your foot.

    This drill should be done at a slow pace, at first over exaggerating each touch diagonal left/diagonal right.

    Speed will come.










    P.s. If he is a tad overweight, have him replace pasta/bread with sweet potatoes, olive oil with coconut butter, decrease soda intake and increase white tea/pu-erh tea consumption.
     
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  13. lolo23

    lolo23 New Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Great videos - when would you use one technique over the other? Or are those simply to develop agility and ball handling skills?
     
  14. AJSW

    AJSW Member

    Jun 18, 2013
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Had a couple questions re 11 year old soccer player? Sorry if slightly off topic of thread of 11 yr old and team selection.

    Situation is this. 11 year old boy. Extremely high end technical player. First touch, dribbling, shooting juggling all extremely good. Physically v light 68 lbs. Good sprint speed not great. V good long distance runner. Plays center mid.

    This year instead of dominating, he is getting physically crushed. Routinely, athletic 100 -110 lb players knocking him off ball. Standard situation is he makes good turn or dribbles around someone. Defender reaches back and holds a bit, catches up, shoves. Gets fouled a ton. Refs call a fair amount but a lot not called.

    Other than getting rid of the ball quicker, any advice? Any specific moves?

    Assuming that he will always be on the lighter side, is this situation likely to be magnified after the kids hit their growth spurts or will these imbalances narrow, because smaller kids can put on muscle? Anybody with older kids see this situation at 11? Thanks
     
  15. mckersive

    mckersive Member+

    Mar 26, 2013
    New York City
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The description of your son mirrors that of my son, who is a bit lighter and a bit older (just turned 12). It sounds like your son also plays up (given that his opponents are much larger). This year, my son is playing as a U13 (a historical artifact of playing with his grade age), but I noticed the issue mention was a problem. Next year, I think the differences will be even more pronounced due to puberty, so we decided to bring him down to U12 and play him on age. I know this is probably not the solution you were looking for, but if you're in a similar situation I would recommend the same.
     
  16. bulge-in-the-net

    bulge-in-the-net New Member

    Aug 31, 2009
    His immediate (next 4 years or so) will somewhat depend on his pubertal timing. If he is small and late puberty (voice changes at 14 or later) he will struggle over the next years until he is about 16 or so. The best advice that I can give you is to make sure he is under a coach who appreciates technical, high soccer IQ players. These teams usually play a possession game and will have several smaller technical players with whom your boy can combine and play off. If you don't he will be on the bench more often than not. If this happens he will likely lose his confidence and his game development depends on his experimenting on the ball. That said if you can keep his confidence up and on the field, he will probably regain his impact player status around u16. I know it seems like a long way off, but he will have the skills and then the physicality to really shine.

    I don't necessarily agree that you should play him down. Sometimes that can be even more frustrating if the team's soccer IQ and technical ability are wanting. You need players around him to be able to play the ball to his feet so that he is not constantly in 50-50 (for him likely at best 40-60) situations trying to win the ball. This is not only defeating to him, but also dangerous. You need teammates with the vision to see his runs and technical skills to play to his feet. Sometimes this scenario even requires an older team. You will have to help your son find the right fit.

    Perfect example of a player like you describe is Christian Pulisic who plays for the U17 YNT. There are lots of videos of Christian throughout his development. He is now and will likely be, relatively short at 5'7" or so, but has filled out tremendously in the last year or so. No longer the little skinny kid, but with his killer skills and genius soccer IQ, some pundits are predicting he may be the next (first?) American creative number #10.

    If your son hits puberty with the rest of the kids he may actually end up shorter than the earlier scenario, but will sooner put on the necessary muscle mass to keep on his feet.
    Get him to the highest level (DAP) if he is technical enough and you will more likely find a suitable coach and better refs along with it.

    Good luck. I have seen it and have worked players through it many times.
     
  17. mckersive

    mckersive Member+

    Mar 26, 2013
    New York City
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Not sure if your post was directed at me, but I will assume that it was.

    I didn't get in to the details, but the U13 team that he left was exactly the opposite of what you mention as the ideal (very direct, a defensive minded coach playing 3-5(6?)-2(1?), who don't mind wining each game 1-0 as long as they win). This coach only played my son as a center forward (which, in this means, to chase down hopeful balls from deep) in sub roles. So even if he gets on the field he has barely any touches on the ball and no teammates around when he does. The U12 team that he now plays on has a coach that emphasizes what you mention. This coach also plays my son in all kinds of positions, from center mid to left back to right forward. The u12 players are also more technical than the u13 team he left, so I think this is the fit that you are referring to.

    Exactly on the same page. He is an impactful player with his new team, but one of many, so he will feel challenges that will help him develop.

    I have no illusions of grandeur, but I see a potential for him to keep improving without hitting a plateau (at least for the next few years). My job is to make sure he keeps enjoying the game and for the game's gatekeepers to not suck the creativity out of him.

    Thanks!
     
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  18. AJSW

    AJSW Member

    Jun 18, 2013
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Thanks to Mckervisie and Bulge-in-the Net for the v helpful comments.

    My thoughts on my son playing up are driven by his situation. He has a wonderful team at his club two years older. Quite technical. He played with them last year as a guest player a fair amount. The size differences were just too much to even try this year. He practices with them when he can which is very helpful but does not play in games. There is no good team one year older. His U12 team passes well and the coach is possession-oriented so I will keep him where he is.

    As Bulge in the Net observed, I think keeping his confidence up is v important. Keep practicing. Keeping the ball on the ground would be very helpful to reduce the number of 50/50 balls. Makes a lot of sense.

    I also have no illusions. If he turns out to be good enough, I'll probably try to put him in a DA with better coaches, players, and hopefully refs. Time will tell.

    I'm beginning to see more clearly how not just the birth dates matter for being an effective youth soccer player, but also size (which is generally connected to birth dates but not necessarily). Smaller players will simply have to absorb more disappointments potentially before it is their time. No doubt a number of smaller players will quit rather than persevere and hope things work out in several years time. Fortunately, my son loves soccer, so I'm pretty sure that he will continue. Who knows how he and other 11 year old kids will physically develop anyhow at this point?
     
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  19. rhrh

    rhrh Member

    Mar 5, 2010
    Club:
    AC Milan
    The number one thing coaches look for is almost an insane level of activity. There is no place for soccer players who think, or those who walk and then can sprint to outrun the best. Teach him to play like a maniac, and that will get him on better teams. A quote about Johnny Manziel by his father "he runs around like a chicken with his head cut off". That wins over skill any day.

    Being good, contributing to the team is immaterial. Looking like you are doing more than you are is more important.
     
  20. mckersive

    mckersive Member+

    Mar 26, 2013
    New York City
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    How much of this advice is cynical? 80/20 (cynical/noncynical)? I feel like this advice make sense in a context of a tryout, where you are trying to standout, but I get the feeling that this advice was made with your tongue firmly implanted in your cheek.

    Having said that, I do think there is a grain of truth in that coaches like most people only remember moments in a game and if the kid runs around like your said and has more memorable touches (and assuming the touches were memorable in a good way), the kid would be thought as the standout (literally). I just noticed this the other way when watching the Man U game. Rooney played midfield and got a lot more plaudits than Carrick, when Carrick could be thought to be more important to the team by shielding the 3 inexperienced backs.
     
  21. rhrh

    rhrh Member

    Mar 5, 2010
    Club:
    AC Milan
    Partially - our experience has been that even when a player is an integral part of the team, shots on goals matter more than goals scored per shot on goal, touches matter more than quality touches. So a player with 25 shots on goal and 2 goals will get much more positive attention (and playing time) from the coach than a player who makes 25 great passes, 5 leading to goals (but not necessarily assists), and no goals. A player with 25 touches, with none quality, will be picked over a player with 5 quality touches.

    There are rare coaches who know what they have, when they have a playmaker full-time and see him game in and game out. But either in tryouts or when on a new team and trying to get a starting spot, it has been very obvious that running around a lot (not only running with purpose), touches (not quality touches) matter more than understanding when to move and when not to move, and contributing to the team.

    And yes, it depends on position, and I would posit that the "dearth of great defenders" that appears to be a major complaint for older players is just as you said - it is hard to get recognized for defense unless someone else is messing up. And certainly a forward who has to go back and cover, and holds the ball when the team is up late in a game is looked at as not scoring goals, and that defender who goes up every chance he gets, leaving his team out to dry, will get lauded for scoring a goal.

    In order to give your child the best chance to continue at each level of play, teach them that effort, *obvious physical* effort, is very important and all the skill in the world will not matter if they do not *appear* to be putting in 100% effort 100% of the time, regardless of results and contribution to the team.

    The interesting thing is that if a youth player is fit, he will not sweat through his shirt until late in a full game. Yet some coaches equate sweating within the first 10 minutes of a game as a high-level of effort, not a low-level of fitness.

    One of the things I hate the most is to watch one of these many shots on goal, many touch but low skill players consistently lose the ball, and the coach consistently say "bad luck" or "bad bounce". And I'm talking about low skill as in bad decisionmaking which makes one of their touches or shots on goal a missed opportunity for the other ten on the field.
     
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  22. mwulf67

    mwulf67 Member+

    Sep 24, 2014
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Interesting thread…and as a father of a “larger” player (11 year old son), my perceptive and experience is a bit different…when I read smaller players will simply have to absorb more disappointments potentially before it is their time, my first reaction is, about time! ;) j/k, but seriously, my larger player has had to absorb a lot of disappointments as smaller – read faster, quicker – kids have dominated the small sided pitch. That speed and quickness is easy to leverage right out the gate, and all things being equal, the faster, quicker, smaller kids tend to dominate early on…larger, bigger, stronger kids are simply not allowed nor taught (correctly) to use their assets early on…for very good reasons, I would tend to agree…it is only within the last year of so, that my son, with his size and strength, coupled with his skill, has really started to flourish…I see these frustrated, smaller kids his age, who used to dominate the field, now struggle to deal with or get pass my bigger, stronger, almost as fast, son…

    However, I know this is merely a temporary situation...it’s all cycler; the pendulum just swinging back and forth…kids like your son and mine, who love soccer, will persevere thought temporary disappointments…these smaller kids, like your son, will either a) grow or b) work though it and figure it out how to play as a “small”…of that, I have no doubt…
     
  23. rhrh

    rhrh Member

    Mar 5, 2010
    Club:
    AC Milan
    "I see these frustrated, smaller kids his age, who used to dominate the field, now struggle to deal with or get pass my bigger, stronger, almost as fast, son…"

    Too bad my son who is smaller, but stronger and faster than 90% of his bigger opponents gets zero credit for beating kids like your son, because when the coach stands next to him, they can't get over his height being less than average. And my experience is that bigger kids dominated small-sided because they could kick the ball into the net from midfield.

    Thus, our experiences as parents will always lean on what our children are experiencing. At least you will not have to go through college rosters and see that there are no players your son's height at all on the rosters of many college teams. Then again, my best friend stopped growing taller in 6th grade, so be wary of that.

    Advice - get your son SAQ training like at Parisi. He needs the speed. My son was the fastest on the field at age 9 and 10, and started SAQ training then, and does SAQ and HS track. There is no substitute for speed, and when your son gets looks because of his height and weight, the speed will impress them. It is more important for your son to get SAQ training than for my son to get weight training, IMHO. (they did abs today in track training, planks and sit-ups - son beats all others regardless of size - core matters a lot with speed, a fast kid should have abs to match, age 13+)

    Shorter players starting around age 13/14 will not get the first look. Then again, many D1 programs will not look at non-DA players, regardless of what their eyes tell them at tryouts and camps. The rare exception is a top three nationwide non-DA team.
     
  24. mwulf67

    mwulf67 Member+

    Sep 24, 2014
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    True…I have seen bigger kids dominate small-sided because of their long range, big leg…I have also seen these same kids struggle to get pass their “one trick pony” as it become less and less effective…

    I really wasn’t trying to turn this into a pissing match between Bigs and Smalls (or the parents thereof)…I was really just trying to point out that most kids have to struggle though disappointments and challenges at different stages of their development…maybe I am a optimist or just naïve, but if the love of the game and the skill is there, those kids will survive and persevere; I seen it, I believe it…maybe a top tier D1 program isn’t their cards, but then again, it isn’t for most of these kids…

    Thanks for the advise…we have talked about SAQ training; I agree that speed is important…but it’s not like he is slow or anything, he’s just unlikely to be the fastest kid on the field at any time…he's still one of the fastest kids on the field…which seems pretty good to us….

    But then again, our aspirations our more aimed at High School, then a D1 college…I think he is well on that path…
     
  25. mckersive

    mckersive Member+

    Mar 26, 2013
    New York City
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This is a bit like a Woody Allen pissing match: my son has more issues than yours!

    On the serious side, I agree with your assessment about the cyclical nature and that the only cure for it is perseverance. As I noted in a coaching thread, I notice cycles in a a single season and it's up to us as parents to recognize that and help our kids recognize that.
     
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