Should kids get equal playing time?

Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by NewDadaCoach, Mar 15, 2021.

  1. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    The past couple years I thought all kids should get equal playing time since they are developing.

    But today I had the thought that perhaps some kids should get less, some more. I think that kids who are more prepared/committed/passionate/etc should be rewarded with more minutes and vice versa.

    Too harsh? What do you think?
     
  2. johngonole

    johngonole Member

    Barcelona
    United States
    Feb 15, 2018
    I'd say at say at U11 and younger kids should get pretty much fair playing time. It isn't a problem if the team encourages the kids to work on their game and it picky with who they select in the first place. If it is recreational soccer than YES totally equally playing time is fine.

    Once you get to U13 and up I'd say kids should learn that their playing time is earned. But I see too much rosters organized to protect the starting class of players. It really can be hard for new kids to displace the starters if the coach has coached them for more than a year.

    I really like teams to get new coaches every year or two. I think it helps with this problem. A fresh set of eyes can see things more objectively.

    But yes for development the kids should be placed at the correct playing level so they can get playing time and develop. If a kid isn't getting much playing time move down a level so he can.
     
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  3. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    It depends on the team...

    A "rec" team (everyone who signs up makes it)? Absolutely, show up for the game, you should play 50%.

    A "select" team (need to go through tryouts, and may result in not making a team)? Then yes, I can see limiting playing time. But, at the same time, this is a tough decision. Don't give someone enough playing time and you risk pissing off the player/parent, and say goodbye to the $$.

    At younger ages, playing time should only be limited because of not being on time on practice (although that probably isn't the player's fault), not listening to the coach, and disrespecting teammates, opponents, or referees. It should not have anything to do with who is more "committed" or "passionate".
     
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  4. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    I think this is key. At least at young age groups where on the same team you still might have kids picking daises while others are total rockstars. It creates a weird dynamic and probably is not benefiting either group. The daisy pickers are too intimidated which holds them back further and the skilled kids have fewer options to pass and learn real teamwork.
     
  5. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    #5 NewDadaCoach, Mar 15, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2021
    I feel that parents, if they expect their kid to have equal playing time then they need to do some development at home. At least some kicking around, 1v1, making kid go to driveway or backyard to work on their skills, etc. I don't see how you can do zero practice/development/playing at home and then bring your kid to a game and the kid doesn't know what he's supposed to do. It's setting a kid up for failure. A game is inherently high pressure and should not be treated as practice. It doesn't seem fair to the other kids who are more prepared.
    So yeah, maybe that sounds harsh, but I say a parent should not expect a lot of PT if they don't help their kid prepare at all.
    Maybe I'm overthinking it. I just see it from time to time, this big divergence of skill on a team and it makes me wonder about all these things.

    To be fair to parents, I do think a big part of development is on the coach too. If the coach sees that a kid is behind in practice but does not give that kid any special attention to fix his/her problems then I would say that's partly the coaches fault; the coach should help develop/prepare the kid better during practice session. But then again it's hard to put that on a volunteer coach who is already spread thin.
     
  6. dehoff03

    dehoff03 Member

    Apr 22, 2016
    No, but they should get adequate playing time at U14 and under, and IMO that’s a goal of 50% of game minutes averaged over the course of the season.

    Drop that closer to 25% for U15 on up, unless you’re over-rostering for more money for the club or chasing gotsoccer points in which case anything goes.
     
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  7. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    I guess I would disagree somewhat with this. Even though a year ago I would have agreed. I guess it depends on this - is the team/coach/league responsible for the kid's development (say U6-U12), or is the parent? I guess you could say the same for academics. Is it on the school/teacher or on the parent to ensure good education? Most likely it is a combination.

    I have never played much basketball, nor has my kid; we've just bounced the ball around a bit. If I signed him up for a team honestly I don't think I would be upset if he only got like 25% playing time (played 25% of a game and sat for 75%). I would probably try to play basketball with him to help him improve, and I would tell him "hey if you want more minutes in a game you have to improve and work on it on your own"

    I think in an ideal world yes all kids would get lots and lots of PT. I do think winning should not be the goal. I know my thoughts are all over the place, I guess I'm just trying to sort them out.

    I guess some parents are of the mindset of "I'll just sign up little Timmy and it's on the coach to teach him/turn him into a good soccer player". But that's probably only like 15% of parents from my estimation. And then on the other end of the spectrum you have parents who are working a lot at home on the kid's development and not relying at all on the coach. And then maybe most of the parents, in the middle of the spectrum, see it more like a 50/50 partnership "the kid must learn some at home and some at practice/game".
     
  8. dehoff03

    dehoff03 Member

    Apr 22, 2016

    Yeah, I'm definitely not in favor of equal playing time in all cases, but 50% of available minutes over a seasons is easily attainable with rosters that aren't huge:
    Ex 7v7, 60 minute game with a roster of 10:
    2 kids alternate as GK and play on the field the entire other half.
    Remaining 8 players rotating in 5 field spots (5x60= 300 minutes)-
    4 kids play 30 minutes
    2 kids play 40 minutes
    2 kids play 50 minutes

    And that's an average over the course of a season. You'd still have the ability to have the stronger kids play longer in a championship game and have the weaker kids playing more in blowouts.

    I live in a more sparsely populated area, so other than one weekend of doubleheader friendlies, one indoor 5v5, and one outdoor tournament, all other club games/tournaments are typically a 3+ hour one way drive. I don't see a lot of parents that would be too happy around here shelling out $500 for a weekend for their kids to play 45 minutes total in 3 games.

    You'd also eventually end up with 11v11 teams with 5 or 6 good players and the rest sub-par because they never had enough game experience and time invested in them to develop. I'm starting to see some U13/14 teams around us like that now and teams they used to beat at the younger ages can now pick them apart. They quickly figure out the weak areas on the field and attack them.
     
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  9. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    Yeah I think if parents are shelling out good money then the kid has to play. In that case there should not be too many subs so all kids can play a good amount. Keep the rosters small.

    What spurred my inquiry on this was over the weekend my kid played the entire game. And a few kids did not play much. I thought to myself during the game that he should take my kid out to have more equal rotation. Oh well not a big deal, but was just curious if there was a standard on this. But probably a hot topic at all age levels.

    I'm not a fan of politics at youth levels. I prefer kids just playing pickup at the park, everyone plays.

    If it were up to me I would make the number of on-field players adjustable based on who shows. For example a typical 5v5, you can go up to 7v7 just fine on same size field. Or a 7v7 can "fit" in as much as 9v9. Yeah the tactics are a bit different but it's worth it to let everyone play.
     
  10. johngonole

    johngonole Member

    Barcelona
    United States
    Feb 15, 2018
    Clubs that choose to keep roster sizes small have happier parents but often are scrambling to find enough kids to play. It really is a catch 22. I prefer to have smaller rosters making sure all the kids on said roster are able to play at that level.
     
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  11. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    I think the bolded is where your disconnect is. At the younger ages (U5-U8), most parents aren't worried about their child becoming a "good soccer player". They want to get them into an activity where they can make friends, learn to be on a team, get some exercise, maybe find a hobby they like, and if they're better than average, great!

    Kids that continue (or start) to play recreation league after U8 like the sport, but don't want the commitment a select team requires. Whether that's money or time doesn't matter.

    Recreation leagues are just for "fun". The goal shouldn't be to train the Messi. Heck, probably the majority of coaches even now for rec leagues are just parent volunteers who probably have had little to no soccer experience. If you sign your child up and they're automatically put on a team, it's a rec league.

    You want playing time to depend on skill level, get into a select/travel program. Everyone will get some playing time, but there's no guarantee.
     
  12. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    I was just wondering. It creates a little awkwardness at the games between parents when some kids play a lot and some don't.
    Ok, so the standard is that everyone should play about the same before U10. But even on U8 there are situations where there are big mismatches, and maybe it's better to limit the slower/newer players in those cases? I mean you want to try to make the match even in terms of competitiveness yeah? So if Team A is really good and taking it to Team B, then B will feel like they need to limit minutes of the inexperienced players and play the stronger players, to avoid a lopsided loss? Or just accept a lopsided loss?
     
  13. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    For me I want all of the above. Make friends, learn teamwork, exercise, etc. But also for my kid to get good training because he seems to have a lot of athletic potential, so I just want to support that.
    But that said I did not sign him up for this particular club academy as last time we did it they were too intense. I think it's good to let kids play and be silly at 4/5/6/7. Limit number of drills and do mostly scrimmage. And gradually up the drills each year.
     
  14. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    I've seen plenty of games at the younger ages. I don't think I've seen one where the coach is like "we're getting beat soundly, so I'm going to sit Billy because it will be worse."

    Again, know what kind of league you're in. "Recreational"? Play everyone an equal amount of time. Does it really matter if you get beat 7-1 (or worse) at U8? Heck, we (U18) just suffered 1-6 and 1-7 losses this weekend. Does it matter? Not really. Everyone on the roster got playing time. I don't know how much (I track my kid, I don't worry about others). This is a select/travel team.

    At the younger ages (IMO), you want to get kids to LIKE the game. Having them sit on the bench is NOT a good way to do it. If they LIKE the game, they're going to be more willing to kick the ball around on their own.

    I think you need to get your kid signed up on a select team pretty quick (they start here at U8, although "no cuts). You'll generally have parents and kids who ARE interested in getting better and development and tactics. If you stay recreational, you'll do nothing more than drive yourself crazy.
     
  15. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    I don't know any select teams. I'll have to research it more. Well, scratch that I know the "elite clubs" but they weren't doing much the past year, just drills, due to covid. I should look back into it. They liked my kid but my kid wasn't really into doing drills upon drills; he wants to scrimmage. My kid is competitive but also very silly and I don't want him to be in too serious of an environment; I want him to feel like he can be silly (he's only 6! enjoy it while he can).

    I think it can go both ways, if a kid is getting scored on a ton and outmatched is that fun? I think at the very young ages it can be intimidating, probably not fun. Some kids are just not prepared enough but that's a minority, maybe just a couple kids per team. Our team is in the A division, so I guess yeah there is some division of skill level and a couple of the kids on our team should probably be in the B division.
    I think with some mismatches it can end up more like losing 1-20. I saw it happen last season.
     
  16. sam_gordon

    sam_gordon Member

    Feb 27, 2017
    To find the select teams, here are three options...
    1) Talk to the organizers of whatever league you're in. Around me all of the rec leagues have some kind of travel program. Some have the same names, some don't.
    2) Simply google "Club Soccer near me". You may not find all of them, but that should get you a start.
    3) Talk to other parents. It's possible parents with kids on your son's team has older children who have done travel (or at least know about it).

    You're right, it's not fun to get "drubbed". BUT, sitting the weaker players is worse IMO. You seem (IMO overly) concerned with how many goals are scored. Please repeat after me... "It just doesn't matter, it just doesn't matter".

    If you're not old enough, you may not know this clip, but it's a classic...
     
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  17. Fuegofan

    Fuegofan Member

    Feb 17, 2001
    Chicago
    This makes sense to me. I was pretty frustrated in the fall when my son's team would have pod scrimmages (pod of 25 kids) on Saturdays and 16 kids would show up and the coaches would have two kids sitting for 10 minutes on the cold sideline because they're playing 7v7. Why not just make it 8v8? It's not a league game. And even make it 7v8 if there's an odd number of players. Teams lose players to expulsion and you learn how to play a man down. It's an intrasquad game, so what's the point in sitting kids.

    As for the effects of getting creamed at the lower ages, my son's team won one out of nine games at three total tournaments. One game, their second of those nine games, his team lost 14-0. Every one of the kids I talked to on the losing team, when asked how they enjoyed the game they said that they had a blast. They couldn't wait to come back the next day for the final game of the tournament. As a parent I hated that game because the opposing parents were all about running up the score as high as possible. This was a U8 game. But I was glad my son and his friends had fun.
     
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  18. CornfieldSoccer

    Aug 22, 2013
    Enjoy that -- it's great and borderline amazing if they can have fun in spite of the score. My son's first club tournament (U10, I think) was four fairly lopsided losses, followed by a mandatory team photo with about half the kids fighting back angry tears, and then a 90-minute drive home that felt like it took days. That photo occasionally surfaced on the club website for years after that.

    Things got better, but my wife and I definitely had the "We're paying for this privilege?" discussion after that first weekend.
     
  19. Fuegofan

    Fuegofan Member

    Feb 17, 2001
    Chicago
    I was so dreading that drive home. We had carpooled, so we had another player with us--two really competitive kids in the back--and they were as happy as clams.

    I will say that by the end of that 13 game tournament losing streak the other kid did express to his parents frustration about constantly losing, which is fair.

    To be clear, in league play this team was all over the place. Fall they'd be mid or upper table. Winter they'd win the indoor league. Spring they'd be at the bottom. Tournaments they just couldn't get it together.
     
  20. TheKraken

    TheKraken Member

    United States
    Jun 21, 2017
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    We have a 16 kid roster and play 11v11. Six of our players normally play the entire game. That leaves a 10 player rotation for 5 positions. It works out pretty well I think. The kids who don't start still get decent playing time.
     
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  21. pu.ma

    pu.ma Member

    Feb 8, 2018
    If you pay, you should play. Time goes by fast and kids grow up quick. It's a game. Playing is fun. Find the right level of play.
     
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  22. saltysoccer

    saltysoccer New Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Mar 6, 2021
    In New England, even the premier league guidelines are equal time through U12, and strongly recommend equal time through U14.

    At U8 absolutely yes, I feel the kids should be playing regardless of the "competitiveness." How else are these beginners (yes, they are beginners unless one team is the Ajax boys academy team or something) going to learn how to play?

    A lopsided loss means nothing at this age or even at U12. If the game is absolutely out of control, it's common for a coach to spot the other team a player or a few if needed.
     
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  23. bluechicago

    bluechicago Member

    Nov 2, 2010
    Club:
    Chelsea FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    At any level below 11v11 if your kid is not getting at least half the game, the club are only out to win, and draw more money in, and do not care to develop your player. As has been stated above several times, playing everyone half the game does not mean everyone plays half the game, your stars will still play more, though to be honest, over the course of a season it should be pretty balanced to develop everyone.

    Sadly, we all know the players and parents best interest is rarely served...
     
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  24. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    #24 NewDadaCoach, Mar 17, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2021
    I think trying to learn soccer solely with a team is not a good approach. It's just not enough time. What 2 days of practice a week, one hour per? And then a game on weekends that's probably not even 90 min game? That's just not nearly enough time to learn how to play soccer. The kid needs to play on their own time with parents or uncles, cousins, friends, siblings, whatever. They will make much more progress that way.

    I think signing up for an organized team/league with zero experience is not a good way to go at all, at any age. I would recommend first playing at least 10-20 pickup sessions first (ie go to the park with some buddies and play).
    Or take some classes. There are various training camps/classes for beginners.

    You can even practice in your living room. Do boxes, ball taps, pull backs, scissors, etc. You can do some drills in a small space.
     
  25. NewDadaCoach

    NewDadaCoach Member

    Tottenham Hotspur
    United States
    Sep 28, 2019
    You can play for free, anywhere, so I would recommend to gain some familiarity with the sport first for free. Or pay a trainer for a class. But to go to a team in a high pressure game with no experience, I think that just doesn't bode well for anyone. It's hard to learn if one has little experience and is posted up against a more advanced player because the pressure is too high. It's like trying to take advanced physics before Physics 101, you're just gonna stall, and probably get intimidated and possibly want to quit altogether.
     

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