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What age should a player be assigned a... Expand / Collapse
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Posted 26/10/2011 16:40:44


Supreme Being

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Rio Ferdinand was playing in midfield when the director of West Ham's youth academy Tony Carr decided he would make an excellent centreback who could bring the ball out of defence. There are lots of examples like that.

I played as a striker and, because I was good at heading the ball, my coach asked me to play in central defence for one match. I was 20 years old but because I had never experienced that position I was hopeless and dropped too deep, headed down back to the opposition instead of high and away and generally looked like a fish out of water - which of course I was.

Until players are around 14 when the body structure is in place you should give players as many positions as possible. An overall knowledge of different positions will give your players a better understanding of where they are on the pitch.

The Manchester City player David Villa didn't choose which sport he was going to specialise let alone his position on the pitch until he was 14.




Dave Clarke, Editor of Better Soccer Coaching Head Coach of Soccer Coach Weekly blogging at Soccer Coach blog
Post #1409
Posted 27/11/2011 20:53:49
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I totally agree with this philosophy. I currently coach an under 8s team with 11 boys (7 a-side). I systematically rotate the players around all positions, defence, midfield, attack and left and right. I even rotate around 8 of them into goal (each only ever plays a half in goal and then plays the second half outfield. I also ensure that the kids get even game time over a number of weeks (a bit sad but I use a spreadsheet to calculate average game time!). The result...
ALL the kids are making huge progress as players and are learning the skills and knowledge required for each position. We always play to win but enjoy our performances regardless of the result. Our greatest achievement - I have the same kids this season that I had last season - no one left and we did not go out and try and sign "a superstar"; why bother I already have the 11 that I started with when they were under 5s!
Only thing I find a shame is that even though we are playing non competitive football organised by a local league - results are still taken and based on last years' results they have split the league this year into an A and B league (based on "ability") - we are in the B league as my rotation policy means we will of course lose some games during the course of a season. Such organisation policy makes even the non competitive leagues competitive with many other teams actively trying to recruit players who they think are stronger and "letting go" others. No doubt I will have a number of my own kids targeted this season. I only hope their parents see what I am trying to do for the kids long term and don't opt for the short term possibilities of glory trophies and high pressure coaching.
Post #1437
Posted 30/11/2011 16:57:45
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Wilko - you've got the right idea but don't just "hope" the parents get what you're doing - tell them, at least then if they don't buy into your philosophy they have the opportunity to leave and allow you to develop the others without the backbiting which evetually takes over.

UEFA A Licence Coach and FA Tutor
Post #1442
Posted 03/12/2011 21:13:02
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I totally agree and my comments did not explain that I have made my philosophy clear to the parents since the start of Under 7s. The parents "seem" to agree with what I am doing but I do know I have had some other observers (often grandparents etc) who attend some matches and make comments about why their little Jonny has been substituted and that is the reason why we are then not scoring or conceding etc.
It is really frustrating at times as it is of course the kids who pick up on this and this affects the way they think and the way they play; ie becoming more selfish with the ball. As a secondary school teacher of 18 years I have seen many of the results of this at the other end of Junior football with poor attitudes having a large impact upon individual play and team work.
(One of the reasons I stopped running school teams a couple of years ago!).
We have just played our other team this morning and lost 3-2 (drew a few weeks ago 3-3) having beaten them 4 times last year. Not a problem except they were originally set up with the same philosophy as ourselves (rotation of positions and playing time) but in both matches we have played this season they have played their 2 "strongest" players for the full game - thus fueling the "should play the strongest team" murmurings...
Oh well - I will continue to stick to my principals of what football is about (in this order!);
Fun, Social development, Team work, Individual progress (skills and tactics) and winning! After all it is a competitive game and I never ask the players to lose!!
Post #1444
Posted 13/12/2011 16:59:04


Supreme Being

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I think when players who play at standard youth Sunday football with no expectation, desire and in all honesty enough commitment and ability to go any further then by 13/14 they usually find their comfort zone in a certain position and develop from there.

It does give a player a very good insight into the other roles but on the flip side a player at 15 who may only play for another year or two (i have been doing this 10 years and met plenty) then trying to convert them or moving them around too much is detrimental to the player and possibly the team. If a player likes a certain position and does a good job there then why move them?? Again though i am talking about older kids at a certain level and not players with ambitions or opportunities to go further.

Before the ages of 13/14 it can only benefit the player by being used in different roles and if you are working at academy or Saturday football level the overall ability of those players will make the transition to other positions a lot easier.

Post #1450
Posted 03/03/2012 10:09:34


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Information is useful for my brother. Can you tell me some tips for player's spirit?

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Post #1492
Posted 13/03/2012 14:54:01
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swift1 (13/12/2011)
I think when players who play at standard youth Sunday football with no expectation, desire and in all honesty enough commitment and ability to go any further then by 13/14 they usually find their comfort zone in a certain position and develop from there.

It does give a player a very good insight into the other roles but on the flip side a player at 15 who may only play for another year or two (i have been doing this 10 years and met plenty) then trying to convert them or moving them around too much is detrimental to the player and possibly the team. If a player likes a certain position and does a good job there then why move them?? Again though i am talking about older kids at a certain level and not players with ambitions or opportunities to go further.

Before the ages of 13/14 it can only benefit the player by being used in different roles and if you are working at academy or Saturday football level the overall ability of those playerswill make the transition to other positions a lot easier.

I agree with you completely now. Thanks for showing your point of view. You seem like an experienced person when it comes to teen soccer.
Post #1502
Posted 04/05/2012 14:02:05
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In Spain they play Football 11 where they are 13 years old. Before they play Football 7. Ten we think that 13 is the correct age to asigned demarcation.

www.tacticalsoccer.net
Post #1522
Posted 11/05/2012 09:57:13
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Good day David

I have been a loyal subscriber to your newsletters since 2007 and have bought and
downloaded many of the manuals that you offered for sale over the years .

I must say that by using all that I have learnt from you  over the years has greatly
contributed to the success of the teams that I have been involved with .

The fact that both  these teams were strugglers at first  and later blossomed into
champions is testament to the quality coaching advice and programmes that you offer.

I do however require your input and advice  with regards to a new team that I am
involved with .i was tasked to take over a team (under 14)  at our club after the
previous coach was unavailable this year due to work commitments.

Upon my arrival , I made an assessment of the players technical ability , tactical
awareness and fitness. I was astounded that although this team is blessed with an
abundance of "natural talent " in terms of dribbling and shooting ability , their
overall technique and tactical awareness was sorely lacking .(This team has been
playing together since under 7 ).
In addition , there was no depth in the squad of 16 players ( 2 were new players
who just joined and had no previous league  experience).

Further , most players wanted to play in the 'glory' positions of midfield and
attack , and there was a general aversion to play any defensive positions . Those
that did play defence last year were either very slow or very short compared to
their opponents in other teams . Also, the 2 players who were capable of playing
Goalkeeper were known to regularly commit "bloopers" in letting in soft goals..

In short, there were many problems to solve.

I decided to concentrate on building every players technical ability , tactical
awareness , fitness and also educating them to play in different positions and
formations .In general , to make them better footballers by taking them out of their
comfort zones and building for the future .They are only 13 years old after all and
I assumed that i would have  the buy in from parents into this vision .

How wrong I was !!!  I recieved serious opposition from players and parents to all
this. I was told not to interfere with players positions and that if I continued
'forcing " players to play in a new position then they would ensure that I was
removed as coach by the Club.In addition , I was approached by 2 very angry parents
who couldnt understand why their sons were not in the starting line up. ( both these
players were in my opinion unfit, slow and unable to keep with the transitions of
possession in the game ).It was my intention to bring them in later on in the game
once we consolidated and took control of the match.
It seemed they were only concerned about their sons " feelings" and I suspect, their
own "personal pride..".

I need your advice as to whether it is correct to pigeon hole young children such as
these in to set positions at such an early age or is it correct to favour the long
term approach by first teaching them the basics properly and overall positional
ablity . I favour the holistic long term approach but the parents seem to think that
at age 13 the boys  have  made certain positions their own and it would be foolish
to change now..

I would appreciate the thoughts and input from other coaches based on their experiences , and let me take this opportunity to thank you once again for the great work that you are doing . I have seen first hand the success that your methods bring and I am certain that Clubs the world over have benefitted from your efforts and knowledge.

Post #1526
Posted 14/05/2012 16:47:05


Supreme Being

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In my opinion i think it all depends on what level you are working at.

I have put on a previous post that some standard Sunday teams the players are literally only part of the team because they obviosuly enjoy playing the game but also because their mates are there and hold no long term aspiratrions to either develop or accept changes they do not like or as you put takes them out of their comfort zone.

This may seem a negative or even defeatist attitude but in my experience and in the exeperience of other coaches i know its a fact simple as that. I have literally been pulling my hair out with my current team,in the three seasons we have been together I have had basically three different sets of players bar one one or two as the area I work in has atleast 20+ other teams in the same age group so players come and go as they please it seems, which when you are trying to build something or develop players is almost impossible. The other teams in the area experience exactly the same issues excpet one or two who understandbly dominate the leagues and cups each season.

If i was you and i dont know how practical this is but i would look to hold trials and see who else is out there because otherwise your be banging your head against a brick wall.

After being successfull with two previous teams over a 7 year period I tried to instill the same training routines, codes of conducts etc when i took over my current team but to no avail and i ended up just doing things how they wanted and i just wasnt comfortable with it which is obviously how you feel when they dont accept what you are trying to achieve or are not able to bring any new players in.  

I would say stick to your guns or go elsewhere because as coaches we work to our own strengths and have our own ideas and by taking you away from them it will no doubt effect you performance.

Get them all together players and parents with one or two club officials for support and explain everything you have put on your post, then if they are still not willing to budge or see what you are trying to instill i would move on to where your more appreciated.

Post #1530
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