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Playing Up a Year Expand / Collapse
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Posted 27/09/2008 13:24:06
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I'm curious to know people's opinions on this as it's become a hot button topic at my club.  I find there's more and more kids playing a year above their regular age level.  Usually it's a coach has recruited them to play or the parents have pushed for it.

I personally don't agree with a U8 playing U9 for example.  As a coach I'm also dealing with my club's U9 coach poaching good U8 players before I even have a chance to see them!  I've since managed to get a grip on it and invariably those that play up ultimately come back down.  I have 2 kids now who played up and wanted to come back.  They were skilled enough to handle it and both actually scored a few goals but the overall experience was not good according to their parents - both socially and from a coaching style perspective.

I've always felt the drawbacks of playing up (especially as a youngster) far outweigh any perceived benefits.  I did it twice as a teenager in 2 countries and while I could hold my own, I can't say I enjoyed it - it was hard to fit in and the older kids had their cliques.

Any opinions/experiences/horror stories/fairy-tales... on playing up a year?

Gav

Coach - U8 Boys (Toronto, Canada)

Post #532
Posted 29/09/2008 16:56:58
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I believe this is entirely subjective.  A couple of examples.

My middle daughter is 15 but plays on a U18 team.  Why?...is she amazing?  No.  She pulls her weight but the reason is not for the sake of 'playing up' it's for the sake of 'playing relative'.  She maybe 15, but she's a junior in high school.  If she played club at her proper age group, she would already be in college by time those teams started even thinking about playing college showcases...so it's relative.

My youngest daughter.  She's 13 and plays club for a U14 team.  She could play up if she wanted without question.  She is amazing and is also the high school varsity starting goalkeeper as a freshman, first in the schools history!  But she chooses to stay with her relative aged club team..and that's completely okay even if she could play club U18 if she wants.  For now, she's okay. 

So again, it's subjective, if the child is playing up because they want a more competative environment or better training.  It's likely the club or team is not quality and the age group has little to do with it.  Find a better environment.  But as I have expressed there are good and relative reasons to play up.

Post #541
Posted 29/09/2008 18:26:16
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Gorecki,

I see your point and I generally don't have an issue with it for teenagers (my experience wasn't great but it wasn't a disaster either).  But I can't say I'm in favour of it for kids under 10 - or even under 12.

I suppose too I have a personal axe to grind here because I'm dealing with it from a club politics standpoint now.   In fact, it's even got to the point where the U9 coach wants to call up U8 players from my squad when he's short!  So I'm fighting that battle too.

I would love to see stats on how many kids that do it under 10 return to their proper age level the following year.  I just find there's a massive difference physically, emotionally etc... with kids at these young ages.

Lastly, I'll agree to your point that it often happens that kids play up a year because there's no competitve environment for them at certain ages.  That is the case here in my club where competitve soccer doesn't start until U8.  Most other places it is U7.  So parents do seek it out and playing up is one solution, I suppose.

Gav

Coach - U8 Boys (Toronto, Canada)

Post #545
Posted 29/09/2008 19:17:37
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Certainly sounds like you have a frustrating situation.  We're talking about 7,8,9 year old kids!  These little ones play because most of the time it's fun...right?  It certainly sounds like the sort of behavior that makes kids not want to play and quit.  Even with making reference to 'competitive' play, these are developmental years...period!  If anyone whose drive as a coach is to win-win-win at these ages, they're a bad coach.  A lot of parents don't even understand this early on.  This is the stuff that stunts a players development.

Calling up players when they're short?  You mean for a game?  If that is the case, as a parent I would pull my kid away.  Actually had one situation back in the U8 years where a mystery player (not rostered) showed up for a game.  As a result my kid didn't play, she was seriously hurt and quit playing for about a year.  At that game the team was awarded trophies, she left hers on the table.  Guess what I'm trying to say is just because they're kids doesn't mean they're stupid.  And I would guess some of this is possibly related to your reasonings for having a not so positive experience as a kid.

I wish I had a real answer for you.  All I can say is fight the club if appropriate and as for parents, educate them in the hopes they make the correct choices for their child.  It's hard to explain to a parent that little Jonnie will likely not play for Man U.   

Post #546
Posted 02/10/2008 11:07:16
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Our club has a policy now where if there is a team for your age group you have to play in your own age group. My youngest played for my age group in the Under 7's ( two year up ) the year after he played again with the U7's ( one year up) following year finally he got to play in the U7's with his own coach and with kids of his own age. I have seen him play with older boys for three year and he outplays some of them, but other times he was lost on the pitch.  I believe he had learned a lot from playing with older kids as you do need to be stronger to handle it. Not every kid is able to do so. He is happy with his team, but finds it very hard that no-one passes the ball like they do in the older teams. I keep on telling him it will come. He is a strong player and I believe this has been picked up from playing with older boys. 

Merdian Athletic Football club under 10's coach

http://www.meridianathletic.co.uk/
Post #565
Posted 21/10/2008 15:47:22
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In that situation now with my U10 daughter playing with a U11 team.  She plays U10 with her town team (recreationally) but U11 with her club team.  It happens that she is an older U10 player (her birthdate just made the backend of the age cutoff) so she is only a few weeks younger than some of the true U11 players on the older team.  For that reason, we decided to give it a go, though both the coach and I are keeping close eyes on the situation to make sure that it remains a positive development experience for her.  So far, so good. She has bonded with the older girls well (even competitive soccer is a highly social activity for girls!) and that is what we paid most attention to.  She happens to be a strong player and, while she really enjoys playing with her U10 classmates recreationally - something we will never step away from, needs the challenge of playing with and against girls that provide a level of play that more closely matches her own.

All that being said, my personal belief is that for most players through U12 it makes the most sense to stay within your age groups.  For boys, this may even be true up to U14 or until the player has physically matured to handle the size of the older age group. Size difference may not seem as significant at the U10 or under ages, but as they get older a 4-inch, 5-inch or greater height difference, or a 20 pound weight difference really does impact level of play.  Our more skilled U13 boys, who have not yet reached their first puberty growth spurt cannot keep up with lesser skilled U14 boys that are twice their size.  You may not see this when the U8 player first jumps up to U9, but eventually size can make a huge difference and even set the stronger younger player back a few steps.

Ed Longo
Westborough Youth Soccer

Post #606
Posted 20/11/2008 22:06:13
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I played my whole team up this year. We were scheduled to play U10 but played U11 instead. This meant that we played a 9 v 9 configuration. The reasons were multiple. All the premier teams have started what they call developmental teams which are 9 year olds and below playing at a U11 level. The reasons are again many. Part of it is to just start kids younger getting better coaching. The other is financial. The earlier you can hook them the better. I had 6 kids off my rec team invited to play and two went. I decided that to compete with the premier squads, I needed to offer somewhat the same plan. I had a good team and I felt that I had a good plan so we would compete even if we would not always (or ever) win many games. I wanted to play against select teams the next year so I decided we would take out lumps, get comfortable playing against bigger faster teams, and improve our speed of play. Which we did. I would contend we were playing as good or better soccer than most of the teams we played. However, due to size and strength constraints, we only won one game. But we were competing in each game. The kids enjoyed it. More of them were on the field at one time and for longer periods. They knew they were not necessarily expected to win but they went out and played hard every week. I think they are much better prepared to play at a higher level next year. I actually had one 10 year old on the team but he quit mid-season because he missed playing with his friends and kids his own age. On the other hand, I had one 8 year old that has been with me for 1.5 years and he did fine. In fact he is one of my best overall players.

I also played my daughter up for many years with mixed results. When she first started out she seemed too dominant for her age so we moved her up. She always held her own but this past season she played with her own age and enjoyed it. Didn't dominate but played and contributed. There is also a certain similarity with the other coaches comments in that at school you play against older kids until you are the oldest. Seems pretty standard in schools so what's the big deal in club.

Post #656
Posted 28/11/2008 20:53:13
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we've a policy at my club that you have to try out with your proper age group first but my also tryout for an older age group too.  the only way you're able to play up is if you are picked as a top 5 player on the older team.

You keep doing things the same way, you'll keep getting the same results
Post #670
Posted 11/01/2009 14:37:08
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I wholeheartedly agree that younger players should not play up, especially when so many are doing it. 

It is my philosophy, and I recommend this to my parents & players (as well as applying it to my own kids), that kids should have their opportunity to be the "big kid" on the field.  I think that they will be able to play better and even excel with kids their own age and gain more confidence that way than they would by trying to keep up with older kids. 

By staying with kids their own age, even the best players have benefitted by taking on leadership roles on the team and by being looked up to by their peers.  To me, this is an intrinsical aspect to developing a better and more well-rounded player.

It is not only the skill--but the continual development of leadership & confidence that make better players. 

Ernie Sanchez
Rec. Soccer Coach & Parent of 3

Post #679
Posted 13/01/2009 15:44:33


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As a manager i found it very frustrating when older age groups cherry picked your players especially when the older sides were not generally any better in standard they simply were a year older.

I dont think if the player is physically ready to play at an older age it will have too much of a negative effect on the individual on the contrary it can in some cases benefit them but from the view point of a younger teams players being removed it certainly can slow down the progress of the side. Especially if the players come and go into your squad and then its not fair on the ones who are always there and are being rotated.

We used to a play side from when we were under 13's upwards who had four county rugby players, one of them literally looked atleast 18 at 13, and i wished he had been put into an older age group to save us from the humiliation he put on us game after game! He once scored a hat trick against us all from corners all with headers and all WITHOUT even jumping!!

Post #680
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