Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Size Matters

new-image-dave-clarke.jpgI was watching my two sons playing soccer in the garden last night. It’s great to watch them, and it’s also a good lesson in problems in soccer teams, so it gives me plenty to talk about with the team at Better Soccer Coaching.

Both of them are good players, they use skill to get past each other, and it’s a continual game of 1v1. But size plays an important part in 1v1 and so does the position they play in the team.

My eldest wins every time. As an older, bigger player – he’s 14 and my youngest is 11 – he can not only use his skills but also his size. The extra height and weight mean in a tussle he wins the ball. This highlights one of the huge problems in youth teams. In your Under 10 team you can have players born in September of one year and a boy born in July nearly a year later.

With this difference in size and age the older boys nearly always get picked for the team. What we as coaches have to look out for and encourage are the younger skilful boys who get bulldozed out of the way in matches. You have to keep helping them and they will blossom as they get older. It may not be your team that benefits from this but a coach further on down the line when he is older.

I had one fantastic player who from Under 7 through Under 10 had the best kick – so he scored a lot of free-kicks – was a strong runner – so he went past the smaller players with ease – and played rugby – so he was strong in the tackle. But at Under 11 the others caught him up, and caught him out. He slowly went down the ‘best player’ rankings and then left us for rugby where he was still king.

At Better Soccer Coaching I am always trying to get across how important it is to nurture all your players, good, bad, big or small, they change so much at this level, you are sometimes surprised at how suddenly some players blossom.

Position is also important in 1v1. My youngest son feeds off good passes into the box, he scores goals for fun, and can run from midfield and hit defence splitting passes left or right. My eldest on the other hand, is a strong, fantastic tackler, winning the ball in midfield and setting up attacks. He is also full of tricks. So it’s a no brainer in 1v1. The skills of a good tackling, engine room running midfielder has much more going for him here than the goal poacher, good passer.

On a very simple level then, what 1v1 does is show you that you need those that are good at it in the centre of your midfield or defence. And what 1v1 teaches your attackers and wingers is that you don’t want to get in a close tussle with the midfielders or defenders, what they need to do is run at them and get past them quickly.

I’m glad the weather in England is warming up so I can get outside and be the link player for one of them!

David Clarke, editor, Better Soccer Coaching


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