Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Don’t leave substitutes on the bench on cold days

dc1I was talking to one of the parents of my team at the weekend and he was furious that his younger son, who plays for a different club, had been made to sit on the bench for the whole of the first half in a match earlier that day.

It was a cold day on Sunday, with a fierce wind making it seem even colder. His son had been playing away at a rather bleak spot. He got there half an hour early so his son could warm up, but no only did he have to go through the 30 minute warm up he then had to sit around with the other substitutes for another 40 minutes. Boy was he cold.

According to the manager it was “his turn” to sit out the half. In my opinion the coach was being lazy, he didn’t have to make a decision on who was or wasn’t playing well and shuffle his players around accordingly.

The substitutes are roll on roll off so they can go on for 15 or 20 minutes and take it in turns to stand for short spells. 

It isn’t fair to your players to make them turn up early then stand around in the cold for 40 minutes all it takes is a game plan which you can put into action the minute you arrive at the match.

 Soccer Skills and Drills


8 Comments so far
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Unfortunately this happens all the time. My sons (under 13’s)team subs stand for 40 – 50 minutes before getting on most weeks. Not only do they get cold but it effects their confidence and the other boys attitude to the “subs” who tend to be the same 3 or 4 boys. The sooner we get rid of the win at all costs attitude and start to really work on developing players the better. Please, those of you out there who still coach (but dont take advantage of the roll on roll off rule) start using it to develop the whole team not just the players who appear to be the more skillful. They all develop at different stages and the sub of today could be the star of tomorrow if developed properly.

Comment by dave

Dave – you are absolutely right, if you use the roll on roll off substitution system properly the players need only be off for 10 or 15 minutes and by doing this they still feel part of the game and will learn more because they will want to watch it. Bringing a player on who has stood for a whole half and has lost interest, has lost confidence and is cold is very damaging to the player. They do not feel part of the game. What are they learning by standing around for 40minutes? I get my subs to stand next to me and I tell them to watch where they are going to play and to tell me what is going right or wrong with the players on the pitch. Then 10 minutes later they are back on raring to go and they have learnt by watching the game. Instead of one player for 40 minutes try two players for 20 each or even three substitutions in the half.

Comment by admin

I agree but i also disagree. no where does it stat what level of play, whether it was a game of some importance nor does it mention that yes it was cold but it is the responsibility of the player to come prepared to every training session and game. i would assume this is not anyone’s first time to a cold field of either party.
i also disagree that playing players for only 15 minutes will give them any real kind of run in the game. if a player at the top level only touches the ball for approx 3-4 minutes over a 90 min game, then how much time is a player touching the ball in only 15 mins before being removed. players need to play longer durations and less subs made during the game. this will allow players to actually get into the flow and have the oppurtunity to make mistakes and correct them in the same shift and not just once.. many times.
where the coach made the mistake was youth coaches sit the players down on the bench imediately following being on the field and after having them sit, they then throw them right back in to a game yet their bodies have been sitting. coaches need to have the players moving whether on the field or on the side to keep the heart rate up so that they are ready to go when called upon.

Comment by mark

Absolutely right I have a system where by the players rotate every 15 minutes.I believe players learn by observing and doing.When a player comes off I get him to tell me what he did well and not so well then get him to to see if he can improve on the stuff he did’nt do so well but keep the good stuff at a high level.You Can’t do this if you have players standing onthe side for too long .

Comment by Pete Augustine

Ahhh…participation and development vs winning. I am an American College Coach. At most levels our goal is not just winning but the nurturing of the student/athlete. We are trying to create a complimentary experience for students who will go on to become doctors,lawyers and engineers. Even at our level participation is everything.
Up until about 10 years ago we had unlimited substitutions. The NCAA (collegiate governing body) decided that to bring american college soccer more in line with the international game that we would have limited substitution. Now, if you come out in the first half you can not re-enter and if you come out in the 2nd half you may re-enter only once. If you come out a 2nd time then you are done for the game.
This might make some sense at the Div.I level (big schools with scholarships) but for the majority of schools the effect has been chilling. Almost immediately, we lost a number of squad players who saw their opportunity for playing time diminished.
As coaches we all know that not all players are equal. We need all of our players to create competition in practice.We need all of our players to protect against injury and fatigue. Players come to play.If we coaches create a “glass ceiling” that keeps some players from getting playing time then we will end up losing them.Youth players must be given as much playing time as possible. We will never see what they can do if they don’t play. One of our goals as coaches is to create a “Team”.

Comment by Evan Holmes

Honestly… are the kids play comp or city league? They need to play the best kids period.

Comment by Jan

Honestly, is this comp or city league? It makes sense to play everyone fairly in city league…no problem. With comp,you are playing to win and to showcase the top players. Let ’em sit in the cold if they’re not performing.

Comment by Jan

Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
See you!
Your, Raiul Baztepo

Comment by RaiulBaztepo

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