Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


Do small youth players need more skills?

DavidClarkeWatching a young player running rings around bigger boys of the same age I began to wonder if players like Messi, Zola and Michael Owen were brilliant at what they did because they had to try so much harder.

Let me explain.

When I was coaching an all conquering under 9s team one of my best players was a big lad, with a big shot on him. He could tackle and win the ball and looked something special.

When he grew older he found that as the other players caught him up in size he began to lose his ability to win the ball and shoot better than every body else. And because he never had to try hard to be more skilful than everybody else he never developed as a player.

So when he got to the older age groups he became less and less effective and more and more frustrated until one day he gave it all up.-

So back to my question. If you’re a small younger player in your age group it makes sense that you have to be more skilful to make up for your size. In this way you develop as a player quicker – you’ll just never make it as a centreback or a goalkeeper.

Perhaps that is why Peter Crouch will never jump to head the ball because he never had to when he was younger.

Look at messi aged 5 in a video from 1993 the smallest person on the pitch running the game! And one of a young Ronaldinho showing the same skills as an old Ronaldinho.

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2 Comments so far
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I agree in part that they become better because of of their determination but because they are smaller genrtically, the can hold on to what they have learned longer.

For example, teach a new skill to two equal ability nine year olds. One boy is tall and quick growing and the other boy is small and slow growing. They practice the skill for one hour then not at all for two weeks. When they demonstrate the skill after the two weeks has passed, the shorter, slower growing lad can still do it but the quicker growing, taller boy finds it virtually impossible and has to start from scratch.

It’s to do with nerve communication between the brain and toes and less to do with size and determination.

This is why Pele said “Practice, Practice Practice…. thane practice some more”. There is no greater football wisdom for development.

Comment by TK Jonsi

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