Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Watch out for growing pains in your players

davidscwnewYou think it’s something you never need to think about – surely an awareness of ‘the ABCs’ is something that kids have comfortably tucked in their locker when they first arrive at your door.
Think on things a different way, though. Consider the idea that growing bodies and changing shapes mean that, in terms of how they play the game, players sometimes have to readjust their ABCs… or even learn them all over again from scratch.
This has happened to one of my Under- 11s. He had a considerable growth spurt last summer and turned up for the new season playing like Bambi on ice. His dimensions are radically different and, by his own admission, he has struggled this year after really impressing last term.
His dad told me his feet have grown two sizes, with the need for new boots twice in the last six months! Even with the right size shoes on, his balance was all over the place and he could barely turn without falling over. But I think he is finally coming to terms with his new size.
Sure, to the untrained eye he looks like a player who has never played before because of his body language, and the way he sometimes controls (or miscontrols) the ball.
But this week there were the first indications the coordination that made him one of our best players last term is starting to come back. Against quality opposition, he was my Man of the Match on Saturday from central defence – being sure in the tackle and really ambitious when bringing the ball out. He scored twice showing great control and movement, and was at the heart of everything we did well. ABCs are vital to youth players.
They are the basis of everything they do in a match and at training. It may be that you have players in your team who suddenly look awkward on the pitch, and that may be due to growing bodies that knock out their sense of balance meaning some of the basics have to be learnt all over again.
If you’re coaching kids of ‘that’ age, keep an eye on them, because you may be able to spot what’s going on before they do. It’s your job to get them get comfortable again with their bodies, reassuring them as they go. There’s a fair chance they’ll be as puzzled as you are as to why they cannot do what they used to, so be patient and they will eventually catch up.


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