Youth Soccer Coaching Question regarding sportsmanship

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by BarryP, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. BarryP

    BarryP New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
    I am coaching Katie's U-10 rec team and find myself in a position I have never been in while coaching any youth sport and I would appreciate a few opinions on a question I have been debating. Due to the luck of the blind draw this season I am coaching one of two dominant teams in the league. We have played 5 of 12 games so far and have out scored our opponents 23-3 with me playing the better offensive players on defense the majority of all 5 matches. In three of the five matches I have told players they were no longer allowed to shoot that their job was to try and get other players on our team shots and to their credit neither complained and did exactly what I asked them to do.

    Before the first practice I had a meeting with the parents and the girls and told them my goals for the girls individually:

    1. That each girl try to dribble around a defender before the end of the season (already accomplished);
    2. That each girl would learn to recognize an open teammate and attempt a pass to the teammate (already accomplished);
    3. That each girl would get a shot on goal (already accomplished).

    I emphasized to the parents and the girls that while I am a very competitive person my goal for this team was not to win the league and that I didn't care how many games we won or lost. My plan was that each girl would be coached on soccer skills and each girl would get a chance to use those skills in every game because every girl would play in an offensive position (forward or midfield) and a defensive position (goalie or defensive back) in each game. Other than one accidental mistake when we played a team from another league that used halves instead of quarters I have stuck to my plan.

    A couple of rules that might help you in answering my question :
    -There are 8 girls on my team
    -We play 6 vs. 6 and one of those is a goalie
    -We play 4 -10 minute quarters (unless we play an out of league team)
    -Each girl must play a full three quarters with no subs barring injury or sickness.

    Some other things to know:
    - 6 of the 8 girls have already scored 5 of them have at least 3 goals each.
    - I have changed my goals for the team in that I now want each girl to score and I do want to win the league simply because winning is more fun than losing.
    - I have no intention of telling the parents or the girls that I changed the goals because I don’t want the girls to feel pressure to perform. I want the games to remain fun for them. The change in goals is to challenge me as a coach to get the most out of each girl.
    - 4 of the remaining 7 games will not be very competitive from what I have been told.
    - 2 of the other 3 have at least a chance to be close in my opinion and the other one will quite possibly decide who wins the league.
    - At the beginning of the season the league president asked the coaches not to run up the score if you were playing a weaker opponent because he wanted the rec experience to be fun for all players and not just a select few.
    - Our points to decide league position are 6 for a win, 3 for a draw and 1 point for each goal scored up to three goals (max 9 points for a match).

    All that information is for one little question I have been debating in relation to the four games that probably will not be competitive. That question is would you consider it poor sportsmanship to play my strongest team in the first quarter of the match in an attempt to get a large lead early enabling me to play the players that have not scored up top for the remainder of the match? If I do this some of these matches could be 5-6 to nothing before the end of the first quarter with me then encouraging the other girls to continue pressing the attack to score goals. I don’t want to run up any score because I have been on the other end of the stick to many times and I know what that feels like. Any opinions would be appreciated.
     
    #1
  2. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2005
    I would primarily address it by playing the girls in different positions in the laffer games, as well as practicing field passing.

    example: set up a signal system so that when someone hoofs the ball up - after a comfy lead- the girl who gets the ball backheels it so that a defender can 'intercept'.

    In other words it brings up good practice opportunities. The thing you DONT want to foster, of course, is complacency.
     
    #2
  3. MisfitKid

    MisfitKid New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Barry- I think your hands are tied. Sometimes is tougher to be "blessed" with a good team. My only suggestion would be probably start your weaker squad, in the first half, against the weaker teams you know you are playing. Knowing you would more than likely come back if you needed. It would keep the other team still looking like they are in the game. Other than playing with less bodies (which it sounds like you can't do with playing time requirements), that is all I can think of.
    Good Luck.
     
    #3
  4. Jensers

    Jensers New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2007
    Location:
    Royal City, Wa
    Start your best squad. Modify your goals - Everyone on the team will score with their opposite foot, everyone will score from a header, everyone will score from outside the keeper area, string 5 passes together, then 7, then 10...

    These are all options that will keep the scoring down, but also give them things they need to work on.
     
    #4
  5. Clevelandmo

    Clevelandmo Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2007
    Re: RE: Youth Soccer Coaching Question regarding sportsmansh

    Barry, I agree with Jensers. I'm not qualified myself to answer this queston but I can tell you what my husband would do and I have total confidence in his intelligence, fairness, and judgement. He played all his life and in college and has coached 10 years at U8 - high school.

    Start with your best team and end with a weaker team if you want. My husband would probably just play a balanced throughout regardless of what happens. But I dont think it matters as long as you adjust if the score gets ridiculous. No one can complain about bad sportsmanship as long as you make adjustments once the score gets lopsided. If you start with rules contrived around a potential lop-sided game then I think that is disrespecting the other team. Treat them like any other team in the beginning.

    Once the game appears lopsided, do what Jensers says. Make up rules like "only those who havent scored can shoot, you have to shoot with your opposite foot, you have to dribble around someone to shoot ", etc. The opposite foot should keep you occupied and if it doesnt then you might want to get the girls some agents.

    Good luck
     
    #5
  6. BarryP

    BarryP New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
    RE: Re: RE: Youth Soccer Coaching Question regarding sportsm

    Thanks for the input. Just for the record after getting a 3-0 lead this Saturday I tried my thought of putting both girls who had not scored up top together and it was an unmitigated disaster. Both of them stood around looking at each other and the ball waiting for the other to get it and it was a wasted quarter as far a learning goes. I of course don't blame the girls it was a coaching mistake on my part :oops: .

    I am going to try and use Jensers and Mo's suggestions on a player by player modification because it would be unfair to some of the girls to force them to shoot with their opposite foot when they have never scored with their dominant foot. I like the modification of you can only use your left foot best mostly because we have been practicing shooting with the left foot as a skill anyway. I will probably primarily use that modification for all of the players but one. She already shoots with both feet on a regular basis. I have been telling her she is not allowed to shoot at all in the lopsided games and I have instead challanged her to get assists. I will stick with that modification if the games start getting really out of hand. However, after reading the input I have also considered telling her she can still shoot if she uses a footskills move to get around a defender because I feel like I am taking her out of the game when I tell her she can't shoot at all.
     
    #6
  7. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Location:
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    BarryP, this is way out of left field, and something I never did when coaching -- my sides were always a very strong second and usually got to the semis of tournaments, but, aside from about every 4th or 5th game, never dominated like your girls are doing.

    So, here's my free suggestion. It's all based on the old sandlot baseball game of workup*. In the soccer version of this game, the first person to score, immediately goes in goal. The goalie moves into the defensive line. One defender moves up to midfield; one midfielder moves up to striker. Next goal ... same thing. This would make it a game within a game for the girls, while also giving them experience at all positions -- including goalkeeper. Anyhow, like I said, it's a free suggestion, and it's worth every penny.


    *In case you young folks never played a game of baseball that wasn't controlled by grownups, here's a brief description of the game. "Workup" was designed for those situations where you only had about 12 people show up to play a game. You'd put 8 players in the field, and the other 4 would bat [and play backup catcher]. As long as they got hits, the batters stayed where they were. If they made grounded out, or struck out, they moved to right field and couldn't bat again until they had worked all the way down to the pitcher's position. The only variation on this occured after a line-out, pop-up, or fly-out where the person who caught the ball did a straight-up positional swap with the batter.
     
    #7
  8. WhitesBhoy

    WhitesBhoy Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    Location:
    The Beach, For Now
    Interesting situation and shows the problem with a blind draw. In the US98 Soccer league I head up, I ask for (among other things) age, size, and experience. It helps when I singularly decide the teams (with quite a few suggestions from parents, which I may or may not heed).

    We had a similar situation in the Spring, when I was much more lax about how the teams were made up, allowing friends to play with friends. The coach for that team, a former professional, did exactly what many have suggested, and moved the Players around to give them experience at the different positions, especially those who did not realize yet that even though they scored loads of goals, they were actually much more a natural sweeper or stopper.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes. Also, you may want to talk to the administrator about changing his approach to organizing teams for next season. Being PC about choosing the make-up of teams will cause these types of problems. Sometimes the role of benevolent dictator is necessary.
     
    #8
  9. BarryP

    BarryP New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2007
    Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
    The league does its best to balance the teams it can without having a tryout. It is an old, well-establised league that has learned many lessons the hard way. The draw was not a pure blind draw to the extent that teams were balanced as best as possible by dividing the players among the teams by:

    1. Travel soccer experience
    2. Recreational soccer experience
    3. Age.

    Each team drew players from each pile until teams had a similar number of travel players, experienced rec players, and age group players with no experience. The older the kids get the more balanced the teams become because more players recieve coaching but sometimes things are unbalanced by one or two players at this age. The two dominant teams have the two dominant players in the league. One of which is a U10 and the other a U9. Outside of having the one dominant player by the good fortune of genetic relations the stars aligned this season so the girls I drew were almost all athletically inclined and quick learners on top of that. I have been involved with this league for 15 years and I have never seen a group of players learn so quickly at such a young age.

    I would like to tell you that my coaching mojo is such that I have the girls hanging on my every word waiting for the wisdom that I am about to impart to them but the closest thing I have to coaching mojo is the $4.00 bag of mixed candy I offer up as an incentive to make juggling goals. Everybody gets one piece for trying and if you make your goal you get an extra piece. It is by far and away the part of post game and practice that the girls love the most.
     
    #9
  10. WhitesBhoy

    WhitesBhoy Active Member

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    Associating candy to playing good soccer. Your team called The Pavlovians??
     
    #10
  11. BarryP

    BarryP New Member

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    Jul 20, 2007
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    Evansville, Indiana
    :3d laughing:

    The real trick is scheduling enough preseason practices to build up a sugar dependence so they will do play their behinds off for that piece of candy after the match!
     
    #11
  12. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Location:
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    well, there goes your sponsorship from the local dentist!
     
    #12
  13. Spencer

    Spencer Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2005
    As a kid all of this would have driven me insane! I hated the notion that you'd do anything but try and win and win by as much as possible.

    And while I've moved beyond my nine year old mindset (for the most part!) and see the merits of not trying to win every game twenty-nil I'd seriously caution you not to go overboard on this kind of thing.

    We all know of the problems with American players and their lack of attacking ability, inclination to do it, and individual flair. So often kids hear nothing but the one touch, one touch, one touch, pass the ball mantra. If they dare run the length of the pitch, break some ankles, and score a goal they get slapped with the ball hog label and face backlash from the coach, the parents, and sometimes the teammates. Well soon enough, by high school say, they don't bother taking anyone on anymore, they look for the back pass just as they've been conditioned.

    I don't know how all this fits into your team Barry and I know your in a real tough spot but I just wanted to throw this out here. If a kids got some natural attacking ability and inclination to do it having them play central defense for 75% of the time may not be sending the right message.
     
    #13
  14. BarryP

    BarryP New Member

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    Location:
    Evansville, Indiana
    I could not agree more Spencer but that is not a problem for me as a coach. I grew up playing basketball primarily and the mentality was beat your man then make the other team pay and it is the same mentality I use when coaching rec soccer. If you notice from the individual goals I posted for the girls the first is to be willing to try and dribble around a defender.

    As far as flair goes Katie's favorite soccer players are Freddie Adu, Ronoldo and Marta. She is very glad when either US team wins but thinks they are boring to watch if Adu is not playing. The comments I heard on her last long run which covered about 85% of the field went something like this - "Cut her off, cut her off .... whooops there she goes","Pretty","Wow" and finally "Man that was nice" - and those were from the opposing teams coaches comments on separate moves she made to beat defenders at different points during the run. The thing that I find funny about my daughter is she hears what is being said about her most of the time, she is what I refer to as a "spotlight child", so she does not want to just beat you she wants to look pretty while she beats you.

    My coaching philosophy of everbody gets a chance to play offense was developed in large part because my older childeren were pigeon-holed as defenders and never told by a coach to go out and try to make something happen. Instead they were told they couldn't because they would lose the ball and that might cost the team the game. To me winning and losing is not as important as learning and trying even if means occasionally failing.
     
    #14
  15. BarryP

    BarryP New Member

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    Evansville, Indiana
    To close out this thread the girls finished 9-3 and in third place for the season. Oddly enough in the two games I expected to be close we were soundly beaten and the one that I expected us to be soundly beaten in was very close.

    When the final blow-out games came around my hands were a little tied on leveling the playing field because we were missing players in both matches. In both matches I resorted to moving my best three players to the defensive half of the field and allowing the girls who had scored least to play the offensive end. This worked pretty well in the first match but the second match still got out of hand. We won the second match 9-0 with every girl present that day scoing at least one goal and three girls scoring two. I did tell Katie in that match she was only allowed to shoot left-footed and only after she had two assists. I quickly decided after she got two assists and two left-footed goals that the goalie shirt matched the color of her eyes very nicely that day causing her to look rather stunning in it. Of course she thought that I was full of tosh and kept shrugging her shoulders and telling me she was bored back there during the second half.

    All-in-all it was an extremly fun rec season. Thank you all for your suggestions as I will be referring back to them in the future.
     
    #15
  16. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    Mar 18, 2006
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    well done, BarryP
     
    #16
  17. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2005
    Cool.... [​IMG]

    .. now you need to rewrite this into a longer bloggish piece!
     
    #17
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