Boys U12 Fall season goals, or second response to Rodrigo :-)

> O boy that was a long response to two short comments. [full message]

to subject you to this – the lenght and expanded explanations are
mostly for the site (and this includes this response as well :-)
Content is the most valuable commodity of the internet, I am just using
this opportunity to accumulate some). I think I am going to register a
site for all this pretty soon, want to be in on this? We can brainwash
and conquer the world :-) You will write articles and I will count the
money… Seems fair :-)

> I consider myself a teacher.

Here’s an article, which defines two main styles of coaching, you may want to check it out:

So if I see something that I can help improve, I’ll try to address it

We agree on this :-)

We can
let them play and play and yes anybody may eventually get it. It took me about
25+ years to understand some basic techniques in soccer and many I still do not

This is excellent point: check out the first sentence and bold highlights from here:

> Now about the talk to the kids, you really underestimate them.

Maybe :-) I think it’s mostly about degree of efficiency: in my opinion, it’s more efficient to do the “kite” exercise (
for ten minutes than have a talk on team shape for roughly the same
amount of time, and if that’s the case – then playing should be favored.

I don’t believe that kids learn much during the games, majority of
learning comes from practices… Ok, that first portion of the previous
sentence did not come out right :-) More precisely: opportunities for
coaching during the games are very limited – mostly, because of that
same reason: we can only tell kids what to do but they have no
opportunity to go through the actual process of the learning sequence:
trying it without pressure – trying it with limited pressure – and only
then trying it in game conditions. We can only coach efficiently during
practices; games are for showing off the skills that boys learned
during the week. That’s actually why I like to have no more than two
very specific stress points for a game: one per each subject for each
of the practices during previous week. We somewhat got screwed by this
make up game this week – it’s been three practices without a game, but
if you noticed – here were the subjects: second defender, team shape,
counterattack. Those were the points to watch in the last game – but we
did not even mention all of them to the boys: I believe in the pre-game
speeches we only stressed team shape and maybe counterattack; for the
second defender I believe boys are actually doing good job already so
there was no need to overwhelm them.

> clear, specific and short bits of
information are perfect

This is their we disagree: definition of “short” :-) (or maybe I just misunderstand your definition). In
my opinion, for this age group (U12) – short means no longer than
90-120 seconds, and that should include pre-game speeches. Anything
beyond that – for kids who’d rather play than listen – will go over
their heads.

> I still stand that the two things we should be focusing is
position and passing. [snip]
Some time ago you mentioned that you have set goals for the
season. Could you share those with me?

are good – and we are going to get there. The problem is that I think
we need to build up basis for positions: I don’t want to put boys in a
formation and tell them: “this is your spot”. On that

site there is a quote somewhere: “Americans play fast but think slow”,
I think this is precisely why: from the very beginning kids are taught
to do different jobs on the field, e.g., “play your position”, they
learn to do it and they do it well – it’s easy to do the same thing
over and over even if you don’t understand why you are doing it. Later,
however, when put in different situation (let’s say, formation changes
from 3-3-1 to 2-3-2) they get lost: they need to be taught again what
to do.

The way to avoid it I believe is to build up tactical
mentality from ground up (not just for this group – for the complete
development progression of a youth player): a soccer player needs to
gradually learn what to do alone with the ball (first attacker), how to
play in twos (second attacker), how to play in threes (third attacker),
and the diamond shape (1-2-1 formation in a 4 v 4 small sided game). If
they can master that – in my opinion they will be able to move from
formation to formation effortlessly, and that’s what I am aiming for in

For this specific season, I want the boys learn how to
be comfortable playing in twos (first attacker – second attacker),
that’s all. If they can do that by the end of the last game – from
tactical standpoint I will consider this season success. We actually
did not address this in targeted fashion yet – mostly we spent time on
defense so far. As you wish (and actually – according to the grand plan
:-) ) – we will be doing first a – second a predominantly through the
remainder of the season, and this will inolve plenty of passing.

Same for the defense: I want them to play first defender – second defender comforably by the end of the season.

the team play perspective, I want to do one or two more practices on
the diamond shape – same as we did already – and also want the boys to
start learning how to play counter attacking style (if you did not see
it yet – now is the time:
If you read carefully – and compare to the other – playmayking – style
of play – you’ll notice that “kicking aimlessly” has technical term:
“relief of pressure” and is acceptable in counterattacking style. It’s
the distinguishment of moments when to relief pressure and when to
switch to the counter what the boys need eventually to figure out but I
do not plan on having lots of talks on this with them, for now it’s
good enough that they experience this method of play. Also, I like the
counter attacking style because it teaches discipline and mental
toughness: it’s tough to be on defense most of the time, you need to
develop mindset, coolness, and steady heart for that.

Final note :-)

this last game and seeing how boys shifted to the positions they played
earlier in the game I now tend to think that it would be good for them
to stay in one area for the entire game and only switch their place
from game to game. What do you think? Also, on formations – I don’t
want to pick one over another: these things are situational and same as
playing all positions boys need to be comfortable in any formation. If
you remember – so far we tried four formations total: 3-2-2 with flat
mid – flat forwards, 3-2-2 with tandem of forwards, 3-3-1 with a
sweeper and dropped center mid and free forward, and 3-3-1 with dropped
side backs, advanced center d, and advanced center mid + free forward.
The more defensive 3-3-1 ones we played against Lowell – probably the
best team in our division, – and Reading – good team with us having
just one sub so our boys needed extra insurance back. Most likely, we
are going to play more offensively against Melrose – just because they
are not a good team according to the standings. And yet another reason
for the changes is that I want to experiment a little :-) So – as you
hopefully see – we really cannot select one formation for the season
and stick to it :-)

I hope I don’t bore you to death with all this…

—– Original Message —–
From: Rodrigo
Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2009 12:00:04 AM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern

Subject: RE: Boys U12 soccer game this Saturday

O boy that was a long response to two short comments. 

Well here goes my not that long response ;-) . I do agree on most
things you said. Specially with the game is the best teacher. But I also
believe that we should learn from what we do, whatever that is, soccer or
anything. And teachers are there to help us learn. I consider myself a teacher.
So if I see something that I can help improve, I’ll try to address it. We can
let them play and play and yes anybody may eventually get it. It took me about
25+ years to understand some basic techniques in soccer and many I still do not
get. But if we can show and make the kids learn more and as consequence have
more fun, why not do it. And of course, when we play stronger teams we will see
our weakness and that is when we really get to learn. And then, we need to adjust
our plan. Are we going to change our plan every week after each game? Of course
not, but we should be flexible enough to allow some change. 

Now about the talk to the kids, you really underestimate them. I
think most kids will listen and they will try to improve accordingly, specially
at this age. When they get to U14 and up, most kids think they know better. We
should not get them hour long lectures, but clear, specific and short bits of
information are perfect. Repeat those often and they will sure try, learn and

Patience, patience, I consider myself a patience person. But I also
feel emotions and I think that as long as I express them within a healthy level,
they are good for the team. Most kids are trying to please some grown up,
parent and coach. And seeing their coach sharing the emotion with the team is
very good. 

Enough of coaching philosophy. 

I still stand that the two thinks we should be focusing is
position and passing. And that includes teaching the kids who take the position
to heart (i.e. Brendan) that is not only ok but he is encourage to move to and
cover other areas but show them when or how. Will they get it at the first
practice and scrimmage? Most likely not. But three or more practices, many will
sure get the concept and then it is just practice.

Some time ago you mentioned that you have set goals for the
season. Could you share those with me?

Take care you too,




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