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Sam Snow, Director of Coaching US Youth Soccer


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Sam Snow, Director of Coaching US Youth Soccer

  1. 1. U12 Soccer SKILL versus SIZE Sam Snow Director of Coaching - US Youth Soccer U. S. Soccer National Staff Instructor
  2. 2. Long Term DEVELOPMENT or Short Term Wins?... <ul><li>While coaching at the college level I often met players who were good athletes, but not good soccer players! Their playing ability did not live up to their athletic prowess. </li></ul><ul><li>Are any of these players your children? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Generally the cases were quite similar. <ul><li>Players who during puberty grow physically faster than their peers may be 1 to 3 years biologically ahead of their teammates. Consequently they are bigger, faster and stronger. </li></ul><ul><li>The “bigger is better” approach can bring success in the won/loss record, resulting in everyone thinking all is well. Unfortunately these players may not be learning how to play soccer. Often they are limited in their balls skills and are tactically naïve. </li></ul>
  4. 4. KICK-N-RUN <ul><li>The approach of the coach often is to make this type of player the “star”, usually as a forward. “Just kick down field to Bruce whenever you get the ball”, was the command to the other players on the team. Bruce of course was expected to out run the opposition and shoot the ball so hard the opposing 10 or 11 year old goalkeeper would shy away from the ball. </li></ul>
  5. 5. STILL KICKIN’? <ul><li>Once that player gets to college (if indeed they stay with soccer that long) most of the other players are now just as fast or faster AND they have technique and tactical awareness. Being athletically superior alone is not enough to be a successful player. </li></ul>
  6. 6. What’s more important for an U12 player, speed or skill? <ul><li>Generally speaking, the physically dominating U12 teams win the match. These players are bigger, stronger and, most importantly, faster. However, the most important aspect of an U12 player’s game is technical speed. Improving technical speed puts a player on the road to tactical awareness. </li></ul>
  7. 7. PUBERTY <ul><li>As muscles mature in players, strength and power become a factor in their performance. Coordination improves at this age. Increased coordination allows a player to perform technical skills with more confidence. </li></ul>
  8. 8. PUBERTY <ul><li>This is truly an exciting time in the lives of young players to enjoy the game even more than their earlier “playing days.” As their bodies strengthen and they become more confident with the ball, the joy of the game becomes apparent. Still, there is a wide spread of technical ability and tactical awareness between players and the coach must proceed with that in mind. </li></ul>
  9. 9. PUBERTY <ul><li>At this point in their physical and psychological development, most 10 and 11 year old children can play rather than play at the game of soccer. Coaches must be careful at this juncture and not fall victim to the false assumption that these “small adults” (which they are not ) are now able to play mature soccer. </li></ul>
  10. 10. LONG TERM DEVELOPMENT <ul><li>Now is the time to cement their passion for the game: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Benefit # 1: The continued philosophy for the coach is to present training with an emphasis on the enjoyment of the players. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The notion being that if U12 players enjoy training as a team member then they just may do more things with the ball on their own. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Now is the time to cement their passion for the game: <ul><li>Benefit # 2: An U12 player should still be having a lot of fun in and with the game. </li></ul><ul><li>There is more competence in their individual, technical performance. In fact, the word “team” now becomes more than an abstract concept. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Now is the time to cement their passion for the game: <ul><li>Benefit # 3: With this approach we are moving closer toward intrinsic motivation, which is precisely where we want to be if we honestly believe that soccer is a player’s game. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Now is the time to cement their passion for the game: <ul><li>Benefit # 4: The U12 age is a fertile learning period. Players at this age can be expected to be more thoughtful in meeting the demands of the game. A coach can expect the players to understand the sport and use teammates to help solve problems. If training sessions present appropriate problems for players to solve, reasonable match results can be expected. </li></ul>
  14. 14. SMALL SIDED GAMES <ul><li>I recommend that U12 teams play 8 vs. 8! </li></ul><ul><li>Technically abilities will accelerate due to increased time with the ball. Further, the ball skill demands are now realistic on a smaller pitch. </li></ul><ul><li>Athletic growth is enhanced due to continuous movement. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a greater demand on mental concentration. The game is more fun to play because the players are always involved. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Lines of Interaction <ul><li>The following slide shows all of the possible lines of interaction among 16 players on the field in an 8 vs. 8 match. It is quite clear from the graph that the game environment can be quite complex. </li></ul>
  16. 16. 8 v 8
  17. 17. SMALL SIDED GAMES <ul><li>This match environment now demands transition and thus tactical awareness. The players are involved on both sides of the ball, so there is no hiding in the weeds. </li></ul><ul><li>There is a greater demand on individual and group tactics. The team tactical concept of compactness is enhanced in the small sided game. </li></ul><ul><li>More opportunities for problem solving are created for the players to work out together. Hence “teamwork” is promoted! </li></ul>
  18. 18. The impact of the COACH <ul><li>Outside the immediate family, “coach” is an extremely important figure. Everything a coach says or does takes on a magnified importance with children this age. Actions and words are important, as are the more subtle characteristics of appearance, promptness, attitude, energy output, commitment, respect, etc. Children at this stage of development begin to reflect the strengths and weaknesses of their teachers. Accept the fact that you are a very important role model! </li></ul>
  19. 19. COACHING METHODS <ul><li>All techniques must be practiced in match related conditions with appropriate defensive pressure. If an activity is too staid or fundamental {no pressure}, players will not improve. At this age, players must be appropriately allowed to test their abilities to perform a technique against an opponent. Many factors are coming into place for the U12 player and it is the coach’s responsibility to guide players to technical confidence and tactical awareness. </li></ul>
  20. 20. COACHING METHODS <ul><li>A U12 player should exhibit confidence with the ball. At this stage, they should also play with reasonable degrees of speed. The coach should encourage a quicker pace. </li></ul>
  21. 21. COACHING METHODS <ul><li>Technical training at the U12 level must be as fun-filled and exciting as at younger levels. At the same time this training must be aimed at perfecting domination of the ball. In your training sessions have higher repetition, increased pressure, movement and intensity of effort. Improving ball skills is the main objective with this age group. Skills become an even more important factor at this point in their development because the players need to be introduced to general tactics as well. </li></ul>
  22. 22. COACHING METHODS <ul><li>At this point in their development, U12 players should be able to simultaneously run, strike the ball and THINK . The U12 player is usually eager to learn. The nature of training sessions is crucial as it may stimulate or stifle the learning process. </li></ul>
  23. 23. EDUCATION & DEVELOPMENT <ul><li>BALL SKILLS! BALL SKILLS! BALL SKILLS! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When skillful players hit the field soccer is exciting and dynamic. The development of individual technique is first and foremost the responsibility of the players. Not enough players spend extra time with the ball trying to improve. Yet not enough of them are being asked by their coaches and teammates to do so. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Our goal is to have our players comfortable with the ball and excited about learning and trying new skills. This attitude toward technical development starts with the youth coach. </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. EDUCATION & DEVELOPMENT <ul><li>Technical development is the responsibility of all coaches. Too many coaches accelerate right to team tactics even though the players really do not have the skill to execute those tactics. </li></ul>
  25. 25. THE FOUR COMPONENTS <ul><li>Technique : feints with the ball; receiving ground, bouncing & air balls with the heel, shins, thigh, abdomen, chest & head; heading to score goals & for clearances-standing & jumping; chipping to score; outside of foot pass; bending shots; crossing to near post & penalty spot space; heel pass; kicking & receiving with inside of the instep; introduce half volley & volley shooting; introduce slide tackle. </li></ul>
  26. 26. THE FOUR COMPONENTS <ul><li>Technique : For goalkeepers-footwork; bowling; low dives & forward diving; angle play; near post play; saving penalty kicks; introduce parrying & boxing. </li></ul>
  27. 27. THE FOUR COMPONENTS <ul><li>Psychology : teamwork; confidence, desire; mental rehearsal; intrinsic motivation; handling distress; how to learn from each match; sportsmanship; parental involvement; emotional management </li></ul>
  28. 28. THE FOUR COMPONENTS <ul><li>Fitness : speed; strength; aerobic exercise </li></ul>
  29. 29. THE FOUR COMPONENTS <ul><li>Tactics : 2 v 1 defending; 2 v 2 attacking & defending; roles of 2 nd attacker & defender; combination passing; verbal & visual communication for all positions; commanding the goalmouth for the goalkeeper; half-time analysis; corner kick plays-defending & attacking; kick-off play; wall pass; beginning to identify potential roles for players-goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and/or forward; introduce the principles of defense. </li></ul>
  30. 30. YOU <ul><li>Finally, working with U12 players demands the constant improvement of the coach. The growing coach seeks out opportunities to improve! </li></ul>