Barcelona youth keeper saves six penalty kicks, then scores winner
Now that’s what we call a match-winning performance! Barcelona youth keeper Inaki Pena, all of 14 years old, saved an incredible SIX penalties in a shootout against Atletico Madrid’s young'uns, then stepped up and scored the winner to boot!
Of course, the trick with Barcelona is that its top team is as much built from within as it is assembled, thanks to its youth development program, the pride of the organization. And now, for the first time, an American is joining that very outlet. According to a variety of sources (but first reported by the website BarcaLoco and soccer blog 3four3), Southern Californian Ben Lederman – a 10-year-old who visited and worked out at the club’s La Masia training complex in April – signed a two-year development contract with the club’s youth academy.
The American soccer prodigy, whose style of play and precocious ball control skills have drawn comparisons to Barcelona star Andres Iniesta (you can see him in action wearing number 10 below), accepted the team’s offer, with his future in Catalonia to be reevaluated after his initial two-year stay at the club. His parents are also reportedly moving to Barcelona to be closer to their son as he continues his soccer development abroad.
While the professional moves of any number of prior American stars have been held up as hallmark moments – with Landon Donovan’s failed German adventures and loan deal with Everton, and striker Jozy Altidore’s move to Villareal among them – the signing of an American 10-year-old with what is almost inarguably the world’s most decorated soccer development school (officials at Ajax’s De Toekomst Academy in Amsterdam may beg to differ) is truly a watershed. For the first time, it signifies officials at the highest level possible recognizing that American youth soccer talent does in fact match up well with its global counterpart.
As for Lederman himself, who was raised as a Barcelona fan, the move almost surely marks the fulfillment of a dream, albeit earlier than he or anyone could have reasonably imagined. Of course, all of that is only speculation, as his parents and others have understandably protected him from public comment because of his age.
It’s impossible to know if Lederman will still be a part of Barcelona’s developmental plans in three years, let alone begin to predict when he might break through to the Barcelona senior team. After all, for everyLeo Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Iniesta, there are dozens of Dos Santosbrothers, incredibly talented players who never truly make the phenomenally high grade required to have a significant impact at a club like Barcelona.
Still, it’s almost impossible not to dream of a day eight or ten years down the road when Lederman might make his way onto a Barcelona pitch – or even any other field within the realm of La Liga – representing the first American to break through as an authentically dual citizen of global soccer, a prospect who was raised on both American training and its counterpart at the world’s best club.
My youngest B had an indoor soccer game last night. It was his first indoor game and to say he was excited was an understatement. To give you some perspective on his game last night…he’s the only white kid on the team. White kid with blond hair. The rest of the team is Hispanic and he sticks out like a sore thumb. He loves his soccer team and they are constantly hugging and being affectionate. My kid is actually pretty good and it’s funny because most of the parents are surprised that the little white kid can run. He’s really fast and scores a lot of goals. My husband calls him the little wedo which I looked up and found out it’s a derogatory term so that’s good. He scored the only goal last night and they got their butts kicked. I wish I had a video of him after his goal. You would have thought he was Christiano Ronaldo because he did a fast lap of the field with his arms out like he was flying.
Anyway…I bitch and moan about practices and games and never being home but last night was really fun and I saw him more excited about something than I have in a long time. He was just enjoying his team and playing soccer. Seriously all I could ask for as a parent.
This past weekend, US Youth Soccer crowned its national champions across seven different age groups for both boys and girls (the Under-19 champions are pictured above). The tournaments, held in Overland Park, KS, were incredibly competitive, with 6 of the 14 finals going into overtime.
A big congratulations to all the winners!
The full list of champions, plus highlights from the games can be found after the jump.
Secrets to improving goal scoring in football matches
In football many different factors often have an effect on whether an attack ends productively or not. When you’re coaching newer players you will encounter kids that are simply stronger and much better then the rest of the kids on the field, however for most of the players there are lots of elements which go into them being able to score more goals in games. Keep in mind that many of these elements aren’t needed in order to see enhanced results, but the more the better.
The first factor to scoring more goals is the attitude and also behavior from the coach. A coaches character as well as personality influences the way his players attack as well as face goal scoring opportunities. The socio-culture atmosphere where he / she was brought up determines his or her viewpoint of play. Whether he is careful or ready to take risks, without doubt he transmits this attitude to his players. Coaches that have an alternative attitude compared to their players normally have a tough job on their hands.
Encouraging along with helping players in the essential task of goal scoring is a lot more beneficial for them then being crucial. With regard to anxiety about critical comments from a coach, you will find attackers who don’t dare a shot at goal and rather favor to pass the soccer ball and deliver the duty as well as the judgments to someone else.
Before fielding a new team, a coach should be aware of exactly how many players he has available with offensive and finishing capabilities and how many he’d want to lineup. Are there lots of defenders as well as midfield players with just one frontrunner? The coach should inspire both the defenders and also the midfield players to have an attacking viewpoint anytime the occasion develops. They must methodically join the attack without ignoring their own defensive assignments.
Scoring goes well past the coach in soccer, the players also have to have a monster instinct for scoring. The personality and style of your players reflects in how they approach the strike. Are they care free and anxious to work with their creativity as kids or tense and also fearful to take chances as is often the case with adults. The training and the setting is that the players were raised has a huge role. Even with considering all these elements, the coach should get a balance in his team between conventional players and aggressive players who choose to take risks.
Fielding many courageous, risk-taking soccer player with a killer intuition is essential as otherwise the couple of goal chances likely won’t produce a goal. Can we have these kinds of players and how many should play in the match? can the coach rely on attackers who don’t mind running systematically free of their markers without acquiring the ball?
Lastly, this is a analyzing factor to have some aggressive competing and imaginative soccer players who manage to win the majority of their one-on-one battles, are capable of getting past their own opponent with certain ease and thus creating a numerical superiority in attack and typically great goal chances.
I would not be putting money into that tip jar....... Athletes make too much money, the women don't need to be paid more the men need to be paid WAY LESS. Yes the USWNT deserves as much as the men's but we shouldn't be donating thousands to them when they don't need it!!! That money should go to youth organizations, buying gear for kids who can't afford it etc.
Cool story, bro. Right off the bat, so you don’t have to wonder why I’m being so aggressive toward someone suggesting I give money to youth organizations, I want you to know that it’s not just your comments on this that piss me off to know end, it’s the entire style of thinking. “You don’t get to have problems, because someones are worse”. Why don’t I stop giving money to my “adopted” kid in Mali, because there is a hungrier one in Ethiopia??
You know why I fucking gave money to them, because why the fuck not? It’s bull shit that they got as little as they did. Yup, pro athletes get paid, what in my opinion, a criminal amount. However, I think that you think that 2 million is a lot more than it actually is, and yes, I know they get paid salaries and endorsement deal, etc. They won the WWC and got 2 million to split between how many people? That’s not really crazy amount, especially compared to other athletes at that level. This campaign is much less about the money than it is about giving them the recognition they deserve, that they aren’t getting from the people with the money.
Yeah, people should be putting money into youth soccer organizations, and cancer research, and aids research, and disaster relief, and starving children, and shoes for children, and health care for women in 3rd world countries, and into taking better care of wounded vets, and into deforestation, holy fuck, who doesn’t need more money???? Holy fucking shit, maybe I’m just lucky enough to be able to give a little bit of help to more than one fucking organization.
Did you see how much money the ass hole cop who murdered Mike Brown got? The jerks that refused to sell a cake to lesbians??
Now, who do I need to give money to to bring down the Yankees salary cap?
Maybe it’s football – it’s possible that it is the game itself and the nature of it; it swings one way then the other and there is no interruption. In American sports, you sit down, you calm down and have a hot dog and you can’t really get that emotion that comes with the fluidity of football, where the game swings back and forth constantly. The glory and the loss that can take place in a split second might have something to do with it.
USu17s defeat Barbados u17s 6-1 in the concacaf u17 championship. Goal scorers were: Kobe Hernandez-Foster, Gianluca Busio (2), Adam Saldana, OG, and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez. Despite the score line the US had trouble creating chances from open play, but with the win, the US stay atop their group and qualify for the knock out stages. 💪🏼 Vamos!
i sae taylor twellman say he thinks money should be invested to fix the pay to play system in the us and i agree and have a lot of thoughts and witnessed how the pay to play system for youth soccer makes elite soccer solely for rich kids and i rly wanna know where i can write all of that out and not have it be gone into the void
Sometimes I wish I had a job where it wasn’t completely socially acceptable for random strangers to constantly criticize, insult, berate, and shout swear words at me.
Like, holy fuck. You don’t need to go out of your way to come up to me after the game to call me a piece of shit who doesn’t know what he’s doing because one eleven year old accidentally stepped on your eleven year old’s foot. How has such a ridiculous, over-competitive culture evolved in youth sports. It’s disheartening.
When I’m a parent, my kids are playing rec league. Orange slices and high fives for everyone after the game.
A Story of Sports and Religion….Of Winning, Losing, Sportsmanship and Common Sense
Original post: April 2, 2004
You would think the fence between the bleachers and the field would be enough. But often, it turns out to be too small, too weak for the force pushing it from one side. Even a wall and a moat might not do the trick. Metaphorically, it seems there is no barrier big enough to keep adults from getting in the way of youth sports.
Recently, I’ve been considering the phrase, “Life is
what you make of it.” Not because I’m unhappy or because I feel lost, but
because it really does feel like I have too many options. I mean, I could focus
on my kids and be dad of the year, raising two super girls for the next
generation. I could cater to my wife’s every need, granting her the support and
freedom to achieve her admirable dreams. I could focus on my physical therapy
career, figuring out how to heal pain and disability in the most effective ways
possible. Or I could focus on my writing career, fine-tuning my craft and
striving to create stories that inspire humanity for centuries to come. And
these are just the things immediately available to me. Who’s to say I couldn’t
wake up one morning with a divine urge to become a missionary in Haiti?
Soccer scares abound: The next phase of parenting begins. I am now Coach Coalspeaker
Call me a soccer dad. Actually my wife and Iare both soccer parents now. We don’t have the mini van.. we don’t really yet know what we have gotten ourselves into .. we are awash in fundraiser tickets and rule books about coaching.. but we did it. We made the leap.
WE WILL COACH A SOCCER TEAM.
While we are told by all that it’s the pre-K and K level, and that scoring does not matter and don’t even keep it, we know parents will. We know there will be trials and tribulations that come with the game… parents yelling a bit too much, getting a bit too involved in a game that should just be fun for people at a lower level of knowledge. We know that.
And even with the acknowledgement that sometimes it will not be easy to quell our own nerves, it is worth it. Worth it because my son is very enthusiastic knowing mom and dad will be a whistle away..
My wife and I have long believed that it was a good thing to be involved with our son’s education life as much as possible. As he gets older and makes his way through the strange twisted world of Pink Floyd style education at the hands of paid professionals, we will be as involved as we can. PTO meetings.. teacher conferences.. all of that stuff. And yes, soccer.
So we dive deep, head first, into the world of post-5-year-old parenting. There will be scary moments. Last night’s initial soccer meeting was scary for me – but moments that will come with joys and laughter. And memories to last.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I will not over romanticize the fact that, at times, we will become tired with 7pm weeknight practices and all day events on Saturdays…
But, dear Watson, this is just the beginning. Along road to hoe indeed.
I started writing a book about parenting four years ago. I wanted to chronicle the first five years of life and how it hits a parent. I did not finish the book–life went so fast I stopped having time to write it. But I am considering finishing it up and making it finalized …
After soccer season I, though… .if Idid not have time before I don’t think I’ve seen anything yet!
The road begins with a tiny soccer jersey and a group of fun kids who have the world ahead of them. The best thing as a coach of such an age group we can do? Encourage them to be kind, laugh, and just enjoy every moment of life.
You know, the things adult forget to get as they age.
Who wants to donate $600 so all these kids can get new soccer uniforms? It’s for a good cause. I can pay for my kids uniform but I know it’s a hardship for some parents. But then you say" why are they playing soccer?“ Because sports are great for health, self esteem, and it teaches you how to work with others.
The roster will train from July 18th through the 29th at the Paju National Football Center before heading to Mexico to compete in the 3rd Copa Mexico de Naciones. Korea has been placed in group B along with Brazil, Canada, and Costa Rica. This tournament will serve as a prep for the upcoming U-16 AFC Championships in September. This is one of the strongest Korean teams assembled at this level so expectations are growing. I would not be surprised by a top 4 finish.
GK = Kim Dong-Hyun(Daegu Tech HS) Ahn Joon-Soo(FC Uijungbu) Ko Dong-Min(Daeryun HS) DF = Lee Sang-Min(Ulsan U-18) Lee Seung-Mo, Choi Jae-Young(Pohang U-18) Kim Seung-Woo(Boin HS) Park Myung-Soo(Daegun HS) Kwon Joon-Hee(Busan U-18) Hwang Tae-Young(Jeonnam U-18) Yoon Seo-Ho(Suwon U-18) MF = Jang Jae-Won, Lee Sang-Heon, Seol Young-Woo, Yook Geun-Hyuk(Ulsan U-18) Kang Sang-Hee(FC Seoul U-18) Kim Ho(Boin HS) Lee Yeon-Gyu, Lee Yong-Eon, Park Sang-Hyuk(Suwon U-18) Kim Jung-Min(Shincheon MS) Shin Jae-Won(John Paul College) FW = Yoo Ju-Ahn(Suwon U-18) Jo Sang-Hyun(FC Seoul U-18) Lee Seung-Woo, Jang Gyul-Hee(La Masia)
Growing up playing the game of soccer, I was blessed having some of the top coaches in the country for a successful soccer club in Austin, Texas. Making the hour and a half drive from San Antonio 3 times a week for 5 years was a huge commitment for me and my family, but I knew that it gave me the best possible chance to get a college scholarship.
I knew with my background of playing collegiate soccer and coaching high level club teams that I could offer something unique to players on an individual level. I started to notice that clubs and independent teams were not teaching the players the technical skills they needed to know to play at the competitive youth level and wanted to change that myself.
I was lucky having some of the best coaches growing up and realized that the majority of players don’t get that kind of coaching on a personal level. I wanted to help players understand the technical aspect of soccer at an early age so that they can stay with soccer throughout high school and possibly college.
Over the years when I was in college I have done private and group soccer sessions, but always looked at it as a hobby for me, it was fun and all, but I never saw it as a career until I did my research and found the need for a quality soccer program.
I always had the idea of starting my own business but couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. Why would people want to train with me? What makes me different than everyone else? What if I failed? I didn’t have a degree in business, how could I learn how to run a business?
I dove into my passion and decided to start a private and small group soccer training business. My goal was to create a program that was so unique and different than everything else out there. The reason why I wanted to start a soccer academy is to help young players from the youth level learn the correct way to play the game so that they can play competitively when they are older.
I did some research on Google and found that there were only a few trainers offering private and small group training in my area. Seeing other trainers with successful businesses in other cities made me think I could do the same if I worked hard enough. I jumped on this opportunity in my city because I knew the competition was low, and there are 1000’s of soccer players who need help with the fundamentals of soccer. Soccer was a sport I played my entire life and was something I had the passion for.
I contacted everyone I could to try to do sessions for free initially because I enjoyed it. Remember, I had no idea about marketing, business, how to charge people… anything related to business I was a total rookie. The only thing I had going for me was the drive to succeed.
Once I started charging people $15 for 1.5 hour sessions I started to realize that I could make a few bucks here and there. Making money was not the driving force behind my business, seeing results is what mattered to me originally and still is to this day.
Pro tip #1:
Take massive action and invest in yourself. Go to conferences, hire mentors, and meet people who are doing what you do and learn quickly from them. Hang around people smarter than you.
Starting off was a bumpy test, and it took more than a year to figure out:
What age group I wanted to train
How to market myself and make my program unique
How to manage my time
How to keep players excited about coming to my sessions
How to get paid (not chase people around for cash or checks)
How to be the expert in my city
My business life was forever changed when I invested in myself. I attended a conference in early 2010 that opened my eyes to the training world and I finally got to be around people that were like me. I took advantage of this opportunity and learned as much as I could about building a website, marketing systems, and how to get paid. I knew after learning these things for a weekend that I could transform my hobby into a business and have systems working for me on auto pilot.
It took a while to really understand the marketing but attending the conference gave me a great base to start with. Later, I hired and spoke to mentors who knew more than me on these subjects and by late 2011, I ranked #1 on all Google searches for my niche.
Pro tip #2
Spend time learning your craft and become the best at what you do. Differentiate yourself and do the opposite of what other programs do to stand out in your community.
There were countless hours of me observing club training sessions and seeing how players don’t get the attention they need to improve technically. This made me understand that I need to create something that gives the maximum amount of attention to each player in my program.
What sets our program apart?
I am accessible to parents 24/7 and treat our members like family
Players must try out to be accepted into the program (we don’t just take anyone)
Players have individualized programs based on the positions they play
Group sessions are not crowded and players get maximum amount of attention
Players are required to practice on their off days and are tested each week – this ensures improvement quickly
Players have access to my automated online conditioning plan (Body Boss)
Parents look to me for any club soccer-related questions
I attend players games and practices to see how they are really doing
Weekly informative blog that covers important topics for parents and their children
Pro tip #3:
The moment you offer more value, people look to you as the expert in whatever niche you are in and in result you can charge premium prices for your services.
From Hobby to Business
The last 3 years I have grown from a hobby to a solid business that trains over 60 players on a monthly program and growing. l let the marketing systems run my business now and get around 90% of my new leads online. Now I can focus on the training and not worry about the complicated marketing that I struggled with early on.
Because our success over the last 3 years of creating a successful soccer academy from scratch, I decided I wanted to help other trainers across America have the same success and build premier soccer academies that benefit youth soccer players. I have created a nationwide network of quality coaches across America to teach how to build successful soccer academies and soccer camps with our business Soccer Entrepreneur.
The entire process of starting something from scratch is very difficult and is not for everyone. Looking back on the last 3 years I know it was worth the 80+ hour weeks because I really enjoy what I do for a living. Knowing what I know now about the business, I want to help other entrepreneurs learn how to run successful soccer academies and love what they do while having a life of total freedom.
If you are a trainer who is considering starting something, take action and just do it.
There’s an assumption in economics that as the supply of any given commodity increases, the price naturally deteriorates. But in the international market of youth prodigies, the reverse seems true. £2 million for a 14-year old here, £500,000 for a 15-year old there. Every team wants one, and even the most innocuous sources seem to have a hand pushing the snake oil. Twitter tells us about his quality finishing. Football blogs compare his talents to the historic benchmarks. The Guardian lets us know that certain “prominent teams” are interested in his services, while Jeremy at the office claims that Real Madrid has already put in a bid.
All this before anyone has actually seen him play.
Much has been written about the birthday effect in sports, where players born early in the year have an advantage over those born later in the year.
Naturally many youth coaches prefer stronger, taller, more mature individuals when selecting their team. The reason is that their own career depends on results in games and tournaments, it gets them a more glorious profile, better jobs and higher salaries. Those running soccer clubs are usually parents and they like showing off photos of their kids with trophies to friends, relatives and scouts.
This emphasis on physical strength and early maturity is evident in youth international sports. I have analysed quite a few youth international teams myself and invariably you will find most of the players born early in the year. Malcolm Gladwell famously wrote about the birthday effect on Canadian hockey, and in England where they go by the start of the school year, youngsters born late in the year get the same advantage.
I had two players starring in my top U16 team a few years back. The national team coaches did not select them because they were “too small, too immature”. Both were born in December and hardly got a look in for the U16 national team. They then got a long career in the U19 national team and seem on course to make the full team, while the captain of the U16 team has stopped playing before the age of twenty.
So more opportunity is afforded to those bigger and stronger. This is acknowledged in youth development around the world. Not doing something to counter it means that clubs and national teams are probably missing out on a quarter or half of the talent available to them.
Recently I directed an FA elite camp for the best U14 girls in the nation. I did some analysis of the players there. Out of 36 players there was a strong birthday effect in favor of the early months of the year. But I noticed something curious.
Unknown to anyone, I had grouped the players into levels of ability beforehand and assigned the label “best players at camp” to six individuals. They were the only players there which I would say with certainty that they will play for their country at some level in the future. Their technical, tactical, physical and mental ability stood out from the rest, and they had more ground to lose in the next four years than others to gain from catching up.
Only one was born early in the year, in April. The rest were born in the second half of the year. So most of the players at the camp were really there because of a physical advantage at the age of fourteen. The standouts got in there despite their disadvantages because they were too good to be ignored. Interestingly the current women’s national team has an equal number of players born in the first half of the year and the second half of the year, and the same number of players born in January and December. And don’t forget that both Maradona and Pele are born in the last quarter of the year. So the birthday effect seems to go away as players ascend to higher levels.
So what did the best players at the elite camp have in common? Most came from big clubs with good coaching and good facilities, but not all. Some came from soccer families but not all. They varied in size, shape, qualities and preferred positions.
I did ask everyone another question though. One which I now always ask the players at my club. The answer has an unusually high correlation with success.
What age did you start training soccer actively?
Out of 36 players at the elite camp, six girls started training actively at the age of 4-5. Others started as late as nine or ten years old. No prizes for guessing who those six players were. They were the “best”.
Interestingly this corresponds to my results from asking every player of my club’s full team this year the same question. They all started training before the age of six.
The same question was asked of the best performing men’s youth national team the nation has produced a couple of years back. Only two out of twenty-two started after the age of six, one of those two was a goalkeeper who started at eight, and the other started when he was seven.
At my club, a player has been tipped for greatness for five years. He is now eleven. The odds are in his favor. Those in his age group who started out two years ago have a hell of a lot of catching up to do.
The title of the post is probably my favorite quote from my father. I love it, because it is TRUTH!
Being the mother of five, I’ve had the opportunity to encounter many different children and their parents for 16 yrs. I’ve said this for a couple of years now, but soccer parents are the worse. No, really, we are.
This past weekend, my daughter participated in a soccer tournament. We knew we would have fun, there would be some aggression, some fouls and some great shots taken on goal. Overall I thought the girls would have a good time, shake hands and move on. What I witnessed during a game was one child on the opposing team consistently fouling her opponent, yelling at her own teammates (including foul language) AND yelling at the referee. I would have tolerated about 15 seconds of this behavior from my own kid before I would be up out of my chair on my way to the coach to have him/her yank my kid out of the game. I was mortified for her parents - except her parents weren’t mortified. They supported and encouraged this behavior. It is a shame her behavior overshadows her talent, because she is a good player.
Parents please - you must not ignore your responsibility to raise decent human beings:
Fouling - it happens in soccer. We sometimes call it the chicken wing syndrome (sticking the elbow out). Fouling is nothing other than cheating. Do you want your child to gain advantage by cheating - even if the referee doesn’t call them out on it? What are you teaching them? Let me answer for you - NOTHING. I don’t have to explain to you the far reaching implications this has.
Disrespecting authority - one short answer for you - You need to save some bail money because she clearly doesn’t understand there are limits and I see a criminal problem in your future. Listen sweetie - when you question the referee’s knowledge the chances you getting a call when you are fouled are slim to none. They will just hang you out to dry and let you eat turf.
Team player - soccer is a sport which requires a group of people to work together to get the ball into the goal. Whether you believe it or not, you really do need to play nice in all facets of life. Telling your teammates how incompetent they are doesn’t foster an environment to be successful. And frankly, this was bullying. This tactic only works on the playground until you are no longer the loudest or biggest. Eventually even bullies get theirs.
The true failure here is the parenting: When you don’t set limits your kids make them and frankly can we blame children when they take the easiest route? I certainly don’t. It’s already Wednesday evening and I am still processing what I witnessed. I appalled at the child’s behavior towards our girls, her teammates, the coach and the referee. But seriously, what still has me shaking my head is her parents lack of, well parenting. I was sitting with a friend and thankfully I know she would have set her child straight and she knows I would have done the same.
There is something to be said about confidence - It’s great to have and I can testify confidence has taken me places in my career my skill set alone would not have. But there is a line everywhere. This child crossed it over and over again. She crossed it because her parents hadn’t shown her where the line is.
Planning for mixed ability youth soccer groups (Part One)
No two young players are the same. Children learn differently, they interact differently, and have various levels of soccer ability. The majority of travel teams you teach will comprise of 14-18 players, and the spectrum of ability between the novice and elite players will present a number of challenges. How can you plan for mixed ability youth soccer groups, and deliver sessions that meet the needs of ALL young players?
Inappropriately planned programs can result in novice players feeling demoralized and demotivated by their relative lack of ability. Furthermore, elite performers can over-dominate small sided practice games and not be sufficiently challenged in technical practice sessions.
Changing the level of difficulty for a group activity can be done simply by modifying the size of area the group practice in, making it smaller or bigger dependant on the coach’s desired outcomes. However, are we truly meeting the needs of all children in a session by asking them to perform the same drill with the same conditions attached? Now apply this question to some of the skills clinics you may have coached. How can we plan for the level of differentiation of tasks to challenge all players regardless of their ability?
Below are a number of simple and useful strategies that can be used when coaching groups with players at opposite ends of the skills spectrum.
Strategies for technical practices
Group practices that demand recognizing different tasks requires the coach to plan training sessions that provides opportunities for novice and elite players to perform different skills to those being carried out by the other players. When adopting a task differentiation strategy it is important to minimize disruption to the flow and organization of the session. Changing the technical objective to suit the individual player can help in the recognition of a variety of tasks and ensure that the differing needs of the group are addressed effectively. Examples of this are:
Kick ups - While the majority of the group perform keeping the ball up with alternate feet the novice player could be required to use his / her dominant foot. The elite player could be given the task of keeping the ball up without using the central part of either foot.
Aerial control - While the majority of the group control the ball with their thigh and pass it back without it bouncing the novice player allows the ball to bounce. The elite player is asked to take 2 touches of the ball before passing it back to the server.
Crossing and finishing - While the majority of the group have to finish first time from a cross the novice player is allowed unlimited touches before he/she has an attempt at goal. Markers could be placed a couple of yard inside either post to further test the elite player.
Heading - While the majority of the group get a thrown service from their partner the novice players throw to themselves. The server could be instructed to throw the ball higher so the elite player has to jump to head the ball.
Individual & Small group practice – When each player is asked to perform a task, coaches should avoid large groups to ensure that the practice flows. Individual and smaller group practices can be adopted when there is the potential for one player, whether elite or novice, having an adverse impact on group learning or the smooth flow of the session. Individual practice allows all players to play at their own ability level with no added pressure. Small group practices can also provide opportunities for more skilled and elite players to teach novice players. This process will not only benefit the player being taught but also help to develop a greater understanding for the player doing the teaching.
Correct mistakes individually - Novice players will invariably make mistakes that must be handled sympathetically by the coach. Highlighting mistakes openly in front of the whole group should be avoided; it is recommended that coaching points be communicated with the player individually. This coaching advice should be given in a manner, which builds on the strengths of the individual rather than reiterating the mistakes or weaknesses.
Non punishment mistake games - knockout games and possession practices that involve the player that makes a mistake becoming the chasing defender are not recommended as this can result in novice players who need the most practice receiving the least opportunities to improve. For example, a basic 4v1 keep ball session, which requires the player responsible for giving the ball away becoming the defender can be changed by ensuring that all the players, regardless of their performance, spend an equal period of time defending.
Part Two of this area of concern will focus on Small Sided Games (SSG) and in particular, how to handle team selection, strategies for novice players in SSG, creation of ‘safe zones’, position rotation, conditions for advanced players in SSG, and working with odd numbers.
There is limited importance of winning in youth soccer. In a list of outcomes for a child learning how to play soccer, playing to win should be well down the pecking order. The days of 16 eight-year-olds chasing a ball around, whilst their parents shout, argue and debate on the sidelines how “talented” their son/daughter is are hopefully numbered. The 8v8 game should be dead in players under 12 yrs old.
1 ball, 16 children…
Oversized pitch and goals…
Coaching points of “get stuck in!”, “Boot it”…
Of course, winning a game and experiencing “success” are enjoyable for a group of children. When the emphasis of “success” equals winning, what happens when the inevitable happens and they lose? There is value in learning how to win/lose with fairplay and sportsmanship… these are good life and social lessons, but the TRUE importance of playing football at youth levels are to have fun, in a safe and ‘purposeful’ learning environment.
I would be encouraged to see many youth programs create 4v4 practice sessions, mixed teams, limited involvement of so-called 'coaches’. We have all seen by now the data from Man United’s comparative study with 4v4 v 8v8 and the increased number of shots, passes, dribbles, and overall touches on the ball. Listen to how the word 'Drill’ sounds. It sounds like something an army instructor would use. That word has many negative connotations, reminding me of the days when I played and we were drilled into standing in long lines, shooting/passing into and adult, only to rejoin the back of the same line, and if the team was deemed to have not shown enough effort we would run (using exercise as some form of punishment!). Unfortunately, many children have the same experiences that children from the 80’s had. It certainly seems the case when I speak to youth players from the UK nowadays.
The FA talks a great game, with wonderful soundbites from Trevor Brooking, glossy printed booklets, but it appears to be the same old product at grass roots level. An interesting (and inspiring) approach can be seen at Active Kids (@active_kids) in London. Watch from the sideline of their games and practices and you will see how unimportant winning is, and how much emphasis is placed on playing without fear of making mistakes and how careful structuring of effort-based praised has given a small group children a wonderful learning environment to play soccer in.
I need people that are going to work. When they lose the ball, chase it. That’s what you learned when you were at school in the playground. You chased after the ball if you lost it. You worked, you ran about.
Taking Advice from Harry Redknapp
Amazing. My 11-year-old and I were just having a conversation on Saturday night about her doing more of what Harry Redknapp says above in her winter indoor soccer league. And Harry has to say the same thing to millionaire footballers.
Well, that's one way for a kid fan to identify with the sport: that pro has to do the same thing as me!!
Thinking about yesterday makes me go crazy!! I felt like this was the year we were going to the Championships. We lost. 2 to 0. :( WE HAD SO MANY MORE SHOTS ON THE GOAL THAN THEM!! It’s frustrating! We dominated! We had the ball the majority of the game and we had THOUSANDS of shots! We just cannot get the ball in the net! The other team had about five shots and made two in, when we made a lot more shots (I couldn’t even keep count, neither could the parents) and we just could not score! I go battle woundes :) We played on turf and I got a lot of turf burns. I am proud to say that my team improved a lot and we played with passion. Last year, we played okay and we all knew we could have played better and it hurts me to say this that at the last five minutes of the game I screwed up. I am not the fastest player, and that is a fact, but I do play center defense with the fastest player. So that means that I am always the first one to step to the ball in the center and she always has to cover me. We did it all wrong. She stepped to the ball and got beat, then it was just me and that super fast forward. “DAMN IT!” I wanted to shout. I obviously got beat because I got nervous and hesitated and she blew past me and made me look like a turtle. I want to cry or hit something everytime I look back at it. This year, it kind of made up for it. If we would have won then I TOTALLY would have forgotten about that stupid thing! i am still happy about this year though and it only gets better. My coach went up to me personally today and said that I really improved and am one of the strongest players. Then he said he will email me with info to practice with the higher level team!! I feel bad because I didn’t look too excited but I thought I was going to die inside!!!! I though I was smiling but my mom said I wasn’t. I NEVER KNOW HOW TO REACT IN THESE SORT OF THINGS! I get super duper duper SHY! I HATE THAT ABOUT MYSELF! Like, I can be really happy but then my expression can show the exact opposite!! D: !!!! Anyways… yeah… This game I played center mid. I usually play center defense. Last year when I played center defense I would usually play center mid, so the center defense thing last year was such a huge surprise. This year I was prepared for anything! I felt indestructable! I did not let anyone take me down. As for the turf burns, that was my fault… ‘nough said. :) I don’t feel like re-reading and editing so I am just gonna create this post :P I would like to thank the people who took their time to read this crap. This post was really for my own self to let all this mumbo jumbo stuff out of me :) I feel a little bit better now. :) :) :) :) :)
It is opening day for Major League Baseball and in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia there is a lot of hype. However, a sport that is often called America’s Pastime may have a different feel in less populous cities. It would not take data, although I will provide some, to realize there has been a shift in youth participation in sports.
With the Little League baseball season upon us these numbers can be updated soon, but the league hit a high with 2.6 million participants in 1997 and now sits at 2.2 million from the 2010 season. That is a decline in participation that prompted a new division to keep players involved. Now 13 year old players can continue in Little League with a 50 foot pitching mound and 70 foot base paths. Some view this as a failed attempt to keep players from exploring other sports like soccer and hockey. There are many reasons for the decline, but most would say that involvement in soccer is one of them.
The United States Youth Soccer Association now boasts over 3 million participants from age five to 19. There are an additional 300,000 or more in other Youth soccer associations in the United States. Granted the age range in the soccer associations is wider than Little League, but the numbers are encouraging for those trying to increase interest in soccer in the United States.
I grew up in baseball, but it was more readily available. There were barely any soccer fields where I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. I loved baseball and still enjoy the game. However, it is very slow compared to today’s lifestyle. It does pain me slightly to see baseball fields disappearing. The sporting landscape in that small area of the U.S. has changed drastically. Soccer is taking over there. Is that the trend?