Q: I can’t seem to keep my players in their ‘position’ once the game starts. I have tried yelling at them; have had the assistant coach yell at them and even their parents and nothing has worked. Do you have any suggestions?
Koach Karl: The subject of Positioning seems to be at the very top of many youth coaches’ “Most Important Concerned” list. The feeling is that if I can keep players in their proper positions then the odds of winning games become much better. Nothing is further from the Truth and Nothing is more harmful.
There are only two positions in the FUNdamental approach: Goalkeepers and Field players.
The Goalkeeper is ‘free’ to play on any part of the field by The Laws of the Game, but is usually asked to stay within the penalty area by the coach. Goalkeepers differ from field players only that he/she may use their arms and hands to play the ball inside the designated penalty area. Once outside the penalty area the goalkeeper becomes a field player and may not use his/her arms and hands (intentionally) to play the ball.
Field players are ‘free’ to play on any part of the field and may control, move and propel the ball with any part of the body except the intentional use of the arms and hands. Field players’ responsibilities change according to ball possession.
Positioning at these ages should be your last concern – allow the children to play the game in their own understanding. Remember, soccer is unlike any American sport – we need to develop ‘total’ players…for whenever a player receives the ball they become the quarterback of the team (1st Attacker) – or when they lose the ball they must become the most dependable opponent (1st Defender)!
You must expect younger players to continually chase after the ball for the first few years.
Important Note: Be sure to let your parents know that this natural phenomenon (Bunching) will occur for a few years.
Teach your players to become ‘total’ soccer players which means:
- Our ball – ALL players think and act like an attacker – GO for goal to score!
- Their ball – ALL players think and act like a defender – Get the ball back -so that we can go to goal and score!
This is one of the main reasons we put such a great emphasis on playing the 1+1 and 1vs.1 games. These games, over time, instill the crucial instinctive habits required of ‘total’ soccer players.
Positioning seems to be the Most Important concern for beginning youth coaches and yet it is the Most Difficult Aspect to Teach. What is crucial to remember…
Confidence before Technique…
Technique before Tactics…
Tactics before Positioning!