Weekly email 10/28/15
Last Spring I shared a note with all of you stating that the Westfield SA is a participation club. This means that all players who join our program are going to be given the opportunity to play in games. Nobody will become a better player if they are not provided with the opportunity to play in the weekend! In travel all players should play at least 50% of the time, but there is no reason in my mind that (especially at the younger ages) players shouldn’t be given more than 50% of the time. Assuming of course that they attend practice at a regular basis; work hard in practice; show to have the right attitude and are committed to the team and program. It will also help to develop the overall strength of your roster when all players are given the opportunity to play. If 4 or 5 players are given the opportunity to play almost a full game and several others barely get 50% of the time, those 4 or 5 players will most likely develop a lot quicker. They are given a lot more opportunities to play, which will aid their development. This can quickly lead to a separation on your team between the top and bottom end of the roster.
To ensure that all players are given about equal playing time in a game it is important that 1 of the coaches works out a subbing pattern ahead of the game. The head coach can focus on the actual game and 1 of the assistants can focus on making sure players are subbed on and off during a game. This will never be an exact science since we still have to wait for a ball to go out of bounce, assuming it is our throw, before we can make a substitution.
An example of subbing pattern is included in the manual I shared with all of you ahead of the Fall season.
I have also stated on more than 1 occasion that players, especially at a younger age (U9-U12) should be exposed to different positions over the course of a season. This to ensure we develop well rounded soccer players and there is no need to specialize in a position when you are U9, U10 or U11. The players should learn to play the game by gaining an understanding of the principles of play, not just given a position. I highly recommend that you do not expose the players to more than 2, a maximum of 3 positions, during 1 game. We have an entire season to expose them to multiple positions, so there is no need to have them play 4 or 5 positions in just 1 game. This will only lead to confusion and might be counterproductive.
There are several ways to rotate players in and out. You could rotate players over 2 positions on 1 side of the field (left central defender/ left mid; central mid / center forward – assuming you play 1-2-3-2) for example. I do like to reward my goalplayers for playing a half in the goal, so I normally like to play them upfront before/after playing in the goal.
You can also opt to have players play either defense, midfield or offense during 1 game. The next game you can than rotate players through and have them play in another line on the field. The coach responsible for the substitutions can try both methods and see of course which one works best for the team. I personally prefer the first option the best. This way players still get the opportunity in different parts of the field, but are provided with some continuity to play either on the right, left or in the middle of the field.
The head coach should focus on the actual game, keeping an eye on the bigger picture. Head coaches who get too involved with all the substitutions have a tendency to lose sight of what is going on the field.
For those interested in the email I sent a few months ago, please click on the link below.
As always, let me know when you have any questions.