U8 Tactics: Continuing Progress

Saturday’s game was a rough one. Our opponents played very good soccer. Plus, I think they were all like 8 and 1/2. They were tall, anyhow. And fast. My team’s average age is seven.

In addition to age and height disparities, only 8 out of 12 of my players showed up, so I wasn’t really able to field the combinations I was planning on. My goal was to see what happened when I put players in their natural positions and put four players with four different natural positions on the field. As it was, I had to field some players in places they weren’t familiar with or didn’t want to play.

The plus side of that was I was able to see what happens when a kid who naturally gravitates towards a defensive position — and who incidentally rocks in that position — needs to play forward.

They all worked really hard, though, so kudos to the kids. There were some phenomenal saves in goal, though, and some real heroics in the midfield leading to a shutdown of the other team’s scoring about halfway through.

I still believe there to be merit in the idea that removing the confusion of playing a position by having players be in a position natural to them can be a boon to focusing on skills during games. It’s all the more important during our winter indoor season to be able to focus on skills during the game because there is no practice. I’m determined to figure this out because I still believe that soccer at this level is about getting the kids used to how the game is played.

More to come.

Soccer Tactics for U8: Playing Natural Positions

Tomorrow I’m going to put some of my ideas about soccer tactics for U8 into practice during my team’s game against Swampscott. Strategy at this level is more about finding ways to bring out the kids’ natural tendencies than it is tactical thought. The focus is still on footwork: passing, dribbling, trapping. We begin to try to develop a sense of field vision, however, and this is accomplished by removing the stresses of position play.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been rotating the players through the positions on the field and taking note of where they seem the most confident. I’m going to use that information tomorrow to put together the 4 groups of 4 players that will go out on the field together. My hope is that by putting the players in the positions which are most comfortable for them, they can then be able to focus more on skillwork. Also, I suspect that they’ll be less likely to bunch up around the ball, giving them more opportunities to play an open game.

That’s the theory, and I hope it works. If it doesn’t, I’ll just keep working on it. I’ll let you all know here how it goes.