Positions or Challenges?

A tactical consideration for managers and coaches is what formation to play and which players to play where - but for those coaching younger players, this shouldn't be as high a priority. 

We've all seen it, young kids all chasing the ball around like bees around honey. 

At the early stages of development up to U9s or U10s, children might not understand the roles and responsibilities of each position - just because we do, don't expect it from them.

And as their development is your priority, rather than whether they are capable of overlapping or swinging in a dangerous cross for your striker to tuck away, a different approach to on-pitch responsibilities would be the better option.

As a coach, therefore, you must be conscious of using adult terminology (defenders, midfielders, strikers, wingers etc.) to describe each position without clarifying each role.

Here are some ideas about how you could prepare your players to play, instead of giving them set positions...

1: Provide an outline of 'positions' by coming up with different terminology they might understand better, e.g. 'The Magician' for a Midfielder or 'The Finisher' for Forwards.

2: Highlight some key attributes of what each role requires, e.g. Hard worker, quick thinker, positive, for the Finisher.

3: Set challenges for players in each role when your team has the ball or when your opponents have the ball, e.g. try to receive the ball and be able to see both goals, or recognise when your teammates need help winning the ball back

4: Create visuals, like player profile cards, for the players to understand and picture what each role is required to do. 

5: Allow players to try all the roles on the pitch. So they can get familiar with the different jobs players do when they are in different areas of the pitch. 

It's always important to remember that match day should be an extension of training when they can bring what they have learned together to try out against another team.

Allow your players to not be afraid of things not going quite so well or of making mistakes. This could form part of your 'Match Day Philosophy' that you share with your players and parents.

In our CPD course 'The New Coach: Running Your Very First Team', we help coaches develop their approach to match days, and also provide free resources to support them A Match Day Planner and Player Cards.

If you would like to join the coaches that have already taken the course, check it out by clicking the image below.

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