More 4v4 Thoughts – Compress the Field for other lessons

As an update, we are still doing 4v4s and the kids are doing great.  Much thanks to Jason Babcock, we have our group of boys playing 4v4 for 30-45 minutes twice per week.  Jason has added some fun twists too–

1.  Adding a box in the center of the play area that cannot be entered;

2.  Adding a neutral in the box in the center (must be played to before shot);

3.  Adding neutrals on each end with 4 goals (2 on each corner) — neutral must be used prior to shot;

And, at the same time, we encourage the boys to maintain a diamond shape, move around, and have fun with it.  The interest level in the game is very high (from my perspective of the kids’ participation).  They are getting lots of touches on the ball, lots of possession, and learning the game.  Here are a couple of other thoughts:

Switching the Field – length 20 yards, width 40 yards, 4 goals

If you want to work on switching the field, make the 4v4 short and wide with 4 goals (on the wide sides).  In other words, the goals are only 20 yards apart while the pitch is 40 yards wide.  Let them play.  It will get crowded very quick.  Encourage the attacking team to place one player near the other goal (this is why a wide pitch is great).  This will emphasize possession in confined areas and force the kids to look for avenues away from pressure — in this case , near the other goal.  You are effectively teaching them to switch the field.

Basic Game – length 40 yards, width 20 yards, 2 goals

The basic 4v4 game is opposite the one above.  This is the setup we use (primarily).


New Site – Rant about reckless challenges

I hope everyone enjoys the new site.  I had a lot of people tell me they had difficulty posting or getting updates from the other blog.  Anyway, with the help of a friend (thanks V!), we have a new site.  We have been on pause as the site has been developed and information moved over to it.  This will be a short entry, but I decided to write about a refereeing issue. I have been a referee for 2 years.  I became certified because I was disappointed with the quality of officiating at our games.  I happened to coach a very skillful player who, if the official wasn’t protecting her, would get tossed around in an effort to physically stop her from performing.  Now, I play in adult leagues and see the same thing.  If a skillful player is on the field, players target that individual and try to take them out.  Since none of the games I play in count for anything other than pride, it seems odd.  I think this is where a good official steps in.  If they are aware that a skillful player is on the pitch, one who can handle the ball in confined areas, referees ought to pay particular attention.  If the defending team lacks players with similar skill, challenges are usually made recklessly against the skillful player.  And, players around here know just enough about the rules to be dangerous.  Justifications include:  “I only used my shoulder,” “I got the ball,” etc.  I hear it all the time.

So, here is the rule.  Any contact made that is reckless, careless, or involves the use of excessive force is a foul.  It does not matter whether the ball is played in the exchange, the shoulders are used, etc.  The touchstone of the analysis is the manner in which the challenge is made, not what body parts are used or whether the ball was touched by the defender.  There is a great little book called Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game that is published by the U.S. Soccer Federation, Referee Program.  It is the official text.  It states, relevant to “I got the ball” justification, as follows:

Making contact with the opponent before the ball when making a tackle is unfair and should be penalized. However, the fact that contact with the ball was made first does not automatically mean that a tackle is fair.  The declaration by a player that he or she “got the ball first” is irrelevant if, while tackling for the ball, the player carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force commits any of the prohibited actions. (italics in original).  Advice to Referees, p.48.

This has been a pet peeve of mine for a while.  I hate hearing people make poor justifications for reckless challenges that endanger players, particularly skillful players.  Here is one other one — use of abusive, insulting, or offensive language is a sending off offense!  I wonder how many people know that.  In England, it can even be criminal!  (racist comments)

Cheers.  Please subscribe to the new site and you will get email updates when new material is posted.  I am looking to get some guest writers to post some articles too.

Thomas Shenton shared this link — I thought it would be easier to put the video in:

Awful Tackle