How can I explain to 12-year olds how to move on a soccer field? For example, how should I teach them to play the zone dfense? I am interested in addressing specific game strategies, such as, how to play a line of 4, or sometimes 3, depending on the opponent?
Dear Jose,Assuming that you have a goalie and ten field players you may arrange your players using any one of the following configurations (numbers are always read from the backfield forward): 4 -- 2 -- 4, 4 -- 4 -- 2, or 4 -- 3 -- 3 (defenders, mid-fielders and forwards; when the number one is used e.g., the four-defender alignment with a sweeper system -- 1-3-3-3, the number 1 represents the sweeper). The kids need to be introduced to this information. Your selection of system of play will depend on the ability of your players and their tactical understanding of the game as well as the system used by the opposing team. Selecting a certain system as your opening set-up does not mean that your team cannot change formations as the game goes on. For example, you may play a 4-2-4 system while in possession of the ball and attacking the opponent's third of the field (opening the wings, your players must be able to move the ball from one wing to the other, however) and have your two attackers return to the defensive line (4-4-2) once you lose possession and the ball is rolling into the mid-field and then your third of the field...The above described scenario is known as the shifting offensive system. Well trained teams make errors when playing the shifting offensive system. It is no wonder then that a 12 year-old may experience difficulty with a dynamic system of play. A 12 year-old will follow directions but will find it hard to improvise and adapt "on the fly." I would suggest that you create smaller scale systems, such as, 3 X 2 (total of five players per team) on a smaller field and then practice the concept of the zone. Then, gradually increase the number of players on the field and the complexity of the offensive or defensive structure of play. Still, you'll have to be patient and allow for a lot of practice before you can expect some positive results...
Your reaction and comments to this week's question are welcome.
Cal State LA
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