One of the biggest time wasters in youth football (U12 & younger) is the simple Throw In. When Coaches approach me on the subject the remaining hair that is clinging defiantly to (mainly the sides of) my head starts to get worried.
Before I start it is good idea to look at why a Throw In has evolved the way it has.
The first consideration is why a Throw In is given. There has been a minor infringement that often happens accidentally. Logically no team deserves a significant advantage over the other team when the game is restarted after such an incident.
When the rules of football were being formalised the game was very much about gaining territory and getting the ball closer to the opponent’s goal in a very direct manner. This had to be considered when discussing how to create a fair way to restart the game.
This ruled out restarting the game by kicking the ball in because clearly the ball could be kicked a large distance towards the opponent’s goal. Throwing the ball in could result in a similar advantage if any type of throwing was permissible.
To simplify the story what was developed was a simple set of restrictions to limit the distance a ball could be thrown so throwing the ball in was a fair way to restart the game.
Interestingly this is how Australian Rules Football https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTUp4d_goDE and Rugby https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD5cZ1OPccs chose to fix the issue of how to restart the game in a fair manner.
In summary a Throw In is nothing more than a fair way to restart the game by restricting how far the ball can be thrown while still keeping the essence of the game that the ball can move in any direction.
These were designed as a simple set of restrictions for adults not for children. Regularly children below the age of 12 years struggle to throw the ball at all or only a very short distance if they follow these restrictions correctly. It drives me mad to see referees giving multiple foul throws at U8s or U9s because ‘they have got to learn to do it correctly’ when the team gained no advantage from the throw.
I feel all we are doing is stopping the young players playing and that depending on the age of the players involved we allow some flexibility with the Throw In technique if they gain no advantage from the throw. Not following the correct technique and subsequently throwing the ball a long way is different altogether.
As players get penalised for inadvertent foul throws this leads to Coaches feeling they have to spend time specifically to ‘teach Throw Ins’ to their young players. This generally leads to players standing in 2’s throwing the ball to each other. One coach, a number of years ago, proudly told me he does this for 5 mins at the start of each session.
I think this is a waste of time for the simple reason that the original rule makers were right they have devised a simple set of restrictions for adults. I would suggest anyone reading this blog would expect an adult, even a complete novice to football, could be shown how to take a Throw In properly within a few attempts.
I prefer Coaches when appropriate introduce Throw Ins into exercises or SSGs at training were the Throw In is more hidden learning. This way the players can get some practice taking Throw Ins but also the players receiving the Thrown In get some practice about where to position themselves.
If we think differently we can start any exercise with a Throw In although you have to stick with it. The first time I had the players restart a 5 v 2 possession exercise with a Throw In it went very poorly for quite a while till they figured out what to do.
I feel the positioning of the thrower’s team mates contributes to many of the foul throws. Often foul throws in youth football happen when the thrower tries to throw too far, often up the line, over a cluster of players. If we can get the other team mates to simply offer a forwards, backwards or sideways option to the thrower then I think we will reduce the number of foul throws plus the players are learning the basics of positioning.
As always I would be delighted to hear from any other Coaches on this topic.
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Till next time