One of the good things about my role at the club is that I am not confined to just one team so I get to be a part of all the teams and so get to notice similarities or patterns with team issues. One of the constant issues at the club is that we want the Coaches to rotate the players through different positions so I am going to use this to illustrate my point.
I exchanged a series of emails with a parent recently who wrote
“H is a lovely kid but I have been watching him for three years now and no matter what position he is given he always drifts back into defence so why don’t we just play him there all the time.”
H is 8 years old and 7 months.
I had a conversation with a Coach very recently and he said
“Yes I agree with rotating the players here but not next year when we play on this pitch. Surely by then they need to specialise in one position.”
He was referring to the season the players turn 10 years old when his son will be playing for his 5th year.
Now this blog is not about whether players should be rotated through positions but how we need to understand that the length of time children have been playing football greatly influences the thinking of the Parents and Parent Coaches.
Regularly when I talk to parents they make some sort of reference to how long the children have been playing to validate their point and I have to point out how old the children are.
Now don’t get me wrong I can understand how this can happen. If you have spent years getting your child to hundreds of training sessions plus getting up many weekend mornings of the year to watch them play then it does seem like they have been playing for a very long time. I have done the same thing so I can understand how it feels.
However this doesn’t change the age of the children involved.
A 10/11/12 year old child is still just that no matter how many years they have played football and we have to recognise this when we help them along with their development.
No one would say that a player has been playing football for 5/6 years now so they should be at their full height but plenty will make comments that suggest a player should have fully developed decision making capabilities or social skills after 5/6 years. Or to go back to the point we were using a full understanding of all the physical, technical and tactical requirements for all the positions on the pitch so can make the correct decision for them to specialise in just one.
Players start to play organised football at such young ages that it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking their development is over when really there is more years to go than they have already done.
I had one parent ring me up in the last few months and discuss his son’s ‘playing career’ in depth with me then tell me that he rang because his son wasn’t going to be at training tonight. Apparently he was cheeky to his mum when she wanted him to finish his vegetables last night and the best way to get through to him is to stop his football. It was a truly farcical finish to the conversation considering what he wanted to discuss before that.
With the parent who sent the email about H drifting back into defence I was able to get him to reconsider when I said that we probably both have socks and undies older than these players.
So the point of this blog is to consider what might be influencing the parents of the players to think the way they do and how simply reminding them we are dealing with young children might make life much easier for everyone.
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Till next time