This weekend we approach the first game for most of the players for nearly two years. Above anything else, we are so excited just to see kids back on the field again. With that said, we must look beyond emotions of returning to the field and operate within our structure. The following information will provide insight and depth to the soccer operations around a game day.
We are proactive and focus on what we can do. This is opposed to a reactive approach where we prioritize a response to opposition. Our priority is the Fremont YSC individual player, and therefore process orientated and not outcome. The following video is great at grounding us as adults in the game:
Jersey Numbers and Team Composition
2013 and 2012 teams are created through having players of similar birth age. Players born early in the year are FN I, and players born later in the year are FN II. This is completely different to other teams who look to either load by playing ability, or balance through a mix. Our is purely based on age, and for reason. Research shows that youth performance has no positive correlation to future performance and ability, with ‘better’ players largely dominant due to early maturation, or genetics in their size, speed, and power. The research shows that early identification is detrimental to long term participation, and most elite level players are not identified until 16 – 19 years old, with many early identified players dropping out. Our method of assigning players treats the players as an age group rather than a team (utilized by Icelandic FA, one of the most successful countries based on population size), and addresses Relative Age Effect where there is no bias towards players based on size due to being chronologically older (utilized by Tottenham Hotspur).
2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010
Jersey numbers are assigned to players based on their birth date. This is so coaches and parents have a visual aid in recognizing the Relative Age Effect, but also grounding us when we stray away from the process and slip into the temptation of comparing players against other. Players wearing a higher number will be the youngest in the age group, and therefore potentially almost a full year younger than other players. We must focus our attention on the individual, and not teammates, nor opponents.
2011 and Older are assigned to a team based on their rate of development in reference to our player pathway, and not ‘good’ or ‘bad’. We would prefer to do this at a much older age, but we are still working against a culture that doesn’t support this. What we must do though is understand that players are in an environment to support ‘flow’, where the challenge presented can be matched by skill level of the individual. Finding this state of flow provides an appropriate challenge, and a focus on the process, which has a positive knock-on effect for the psychosocial pillar in confidence and motivation. As soon as we switch to focusing on outcome, we undo all these great positives from a process driven approach. Players in youth development are in current rates of development, and are not ‘elite’ or ‘poor’, we need to move away from this perception.
Field Size and Dimensions
2009 and 2008 (2008 missing the move up due to Covid) will be playing 11 v 11 for the first time, and on full size fields. This is a huge jump from the 9 v 9, and for the 2009 having only played a few months in 9 v 9 from the 7 v 7 this is a massive jump (something US Soccer should have considered for this season). Players will struggle to perform all the actions needed, and therefore recognizing the game insight of a player is important. A player can make the correct decision, but still be developing their physiological pillar and therefore the pass they pick out cannot be performed as they do not yet have the strength in kick to pass over a longer distance. A great video to see how this effects players:
Players over a large range could be going through maturation. An early developer could be up to 3 years ahead in maturation, while a late developer could be up to 3 years late. Even within one team that’s a 6-year swing, based on the two extremes, but another reason why we need to focus on the individual. While going through maturation the physiological challenges are great with a temporary loss of agility and co-ordination, which will affect skill performance and athletic ability. These are temporary, and during this time we need to be patient with players and showing empathy to what they are going through.