Sunday, November 11, 2018
Jacob Daniel- State DOC
In youth soccer, inevitably, there are games with lopsided scores, where one team is much superior to the other and the game is a mismatch. This happens most often at the entry-level competitions where there is no history of game results due to newly formed teams.
Youth coaches and administrators have grappled with this issue for a long time. On the one hand, the spirit of competition pushes coaches and players to forge ahead and score as many goals as possible. On the other hand, the spirit of sportsmanship causes discomfort to many adults witnessing the onslaught.
There is also an argument to be made that players who are on the wrong end of a shellacking can get sufficiently discouraged to quit playing, especially if their team is clobbered often. We certainly don’t want to see that!
I suspect that players, for the most part, will get over it if the adults can quickly shift the narrative to other things and find ways to cheer the player with post-game ice cream. Adults who brood and obsess over game results in front of the kids are more likely to demotivate them from playing the game. Adults who move on after a losing game and don’t let the game result spoil the rest of the weekend are more likely to keep their child playing the game.
Nevertheless, coaches should try their best to keep the score down when it becomes clear early on that the game is a mismatch. One way to accomplish that is to look at an easy game as an opportunity to work on some of the seasonal goals for that were hopefully set at the beginning of the season.
For example, if ‘improve switching the point of attack’ was a seasonal goal, the coach could demand that his/her team switch the point of attack from one flank to the other before going to the goal. If ‘improve speed of play’ was a goal, the coach could impose a one-touch passing restriction on his/her team. Coach could impose one touch passing on the whole field or just in the attacking half, depending on level of play. If a goal is to ‘play through the lines’, coach could instruct his/her team to pass the ball from line to line (the keeper to the back line to the midfield line to the forward line) rather than kick it long and chase.
One last thought. The coach and parents from the winning team could also mitigate the bad feelings of a one-sided game by applauding good play by the other team. A good pass or a successful tackle to win the ball can be applauded, as long as it is done in a way that does not seem patronizing.