Following is the first of two letters from a first year U-12 coach who struggled during the first half of the season (1-3) but kept teaching his team how to play soccer positions and trying different formations and following the tips on Premium about shifting and teaching positions, was 2-1-1 in the second half and went on to win the season end tournament scoring 11 goals and giving up 0 goals in 3 games. Hi David, Thanks for the kind words and the additional help! I will share with you the results of our season, they were amazing! We played a 3-1-4-2 the first four games of the year because we had so many new and inexperienced players. And we had a couple of players who were very weak and large in stature, so they couldn't run, nor could they kick a ball. We were 1-3 these first four games. We then switched to a 3-2-3-2 to solve the Stopper problem I was having, and I put the better of the two Stoppers on the other team's best scorer when they came into out Attacking Third. This helped tremendously and allowed us to win our next game against the best team in the league 3-2. We went 1-1-1 with this formation before I switched again. I then decided to switch to a 3-2-2-3 the last game of the season. Although this game was cut short right before half time, we won 1-0 and dominated the game, spending most of the game on their half of the field. So our final record for the regular season was 3-4-1, which I felt was a tremendous accomplishment for us considering the players we started the year with. But it was what happened after this that is truly amazing. Our league plays an end of season tournament, which was to start a week later. I held two practices before our first tournament game, the second practice of which we held on the game field. By this time I was able to play the two weak and large girls as outside FB's because they had learned to kick balls and weren't afraid of them. So we went over defensive assignments again and really dialed that in, then I had my 3 starting forwards and 2 starting midfielders go against our 3 starting fullbacks and 2 starting stoppers, basically our starting offense against our starting defense. I rotated players some during this too, but the focus was on defensive assignments and aggressive attacking. We played this for about 45 minutes during the practice on the game field and had a lot of fun and really dialed it in. From this point on we didn't lose a game. In fact we weren't even scored on. We won the whole tournament, going 3-0 and scoring 11 goals to 0 scored against us! We won the trophies and I got the championship game ball with all the girls' signatures on it! I couldn't believe how well these girls played and pretty much dominated each game we played! I was so proud of them and it was such a great experience for them. All their hard work paid off! I will mention a few things I found to be critical to our success:
Soccer Positions - "Dialing In" Assignments
How do you know what will work?
Read What Has Worked for Other Soccer Coaches
Importance of Shifting (Defensive Movement)
Soccer Defense Assignments Importance
Fullbacks Tips and Stopper Tips
Soccer Formations, 3-2-2-3 vs. 3-2-3-2 vs. 3-1-4-2 (For how to teach Shifting and First Defender/Second Defender, see no. 3 and no. 4 of Quick Team Improvement Program)
A lot of these critical things were suggested on this website or in forum posts by you! Thanks again for that help and it is amazing how crucial these things really are to winning games. I would regard following assignments to be one of the critical things because it reduces the amount of talent you need on your team. If players are in the right place at the right time, they have a much better chance of winning balls. Thanks again for all of the suggestions and helping me through my first year of coaching! The information on SoccerHelp Premium was critical. The Practice Games made all the difference! I look forward to next year! Corey, U-12 Rec See Shift & Sag.
- The defensive assignments were critical! Most critical of those was having the center FB play off the near post when the ball was on the wing and the far stopper play at the top of the penalty box. Having the Near Stopper be a First Defender really paid off because the other team had to get past three defenders (Stopper, Near Fullback, and Center Fullback) to get a chance to score. Also critical was having the Far Fullback play in the middle of the Penalty Box (outside the Goal Box about even with the Center of the goal) when the ball was on the Wing. There were a few occasions during the tournament games where the Far Fullback playing right in the middle of the Penalty Box allowed her to clear the ball out and avoid a scoring opportunity by the other team's Far Forward. Critical! Having the defense �dial in� their assignments and really play in the right places at the right time really made a big difference. (For how to teach Shifting and First Defender/Second Defender, see no. 3 and no. 4 of Quick Team Improvement Program )
- Another important change was moving the girl I used at center fullback most of the season to one of the two Stopper positions. She was unmotivated to play most of the season because she was bored at center fullback. Moving her to a stopper position really brought her to life. She dominated there, which helped keep the ball out of our Defensive Third.
- Playing three forwards also really helped. I put our more skilled, fastest player at center forward and she created a ton of opportunities to score, as evidenced by the number of goals we scored (3 our first tournament game, 4 the second, and 4 in the championship game). And we had a variety of scorers too. This really made a huge difference. I played our most physically dominating player, our bull in a china shop, at right midfield and she did a great job controlling the middle of the field.
- Also critical: having the Far Stopper and Far Midfielder play in the center of the field when the ball was on the opposite wing! Many times the ball popped out to the center of the field and they were right there to take control and push it up the field. (For how to teach Shifting and First Defender/Second Defender, see no. 3 and no. 4 of Quick Team Improvement Program)