Indoor Soccer Drills and Tips
20 pages of indoor soccer tips from coaches
Soccer Drills and Games that help prepare for Indoor Soccer
Importance of a Goalie in Indoor Soccer
Where to play timid players
Tips for Youth Soccer Team that Got Killed
Pluses and Minuses of Rotating Players

Hi SoccerHelp,

I hope you can help me. First let me say I have been using the Soccer Incentive patches for 2 years now and they are great.

Here is my dilemma. My Boys U-8 indoor team never played indoor before and in our first game we got beaten 10-2. We play 6v6 and were rarely ever able to get the ball out of our half. We got 2 goals because the other team allowed me to add an extra player in the 2nd half. I was using a 1-1-2-1 formation FB-Stopper-2 MF-Striker. I put my 2 best as stoppers and 2 weak players as one of the MF.

I have a total of 11 players of which 4 of them are new that I never coached before. 3 are very good players they can play any position and 1 good (new) player who is a fantastic striker. There are 3 other players (1 new) who are above average, inconsistent but are not hustlers. 2 more players (1 new) are very weak skilled and not aggressive. One other is a great Goalie with a strong foot but has week ball skills, never looks up and the ball gets taken away from him. The last player is new and is playing up from U7. He looked good in practice but haven't seen it the game.

I don't want to pigeon-hole players into one position at this early age. But I don't want to get killed either. Looking for suggestions on what to do and where to put the weak players.

Ciaran, Premium Member


Hi Ciaran,

I remember you. Thanks for being our customer.

It's tough when you have so few players on the field and have to find a place for weak players.

I notice you are a Premium Member. There is actually a lot of good info on Premium at "Indoor Soccer" and I encourage you to read it for ideas -- there are good ones there. (There are about 20 pages about Indoor Soccer and over 60 tips, 19 from me and 43 from coaches from around the world).

Regarding your formation, Usually Indoor fields are shorter than outdoor fields and "width" is more important indoors if you play off the walls, so I think you should consider a 2-1-2 or a 2-2-1. You can put brave players at Fullback in front of your goal even if they lack skills or endurance, but you don't want timid players there -- they will block the Goalie's view and the opposing Forwards will use them as "screens" and "picks".

The only place to put a timid player is to put one at Forward or Midfield (if you play 2 Forwards or 2 Midfielders), combined with a good, aggressive player.

You are facing the decision faced by most Rec soccer coaches about whether it's best to rotate players. It would be ideal to rotate players, but is that really best if it will result in your team getting killed? If a kid simply doesn't have the speed, skill or aggressiveness to be successful at a position, are you actually harming their self-esteem and love of soccer by putting them in a position where they are doomed to failure? Or is it better to try to place kids in positions where they have a chance to be successful, build self-esteem and a love for soccer? If you get slaughtered, is it going to demoralize your players and possibly diminish their interest in soccer because it isn't fun? Could getting slaughtered harm your player�s self-esteem and cause them to think they aren't any good? Personally, I think it's best to place kids in positions where they have a chance to be successful, and to avoid putting them in positions where they are doomed to failure. If a kid is placed in a position where he or she is doomed to failure, they might feel bad not just for themselves but because they let down the team. When I started coaching I did what was recommended at the time (this was 14 years ago) and rotated kids to all positions so they wouldn't be "pigeon-holed" (that was the reasoning, even then). Looking back, I don't believe that was the best approach. I will also share with you my belief that most parents and kids prefer winning to losing, and if you can win by less rotation, I would bet the kids and parents will be happier.... conversely, if you rotate and lose, I wouldn't be surprised if they are unhappy. My experience was that the parents of the weak players, who I diligently rotated out of fairness, had less appreciation for my efforts as a coach than the parents of the better players. Keep in mind there will ALWAYS be someone who will complain, no matter what you do, so be prepared for that. I suggest telling the parents that you don't think it's good for the kids to get slaughtered like they did in the first game because they might become demoralized and that you need to try to do what's best for the team, and that IF a kid hustles, comes to practice, and practices on his own to improve his skills, that he will be able to play more positions because he will have what it takes to be successful at more positions. I would make a BIG DEAL out of bravery and remind everyone that not everyone is a great athlete, but everyone can HUSTLE and be BRAVE.

Below are 10 of my tips from Premium (out of 19 tips) -- there are also 17 pages and 43 more tips from coaches around the world, and some truly excellent tips:

  1. BEST TIP: The best outdoor goalie may not be the best indoor goalie. An indoor goalie doesn't need a strong leg; the most important quality is quick hands. Your goalie is HUGELY important in indoor. I suggest putting the player with the quickest or second quickest hands in goal, even if it is one of your top field players. A way to test this is to stand about 5 steps away and throw the ball at them. You will soon be able to tell whose reflexes are best. However, I wouldn't make anyone play goal who doesn't want to. If you have an active goalie, let her come out with the attack if you are safely ahead or behind. It is surprisingly hard to score even if the goalie is out of the goal.

  2. 2ND BEST TIP: Stress one-touch shots and try to get your quickest scorer in scoring position as much as possible to be ready for rebounds (quickness to rebounds to get off a one-touch shot is very important). This means the player who has the quickest first step, best anticipation and who is aggressive.

  3. Keep in mind that, to a degree, indoor usually equalizes the speed factor because the fields are small. This might help you or hurt you.

  4. If you only play 5 + the Goalie, think about having a roving "Center" player who plays both ways (i.e., comes up on the attack but drops back to help defend). We played 5 + Goalie and I found this a good approach. This player will get tired and need to be subbed.

  5. Like in outdoor soccer, when your goal is under attack you probably need to leave a Forward/Midfielder out at the halfway line to win cleared balls.

  6. Play the "2 Team Keep Away" game on SoccerHelp Premium. It teaches quick transitions and is very fast, as is indoor soccer.

  7. I tried the fluffy "indoor" balls and the small "futsal" type ball (a small ball with little bounce), but ended up just using regular outdoor balls, because I felt it was more important for every player to have a ball to practice with. I suggest taking a little air out of the balls to slow them down and so they have less bounce. Some coaches use a smaller than normal ball, but there might be disadvantages to this, since it will play differently from a normal sized ball.

  8. If your objective is to prepare for outdoor, I suggest not playing off the walls -- keep it as realistic to outdoor as possible.

  9. Encourage fast, one-touch play. There are Premium Games that hip teach this -- "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" is one.

  10. Try these games in practice, they will help: "Dribble Across A Square, Premium Version", "2 Team Keep Away" (which involves many quick transitions from offense to defense), "Small Sided Scrimmage Without A Goalie" (which forces everyone to learn to defend and to work the ball close to the goal before shooting), and other similar 4 Star Games such as "Attack & Defend Ball Tag". These can all be practiced indoors.

You might want to post your question in the Premium Forum to get the advice of some coaches.

I hope some of this helps -- please let me know.

David at SoccerHelp