Where Should You Hide Weak Soccer Players?


I've read through all of the information on the site, but none of it quite matches my kids. I have Two very strong girls who have scored the majority of goals this year. I also have 4-5 girls who can run fast and hard, but have failed to pick up dribbling, passing, etc.

After that the drop off is fairly steep. I have one girl with a cognitive disability who really can only think about one direction at a time and HATES running. I have one should-be bruiser who is petrified of the ball. Then I have 2 girls who are thin as rails and shy away from any and all contact.

So...when I look at possibilities for Soccer Saturday, I'm stumped.

We are 3-5-1 this year, and considering the weird mix of kids, that's OK. Our recent losses have all been close and our top goal scorer just missed some shots or perhaps we have a 5-3-1 record.

I have used the 3-2-2-3 for most of the year, and when it works, it works well. The problem is that certain combinations of kids severely weaken us, but we are committed to following club policy by playing each girl 50% of each half. That means some weak combinations at times.

Forwards: 2 Strong; one with a strong leg but has missed so much practice that she has no idea of formation, space, and responsibilities.

Offensive Midfielders: Very strong Center midfielder; two solid midfielders; one girl who can't seem to stay on her feet; one waif petrified of the ball.

Defensive midfielders: 2 excellent; one petrified of the ball and one who I like better at offensive midfielder, but she is brave and I can count on her as a sub here.

Defense: Two very brave, strong girls, a potential bruiser who swings like a fence gate because she is afraid of the ball, and a cognitively disabled girl who can play OK if she doesn't have to change direction and has a clear sightline to the sideline to clear the ball.

How do I work this? We have had lots of fun so far this year and I have used many of the games recommended on the sight, but they just can' function together because there are SO many different abilities.

Please Help!!

Coach Jeff

Hi Jeff,

What age are the girls (example: U-12?)

Your situation is typical and why I think it's harder to coach Rec than Travel.

Obviously, you've read my feelings about how important it is to put brave players at Fullback. Your problem is where to hide the weak players.

Here are some possibilities:

  1. If you need to hide 4 players at a time:
    1. 4-2-3-1. Keep your strong players in the center -- 2 strong Fullbacks and tell them to stay in front of the goal, and put weak players at the other 2 Fullback positions and tell them to NOT go in front of the goal, but to play the "Wings". Put your 2 best athletes/defenders at the 2 Stopper positions and let them roam. Leave put a good player/scorer at the Center Mid position and put weak players at the LMF and RMF. Put your best, most aggressive scorer at the Striker spot and tell her to stay as close to the goal as possible ALL the time and to be alert for long balls, and to GET IN FRONT OF THE GOAL as much as possible and to pounce on loose balls and ONE-TOUCH SHOOT.
    2. 2-4-3-1. Similar to above, but put 2 weak players on the wings of the Defensive Mid positions. The only difference here is that you are keeping weak or timid players away from your goal and putting them out where they can hopefully slow down the opponent's attack but not get in the way of your Fullbacks clearing the ball.
  2. If you need to hide 3 players at a time: Try a 3-1-1-3-2. Put a weak player just inside the half line (on your side of the field) and tell her to just stay there and to move from side-to-side, but to NOT cross the halfway line (so she won't get offside) and to not go closer to your goal than the inside of the Center Circle. Put 2 other weak players at the Left and Right Attacking Mid positions. Play 3 tough Fullbacks, your BEST athlete at Stopper (and let her roam), a strong player/scorer at Center Mid and 2 good scorers at the 2 Striker positions.

Hope these ideas help. Please let me know if they do, or if you have any better ideas.