8 v. 8 versus 11 v. 11

Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by gewyglop, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. gewyglop

    gewyglop Member

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    Feb 27, 2008
    There has been a big push lately to keep youth soccer 8 v. 8 up until at least age 13. On the outside it appears valid, each player getting more touches on the ball. However, it gets huge opposition anytime it is brought up at our association.

    Does anyone have any experience with 8 v. 8 at older levels. Does it improve the quality of the game? What happens when you want to play in a tournament where they feild 11 to a side. I am trying to think of a reason to be against it, other then you need more coaches and fields which we are always short of.


  2. ranova

    ranova Member

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    At some point kids have to learn how to play off the ball. I have never been a fan of 11v11 matches, but I also never have been a fan of organized teams for U-littles. I have always supported and used small sided games in practices among other things to increase the number of touches that players get during training. I think that it is misguided to change the game to reflect training practices. If you want more training, have more training and fewer matches.

    As for 8v8 vs. 11 v11 matches, I really don't think it makes any difference in the long run until you are trying to teach team tactics.
  3. 93defender93

    93defender93 New Member

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    i agree, it really doesnt make that big of a difference... i think youth soccer has it right, play 8 vs 8 until you reach U13. when you start to reach a certain age soccer starts to become a much more physical and tactical game, when you reach the u13 age group soccer no longer just requires athletism, it also requires a large amount of mental thinking and anticipation... the 11 vs 11 side puts the mental factor of the game more into play.
  4. BigGuy

    BigGuy Red Card

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    The youth part of the USSF has control of the state cup games. Want to play in it you have to play the sides that they say to play.

    The more touches is Garbage. The better players on what ever side you play will dominate the touches.

    In training not in games small sided is the way to go but played in a small space. As they get better shrink the space some more,

    Why is this good for the 11 n 11 soded games. Because there is always always small sided play near the ball untiul some one can make the break out pass.


  5. QuakeAttack

    QuakeAttack Member

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    We play 9v9 at u10 and u12 (changed U12 a couple of years ago from 11 v 11). I like playing with 8v8 or 9v9 at U12. It opens the game up, but you are playing closer to a real game and can incorporate strategy into the game.

    While I'm a big believer in small sided games in practice and to certain extent in games for U10 below, I have seen highly skilled kids who can't make the transition from a small sided game to a full sided game. I think the right mix is to have small sided games in practice and play closer to a full sided game as they get older.
  6. socfan60

    socfan60 Member

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    Personally I like 8v8. More or the tactical situations ( "group") than in 11 v11. Another factor is field size. I could buy the "real game" stuff proponents of 11 v11 for ulittles proclaim if the U10-U13s played on a proportionally sized field. The tactics are different if a team can't (not chooses not to - Can't) get the ball across the width of the field with less than 3 passes or get the ball behind a defense because it is just too far. Not to mention how tired they get taking their 4 foot something bodies up and down a 110 by 75 yard field. When you see a group of U11s step on to a field just vacated by Adult men to play u11 on the same size pitch you know the tactics are going to be different. In England they play 11 v11 on 3/4 sized pitches. That is more like the "real" game as things are proportionally more aligned.
  7. socfan60

    socfan60 Member

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    Have to disagree. Yes, the best players will touch the ball more but ALL players will touch the ball more. In small sided games players spend more time with and NEAR the ball- equally important. Why do you see most pick up games in smaller spaces? Are ALL of those players playing small sided because it is good for their touch or creates tactical situations blah blah blah? No. Smaller space and smaller numbers means a greater time with and around the ball and less time spent running around.
  8. BigGuy

    BigGuy Red Card

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    "The tactics are different if a team can't (not chooses not to - Can't) get the ball across the width of the field with less than 3 passes"

    If you want to take less then three passes to reverse your field even on a smaller field if your kids you have to air the ball at that age. By that time the opponent will be near the ball so the skill level has to be high or the team with the ball will lose the ball.

    "or get the ball behind a defense because it is just too far."

    Why do thy have to air the ball to through pass and why so early? You can make an on the ground through pass again an easier ball to control and if you miss connecting on that pass. The target players recovery run to get behind the ball on a shorter pass is a lot less. So you get tired less.

    "Not to mention how tired they get taking their 4 foot something bodies up and down a 110 by 75 yard field."

    That is true when I first started to coach kids in 1970 they played on an adult regulation field and you did have to train more on fitness to be able to run on those bigger fields.

    "When you see a group of U11s step on to a field just vacated by Adult men to play u11 on the same size pitch you know the tactics are going to be different"

    That does not mean those tactics are better but they might be. Use of takeover should be used more by younger kids, but funny theydon't use them much I wonder why?
  9. BigGuy

    BigGuy Red Card

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    "Why do you see most pick up games in smaller spaces?"

    There are not playing to practice they are playing to play.

    Well it could be big fields are not as available and they can't get a lot of players here to play a big pick up game. Go to an ethnic area they play on big fields and they can get a ton of players to play and they play all day long.

    How long do they play here in small pick up games before they get bored and play something else.

    "Are ALL of those players playing small sided because it is good for their touch or creates tactical situations blah blah blah? No. Smaller space and smaller numbers means a greater time with and around the ball and less time spent running around"

    Let's talk smaller sided games and not practice. 8 v 8 for example how much time does an individual player have the ball even in one of these games? 16 kids on the field but only 1 can have the ball at a time.

    They better like to run without the ball or are they only going to run when they have the ball? If they do they won't see the ball much.

    That is what I want kids that only run when they have the ball :) no thanks
  10. ranova

    ranova Member

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    You are confusing two separate training concepts: Small sides and small space. Small sides is simply the number of players involved. Small space is how much space you allow. There are other concepts as well such as time. You can use small sides on a full field, e.g., to assess conditioning. The amount of space allowed the players is one way to increase or decrease pressure. In other words playing in smaller spaces requires greater skill. You adjust the space/difficulty to match the players skill level. Also the shape of the space allowed influences the players choices, e.g., wide space versus long space. So you see the smaller space has more to do with the accuracy required of the players rather than the number of touches that a player gets. If a coach wants to control the number of touches he can do it by restrictions (i.e., rules like limiting the number of touches or requiring a minimum number of passes before a shot) on the players actions, rather than changing the size of the space.
  11. Val1

    Val1 Member+

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    I'm not a big fan of small sided games per se, but the greatest advantage is that coaches tend to get less hung up on systems of play/formations and spend more time on ball possession skills and the simple team concepts of everyone attacks/every defends. And that is a very good thing.
  12. the Next Level

    the Next Level Member

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    NOT up to U13.

    NO NO NO!!!

    (did I say no?)

    NO!

    U11 and below for the 8 v 8. And then even then the top U11s (who have been trained properly) will need to be playing 11 v 11.

    We always try these gimmicks instead of doing the work. Line out more proportional fields for the youngish 11v11 teams. And train coaches to teach the players better - stop skipping the development phase that lies between technical training and team tactics.
  13. Jumbo1

    Jumbo1 Member

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    Just as an aside, in Spain they are playing small sided games at U12.
  14. Benny Dargle

    Benny Dargle Member+

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    In AYSO Area 1 (LA-area), they're converting all U12 champions, all-star, and spring tournaments from 11 v. 11 to 9 v. 9 starting this fall. Individual regions often have teams a bit bigger because they have more players, but not enough for another set of two teams to keep things even. So, some regions will be 10 v. 10 during regular season and then 9 v. 9 in the post-season. The reality is that there are always 1-2 players who are entirely worthless out in the field in the regular season of AYSO even at the U12 level (not paying attention, not running, scared of the ball, etc). The team is effectively playing 9 v. 9 when it plays 11 v. 11 or 10 v. 10. You end up putting that kid at left wing so he won't hurt you too much. So, playing with 1-2 fewer is just like reducing your forwards by one and giving your outside midfielders more freedom to move up and fill the space.

    The field size question seems irrelevant for an urban area. Nobody is playing on regulation-sized fields as it is. They are playing on the grass outfields of baseball parks, with two or more fields squeezed into the space to mazimize playing options. At many tournaments, the kids may play on one field in the morning that is 30% bigger than the field in the afternoon. Kids and coaches have to adjust.
  15. BigKeeper

    BigKeeper New Member

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    I don't think 8v8 would change the result of American players development.
    We have had, and still do, way too many parts of the equation missing. Comparing what we do to what Spain or Brazil, etc., does makes no sense to me. They don't have the same dynamics we do.
    Our history of a lack of Soccer culture, lack of media coverage, lack of a pro league for so many years, lack of repsect for the game, lack of truly qualified coaches has so much more to do with our lack of development to this point.
    A Saturday or Sunday game between U8-U12 will not be the tipping point. Much more so would be the quality and quantity of practices.
  16. Bird1812

    Bird1812 New Member

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    But at those ages the game should be regarded as part of the training. That is another problem we have, games and training are considered two separate entities. That's one of the reasons we have kids at these ages sitting the bench in order to win games.
  17. Bird1812

    Bird1812 New Member

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    One of the craziest things I ever saw done was during a tournament with a U11 team playing 8 v 8 and being coached by a man who had come up through a professional club in Russia. He took the weakest player on the team (and she was very weak in terms of skill and understanding of the game) and played her at center mid. I thought he was completely out of his mind, yet the team did just fine and the player got better for having played in this position. His thought process was completely different then most American youth coaches I was use to who look to find ways to hide the weakest player on the field. I can only assume that his coaching decision was based on his experiences at the Russia club.

    There was a time when something like that would have driven me crazy, because I would watch youth teams lose games because they couldn't adjust to changes in fields size or formats. In retrospect it was because their coaches were only training to a specific format on a specific size field. Under those conditions they were very, very good, but they were also very robotic in their play and also very limited as they matured.
  18. Benny Dargle

    Benny Dargle Member+

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    I did this once myself, although with an 11 v. 11 rather than 8 v. 8 team. The advantage of putting that kid in the center midfield (perhaps as a second stopper or holding midfielder) is that they at least clog up the middle of the field on defense and they learn to boot the ball when it comes to them, out of self-preservation if nothing else. Once they learn that, then they can gradually be taught to pass it out of the back (or at least kick it to a spot out wide). Also, the kid who is slow is actually much better in that spot. The problem in 8 v. 8 is there aren't enough players for anyone to be a redundant/spare part on the field. If they abandon their position, it's a problem. Still, at least as a center midfield I guess they can just follow the ball and not be too out of position.
  19. headerdunce

    headerdunce Member

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    Definitely agree! Besides, the only time I watched a U12 match at 8 v 8 it was on a small field at Disney and the game consisted of both keepers punting to the other box, followed by a mad scramble to try to finish, then repeat. No midfield play, no attempt (or room for that matter) to try to link defense to offense. It was very bad. I'm not suggesting 8 v 8 at U12 can't be good, only pointing out it can be very bad if the field is small.



    Lots of mexican league teams around here play 11 v 11 at U8, and they play a much more skilled and sophisticated game at that age than the 8 v 8 club teams.
  20. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Better skills have absolutely nothing to do with playing 11v11 matches at U8 instead of 8v8. Aside from fun for the players (if run properly and fun is important) and entertainment for the parents, matches at that age add nothing that players cannot get from training and playing pickup games.

    The most successful youth coaches in the country (judged by developing players for the national team) advocate academy style individual training at that age instead of the typical club approach of training teams of players. They attribute their success to developing better skilled players through the academy approach.
  21. passtheblizz

    passtheblizz Member

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    It creates huge problems for smaller clubs... When you go up to 11v11 later on, where do the extra players come from if you only have one team? What if you have two teams at the same age level? When you combine them, a bunch of kids get left out, right when physical traits are most divergent among boys.

    They switched to small sided games a number of years ago, and while I have not seen any real real improvement in player development, I have seen a lot of kids stop playing soccer because they no longer have a team. Sometimes two clubs will combine their teams, but then one club has a hole at U-13. You can guess what happens if the next year is the same... Who would want to play U-11 for that club knowing they could have to switch anyway?

    Also, coaching these teams is a pain in the rear. You either play with two defenders or three, and that is pretty much the extent of it. It is hard to really teach tactics, and the dominant ogre kids are even more dominant and unstoppable because the field is smaller.

    All I know is that I have seen way more clubs having problems keeping teams together since we went to small sided games here at U11 and U12.
  22. Bird1812

    Bird1812 New Member

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    At 11v11 you can roster 18. Why not roster 2 8v8 teams of 9 and let the kids get lots of playing time? You can additionally rotate through the keeper position to give kids experience (and rest if needed) at that position. The keeper should be playing as a keeper/sweeper anyway which would also address the issue of punting the ball from one end of the field to the other. Save the punts for full field soccer.

    As far as tactics are concerned, they are supposed to be simplified. That's one of the points of playing a progression of short sided games.
  23. Jumbo1

    Jumbo1 Member

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    Bird, unfortunately many of the comments don't appear to come from people whose main concern is developing players. By the way, I went up to the Boston area for a college reunion and had a nice visit with Ralph Ferrigno.
  24. rca2

    rca2 Member

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    Nov 25, 2005
    It may make it really convenient for games, but it limits what you can do at practices. For U8 I would be happy training nine kids (assuming everyone always showed up). For U12 I would rather have some larger numbers so I could do more than just 4v2 and 3v3. And that size group requires a very heavy work rate of 2 to 1 (work to rest) unless you build in downtime for everyone, which is not an efficient way to run a practice.
  25. Bird1812

    Bird1812 New Member

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    Unfortunately true, but I figure if I keep chipping away at the concepts some might eventually catch on.



    You can train the 18 together. The biggest issue is having the leagues more flexible, because there will be days you won't have your full team. On those days it would be good if you could move kids between the two teams, so it will take a league that allows club passcards.

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