1. Save 40-80% on great soccer jerseys. Shop today at BigSoccer Shop!

As a coach, do you favor physical/tall kids during tryout?

Discussion in 'Coach' started by tarc, Oct 22, 2012.

Moderators: elessar78
  1. tarc

    tarc New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    I had a chance to watch top U11, U12, U13 teams in my state play and practice.

    To my surprise (or maybe I shouldn't be), most of the top teams have MANY tall athletic kids who don't have even decent ball skills.

    I am curious why. Do coaches favor athletic players early on and think they have a better chance to develop into better players? Or do these teams win because they have athletic players?
     
    BionicGrl repped this.


  2. BionicGrl

    BionicGrl New Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    It sounds like you are making assumptions that they were chosen over shorter kids with better ball handling skills? It sounds like you are assuming:

    tall= "athletic"
    Short= better ball handling
    (Neither of which has really been my experience, but anyway.)

    Not sure you can make that leap. . . It could just be that kids are getting taller, tall kids aren't being discouraged fom playing soccer, or ball- skills are declining overall.
     
  3. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Which age of tryouts? I had kids who were shrimps and non-descript at U9 who are 5'8" at U12 and blazing fast and agile.

    Fact of the matter is that, in general, we do such a poor job of teaching skills that sure a tall/athletic player will beat out a smaller, less athletic player if both players have poor skill sets. And even a skilled, smaller player may have trouble at the younger ages handling taller and stronger players.

    But do I favor tall, physical players? No. I favor skills and smarts and the package is just an extra.
     
    rca2 repped this.
  4. rca2

    rca2 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Actually those are not bad assumptions for that age group. Only athletic is not the word I would use. Nor would I say better skills, but I would say better ball handling because they haven't hit HPV yet.

    tall = early bloomers. Early bloomer means kids as much as 2-3 years older physically playing in their chronological age bracket. They don't have better athletic skills. They tend to be stronger and have more endurance--a temporarily performance advantage. It is insignificant in the long term, except that USSF programs favor the physically older children so that they get the best training opportunities, which is significant in the long term.

    short=better ball handling because HPV makes kids awkward until they adjust to rapid physical changes.

    This is the major shortcoming of USSF elite soccer especially for U10 to U16. The most physically mature are selected instead of the best athletes. The focus is on teams and winning so coaches improve teams by cutting and recruitment rather than through player development.

    If I want to judge how well a coach is doing, I look at the apparent physical age of the kids and watch the match not the score.
     


  5. rca2

    rca2 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    You are not the problem, elessar78; you and 30,000 youth coaches like you will hopefully be the future of the sport in this country.
     
    Ihateusernames repped this.
  6. nicklaino

    nicklaino Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    I like fast in a small space quickness.

    Good player vision they can see the field not just a small space right in front of them tunnel vision.

    Confident with the ball
     
  7. tarc

    tarc New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    I am comparing players on the top team vs. on the lower level teams.

    Granted, the top players on the top team are outstanding. However, I was just surprised by the lack of ball skills from the average players on top team, like forwards with amazing speed yet can't control the ball well, defenders who are tall and physical, yet awkward with the ball.

    On the other hand, I saw some smaller players on lower tier teams who have much better skills.



     
  8. ChapacoSoccer

    ChapacoSoccer Member

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    RCA2, do the early bloomers get a temporary skills boost when they are done growing? Once they have hit something like there full adult agility and athleticism, it seems like their skills should get a big boost for a bit until everybody else catches up.

    Also, is there a mental edge to maturing early? Are there brains more able to handle complexity? Its a whole body phenomenon, so brain function has to be a bit different than the kids who haven't hit puberty.
     
  9. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Can't say brain dev. is across the board for early developers (physical). I have run across my share of early devs that don't grasp concepts as quickly as smaller, phsyically inferior counterparts. I wish I could put the smarts of some kids into the bodies of other kids, but it doesn't work like that.

    I think we do have to be careful about knocking the big kids. Mainly because at the high levels most players are big, fast, and/or good athletes. The smaller players, Messi, etc all have to be more than exceptional to make it—it's not enough for small players to be just as good, they need to be better.
     
  10. rca2

    rca2 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    All kids will get a permanent performance boost after they get past HPV. The reason is simple: adult hormones make them stronger. But early onset of HPV is actually a disadvantage in that the best time to develop motor skills ends early for the early bloomers.

    First point, generalizations are just that. Individuals vary.

    Second point general athletic and soccer specific skills are factors in performance, but physical fitness is another. Strength and endurance are what improves quicker after HPV occurs. HPV is the growth spurt that occurs in girls at about 11-12 and boys two years later. But the onset can vary by as much as 3-4 years between individuals. Kids don't lose their athletic skills or game knowledge during HPV. What happens is their physiology changes because of the rapid bone growth. It takes awhile for the soft tissues to adjust. This means that kids go through an awkward phase during HPV. Mentally there is normally a lot of stress too at that time. Kids don't get stupid at HPV; typically they get emotional. They can be difficult to coach (or parent).

    Average height in the US is 5'10" for men and 5'4" for women. If a girl is 4 inches taller than her peers at age 11 it doesn't mean she will be 4 inches taller than her peers at age 17. You have to judge kids physically by their physical age. Here is an example 3 adult males: A is 5'7", B is 5'11", and C is 6'5". Same people at age 13: A was 5'4", B was 5"1", C was 5'10". Same people at age 16: A was %5'7", B was 5'5", and C was 6'3". Parent's height isn't much of an indicator either. Adult height of same people's father: A's was 5'7", B's was 6'2", and C's was 6'0". A was an early bloomer, B was late, and C was typical.

    If our aim is to promote sports for everyone (like schools), then you want high participation. If our aim is to develop professional athletes, then we should identify the best athletes at an early age and provide them the best training opportunities.
     
  11. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    I do an, admittedly, non-scientific "test"—I look at the parents. I have a center back now that is small and weak for the position but smart as a whip, great control, reads the game well. If she even gets as tall as mom she'll be a force. I have a few other kids like that.

    Looking at the parents also gives other clues—like nutrition or fitness habits. Improved nutrition over the years has led to the population becoming taller in general. Visit old places like George Washington's home in Mount Vernon or Thomas Jefferson's plantation at Monticello and you'll see that they were tiny back then. I got a kid whose parents are obese and I've seen her dad come out of the grocery with two shopping carts full of primarily junk—this kid is small for her age and doesn't really have the motor to go all day.

    Again, it's non-scientific, and probably A LOT of confirmation bias but it tends to bear out.
     
  12. nicklaino

    nicklaino Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    We must not eat right where I live. Most of our players Were not big.
     
  13. rca2

    rca2 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    Looking at parent's height to predict adult height for their child has several problems. 1. If the parents are abnormally tall or short, their children will likely be closer to average height than their parents rather than abnormal like their parents. 2. The new norm are single-parent and step-parent families. I would not want to ask parents if they are the natural parents. Parent-coach relations are tough enough. In particular I would not recommend that a pre-teen specialize in goal keeping in anticipation of future growth. (It is specialization I am against, not goal keeper training as part of a larger program.)

    I agree with your "other clues" comment. Habits I think of as discipline. More important imo, looking at the parent-child relationship tells you about the player's emotional maturity and coachability (respect for authority).

    Again I want to stress that if you are looking to select and train elite players, then you really are looking for outliers. General trends and probabilities don't matter. Only the individual matters. Performance comparisons to other players have to factor in relative physical ages. Otherwise you won't get a true picture of each player's potential as a senior player or even next year.
     
  14. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    They are just clues and it's just part of the whole gamut of things you could look at to gauge a player's physical development potential. No, you don't ask parents these questions but eye-ball tests and details that come out in natural conversation.

    Basically, my point in this thread is that, you could have a shrimp on your hands and you can look at the parents and see potential for growth.
     
  15. tarc

    tarc New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2010
    Thanks, the answer makes perfect sense.

     
  16. nicklaino

    nicklaino Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Hey look at his fathers hair or lack of hair. Maybe you don't want prematurely bald players.

    My brother is 5'9" his son is 6'4" :)
     
    rca2 repped this.
  17. BionicGrl

    BionicGrl New Member

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    This has been an interesting discussion. I coach U littles, and am the parent of a tall kid with better than average ball handling, so I have not seen the phenomena that was being described yet. My son is athletic (fast, good endurance), but so are some of his markedly shorter teammates, so perhaps it is just an age thing.
     
  18. nicklaino

    nicklaino Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2012
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    I have had some players where once they reached puberty and had the growing spurt where not that good anymore
     
  19. cleansheetbsc

    cleansheetbsc Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    Club:
    --other--
    I see this more with female players. Males don't 'lose' their athleticism, they are usually surpassed. Some girls get HAMMERED with puberty.
     
  20. rca2

    rca2 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    I suspect this has to do with pelvic changes. Body type in men is not as complicated as for women. Women have one of four different types of pelvic structures--naturally some are better adapted for child birth and some better for athletics. One type is a narrow male-type pelvic structure which is the best for sprinting.
    For a discussion on female body type in gymnastics--
    http://neoneocon.com/2012/08/02/gymnasts-bodies-form-follows-function/
    The pictures clearly show who has a narrow pelvic structure.
     
  21. cleansheetbsc

    cleansheetbsc Member+

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    Club:
    --other--
    I was thinking about this yesterday while watching the start of the womens US vs. Germany match. The field is full of these tall lanky powerful female players and the Canadian ref was a short stocky woman. I couldn't help think that she was cruelly physically passed by some years ago playing the game.
     
  22. Rob55

    Rob55 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2011
    All other qualities being nearly equal, size most always makes for a more effective player.

    I watched the 9th and 10th graders whom were selected for our high school boys Varisity team and those kept down on JV. Some really small 9th and 10th graders with very great technical ballskills were kept on JV yet some of the bigger, faster boys with decent, but not great, foot skills were moved up on varsity. Did the varsity coach make the correct choices? Yes. Why? Bigger boys with slightly less technical skill appearred more effective on the field against varsity level opponents during tryouts and scrimmage games. The smaller boys struggled and were much less effective in game situations. You don't select players for a tryout team by who can juggle the most balls, how accurate they can kick through a tire, how fast they run a 40 yd dash how good their feints are etc. You pick the most effective players for your roster to help your team win.

    Size is a huge advantage when your talking about a boy 5'4'' 11olbs trying to go up against a 6'0'' 180 lbs boy. One shoulder nudge and the 5'4'' boy is nocked off the ball. Most all of the varsity boys I see playing range anywhere from 5'7'' 130lbs to 6'4'' 220lbs. We had 2-3 really technically talented but tiny boys on JV that just were too tiny compete at the varisty level and it was very evident in practice games.
     
  23. elessar78

    elessar78 Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2010
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    It's true at 10th grade and it's true in the pros. You have to be real special (Messi, Maradona, Xavi, Cazorla, Lahm) if you're going to be a small player at any level. I don't deny that.

    When people whinge about high school soccer suffering from the PDL ban, it's decisions similar to this—you pick the bigger, athletic kids because they are more obvious choices in what will help you win games. Additionally, the season is so short and practices few and far between that most coaches can't put a system (like Barca) that accentuates skill over size and power.

    Arguably the best American player ever is a small guy with great technical skills (Landon), so how many Landon Donovans never reach their full potential? Probably a lot.

    To add, the only American kid to be invited to La Masia isn't some jr. version of Lebron james. He's a skinny unassuming kid.

    Anyway, if you're small be REALLY good. Leave no doubt that you're the best player for the job, otherwise the bigger kid will get the nod.
     
  24. rca2

    rca2 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    That is not how I would describe Landon. I would describe him as "a small guy with really great speed on the ball," i.e., the perfect winger. Sooner or later he is going to lose effectiveness as he slows down with age. He may reinvent himself as a holding midfielder, some players do (but the days of the playmaker are pretty much over and he is too short to play centerback), but most internationals retire soon after they lose the ability to compete internationally. Most piano players don't want to become piano movers.
     
  25. strikerbrian

    strikerbrian Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2010
    Location:
    Queensbury, NY
    Club:
    New York Red Bulls
    Country:
    United States
    Skill and IQ trump size every time. Now, if the only difference between the players is 6 inches and 50 pounds the big guy wins.

    Always choosing the big guy though is lazy. Instead of teaching the small guy how to handle those mismatch situations we lower our standards and snag a goon and try to mold him into a player because his size can make up for his talent defecencies for awhile. It might give us more time to train him while still seeing results but it's results earned, not form playing the game the proper way, but based on the fact that a player can boss his area of the field over everyone else. It's easier to coach this way.

    How about taking a player and further developing him/her so that he makes all the goons look goofy. As a coach I want to teach my players to play. That is my job. Does that mean I may lose a few games? Maybe. But I am not a coach for a pro team. I won't lose my job if I lose a few games. I am developing young players. Winning games is secondary to that.
     
    saabrian, 8MaCookies and rca2 repped this.
Moderators: elessar78

Share This Page