My U10 team had a game yesterday against the coach(es) for whom my two sons played in the fall. They did a fine job; they did a good job bringing the team together, introducing them to stretching and warm-ups as well as team concepts, and they taught them soccer along the way. But they were clearly good coaches who were coaching soccer as opposed to good soccer coaches; I was disappointed with their approach to soccer, while perfectly happy with other aspects of the team. (And, for the record, I am the assistant coach on the team this season with a head coach for whom my sons would have played in the fall but who spent the fall in Spain, so I didn’t pull my sons from the team because of those reasons; they wouldn’t have been on the team had their current coach been local.)
I realized, as I watched the game from (more of) a coach’s vantage point, that they coached their team specific to the vagaries of U10 rec soccer, i.e. kick the ball long and hard, beat the other team to it, and score: a rudimentary form of long ball. It is an unattractive form of soccer but frustratingly effective at this level (especially if you have a half decent goalie keeping things tight at the defensive end). We this spring have focused on passing and spacing, moving the ball, and building an attack (and, for the record, have made some baby steps but still have far (far) to go).
And the contrast in playing styles was apparent in the game yesterday. We tied the game (so it can’t be working that well) but we did have the better play. Their goalie was considerably better than ours and kept them in the game. But we had more chances on goal and more corner kicks (the latter something like 7 to 0).
But it struck me that I would much rather tie (or lose) playing the way that we played (or at least that we aspire to play) than win ugly. And this of course is not a new revelation; I take the same approach to my JV Girls team. But I think I was surprised at how apparent two different styles could be at a relatively young age playing at the rec level.
So, nice work yesterday, Wildcats. (Maybe, though, let’s not put four to five people on the ball at the same time….)