The secret to beating teams that are more athletic than your team in youth soccer

Playing in space is the key term.

We are not talking about playing soccer on the moon, zero gravity would make all of us have to rethink the game a bit.

“In space” means playing with the distance between your players and the other team. If your team is bigger and more athletic and can handle players from other teams one by one, you want space, you are your friend.

However, if you don’t have better and bigger athletes than the other team, space is your enemy.

Playing “in space” means exactly what it says, putting your players with a space between them and the opponent. If your team is made up of faster, bigger and more athletic kids, they will dominate in one-on-one matches. This is why you see teams with a lot of big fast receivers that do very well on “extended” offenses where they isolate weaker defenders in front of these dominant receivers, of course you have to have a quarterback who can throw it on these. cases. If that bolt catcher can just put the ball “in space”, he will have a chance to score in most cases.

On the other hand, most youth soccer teams don’t have the player who really dominates the league. Most of us are blessed with just an average group of kids and some of us will have that strange group of kids that is smaller and less athletic than the teams we face. In these cases, you want to have as little space as possible between your children and the opposition.

Just think about your tackling drills, when you have a tackling drill in tight spaces, say a 1-yard box, most of your kids, even the non-athletic ones, can often tackle. But turn that tackling drill into a 20-by-20-square-yard outfield tackling drill, how many of your less athletic kids can now tackle a tackle on that drill? The same goes for blocking; very athletic children can make blocks “in space” that less athletic children cannot.

Less athletic teams almost always perform better if they reduce their line splits, block, and pull double team to have overwhelming numbers at the point of attack. Less athletic teams need to make cheats and other short-run plays like the wedge to keep more athletic teams at bay. Less athletic teams need to make a lot of detours to keep the defense away from the play, while executing it between innings. The spinner series in kryptonite for the supermen of these squads. There are only a few plays that MAKE NO SENSE against teams like this, sweeps, backsliding, deep setbacks, these will be negative yardage plays.

The good news is that with the single-wing offense, less athletic teams can compete with very athletic teams. Often called “phone booth football,” the spinning wheels and traps prevent highly athletic teams from flowing hard into their base plays. Team blocks, wedges and double pulls give your team numerical advantages at the point of attack so that even the smallest or weakest linemen can succeed. Tight divisions, misdirection, and shooting linemen help even very average running backs put up big numbers with this offense.

In 2002 we had a very medium sized back called JA with medium speed. For our 8-10 year old team, he weighed 81 pounds and when we ran our testing races, he was about the sixth out of 25 kids. JA was a very obedient player, he was a patient runner, he always kept his legs moving and was always looking for an opening, but nothing special. In 2002 he played fullback for us and only ran 2 plays that year, wedge and trap. He scored 31 touchdowns for us on FB plays alone, of course we had a very weak backfield that year and he got a lot of carries. If we had the spinner series, it would have made it even better.

As for beating bigger or more athletic teams: In 2003, my 8-10 year old Omaha team was undefeated in the league and pulled off some very striking numbers. We scored at will, went 11-0 and won our league title game 46-12 after leading 46-0 in the third quarter. Then we beat two league champions from other leagues who were between 11 and 12 years old. In 2004 I started a new program in rural Nebraska in an area where the existing youth program had won something like 4-5 games total in 5 years before I came here. The first year there we had all the rookie players with the exception of 2-3 discards from the other team in town. We only had one player weighing more than 45 kilos between the ages of 8 and 10. Little by little, we improve every week and at the end of the season we start to look pretty good. We played a very big and fast team from downtown Lincoln that year, the Salvation Army. They hadn’t lost a game in 3 years, we were out-staffed, oversized, and had less speed, but we beat them in a single TD bite en route to an 11-0 season.

Our biggest win in an extreme overcoming in 2005 against Omaha Select Black. That 8-10 year old team chose from over 150 kids, had at least 5 kids over 150 pounds, and hadn’t lost in 3 years in Omaha’s “select” league. It was a very aggressive urban team, with a lot of speed and confidence. Me, on the other hand, only the 25 children from the field appeared, neither cuts nor selections, and many smaller children. To make a long story short, we had this team for 4 TDS in the first half and we could have named the score. Needless to say, that team, their parents, and our parents were shocked. The good thing is that with this offense you can compete with anyone, the bad news is that once you do, it is difficult to get more out of league games. Big downtown teams like the North Omaha Boys Club won’t even play us on their home fields, it’s embarrassing to be beaten by much smaller and slower teams, I’ve been turned down twice in the last 2 years for extra games that they both had open dates at the end of the seasons.

The single wing offers some flexibility if you have that stud player you want to isolate “in space”. We added the mesh series in 2005 to accommodate a player that we thought would make sense to put “in space”. When faced with weaker opponents, the “mesh” series worked very well, no one could handle our stud. When we played against equal or lesser competition, we had to return to our base offense with tight divisions to move the ball consistently.

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