Saturday morning I was coaching a group of u9 futsal players, could have been football as the session would have been suitable for either sports.
Initially I had boys playing 3 vs. 3 on a small court with meter wide goals. All the attacking players had to be in the opposition half for a goal to count.
The lads sorted any problems like ‘ducks to water.’ Diagonal passes, tap ins at the back post; they supported the player with the ball; and was always in a position to clearly see the ball, it was all there. The defences played their part, making sure any goal conceded was not down to individual laziness.
Why then should the session collapse when one team was given an extra player? More to the point why did the team with the extra player not capitalise? Why did the four stop working to be in space? Why did the players without the ball move inwards towards the man with the ball rather than retreat to the open spaces on the outside of the court to make it harder for the three defenders? Why did the four stop fighting to create space for themselves; why did the four stop looking after the ball; why did the four shoot at any opportunity regardless whether they had a realistic chance to score. Why did the four lose?
In some ways, like a football team losing a player, having to play 10 vs. 11; galvanises the 10. I’m not sure it’s same with my players. I suspect that 3 vs. 3 is maximum complexity players at this age can solve? Just adding a player increases the passing and movement complexities hugely. Imagine if this is correct how complex a 7 vs. 7 game is to an under 9 age group.
Gymnasts’ and karate coaches repeat and repeat the same sessions to build up muscle/brain memory links; should I be doing same every week? Should I be keeping games to 3 vs. 3 and later increasing to 4 vs. 4?