Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cuts at U13? Are we stupid?

There is a reality in club soccer.  You pay a lot to be there and we drive 90 minutes to some games.  We are only allowed to make substitutions on goal kicks and goals and at U12/13 on a big field neither comes frequently.

Having a big roster is great for keeping a lot of players involved and developing, but it's tough getting them all into games.  Parents count minutes during games and we want to keep the kids involved. 

But when I think about tryouts up to U13, I wonder how stupid we are being.  Young players change so much (physically) up to U13 that you have to wonder how many players of high potential we've discarded over the years.  Not only soccer, but every sport.  The change in a young athlete is not only year to year, but sometimes the player you picked in February is not the same kid in October.

I've watched U9 travel level games where both teams were probably picked via tryouts, and not one of the players can properly strike a ball or control a ball effectively.  So what were tryouts about?  Our young players are not ready to be graded and classified yet.  If you have tryouts for U9 and the majority of players aren't ready, how do you pick a team for travel soccer?

How do we figure out who's better at U12?  While players are growing and changing at alarming rates, how do we determine which players will still be the best 15/16 players in October?  If we are unsure who is better or going to be better at U12, and we are concerned with the long term good of the sport and player, are we not better off training BOTH players until they've passed the awkwardly physical years.

We have 2 teams at the travel level for U13 in Welland, so 28-32 boys will end up playing travel level soccer instead of 14-16, but it doesn't solve the bigger problem.

I guess I am drilling to the root of LTPD with respect to more widespread development at the younger age groups.