EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

How do I stop play acting on the pitch?

QUESTION


My players are play-acting on the pitch, just like their heroes. How can I put a stop to this?

ANSWER


At the World Cup this year Brazil’s best player, Neymar (pictured), let everyone down with his constant play acting and diving and generally spoiling matches even though he is one of the most skilful players in the game.

Kids will always replicate the actions of their idols, and play-acting is certainly something that crops up from time to time.

I take quite a light-hearted approach to it and wouldn’t go over the top with threats of bans.

Looking at it realistically, we can’t expect our kids to take on board all of the positive technical and tactical elements of the professional game without them being exposed to some of the less savoury bits.

I generally find that a quiet word to a player, away from the rest of the group, will halt it in its tracks. There’s no point making a big deal out of this unless a group of players are egging each other on, in which case make a statement to the team.

Explain that players are only really remembered for their positive contributions, and conning an opponent out of a decision is certainly against the spirit of the sport.

Remind players that referees aren’t daft, and that if he suspects a player of playacting, he may well hesitate to give fouls in future where infringements were actually taking place. Impress on your kids too that for as long as they’re rolling around on the floor, they’re not attacking and scoring!

As with most young players, I’m sure this is just a phase – one they will get over.

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