Don’t neglect the small players

Small players do not have to sit on the bench! Often on match day I will see the opposition substitutes and they will be the ones who are not as big as the others.

Everybody tells me it makes a big difference when the players who are ‘big for their age’ are on the pitch – so what! These smaller guys will make a difference to your team if you give them time on the pitch.

Skills and technique

Don’t let size become muddled with skill and technique – often the big boys lose all the advantage they had once the others catch them up in growth rate. I often find that it is when teams move from 9v9 into 11v11 that size becomes a big issue.

I know from experience it can be a daunting task for a young striker who moves to 11-s-side and has not grown as big as his team mates or opponents. Growth can be a funny thing and development of players around it is often difficult and needs coaches to keep a keen eye on what is happening.

Struggled at 11v11

My own son was a prolific goalscorer in the smaller versions of the game but when he went to 11-a-side he struggled at first and blamed his size for not being able to score as many goals. We worked on the physical side of his game and how to turn and shoot with your back to goal which helped him.

I gave him a number of challenges to get him in the right frame of mind and taught him how to keep the ball in a crowded penalty area so he could create space against the bigger defenders and set himself up with shooting opportunities.

It is a different way of playing but he became just as prolific in his second season at 11-a-side as he had been in the smaller sided games. So when other players and coaches face this problem I tell them it is all about taking a different approach to team play and that the individual player if he is smaller than the other can be just as good if he puts the time and effort into working with the right sessions.

They make it look easy but it takes a lot of work.

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