Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Why is scrimmage dessert?
by Mike Woitalla, October 2nd, 2009 3:15PM



By Mike Woitalla

It seems to be conventional wisdom that scrimmaging - letting children actually play soccer - is something that should happen only at the end of practice.

It's promised to them like a dessert, the reward for eating the broccoli. Do all these drills and you'll get to do what you thought you signed up for: play soccer.

By scrimmaging I mean playing games to goal, whether it be small-sided games or splitting the squad into two teams right after the warm-up to play a game. That's what the kids would do if the adults weren't calling the shots. And it is their playtime.

At the youngest ages, they should just be playing soccer rather than doing drills anyway. When it becomes necessary to incorporate technical exercises into practice, why has it become the cardinal rule that they must be done at every practice and they must be done before the soccer-playing?

When a bunch of rambunctious youngsters show up to practice doesn't it make sense to let them get on with the soccer-playing? If you need to have them practice their passing technique, why not after they've played some real soccer? They might be more inclined to stay focused during a slower-paced activity after they've used up some energy.

I'm not saying that going through some technical work, then advancing through various game-like exercises that lead up to a scrimmage, isn't a good, logical way to organize a practice.

But how much harm could there be in trying it another way once in a while? The kids show up after a long day of school. The coach gets them dribbling around with their balls for a little while and does whatever warm-up their age level requires. The goals are set up and they play soccer.

Try it and see whether you don't make a bunch of kids happy. Besides the smiles, you're getting them ready for the game. That practice replicates what they'll be doing on the weekend with their uniforms on and their parents on the sideline.

(Mike Woitalla, who coaches youth soccer in Northern California, is the executive editor of Soccer America. His youth articles are archived at


  1. Paul Giavanopoulos
    commented on: October 6, 2009 at 6:33 a.m.
    On this one I agree with you Mike. I picked up on that trick after my team did some sessions with Iain Munroe. He would always open up his session with a 15 minute scrimmage first, also end up his session with a 20 minute scrimmage. Opening up with a scrimmage first engages the lads right away and makes them focus easier. also they are having fun. Now they know if they come on time pick up a bib and go out and play. good one Mike!!!

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Youth Soccer Insider
U.S. U-19s shake off shell shock and tie Scotland    
The U.S. U-19 men's national team, which opened play at the Mercedes-Benz Elite Cup on Tuesday ...
Keys to picking the right club for your child    
When you're traveling, do you go to a local motel or a name-brand place? Do you ...
USA suffers major rout against Germany at U-19 men's tourney    
While seven of the graduates of the last cycle of the U.S. U-20 men's national team, ...
Say it carefully, quickly and clearly: Getting your players' attention    
How do you get a rambunctious group of young players to pay attention?
Heel pain known as 'Sever's disease' frequently affects young athletes    
Heel pain is one of the most common complaints in young athletes. This generally occurs during ...
Meet the 21 U.S. U-17 World Cup players    
The 21-player roster U.S. coach Richie Williams named for the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile ...
U.S. under-19 women open fourth camp Saturday    
The U.S. U-19 women's national team, under Coach Jitka Klimkova, will hold its fourth and final ...
Mexico names two U.S. products to its U-17 World Cup squad    
The deadline to name rosters for the 2015 U-17 World Cup that kicks off Oct. 17 ...
Remembering Dettmar Cramer reminds us: It's all about the ball     
The legendary German coach Dettmar Cramer once joked he felt sorry for the ball when he ...
Treating the common 'growing pain' known as Osgood-Schlatter syndrome    
Over the summer a lot of kids came through the office to get "tuned up" for ...
>> Youth Soccer Insider Archives