Preventing Lopsided Scores

By Randy Vogt

It's the youth soccer game that I cannot wait to end. And nobody seems to be having a good time. The game that I am writing about is the one with two teams of very different abilities playing one another and the better team scores a lot of goals.

Hopefully, the better side will put a limitation on going to goal but often the losing team gets very discouraged, sometimes very frustrated, and stops trying to play.

I tell newer referees that the best refs are the ones who can concentrate throughout a rout partly since it shows a great level of discipline. And if you do not concentrate, especially when you have a frustrated team on the field, the game could spiral out of control if you miss a deliberate foul.

As somebody who has refereed too many routs, I would like to offer some suggestions for youth soccer organizations:

Leagues, tournaments and coaches need to be better aware of the abilities of the teams as competitions are being structured. Obviously, this is easier said than done. But it does not help anybody when a Division 6 team is grouped with a Division 1 team in a tournament or an indoor or summer league. If there are not as many teams entered, my suggestion would be to combine two age groups (such as Under-13 and Under-14) and have one division of the top teams and the other division of the less skilled teams.

Competitions should not use goal differential or goals scored as a tiebreaker. Most competitions in the United States are aware this encourages teams to run up the score. The only competition that I have refereed where the goal differential actually affected the standings was a foreign tournament. The top two teams in the group tied one another when they played. One squad, which wound up in the championship game, ran up the score against overmatched opponents while the team that wound up in the third place game did the sporting thing instead.

Better tiebreakers would have been head-to-head competition (a tie score in this case), goals conceded and even discipline record of yellow and red cards.

Coaches need to put limitations in place before games with overmatched opponents instead of putting them in place when the score is 5-0. As a referee, I can tell when the game is going to be a mismatch just by watching the teams practice before the match. The coaches should be in an even better position as they probably know the scores of previous games vs. common opponents better than I do.

It’s discouraging when the starting team goes up 5-0, then the coach puts in the subs with limitations. It’s as if the players on the same team are not being treated equally. For me, a better idea would be to put a limitation on the starting team from the kickoff. If the game is more competitive than believed, the limitation can be eased.

The best limitations that I have seen work are:

• Can only shoot with weaker foot.
• Can only score from inside the goal area, also known as the six-yard box.
• Own goalkeeper must touch the ball before an attack can be initiated.

I’d welcome comments from Soccer Americans on what they have seen on youth soccer fields and which limitations work best.

(Randy Vogt has officiated over 8,000 games during the past three decades, from professional matches in front of thousands to 6-year-olds being cheered on by very enthusiastic parents. In "Preventive Officiating," he shares his wisdom gleaned from thousands of games and hundreds of clinics to help referees not only survive but thrive on the soccer field. You can visit the book’s website at

41 comments about "Preventing Lopsided Scores ".
  1. R2 Dad, January 29, 2013 at 1:47 a.m.

    I like the reset with a backpass to the keeper--reinforces the role of possession, keeps the superior team's back line involved and doesn't seem so much like sandbagging, which is dispiriting to the inferior team.

  2. Colborns , January 29, 2013 at 10:19 a.m.

    Three (or four) completed passes before a shot may be taken

  3. Brad Partridge, January 29, 2013 at 10:49 a.m.

    As a coach I have made it my goals to not mercy an opponent and also allow the players to play. I accomplish this not by restricting players which I believe is inappropriate because it inhibits learning but by removing players from the field. When I get 3 or four goals up i will not only have my subs in but I will also remove a player and play down. This makes the match more competitive and keeps my players playing the game. If the other team scores I may go back to 11 players or if they do not I may drop to 9. I do this quietly and on many occasions the other team and especially the parents do not even know it has happened. But for all to play the game without restrictions and without eliminating competition.

  4. Brent Crossland, January 29, 2013 at 11:33 a.m.

    Brad - your comment reminded me of a game that I refereed several years ago. I suddenly realized that I only had 9 Red players and the coach was concerned that I would caution his players for leaving the field! Heck no, Sir! I want to give you a medal for doing it so unobtrusively!

    Another time a coach told his players that all shots had to be with the weaker foot and no touches inside the goal area. An attacker was played through the defense but got wrong footed and couldn't get his left foot on the ball before it crossed the goal area line. He threw his hands in the air and shouted "CRAP!". The keeper patted him on the shoulder and told him "they should count that one for you".

    Always love it when sportsmanship works!

  5. Michael Winograd, January 29, 2013 at 11:41 a.m.

    I agree with your toughts, but have one gripe that was not addressed. I agree that as a coach, it is for me to see the mismatch and take steps with my team like you've suggested to try an avoid a rout (and make the game productive for my team). But what frustrates me is when referees try and play that role. It is not for a referee to even an unlevel playing field. If a team is up 4-0, it is for the coach to put in limitations. It is not for the ref to start calling fouls and the rest of the game in a lopsided fashion that favors the weaker team (in an effort to help the weaker team). When refs do that, it just makes things worse.

  6. Amos Annan, January 29, 2013 at 11:59 a.m.

    I agree with these methods but I would also add
    1) require a number of passes completed before they can score.
    2) require that all scores be "one touch" from a cross.

    Most of these restrictions actually help the better team improve their own skill while allowing the less skilled team to be more competitive.

  7. Leland Price, January 29, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.

    I have coached youth soccer for over 10 years and have yet to experience a season with fair and balanced teams. This is particularly true for AYSO. Usually, it is the local commissioner and his or her friends who have "stacked" teams. I once coached against the exact same AYSO team two years in a row - this despite a supposed blind draft.

    There are several clever methods for a team to have an advantage:

    1 - Have assistant coaches with good players
    2- Have good players go unranked, so a coach in the know can draft specific unranked players.
    3 - Give all young players to a team to put them at a disadvantage.
    3 - Give special needs players to teams to (in effect) make that team play a man down.
    4 - Completely ignore the guidelines and bend the rules for friends and family.

    So, in the youth standings, there is often a divide between the have teams and the have not teams and between those coaches who can circumvent the fair and balanced dictum and those who cannot.

    So, in summary, that is the first order of business: distribute the talent fairly among the teams.

    If a team does find themselves in a blow out situation, I like the 5 goal rule. If you get up by 4 or 5 goals, pull back, let the other team attack, and have your team practice their passing and defending skills.

    Unfortunately, it's been my experience that many coaches do not adhere to the five goal rule. In this respect, the referees can be complicit, with allowing a "stacked" team to run up the score without a word on their part.

    Bottom line, it's been my experience that a lot of talented players who are not with the "in crowd" leave organizations like AYSO and go to club. The result is a steady talent drain, which is unfortunate.

  8. Jaime Ramirez, January 29, 2013 at 12:52 p.m.

    With all do respect to Randy, we already have too many rules and regulations in youth soccer that prevent kids from playing soccer like the rest of the world. We will never develop top local, regional, national, and international goal scorers because of all of these rules. In youth let the kids score as many goals as they can in order to develop the skills necessary to go to the next level. Minimizing the opportunities to score will only perpetuate the mediocrity of producing top flight goal scorers in this country. I don't think Messi, in his youth was encouraged not to score. Here's a link to a video that I received from one of the associate directors of the club I direct > When Messi was scoring 5-7 goals a game, no one was telling him to stop.God help us if we continue in this path. I understand we need to do a better job of placing teams in competitive appropriate leagues. That can be corrected. Goal scoring can not be stifled. Let's encourage lots of goals. Clint Dempsey can use a few US peers to do what he's doing in Europe. God bless,

  9. Miguel Dedo, January 29, 2013 at 1:01 p.m.

    Except for a reminder to the referee concentrate, your suggestions are all about coaches and competition organizers.
    Have you anything more to say about refereeing such matches?

  10. Wayne Taylor, January 29, 2013 at 1:16 p.m.

    In addition to the methods mentioned above, I go to scoring on headers only, shooting from outside the penalty area, moving the ball, without shooting, from corner flag arc to corner flag arc, the ball has to be dribbled into the arc, then swung to the other side of field and dribbled into the corner arc...

  11. Randy Vogt, January 29, 2013 at 1:36 p.m.

    Miguel above is correct that this article has very little to do with refereeing. But I am concerned that lopsided games between two unequal teams do not benefit anybody and wanted to share my thoughts with Soccer America readers and get their feedback as well. Maybe with the publication of this article and your comments, we’ll start seeing less lopsided scores in the future. But regarding refereeing these games, the referee still has to treat everybody the same. A foul is a foul is a foul. And if you fail to whistle a foul on a team that is losing by many goals, the fouled player on the winning team could retaliate. Yet I always feel compassion (doesn’t just about everyone?) toward a team that is way overmatched. --Randy

  12. 0 M, January 29, 2013 at 5:15 p.m.

    Teams should always be playing attractive possession style soccer. In lopsided games remove players. If you have my balls try this. Swap some of your strong players with the other team for their weaker players.

  13. Frank Trovato, January 29, 2013 at 5:16 p.m.

    Great Focus Randy!
    Blowouts may be the number one reason kids quit playing soccer, it tell them, many at young ages, they are no good. Many report that that poor coaching is a significant factor in a child's decision to continue to play but the two generally go hand in hand. Lack of fun is another general contributor and is also related poor coaching and being blown out.
    As a player, coach and director for over 25 years I have tried every "restriction" possible to keep scores low. The only one that has a positive effect on the game itself is for the coach who is ahead to remove a player to create a game with the numbers advantage going to the team being blown out.

    Restrictions change the game so negatively that neither team gets an exciting real game on game day. Many times the team who is restricted still keeps possession of the ball and continue to score goals in spite of the situation.

    This is a major problem in recreational clubs and for competitive programs who are from a relatively low populated soccer areas.

    While I directed a club in Kansas we experienced significant blowouts at the rec level. We strove to make sure every season that teams were balance but inevitably blowout problems continued to arise. We focused on coaching education to slim the gap between the experienced and new coaches which unfortunately didn't solve the problem.

    We were eventually led to experimenting with implementing a Fair Play Rule. We employed it in the tournament setting. The rule was that if a team scored 5-0 during the game, the game was declared over in terms of the score. However the game did continue to full time but the team who was ahead had to remove a player from the field giving the numbers advantage to the disadvantaged team. This adjustment brought the game back to life. The disadvantaged teams were able to get real attacks and shots on goal. The team who has the less numbers are under immediate pressure and their GK gets to get their hands on the ball and even make saves which supports their development.

    The main disadvantage is reduced playing time for the players on the winning team. While I agree at some level I will argue that more is not always better. A shorter more challenging game is better than a lazy almost sarcastic and negative game any day of the week with regard to player development. Continued......

  14. Frank Trovato, January 29, 2013 at 5:16 p.m.

    The only other challenge is communication of the approach with coaches, teams and parents. Some over competitive, egocentric coaches and parents can feel aggrieved if they are unaware of how the game will be adjusted. This communication must take place prior to the season, not on game day. Most intelligent coaches of recreational players will understand the perspective as it relates to overall player growth and growth of the game in general. Mature people and coaches adjust easily for the benefit of the players and program. If the coach just doesn't get it at the recreational level we must ask if this coach is appropriate for recreational soccer.

    The discussion above is a way for clubs to control this destructive element in youth soccer. However I will go further and say that responsible coaches have direct control over this matter and at any time can choose to play a player down. I encourage coaches to do so for the benefit of all the players on the field and forget the contrived restrictions on game day.

    The games belong to the players and they need the time to solve problems in the game not be restricted from/required to perform some skill or tactic before they can score.

  15. Luis Arreola, January 30, 2013 at 12:06 a.m.

    Frank, if a blowout discourages you to continue to play soccer then you probably shouldn't be playing it. A coach on the losing side should not permit a player have a quiting attitude. That mentality is exactly the reason so many teams actually want to play down a division they should be playing in. So they can have a winning season for "team moral" and no angry parents. Then you have the coaches that are the opposite. They think their team is better a division than what they are and get blown out. I am one of those. I have gotten blown out in many games but tell my players that we will measure up to those teams the following year and that is a perfect way of knowing how much you are actually improving. I would never tell an opposing team to stop scoring. That's stupid. As long as they are not showboating its OK with me. I want the best they have to know what I have to teach them to improve and use it as motivation to show them how good we train in the next game. Maybe USA would develop more forwards of quality if they let them score as much as they can. At U8 you will blow out teams and get blown out and that's OK. The parents are usually the most affected by losses and not the kids as much. Parents that are weak minded are the ones that make their kids quit. Not the game. How do you guys think it is in real soccer countries where kids play every day on their own? You think they cry because they got blown out in a pickup game? You don't think that Messing maybe lost some games by a wide margin? We need to stop focusing so much on rankings and how much we are losing by so we can actually focus on learning. Its great to see an opposing team have players that skilled that can do things that most can't. Don't stop them from doing it. Challenge them if you like but don't cry like a baby if your on the losing end and tell your players and parents to man up and learn what competing really is. Score as much as possible and celebrate it.

  16. Luis Arreola, January 30, 2013 at 12:22 a.m.

    Don't get me wrong I believe we should all try and play at our level or higher but getting killed in a game will happen once in a while and it should not be a reason to quit or expect the other team to stop scoring. I was in a game where I had my lowest level players in it because of the other teams previous results. We were winning by 4-0 in first 10 minutes. I put defenders as forwards and vice versa. It was 8-0 before the 1/2. How do I tell defenders that want to score to not score? In the 2nd 1/2 we played with 2 men down and without a goalie as I played him on the field. We won 14-0. Goalie scored 2 goals. I told them to not play ball in the air and 10 pass rule before scoring. I couldn't believe how good we were playing but the other team had no competitive attitude to begin with. All the coach did was cry instead of coaching his team. He did not acknowledge any of my efforts. Any other day my kids would have not performed that good. Shit happens. Most of the teams I have coached become top teams after getting blown put initially. They learn to show character and overcome an obstacle as a team. Its like those Karate Kid movies. You get your ass kicked but learn to fight and come back strong.

  17. Frank Trovato, January 30, 2013 at 3:48 a.m.

    Hi Luis,

    While I think your comments are good for the right level, I think that you missed the boat on my post. I am referring specifically to younger recreational players or competitive teams who do not have a strong league of equal teams to play in.

    Our goal as youth coaches should be to care for all the players on the field, not just the ones on our team.

    As is the articles focus, my suggestion is to pull a player off to make an even game in a blowout situation so that all players on the field can gain some real benefit, including the Goalkeeper.

    Creating false conditions for a team who is playing a significantly underdeveloped team who is already blown out doesn't impress me at all.

    In the long term requiring a team to play with conditions against poor opposition will not help your players in any way develop the ability to play under pressure.

    Blowouts are bad for both teams but are significantly bad for the losing teams. A season of blowouts can/does cause kids to stop playing regardless of the coach or their words.

    I hope you give the suggestion a try before making judgement, it really is benificial to player development for all the aspiring players.

    FYI....I played and coached collegiate soccer as well as played semi professional. I have earned a USSF A license as well as served as a state director of coaching. I currently serve as a consultant for many growing soccer clubs. It is ok to be competitive in nature but I encourage you to broaden your view to include the development of all youth players regardless if they are on your team or not. That is the true challenge and measure of a top youth soccer coach and leader!

  18. Frank Trovato, January 30, 2013 at 4:05 a.m.

    Also your thought on playing down to have a good season isn't my suggestion nor is it a good idea in my opinion. My goal is to keep age groups together but recognize that a season of of blowouts is counterproductive to the growth of the players and game itself. Recreational Clubs and Programs struggle with this every year. I always hear about ranking players and creating even teams but at the rec level there is at least one team who gets the short end of the stick. My suggestion is for the club itself to take control of the problem in an effective way. If they can't or wont it is up to us, the coaches, to stand up for all kids who love the game instead of beating down a team of players with no control over its situation.

  19. Frank Trovato, January 30, 2013 at 5:24 a.m.

    Sorry about throwing my background in there, just thought you could see that I have a very competitive background and soccer experience. After coming full circle, my hope add to the thinking of committed coaches like yourself.

  20. Steve Austin, January 30, 2013 at 8:01 a.m.

    Having been on both sides of the score as a coach and a player I like that so many people have ideas. If we are obviously overwhelming a team I usually go to headers obly to try and keep the score down and try to work on our posession. It's important to keep it to ourselves tho' , don't rub it in the other teams face when you make adjustments. If we are on the losing side I like to have my players worry about the next goal, learn as we play, maybe get something positive out of the experience and remember how it feels next time you're on the winning side, have a little emaphty for the other team

  21. Kristin M, January 30, 2013 at 8:01 a.m.

    Frank, I agree with you. We are talking about children, 8, 10, 12--even with the older children. It is not fun on the losing side, we have been there. we have also been on the side where I have restricted my players from running up the score. The first few minutes into the game, I know if the game is going to be lopsided. I do not have my players run up the score, I limit them in the first half as well as in the second half, keeping the score within a 5/6 goal differential. I use a variety of limitations, those who have never scored can be the only one to score, 5 complete passes etc. I can tell you that at the younger ages, my players sometimes did not even know the score at the end of the game, but they did know if the game "stunk" for lack of a better word because they could not get any touches on the ball. The also knew sportsmanship and why we limited their scoring, again still not knowing what the final score was. As my players are getting older, they have an understanding as to what it means to win and to lose. They do take every game to heart. It can crush the spirit of these players, and that is why they eventually quit. I have known teams to run up scores because they do not like the opposing coaches or they want to prove a point...Are you serious? I also see the same teams that run up scores, stacking teams just to get a win. I was speaking with a girl who I know from an opposing team. She was very upset that players were brought onto her team, just for the one game (as this is allowed). She received less play time because of this and felt that she was not a good player. Is it not our job as coaches to help every player develop as much as we can? This applies to now only their skill level, but teamwork, and sportsmanship. Unfortunately, the refs do not have any control over the lopsided games, nor will they be given that control (from what I see) The coaches have to make that decision. Unfortunately, too many coaches do not have an issue with the lopsided games---

  22. Brad Partridge, January 30, 2013 at 10:51 a.m.

    While there are many good points made throughout this discussion, two factors never change: Sports activiyies by nature are competitive and competition results in having winners and loosers. That being said we have varying degrees of competition in US soccer. First AYSO tries to make it fair and equal by distributing talent. Most clubs are Social Competitive and recriut players rather than develop them to enhance results and keep parents and players happy. The small amount of developemental club use recriutment and development to produce results. The simplest and most beneficial solution for players is to insitute promotion and relegation into league play. This over time will eliminate the huge lopsided game and it will also encourage players of like ability to play together assisting with better development. Add more free small sided games for everyone and we might as a nation start developing elite field players. Also solves the problem for refs since lopsided games will be reduced significantly.

  23. Bart Schultz, January 30, 2013 at 1:50 p.m.

    My sons teams have been on both sides of lopsided scores. Both of their teams play hard to the end of the game - regardless of the score. In fact, they are coached not to play to the score. The younger age kids just want to play and after the game is over they are more concerned with the after-game snack than the outcome of the game. Its the Ref's job to call fouls as they occur. Its the Coach's job to put players in a position to succeed and not handicap them with restrictions.

  24. Luis Arreola, January 30, 2013 at 4 p.m.

    Frank, I understand your point which to me makes more sense on the business side of it. If you are in a lopsided league then have your best U10's play U11. That can and should be done in Rec. Leagues as well. Have a weak U10 play U9. This way you challenge all involved to be better and everyone plays their level. The excuses not do this? Kids want to play with their buddy's and therefore won't want to play down, parents feel embarrassed their kid plays down. There is always a solution and there is always soembody that disagrees. The greater good can be done by not holding back your anxious players. If I m a kid I want to score 8 goals in a game by myself, I want to beat 3 defenders as much as possible, I want to make that crazy no look pass that results in a goal. Why cater to somebody that will quit at first blowout?

  25. Luis Arreola, January 30, 2013 at 4:21 p.m.

    Frank, I am sorry, you might be in a different situation where you just want more players interested in an area where there is little interest. Maybe your league can do a midseason revelation where a top team moves up and losing team moves down. My point is I would look for as many solutions possible before holding back players from scoring, especially in a country where there is a true lack of forwards , scoring and creativity in soccer. Or how about not keeping score when 2 uneven teams meet? Or mandatory man down after so many goals difference? From my experience the younger the players the more they care less of a blowout loss. U8's just don't care. U10's a little more but hardly. U12's forget it after the first 1/2 hour. U14's sure. I think it depends on the environment within the club and family. If your dad is yelling out you because you didn't perform or he is critical of the coaching or your teammates then yes You learn o hate losing very soon and it won't take you long to decide you hate soccer as well. In my club I tell everyone that league games are organized competitive scrimmages. The overall objective is to "learn" from every soccer hour. Its not to go home feeling OK or better because the other team showed you mercy in jpt scoring more. I have coached my kids to pass the ball around in a lopsided game and in my opinion nudging by the look on these kids faces it is moredegrating to not touch the ball and chase it around for 15 minutes a time. When you get scored on at least you get the ball back at midfield. In many of those games I do possession the losing team always has a player or 2 decides they want to cheap shot our players to get it back. In basketball 20 point blowouts are the norm and the only adjustment made is putting in the bench. Do you justify kids playing basketball quitting it after 2 20 point losses? You probably don't because it is socially accepted. It had to start somewhere. Somebody decided that das the standard procedure to follow. Don't lower the standard for soccer please. Lets encourage goal scorers to score and maybe we can some day have a USA world class forward that will motivate many rec. And non rec players to play the game with a true passion.

  26. Luis Arreola, January 30, 2013 at 4:35 p.m.

    Kristin, I have done all those things you have done and its OK to do but realistically, who said a 5-6 lead is OK and not seen as a blowout? In soccer a 3 goal win is considered a blowout. Maybe the teams you have beaten by 5/6 goals see it as running up the score while you think its OK. If they quit at a young age over getting blownout then that only means that parenting is not too good along with the coaches psychological capabilities. Both are needed but parenting much more. Weak minded is the term and a. Kid that quits over a petty blowout will look and find something else to quit for like not being assigned a position he wants, getting knocked down on a 5/50 ball, getting blasted in the face by a ball, etc. There isn't a perfect way to lose. Kids aren't stupid they know when the other team is capable of scoring 20 goals on them and they know they are showing mercy. The clubs that stack teams and run up scores are many times our Academies!!! At least in Illinois.

  27. Luis Arreola, January 30, 2013 at 4:47 p.m.

    Frank, playing down is not my thought. Its what many clubs do to avoid losing or getting blown out. Now why is this mentality? Because clubs know some or most or their players get easily discouraged in losing and will absolutely quit in a blow out. No players no money. Every seeding meetng is the same in my league.

  28. Ronnie j Salvador, January 30, 2013 at 5:12 p.m.

    In my view a rout, and by a ‘rout’ I mean scores as much as 25~0 in scholastic games, as unsportsmanlike. It would be a really strange referee that wouldn’t feel some compassion for the weaker team. I will disagree that the officials in such a game still has to treat everyone the ‘same’. Sure, you still call fouls to maintain control. But there’s other calls that can be made to contain the rout. I realize that officials aren’t supposed to care about the score or who wins/loses. But a ridiculous rout just isn’t soccer.
    I don’t know if they still do it, but in Region 1's ODP tournament if a team scored more than 4 [is it 5?] goals than their opponent, the scoresheet is marked as ‘unsportsmanlike’.

  29. Luis Arreola, January 30, 2013 at 5:48 p.m.

    This is more of a league's responsability than a coach's. League officials should keep a list of outstanding players in a Competitive league and good players in a rec. league. Rate them and distribute evenly. That shouldnt be too hard. I beleive the bigger problem is this society's obsession with winning at the youngest of ages. If we love to win that only means we hate to lose. If you dont care about winning you dont care about losing and therefore blowouts are not as sensitive an issue.

  30. Luis Arreola, January 30, 2013 at 6:03 p.m.

    I can count on one hand the blowout wins I have had in 5 years coaching 5-6 teams a season. Why? Because I am pretty good at placing my teams in the right division or a level up. Blowing out teams is a waste of time just like winning every game. I would rather get blown out if I had to pick. A blowout to me is to win by 3 goals. The perfect season for me is 10 games where the goal difference is 1 goal a game, win or lose. Very few coaches that I come accross would honestly think the same.

  31. Luis Arreola, January 30, 2013 at 6:08 p.m.

    Frank, if you are having a full season of blowouts that only means that the league officials are not doing their job. I would hate to play a team that I know we are going to kill. Everyone loses there.

  32. Frank Trovato, January 31, 2013 at 12:40 a.m.

    Hi Luis, Kristin and All,

    Great comments and thoughts. Good discussion of ideas here. Just saw a new article by Mike that suggested that instead of pulling a player off in the case of a blowout, add a player instead to the team that is being blowing out. While I like the idea, it wont work due to the rules of the game and the referees as he points out. Not an easy solution even from some of the best thinkers. So all in all, after all is said and done, coaches you can control a blowout by pulling a player from the team who is blowing a team out. If one has an issue with playing time, simply schedule a couple of extra friendlies to compensate for any missed times for the players.

    I encourage clubs to take a long look at this issue and take control of an issue that causes problems with the long term growth of the game as a whole.

  33. Stephen Aronson, January 31, 2013 at 6:25 a.m.

    Thanks for writing this article and publishing it. As the President of the Westfield NJ Soccer Association, we talk about this often with our travel and recreational coaches. Its refreshing to see this topic publicly discussed and published. I also encourage coaches to play down 1-2 players in these situations too. This is another limitation that works. And you are so right that this needs to be done at the start of the game and not when the score is 5-0 after 15 minutes.

  34. Randolph Rompola, January 31, 2013 at 12:07 p.m.

    I like the discussion. I posted on another article, it seems to me the coach should be aware of the game flow and be prepared early before it is a rout to impose restrictions. It is rare that a rout just happens -- you may well know going into the game that it might well be rout. I will look to impose some restrictions (go back before going forward again, play 2 or 3 touch or start players in different positions) very early at the beginning or at least when it is 2-0 in those games. Why wait until it is 5-0 or more. You sub in the weaker players at that point just reinforces the view to them. Why not start one or more and let them feel the game in the heat of the moment. Maybe accomplish 2 goals -- they gain confidence and you better manage the score.

  35. Luis Arreola, February 1, 2013 at 10:33 a.m.

    I have coached players in top divsion at U12 or U14 where we have gotten killed 5-0, 6-1. I have had very few want to quit the team and actually want to join the winning team. 99% of the time this behavior is encouraged by the parents. I strongly believe these are the kids that probably played teams that held back from scoring more on them. Therefore they are weak minded and cant handle a blowout even at the highest levels at a more mature age. It's easier to teach a younger player to handle a loss or blowout than a teenager, be it a coach or parent. Bad habits, attitudes, personalities should be dealt with early and not until they are U12/U14. My now U14 team got killed 8-0 by the #3 Nationally ranked team when they were U9's. They didnt let up. Parents yelled at me and told me we should not have played that strong of a team. At U11 we played them to a tie. At U12 we beat them in a Semi. This team ended up recruiting 4 players from my team and 2 are now regular starters for them. They are the Chicago Magic. My players learned to take a blowout, use it as motivation, we set the goal to some day beat them, accomplished it, theyn now have great character.

  36. Randy Vogt, February 3, 2013 at 9:42 a.m.

    The past two weekends, I have refereed the same BU13 team twice in futsal. Last Saturday, the game should have been competitive but was not and the other team won 15-2 without putting any limitations on their players until the very end. This past Saturday, I did not expect the game to be competitive as they were playing a Division 1 team. When the score became 7-0 near the end of the first half, the winning coach thankfully put limitations on his players such as putting the GK on the field, playing the ball to the GK before initiating an attack and shooting with the weaker foot. The final score was 10-2 with the losing team scoring the last two goals to a great deal of applause. The losing team felt much better about themselves and showed some confidence at the end of the second game. It would have been even better if the Division 1 team put limitations on their players at the opening kick-off as the opponents were overmatched. Thankfully, the losing team is scheduled to play less skilled opponents in the near future. Randy

  37. Frank Trovato, February 3, 2013 at 4:25 p.m.

    Everyone don't forget the meaning of game time and it's importance in the development of players. Don't turn valuable game time into a ridiculous conditioned scrimmage. Pull a player off to balance out the game, even two if necessary. You will find a great game will emerge for all players. If you are insulted by this if you are the team on the bad end of the rout I encourage you to rethink the meaning of coach and youth leader. It is great to be competitive but at the youth level, advanced leaders and coaches care about both teams and all players in general.

  38. Luis Arreola, February 4, 2013 at 12:34 p.m.

    I have coached tems where we start off losing 5-0 and come bck to win, tie or lose by 1 goal. Opposing teams dont let up and the most they do is mybe start 2nd 1/2 with the bench players, but only a few times. These are the greatest games to develop character. I coached a game yesterday where we started losing 3-0 in the first 10 minutes in n Indoor game. 1st 1/2 ended the same score. We came back in 2nd 1/2 to a 5-4 loss. The best game in every aspect this season for any ofmy teams. This teamis 1/2 U15, 1/2 U14 playing U16. The team we played was 1st plce team. Our record is 1 win 4 losses.

  39. Frank Trovato, February 5, 2013 at 1:26 a.m.

    I agree Luis, in indoor 5-0 isn't insurmountable. Set your own numbers for what you think a rout is. Is it 10-0 indoors and 8-0 outdoors. Have never seen a team come back from that. Sometimes this is the half time score. I understand your points, I hope you understand mine.

  40. Luis Arreola, February 5, 2013 at 9:46 a.m.

    Actually 5-0 has been an outdoor score but my point is that no matter the outcome, it's the character you show in the middle of a lopsided game that will define you. We could have lost that game 6-2 but that means we lost 2nd 1/2 3-2 improving on a 3-0 1st 1/2 performance. The team we played hates us and would have played us to a 10-0 score if given the chance. We lost 7-3 a few months ago. In the hate they show for us it also shows respect in a certain way even if not intended. I use this negative energy to get positive out of my players. I tell them "these guys want to kill us and bully us because you are top players individually. We dont hate them and never will but we must show them they cant push us around even if they are bigger and stronger." It's beautiful to see our players react with determination. Priceless. It is a fine line I walk but would rather lose the weak and make the strong stronger and better.

  41. John Smith, September 24, 2013 at 5:16 p.m.


    What is a lopsided score? The coach and I are dads that have our 8 year old sons on the team. We are three games into this season, this is the first year the coach and I (the assistant coach) have ever coached soccer. Neither one of us have ever played soccer. As of now we are 3-0 because we have 3 real good players on the team.

    The first two games our scores were pretty lopsided because we played our best 3 players together on offense plus we didn't know the strength of the league. Our last game we played our top players separately and won 3-0 but scoring was minimal due to rain. I think our last game was managed ok because we rotated the secondary players with the good players randomly.

    Is this how we should play?

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