Commentary

The build-out line: A wonderful idea that needs an 'into play' tweak

By Randy Vogt

Now I do not ref as many small-sided games as 11 v. 11 games being played on a larger field. But in the small-sided games I’ve officiated, I have seen a growing number of teams use the goalkeeper punt as an offensive weapon, rather than retaining possession. With small-sided games, it’s relatively easy for a goalkeeper, particularly those who are U-11 or U-12, to punt the ball well into the other half of the field -- and too many teams are doing this rather than concentrating on retaining possession and moving toward the opposing team's goal that way.

So for U-9 and U-10 games, I really like the build-out line, placed equidistant between the penalty area line and the halfway line, and the fact that keepers can no longer punt or drop-kick the ball. A punt or drop-kick results in an indirect kick to the opposing team. I wish that prohibiting punting and drop-kicking would be extended to all small-sided games.

The Player Development Initiatives directive from U.S. Soccer states that the opposing team can cross the build-out line after the ball is put “into play.”

If you take that directive literally, generally not a good thing to do with young kids, the ball is in play after a goal kick when it goes outside the penalty area and during the run of play it’s in play when the goalkeeper releases the ball. The differentiation is confusing, particularly to a little kid. So I’ve had to help guide the young players in telling them when they could cross the build-out line during play.

Enforcing the rule this way, the keeper would have to roll the ball to a teammate standing a few yards away or a goal kick would be played to a teammate just outside the penalty area to avoid immediate pressure from opponents. A keeper throwing the ball 10 yards or more to a teammate, even rolling the ball to the side of the field, would not result in “the build-out line promotes playing the ball out of the back in a less pressured setting” as the opponents could be right there when the keeper’s teammate receives the ball.

I believe that only after the keeper’s teammate touches the ball, the opposing players should then be allowed to cross the build-out line as enforcing the rule this way is in the spirit of what U.S. Soccer is trying to do. In the first couple of games that I officiated with build-out lines, where there was a lack of clarity in my mind exactly how “into play” should be enforced, I did this and it worked out well with the goalkeeper’s teammate having approximately 2-3 seconds before an opponent challenged the ball. Teams were able to play the ball out of the back and this interpretation creates what U.S. Soccer seeks, a “less pressured setting.”

The directive from U.S. Soccer states that “when the goalkeeper has the ball … the opposing team must move behind the build-out line until the ball is put into play.” But the keeper can distribute the ball quickly, accepting the fact that opponents can then challenge for the ball.

I like the fact that the build-out line, and not the halfway line, is used to denote offside violations so an attacker cannot be penalized for offside between the halfway line and the build-out line. This reminds me of the 35-yard line used in the original North American Soccer League. For our purposes today with little kids, it makes sense to enforce offside over a smaller portion of the field while still not allowing an attacker to hang out by the opposing team’s goalkeeper.

I also like that scores are not being kept by leagues in U-10 games and below. Despite this, there remain some adults, either coaches or simply parents, whose kids are just getting started with youth soccer who are sadly, shall we say, overly exuberant about winning?

Yet a nice by-product of the Player Development Initiatives changes is the games can be a bit easier to ref. U-12 games are small-sided rather than 11 vs. 11 so fewer players to watch on the field. The U-9 and U-10 games with the build-out line will have fewer offside decisions as offside can only be whistled in a smaller area.

In those games where three officials are on a U-9 or U-10 game, as the build-out line and not the halfway line is the starting point for offside, the assistant referee should now just go up to the build-out line and not the halfway line.

Summarizing, the concept of playing the ball out of the back in a “less pressured setting” is wonderful but the execution is not as good as the rules do not facilitate this in some cases, so the build-out lines are definitely a work in process. U.S. Soccer needs not take my word for it but can simply watch games to see what is happening. I believe they need to make an adjustment in the rules before the build-out lines and the other Player Development Initiatives become mandatory in August 2017.

(Randy Vogt has officiated over 9,000 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 his book, 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 PreventiveOfficiating.com)

56 comments about "The build-out line: A wonderful idea that needs an 'into play' tweak".
  1. Paul Schearf, October 31, 2016 at 3:23 p.m.

    I think a tweak is needed as well. One of the local leagues here (Youth Sportsmen's Soccer League) tweaked the rule to say that the opposing team cannot cross the build-out line until the ball is touched by another player. That seemed to work well in the games I refereed. However, the league also tweaked the rule to say offside should remain the same without regard to the build out line. I'm neutral on that.

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, October 31, 2016 at 4:22 p.m.

    I am not neutral. Offsides should not be applied to SSGs. If it is applied, it should not be modified. The LOTG do not allow modification to it without permission of the IFAB. I am not in favor of matches and competitions for U10s and below. A match is a match. A scrimmage is a scrimmage. I don't think the kids care which. It is the adults driving the formal competitions.

  3. Bob Ashpole, October 31, 2016 at 4:11 p.m.

    I like your version of the rule. There are problems with the USSF rule (as indicated by August 2016 materials) that indicates that it was not tested before implementation. First you glossed over the fact that the rule does not prohibit drop kicks or other striking techniques besides punting. Second it does not prohibit long throws. Third the USSF build out lines are too close to the penalty area to be effective. IMO a better rule would be to limit all keeper distributions in SSG to the defensive half. Much simpler and a better result tactically and technically.

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, October 31, 2016 at 4:14 p.m.

    I forgot to add that it kills counter attacks by keeper's team. One opponent walking back to the build out line provides plenty of time for a team to organize a compact defense.

  5. Dave Horn, October 31, 2016 at 4:36 p.m.

    We implemented the changes this Fall season and made a couple of tweaks with the approval of our SDI. We decided that for simplicity sake that the ball in in play when it crosses the penalty area line in both cases, run of play possession and goal kicks. Additionally we decided that waiting for the opponent to retreat to behind the BOL would rob the possession team the ability to do a quick restart. We now allow the quick restart, and the opposing players may not challenge for the ball unless the were behind the BOL, or the ball has been touched by the possessing team.
    This has worked very well, the players seem to understand the rules better than the coaches and the spectators.

  6. Mark Smith, October 31, 2016 at 5:07 p.m.

    I have a concern over two aspects of the buildout line. One concerning the build from the back and one about offsides.

    Concerning the buildout line, I would agree that changing the interpretation of "into play" as when the player touches the ball after the goal kick will help. Currently, the buildout line just sets a player up to be swarmed by pressing players, resulting in a loss of possession in a dangerous area.

    But, even changing the interpretation does not solve the issue entirely. Since the defending team does not have to worry about a long ball. They are free to create a compact well organized defense, press high and make it very difficult for the team to play out of the back. If punts are allowed, not the team has to be concerned with longer ball and cannot commit to a compact high press defense, because it would make them vulnerable to a long ball. Do you think pro teams don't high press unless under specific circumstances, because they are polite? No, they know they are vulnerable and must give the long ball some respect. Even pro teams that play out of the back most of the time will occasionally give a long ball to keep their opponents honest.

    By making an artificial rule, limiting the long ball, the result will be teams will become expert at compact high press defenses resulting in games that rarely have midfield play. To beat the high press defense the clearing teams will specialize in a pass to a back who boots the ball down the field to go over the high press defense, again bypassing the midfield. U9 and U10 teams do not have the skill to link together 3-4 passes to beat a compact high press defense using possession on a regular basis.

    My second issue is with the offsides. I have been coaching U9 and U10 teams for a number of years now playing 6v6 and offsides was not in effect and it was rarely if ever an issue. At the U9 age group, most players only played 4v4. Positions, team shape, support, cover, width, depth were all new concepts and took most of a season to become comfortable with. Even at U10, rarely did a team score because of a player in offsides position.

    Sometimes we played team who decided to leave a cherry picker deep in our half of the field. I would coach our defense to hold the mid field line. This typically gave us a 5v4 advantage in the offensive half of the field. Basically, the cherry picker took themselves out of the game. In those cases where a pass got by our defense, we almost always recovered to prevent the shot.

    My point is players have enough to learn without introducing offsides at the 7v7 level. Getting them to stretch the field is something we should encourage as most players are still ball centric. Introduce offsides at 9v9 once the basics positions and team shape have been learned.

    We did play offsides this season and had a handful of calls against us over the course of a season, which I basically ignored or gave a quick explanation to the payer if they asked.

  7. R2 Dad replied, October 31, 2016 at 6:41 p.m.

    Yes, the high press has not specifically been illegal in small-sided games, but it should be. What kind of coach would spend their very limited time training their kids to press instead of dribble/pass? Bad coaches, that's who. Ninnies. This is like the litmus test for soccer idiocy.

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, November 1, 2016 at 11:15 a.m.

    R2 Dad, unless a coach is going to always use unopposed drills and no games, it is impossible to teach 1st and 2nd attacker skills without teaching comparable defender skills. Teaching defense is relatively easy, takes little time, and can be done in a manner that provides attacking training at the same time.

  9. Will G, October 31, 2016 at 5:25 p.m.

    I agree - it is another fabricated rule made up by USSF that has more negative effect than positive effect. You first have to understand why teams like to play out of the back before you can start making up artificial rules. Teams play out of the back so they can open other teams up, thus making it easier for them to play the ball to the central playmakers and create attacking opportunities. All this rule has done is to take the central playmakers out of the equation. Great, our defenders passed the ball to each other twice then kicked it 40 yards up the field...remember when the defenders never passed it to each other before kicking it 40 yards up the field? What's the difference. Style of play is a coaching issue not a Federation issue. If you don't like the style our youth teams are playing then make an effort to make the coaching better by offering license courses at cheaper prices. All USSF has done with this is monkey up the game, there is no benefit to this artificial rule.

  10. R2 Dad replied, October 31, 2016 at 6:55 p.m.

    Historically we have given US coaches every opportunity to define "success" in youth soccer, and every time they choose winning over development. Even on some US U teams, coaches will choose a direct style over possession as the primary strategy, not as an occasional tactic. And because the ratio of good coaches to bad is 1:10, I don't favor giving all these bad coaches so much leeway. This build-out line is a compromise that needs to be ironed out, but at least it's an attempt to mitigate the toxic effect of crappy coaching across this country. We gotta start somewhere. As far as Jake's comment goes, what kind of coach needs an "incentive"? The ONLY incentive should be to teach the kids how to properly play the game. If you are a coach for any other reason, you probably shouldn't be, and we know which side of the 1:10 you are on.

  11. Bob Ashpole replied, November 1, 2016 at 10:38 a.m.

    R2 Dad, I disagree completely with all that you just said. I don't know where to begin. Youth means pre-teens, the "fundamentals" stage. There are no national teams and team tactics should not be taught until later in development. Players have to be able to play direct in order to play possession style, so it only makes sense to start out teaching kids how to play direct and then progress from there. The essence of possession style is to maintain possession instead of making a low percentage play. It is about patience. I would not judge a coach by how a team plays in a match without first seeing how he runs a training session. I realize that there is a lot of talk about youth playing possession style, but the reality is that kids should be taught the fundamentals that they will need to play any style at the senior level. Youth do not and cannot play like adults.

  12. Bob Ashpole replied, November 1, 2016 at 10:52 a.m.

    I want to add that the emphasis on team tactics at the youth stage leads to the development of junior players who think they know team tactics but lack the technical skills needed for success at the junior level. Their junior coach faces the ugly choice of marginalizing those players or teaching U10 and U12 training plans to try to bring the players up to age level.

  13. JC Brown, October 31, 2016 at 7:20 p.m.

    Sorry,

    But what happened to this game being fun for the kids???? Why can't we just let the kids go out and enjoy the game and play it the way it's been played forever in youth sports? Why is everyone trying to compete with other countries?
    What if a parent isn't looking for all this crazy development stuff and is only looking for their kid to play a fun game? This soccer thing is becoming way too serious

  14. Mauro Nobre replied, November 1, 2016 at 9:39 a.m.

    JC Brown, the kids love to compete. You are projecting your own feelings on others... Plus, the topic of discussion is the build out line....

  15. Kent James replied, November 1, 2016 at 2:24 p.m.

    JC your sentiment is a good one (it should be for the kids), but good development should be fun, so development should not be seen as not in all kids best interests. When players learn to play at a higher level (in terms of skill), the game is more fun. That being said, most kids will not play for the national team (or even past age 12), so their needs should not be sacrificed to develop the elite. But if things are done properly, there should not be a big trade-off. That means low cost inclusive programs at the youth level (with some additional skill training or occasional higher competitive opportunities thrown in), with gradual opportunities for better players to play in more competitive environments as they get older.

  16. Bob Ashpole, October 31, 2016 at 7:46 p.m.

    Randy, you certainly picked a hot topic. Great essay.

  17. C Stephans, November 1, 2016 at 9:05 a.m.

    this seems like more trouble and nonsense imposed on the game. I don't think we need more rules added to the game for kids to follow.

  18. Fingers Crossed, November 1, 2016 at 9:17 a.m.

    I am in favor of having the build out line and I agree that the opposing team should not be able to enter the final third until the ball has been touched by another player. There is one rule change that I would like to see made and that is with regard to how many opposing players can enter the final third once the ball has been touched by the defender. The last two games we have played, the other team has put 4 players on the build out line and as soon as the ball was touched by the goalkeeper, they all raced in and swarmed the defender. Needless to say, playing the ball out of the back in that circumstance is really challenging for 8 year old kids. I adjusted by having the defenders move down the side of the 18 closer to the end line to give them some more time but that just made the next pass to the halfbacks even longer. The other adjustment I made was to put in a goalkeeper who could play out a ball over the first line of defense. As soon as the ball got past all of the kids standing on the build out line, we routinely had 4 v 2 going to goal. When the other team started moving back off the build out line, then I had the kids start playing short again. The problem is that I only have one kid who can consistently pass the ball over the first line of defense. My preference would be to play it out of the back so that the kids can develop. So....the rule change that I would like to see is that no more than two players may enter the final third once the defender takes his first touch. You wouldn't have 4 players running at the ball in a real game so why should we allow it at U9? It would have the benefit of teaching teams how to maintain some kind of defensive shape. Just my two cents based on my experience with the new rule this season.

  19. Cool Dudes replied, September 11, 2017 at 7:27 p.m.

    You've just re-invented the "long ball" and found it's use.

  20. Mauro Nobre, November 1, 2016 at 9:26 a.m.

    Jake Savino is correct. The build out line is a terrible idea. It will only teach bad habits. Kids need to learn to pass the ball where there is time and space, and then support it. Creating an artificial line of confrontation is not going to do that. US players will fall even farther behind. You only learn to play out of the back by having realistic defending to contend with. The issue is not that the rules need to be changed, it is that coaches need to know how to teach possession. Youth soccer coaches still focus on teaching individual skills exclusively. They need to teach how to possess as a team. Those are critical skills also. It needs to be balanced. Question: Why is Randy Vogt giving us advice about coaching?

  21. John Lander, November 1, 2016 at 12:19 p.m.

    Whatever the system/restrictions/rules, there is going to be good and bad. We all know what those are with the build out line. There are obvious player development issues with them and without them. There are issues and benefits with the offside rules and no punting rules. The thing that is going to make the difference with player development and make the system work is good coaching. I have a girls U10 team. We have “won” most of our games by modest score, 5 to 3 etc. Sometimes we press and work on defending in the final 3rd, and sometimes when the other team cannot seem to get out I drop them back to our build out line and work on defending in our defensive 3rd. We have “lost” 2 game by scores of 9 to 1, and 10 to 1, where the coach have 4 players sometimes 5 at our build out line, shouting press, press press, all game long and we cannot get out. While my team and I accept the challenge and we will figure it out soon, those other “coaches” should be ashamed of themselves. Whatever the system, the major factor in player development will always be coaching, or in our case, lack of good coaching.

  22. Alan Starost, November 1, 2016 at 1:16 p.m.

    As a referee who does about 200 games a year, I agree with Randy's assessment. I've done over 20 games this fall with the build-out line and have used various determinations. (I've always the discussed with both coaches which way we were going to play before the start.) I've found that waiting for the defender to touch the ball first is best which is what I recommend to the coaches.

    At first, as a purist, I felt as if PDI was a terrible idea but having watched the kids adapt nicely and I've noticed that passing has become crisper. The backs are now looking up to pass the ball quicker after their first touch without the added pressure of having 4 offensive players on top of them.

    The overly aggressive teams have been paying the price because their players are out of position to defend against a good pass which will become very useful for them as they become older when passing becomes the norm.

    I've also noticed that there is less kick and run now. I can verify that because I wear a GPS watch and noticed that my running per game average is down 1/4 mile per U10 match this season. (I'm not a center circle ref.)

    Sure there are still parents and coaches who think we should teach it the way it has always been done. I say, why don't we teach our kids to enjoy the game first without the added pressure of going pro at age 10. Because in reality, most of them will drop out by age 13 because of the pressure. They have plenty of time to build their skills as long as they are having fun.

  23. Martha Diop, November 2, 2016 at 4:38 a.m.

    Just wondering if as usual, we are not confusing two things. The training or classroom, and the actual test (the game)
    Let’s say the ultimate goal is to teach kids how to play the REAL game, not a version of it, one at each every age (u9, U12, U13, U15, etc.)
    Then in my opinion, this would be the process, applied specifically to the topic at discussion here.
    In training, nothing prevents the coach from creating his own Build Out Line, and let the defenders build out, by asking the attackers to put zero pressure. And then 50% pressure, or have only 2 attackers permitted to challenge the defender, etc.. Millions of possible combinations and “rules”, let at the discretion of each coach
    All coaches, regardless of how they practice it, has the same objective: on Sunday, play the same game as anyone else in the world would play it
    Why make a nationwide change, if it is just adapting to one style of play or to specific team tactics?
    This BOL proposal is no different from USSF saying that going forward, when a player dribbles, the rule is no defender can attack him unless he has touched the ball 5 times, or had made 6.83 yards with the ball!
    Jake Savino could we start our blog? We would be only two, but it might grow - Just adopt the BOL approach

  24. Bob Ashpole replied, November 2, 2016 at 7:36 a.m.

    Soccer is an adult sport. The "real" game lasts 90 minutes, has 7 to 11 players a side and a field at least 50 x 100 yards. Young children cannot play the adult game because of their immaturity and lack of skills. As they mature and gain skill their play will begin to resemble the adult game. Problems arise when coaches seek to win matches by exploiting age advantages and use of special tactics rather than teach fundamentals during the best period for learning motor skills. Eventually the lack of fundamentals will cause problems when the childhood stars lose their age advantage.

  25. don Lamb replied, November 2, 2016 at 10:55 a.m.

    I disagree, Jake. 8-12 year olds don't need a coach? That's a bit silly. These are the "golden years" of learning, but you don't want anyone teaching them anything? Don't overreact and sing to the other side of the spectrum either. There is a way to coach kids while still giving them freedom and allowing them to play the game as a child.

  26. Bob Ashpole replied, November 2, 2016 at 1:15 p.m.

    Jake, if you saw a good coach at work, it would change your opinion about the benefit of youth coaches. A good coach does not teach kids to play soccer by telling them what to do. Saying that kids are better off with no coach is an indictment of particular coaches, not coaching in general.

  27. don Lamb replied, November 2, 2016 at 9:38 p.m.

    Jake - You are right about the how necessary intangible qualities are, but you fail to recognize that these qualities must be ignited within the child first. There have to be forces in the child's life that influence them to love the game and play it in an environment that helps them get better. In other countries, kids are influenced in this way to a much higher degree than kids here. We must change this, and one of the ways is by having professional coaches work with kids 8-12 in a player-focused academy environment instead of in the team-building club environment.

  28. don Lamb replied, November 2, 2016 at 11:35 p.m.

    "Black people" (generalize much?) became so good at basketball because it became a part of their culture -- the inner city culture, to be more precise -- not to mention, pc. Same with why other countries "produce" top players at a better clip than we do. All children in latin countries and many children in European countries grow up in an environment where they can see, play, consume, discuss, etc. etc the game much more so than kids here. A good coach can do a lot to bridge the gap and help ignite something within kids to get them to watch the game, practice their skills, play with friends, etc. etc. For you to imply that good coaches and programs for 8-12 year olds are not necessary in this country because the kids can just kick against a wall and play down at the park just like they do in Brazil is ridiculously naive.

  29. don Lamb replied, November 2, 2016 at 11:59 p.m.

    Jake - You don't understand. It is not a coaching vs. not coaching thing. It is a cultural thing. Brazilian's have soccer in their blood because it's in their culture. Good coaches can help create a different version of this culture for lots and lots of kids in this country who won't have access to it anywhere else because of their surrounding cultural.

  30. don Lamb replied, November 3, 2016 at 8:54 a.m.

    There's nothing magic about it. It's about creating a culture that values the game. Good coaches are invaluable when it comes to this. The growth of the game in this country means that more and more good coaches are replacing parent/rec types of coaches. It's not that American coaches are "exempt" from our soccer-lacking culture. It's that they are improving it slowly, but surely. I think you need a few more years of experience, but you will probably recognize this when you are actually making a living and have a career doing this. You also might lack the perspective of what things were like 20-30 years ago regarding development and culture in this country. You asked, "What is it that I don't understand?" I think the main thing that you don't understand is that South America, Europe, and the US are all very different places. Each will have a different approach to development. Just saying, "We need to do what the Brzailians do," or "We need to look at Barcelona," etc is not the answer. We have to work within our own culture and the realities that that represents. Good coaches (you are probably one of them) at the younger ages is a huge part of this cultural shift/solution.

  31. don Lamb replied, November 3, 2016 at 9 a.m.

    And I will add that these young coaches are studying everything. They are looking at the history of Brazil and South America, they are looking at the recent success of Barcelona and Spain, they are looking at the successes of France and Germany, they are looking at the various successful clubs England, they are looking at their local clubs and the progress of MLS, they are looking at the emerging developing countries like Japan, they are looking at the efforts of Australia, they are looking at the enterprising efforts of China and some of the Gulf countries, they are looking at the potential that lies in Africa, etc etc... It doesn't come from one place. It comes from a combination of everything -- kind of like how our country has formed over the years.

  32. don Lamb replied, November 3, 2016 at 3:30 p.m.

    You cannot replicate the Brazilian street soccer or the inner city basketball cultures outside of those environments because soccer is not culturally imbedded like soccer is in Brazil or like basketball is in inner cities of the US. We have to find another way -- a way that can use elements of those types of playing, but even there, we need coaches to create those sorts of environments because they are not inherent to our existing culture. What makes you think that we can suddenly turn into Brazil or that soccer can suddenly turn into basketball?

  33. don Lamb replied, November 3, 2016 at 5:13 p.m.

    You think this culture is just going to pop up out of thin air? You seemed skeptical about "magical" things like this in a previous post... Coaches can spark that passion that you are talking about. I agree about the merits of free play, but that does not mean that coaching cannot be valuable. You focus only on the negative impacts of poor coaching without allowing for the fact that good coaches have a tremendously positive impact on children and their development.

  34. don Lamb replied, November 3, 2016 at 9:38 p.m.

    Yes, kids should play on their own and contribute a lot to their own development, but a great coach can make a humongous difference for lots of players who would not ever know what they were missing if they had just dicked around at the park. You are completely wrong to conclude that I support the type of coaching that you are talking about. Crazy that you are around a lot of coaches who don't let their players play anywhere else! That is not like most of the coaches I know. And you make "coaching" synonomous with pay-to-play -- how is that? It's like the only concept you have of a coach is as a bad one. You think that coaches have nothing to do with the progress of the game in this country or the development of its players. Good coaches can have a huge impact. Now even the best coach can't do anything with a player that doesn't have a passion for the game, but you believe that the only thing coaches do is beat that out of players. There is a flip side to that attitude that sees how coaches can have a profound impact on their players over the course of several of their formative years. Three days a week for 2-3 seasons for a few years allows a good coach to work with the player and influence them in a powerful way. Proper coaching over a long term can do wonders for a player in all areas of their game AND their life. They will learn other just as important lessons on the playground when there is no coach in sight, but why can't you just acknowledge that coaching, done correctly, is extremely important.

  35. don Lamb replied, November 4, 2016 at midnight

    Dude, that is not what 90% of your posts are about. You talk about "street soccer" like it's the only thing that matters, and you deride coaching and sort of structured influence as things that really don't help development at all. Our first conversation a few months ago was me disagreeing with your premise that academies should not even exist in the US because kids should just learn to play in the street. You constantly make false arguments that famous players like Ronaldhino, Suarez, and Messi weren't coached as youngsters. And you compare the soccer here to basketball here, making the false claim that the best basketball players in the world learned strictly through playing in the street. You explain that you are completely separating the two methods: development through coaching / development through playing freely. Why should we be making this split? Isn't there always SOME sort of combination of these two in the real world? No player ONLY learns from a coach, and no player ONLY learns from the parks. When I have insisted that a good combination is the best avenue, you have continually said, no, coaching is inconsequential in US, and all we need is for kids to get out and play on their own more. Forgive me if I have been defensive, but some of your suggestions and implications are actually a little bit offensive to people who actually are doing some relatively unheard of things regarding coaching young ages in the US.

  36. don Lamb replied, November 4, 2016 at 10:34 a.m.

    Although less bold, that's much more sensible than just about everything else you have written on here regarding culture/coaching/academies/etc.

  37. don Lamb replied, November 4, 2016 at 10:01 p.m.

    What kind of dumbass statement is that? Academies can advise their players however the hell they want to. I think you have the wrong idea of what a true academy is. Either that or you do not believe that one can exist in the US?

  38. GA Soccer Forum, November 2, 2016 at 9:50 a.m.

    Well coached teams from quality clubs have been playing small sided soccer for years at < u12. Nothing new.

    I also think the build out line isn't necessary -- again well coached teams build out from the back, its the crappy coached teams that do not.

    And lastly, there is nothing wrong with a good punt every now and then, when the options aren't there and you need to get a team off your back. One or 2 punts a game is fine, its punting it every time that is detrimental.

    Having a build out line, with falsely give kids time so when they finally have to play under pressure they will fail miserably.

    We are making a simple game way to complicated. no heading, building out line, only 1/2 the field for offside.

    US Soccer should be focusing on a few bigger issues - like why the heck do we have substitution limitations at u13&u14 DA?

  39. Georges Carraha, November 2, 2016 at 3:38 p.m.

    Blah, blah, Blah!
    If attacking and scoring are not a problem at youth level why is pressing get such a bad name? Pressing is a natural instinct when you play the game.
    Let them play the way the game is meant to be played. Whether on the street or in the neighborhood, there were no rules and we challenged every ball to win it and score. I played the game 4 times a day from age 5 until 18 and there were no restrictions outside organized soccer. The aim was always simple: get the ball and score and stop your opponent from scoring. Stop confusing the kids and make them victims for their inabilities to control a ball. As a kid, I knew where to play and whith whom to play. If I was not good enough, i knew I had to get better to play against the better players. No ifs or buts! We make too many excuses for the kids. They are robots! How do you get a Coach that cannot control a ball or demonstrate a skill to a child? Technical skill are developed only when specding time with the ball over and over. These skills in turn will help you later incorporate the tactital elements into the game.

  40. Bob Ashpole replied, November 2, 2016 at 6:05 p.m.

    While I agree with your sentiments, here is what I learned in hindsight about using only a high zonal press at the U10 level (11v11). It is too effective to use exclusively. Once the team learns to defend high in a zone press, play in the defensive third and middle third is essentially eliminated by winning the ball high up the field. The counterattacks begin in the attacking half and solutions to the tactical problems are very direct. In hindsight I concluded that I needed to lower the line of confrontation appropriately in order to include experience playing in the middle third and even lower to include experience in playing in the defensive third.

  41. Martha Diop, November 3, 2016 at 9:11 a.m.

    Once again I continue to believe the exchange will be endless, as long as we continue to confuse two different environments: the CLASSROOM, and the EXAM.
    CLASSROOM is the practice the training, where the coach can teach, drills are down, repetition, touches and touches, over and over, 3v3, 5v5, 7v7.
    The EXAM is the real game, how it is supposed to be played, period. Soon or later, that where all the kids are headed. They might as well start now.
    Here is the PROBLEM: most adults, and maybe all of them, are only interested in the Sunday games. Probably that is all they watch. Some of them unfortunately, see the game (EXAM) as a continuation of the CLASSROOM (training, touches, comfort with the ball)

    Because of this confusion I try to describe, people will come with all sort of ideas, BOL being one of them. To some degrees, even small sided games on Sundays is one also.
    In my opinion, all the 3v3, 7v7, etc should belong to the CLASSROOM, and we need a lot of it.
    So either eliminate the Sunday competition at 7v7 (what is the use?), to play the game as it supposed to be played, and move on, whatever the outcome, if you desperately need a Sunday game with standings and relegation.

    The only CRIME: a coach who would at each practice, just focus on doing 11 v11 games. And only that.
    Final comment: USSF should not focus on how games to be played at youth level, and bring all sort of rules. They should issue mandates on how the CLASSROOM should be run, in other words concentrate the rules and directives towards coaching education.
    Would be good to eliminate very early on coaches who ruining the kids

    One PARALLEL if you allow me: this is like a country, instead of insisting and ruling on the fundamentals of education, comes up with rules and laws on how to slowly integrate the professional business world: low pressure at the beginning, for your first job, some sort of a “BUILD OUT LINE”

  42. don Lamb replied, November 3, 2016 at 10:15 a.m.

    It's all a classroom, Martha.

  43. Bob Ashpole replied, November 3, 2016 at 2:04 p.m.

    Martha I said essentially the same thing when the move was first made to downsize youth matches. (SSGs are training, not a match.) I finally concluded it was a horrible compromise. Using SSGs, with referees in charge rather than coaches, under rules of competition and the LOTG instead of conditions promoting development, and then surprise, the compromise inhibits development so we make new rules so that the matches will look more like adult professional matches.

  44. Martha Diop, November 3, 2016 at 9:51 a.m.

    Just imagined this funny story
    A team of U12-13 is visiting Netherlands as a part of a Spring Break tour. In the program, they are supposed to play against a local same age team. ------- They were quite puzzled when the US team asked: “could we play the game with the BOL rule?”
    Morale of the story: let every coach, team, club, train teach the game the way they believe is the best for achieving results.
    But on Sundays, let everyone play the game the same way, same rules i.e. HOW IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE PLAYED.
    Just go home after the game to prepare for next training session. ------- Wouldn’t it be so simple
    Don’t change the rules just to accommodate one team, one coach, one style, one country

  45. aaron dutch, November 4, 2016 at 1:06 a.m.

    In the US our most pressing issue is skills, individual, technical , tactical & Football IQ. We can play 1000's of matches. 10-15 years of playing but still don't have the basics of football that anyone with academy development from most of the world with less then 10% spent on them would be better.

  46. Bob Ashpole replied, November 4, 2016 at 4:58 a.m.

    Sports science accepts that playing multiple sports results in better tactical understanding of the game. That was my personal experience as well. If I recall an article correctly, Barca encourages their youth players to play another sport in addition to soccer. They recommended martial arts for youth and yoga for juniors.

  47. don Lamb replied, November 4, 2016 at 10:41 a.m.

    Jake - How would you "mirror" the way that basketball is played with soccer in this country?

  48. don Lamb replied, November 4, 2016 at 10:11 p.m.

    That is completely untrue about how college basketball programs recruit the best talent. They recruit the high schools and the AAU circuit, not the "hood." There was a study that showed that the majority of NBA actually did not come from the hood at all, and that they mostly came from middle class two-parent households. They received the highest level of coaching from youth through college. Yes, that college -- the one that is supposedly worthless to our soccer infrastructure. If you want to emulate the path that basketball players take, you might find that it is actually very close to what we currently do.

  49. Martha Diop, November 4, 2016 at 8:33 a.m.

    Jake and Don Lamb
    I am very tempted to ask this question. (therefore I will ask it)
    True, Brazil has been in the center of the discussion and arguments regarding how they “invented” a style, embedded in a culture.
    BUT, then, for 40 years they did not win the world cup. Other countries did, and I dare believe that you will NOT say all those countries followed the way Brazil did, i.e. just go in the street or park and play.
    a) Maybe it just turned out that Brazil did it one way, but other countries did it a different way. Maybe Japan is relatively successful because they hired tons of Brazilians coaches  ----------
    b) Maybe at some point what made the difference was just Good Coaches vs. Bad Coaches? ---------
    c) Maybe winning the World Cup is not important? -------------
    Then what is important?

  50. don Lamb replied, November 4, 2016 at 10:37 a.m.

    Martha - In my opinion it's all about culture. Brazil has a really strong culture when it comes to the game, but they are not the only ones. The only countries that have made any sort of global impact on the game are the ones with cultures that are passionate about the game. Within that general parameter, there are many many ways for a player to develop and for teams to win games.

  51. Bob Ashpole replied, November 4, 2016 at 1:32 p.m.

    Looking at any discussion of the sport would lead you to believe that the dominate soccer nations have a unified culture that is only interested in soccer and universally excels at producing elite players. This is simply not true. The soccer stars playing in the top leagues are exceptions not the norm in any country that they come from. Almost every "soccer" country also has other popular sports. They also face the same challenges we do, but that makes their successes worth our study. Some countries don't have child labor laws, which is a situation that we cannot or at least should not mimic. The Dutch soccer success that we imagine for instance is limited to a geographic area of the country. The rest of the country generally does not produce elite soccer players. The main purpose of youth sports is to teach life lessons and improve everyone's quality of life through sports. The development of elite players is a byproduct of youth sports and should not really kick in before age 10. Segregation by ability should not occur before the teenage years. That is probably more than 2 cents worth, so call it my nickels worth.

  52. GA Soccer Forum, November 4, 2016 at 12:11 p.m.

    Again there are many more problems in soccer than this garbage. How about the fact that youth soccer is business. We can't compare to the european clubs because our clubs carry 5 to 10 teams in age group. Yes, there are kids that could become quality players etc, but it takes away field time from top teams. We have no ad hoc games, or ad hoc friendlies with other clubs because coaches are coaching 3 teams etc. field space is an issue for training an games.

    I've said it before, at the younger ages, you can really get rid of refs completely. the best youth games I've ever watched are when there is no referee. Kids just play and call the fouls and out of bounds themselves etc. Parents are much calmer and the kids play. occasionally for tourneys and some games you bring in refs to make sure the kids get used to the ref experience.

    just let the kids play. stop with the rules, restrictions, and over thinking of the game. Its very simple, pass the ball around and kick it into the net. Try to keep the ball on the surface, stay active, show for the ball etc. If a youth a coach that isn’t trying to build out of the back then your club should be rethinking your status etc. The game evolves and everynow and then you need to play a little bit of long ball or bang a punt long etc. If a kid is wide open and you have a keeper who can throw the ball or take a little pooch kick to their feet, why not. It should never be done all the time, but nothing wrong with it when the kid is wide open in space.

  53. Bob Ashpole replied, November 4, 2016 at 1:47 p.m.

    I agree. Well said. The only thing I will add is a pet peeve of mine, the notion that there is one right way to play the game. If coaches impose our view of "the right way" to play on the players, they will never advance the game. I am not talking about game plans, but rather the teaching of disguised tactical choices as "correct" techniques to youth and juniors.

  54. don Lamb, November 5, 2016 at 11:34 p.m.

    If Liga MX is so crazy good and Mexican players are so good, then why aren't they producing these types of players themselves?

  55. Kevin Hoffmann, June 20, 2017 at 3:51 p.m.

    After coaching two seasons with the build-out line at U10, wanted to give feedback. Our league put the build-out line at the half-line. It gave about 3-5 seconds where the players learned to make decisions and pass forward. There was passing and decision making.

    However, we played a REC tournament this weekend where the build-out line was "half" between box and midfield ~10 feet. Terrible rule, by the time the ball was rolled, a pressing team gave the defend maybe 1-2 seconds to react. The team that won all 3 games scored 2-3 goals per game by pressing ball out of restart. It was actually a better choice for the goalie to throw/kick the ball out of the back and give up a corner kick than a restart.

    When you have kids learning, why have a rule that encourages more pressure on them right in front of the goal? Punting atleast forced them to play honest versus on the build line.

  56. Cool Dudes, September 11, 2017 at 6:59 p.m.

    Great job "fixing" soccer. Maybe the next rule should be to not allow tackling until a player enters the opponent's box to give players "more confidence on the ball".

    Until you realize that dumb rule changes are not a quick fix to poor coaching you will continue to be a failure.

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