No punting allowed -- a welcome change to American youth soccer

By Mike Woitalla

I imagine all coaches must do this: Look back on their early years and consider what we would have done differently.

Now I coach older kids, but 12 years ago I was coaching the youngest, and back then we used goalkeepers even for the 6-year-olds. And in the years that followed, from U-8s to U-10s and so on … perhaps the biggest mistake I made was allowing my goalkeepers to punt the ball.

At the youngest ages, the punt can create scoring chances, but it also denies the field players the important challenge of trying to pass and dribble their way downfield. It denies them the experience of “playing out of the back,” which is a requisite to successful soccer at the higher levels.

At the older ages, and even at the very highest levels of soccer, you will see, if you start tracking it, punts most often result in a loss of possession. Punts aren’t even 50-50 balls, because the defending players, who are facing the oncoming, soaring ball, have a significant advantage.

But at the younger ages, there is no doubt about it, if one team’s keeper is punting, and the other team’s keeper is passing, rolling or throwing the ball, the punting team is more likely to win.

I was particularly impressed a few years back while refereeing a game during which one team’s goalkeeper, at U-9, would only pass the ball to defenders. It resulted in the other team scoring a couple of early goals when the defenders lost possession. But the young goalkeeper kept doing the same thing, with the support of the coach. (I had glanced in his direction to read his reaction.)

After the game, while returning the player cards, I spoke with the coach. He told me he had explained to the parents that they would lose games because he was teaching the players how to play out of the back, and that it would benefit them in the long run.

But for however much we as coaches realize that the final score for young children isn’t an indication of whether we’re coaching well, it is very difficult to resist the temptation to coach for short-term results. Not just because of the parents, who might not see the big picture, but also because it’s so delightful to see the children relish a victory.

That is why the U.S. Soccer Federation’s changes to the youth game rules — the U.S. Soccer Player Development Initiatives, aka PDIs — are so welcome. The PDIs include directives on small-sided games: field size and team size. The PDIs were announced in 2015, and to give leagues around the country a good amount of time to make the transition, became official in all U.S. youth leagues this month.

For sure, too much American youth soccer has been played on fields far too big for young children. That’s a big disadvantage for teams who resist booting in favor of passing and dribbling. And smaller numbers on the field create more touches for each player. I don’t believe anyone knows the perfect number of players and perfect size field — I think mixing things up might be a good idea — but it’s good that U.S. Soccer is implementing the downsizing on both fronts.

The U.S. Soccer rule change that I believe will have the biggest impact to improve American soccer is the “no punting” at U-9 and U-10 and the “Build Out Line.”

The Build Out Line is equidistant between the penalty area line and the halfway line. When the goalkeeper gets the ball, the other team must retreat behind the build-out line. Once they move behind it, the goalkeeper can pass, throw or roll the ball into play (punts and drop kicks are not allowed).

“We all would like for coaches to teach and for players to learn and not be afraid to have the ball and play,” says U.S. Soccer Youth Technical Director Tab Ramos. “It is important that younger age groups believe that punting or clearing a ball is always just giving the ball away.

“The build-out line takes the responsibility of taking chances away from the coach; it is now part of the game. Teams will automatically make an effort to play out of the back. Too many of our youth coaches have had the pressure to win games, and because of that they would do whatever gave them the best chance to do just that. You cannot blame a coach for trying to keep his or her job. This particular change should help players to learn to want the ball and to play out of the back, and it should help coaches to not be ‘blamed’ for trying to play the game properly and losing because of it.”

U.S. Soccer Player Development Initiatives (PDIs):
Five things to know about PDIs
How small-sided standards will change youth soccer
Full PDI PDF presentation: English | Español
Frequently Asked Questions English|Español

117 comments about "No punting allowed -- a welcome change to American youth soccer ".
  1. Bob Ashpole, August 8, 2017 at 4:23 p.m.

    Sorry Mike, I will not jump on the bandwagon and say that a striking technique--punting--is bad. I don't like the education theory that believes good tactical decisions can be made through ignorance of some techniques. When instep drives, punts, and drop kicks are prohibited, there is no smart tactical decisions being made. Smart soccer brains are not created through restrictions. Skills are not taught by forbidding their use. No long passing means the area of the field being used is shrunk which greatly favors the defense. The answer is to place a restriction on defenses, adding the build-out line. The game is changed so players are not looking over the whole field for breakout pass opportunities, combination passing no longer features a mix of short and long passes, players no long make a decision on whether to pass short or long to change the direction of attack. In short, the area near the ball is clogged and breakout passes are not allowed.

  2. Chris Sapien replied, August 8, 2017 at 4:32 p.m.

    You are right on every level Bob ^^......and I will say, in addition, that the article ALMOST convinced me until the very end when it used the adverb "properly". At that point this change became no more than a hopeful subjective opinion.

  3. frank schoon replied, August 8, 2017 at 5:54 p.m.


  4. Ric Fonseca replied, August 8, 2017 at 10:42 p.m.

    Bob, I couldn't agree more!!! IMHO, this will only serve to inhibit our youth players, and I am very surprised that even Tab Ramos is of the opinion that punting the ball is very much akin to giving the ball away! What a bunch of burros, those guys that come up with these notions! Is it any wonder that other futbol countries continuously laugh at us?

  5. Bob Ashpole, August 8, 2017 at 4:31 p.m.

    Please someone tell me what "build out of the back" means. Seriously. It seems to me that there are 2 schools of thought, neither of which is best described by this phrase. One view is to penetrate as far up field as early as practical with the focus on unbalancing the defense. Another view is to penetrate up field while maintaining your own good shape. This second view maintains compactness while the first view stretches the team's shape requiring more sprinting by everyone to keep up with the ball in a compact shape. This is what I think is behind the "build out of the back" movement. But passing the ball along the back from one FB to the other FB does not promote penetration.

  6. frank schoon replied, August 8, 2017 at 5:50 p.m.

    Bob , in a nutshell building up an attack from the back comes from the idea that you don't want the opponent to have the ball. Punting it upfield gives the opponent a 50/50 chance of ball possession as result you have to fight for the ball. Building up an attack from the back requires certain rules. One, the defenders ,are the weaker technical players and who are also the line nearest to their own goal and have no back support in case of a mistake. They should not begin the build up. The build up should begin with a line further up ( midfield) or two lines further up (front line). This allows allows the second pass to a player (3rd man) off the ball to receive the ball facing downfield and not have his back facing downfield which results in an up tempo attack. Next all passes in the build up should beat or bypass an opponent. A good pass is a pass that beats an opponent .No square balls,( like you stated that goes from defender to the next defender is useless).
    The next step to get to midfield is the REAL SECRET in building up an attack from the back is to create free or open man around midfield which forces the opponent (midfielder) having to make a choice of picking up this free man with the ball or staying with his own man. There are factors to it but that is it in a nutshell.

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, August 8, 2017 at 9:08 p.m.

    Agree, Frank. The point you are making about facing, I call good positioning. A good passer gives the ball to his teammate in a good position. Often you can force the team mate to receive the ball in a good position by how you pass. For instance if the marker is on the left shoulder you pass to his right foot. If a marker is closing fast, you play into space away from the pressure. But the passer needs good support to be effective. You cannot pass where the support doesn't go. I have seen teams with just 3 or 4 effective players rip through opponents. That pass and move combination play can be taught to anyone who has learned the basic fundamentals. In fact that is the kind of play you get from teaching fundamentals. I really hate pattern passing drills.

  8. cony konstin replied, August 9, 2017 at 11:34 a.m.

    It is simple you play what you see. That is the beauty of the game. Again they want to continue to force the players to be robots and predictable.

  9. Fire Paul Gardner Now, August 8, 2017 at 4:49 p.m.

    Love this idea.

  10. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 5:20 p.m.

    Reading this with a background of having close to almost 40 years of experience of coaching and training youth, I ask myself why are we continually trying to invent the wheel. Having grown up in the street soccer days, I experienced punting the ball or rather kicking the ball long ,back and forth in the street length- wise just for fun if we didn't play 1v1. This exercise ,without even knowing, prepared ourselves in able to trap long balls out of the air, dead. ( how many 9 or 10 year old can actually even do that today or have the ability to even kick a long ball and worse how many 16 year olds are able to trap a long ball out air, dead.) Kids ,today, don't spend anytime kicking a ball back and forth to each other on their own time,thus showing why they have lousy kicking/passing skills at a young age as compared to kids in"street soccer era". Just let these kids be kids, for in street soccer era, there were no rules of not punting the ball, you do what you want to do. But no, today with our sophisticated level of coaching, including licensed coaches, we know how to develop the youth better as compared in street soccer era. LOL
    Yeah, I'm real impressed with the product as compared to the kids in my street soccer days.!! Good grief!! Ok, let us look at this logically. You want these 9 and 10 year old kids to learn to build up from the back. Why? for they have no ability in keeping ball possession at that level of play which is ZERO! The reason there is such a high rate of ball loss at this stage of development is, one, they are not technically developed , two, they have no game insight or have understanding about options. It is all reactive with these kids at this stage. We expect kids to build up from the back when USMNT are unable to do it as a style. How can you expect the young ones to do it. Cruyff stated that you teach tactics to youth when they are about 14, before that let them experience everything themselves with some guidance at times. It is at this stage you begin to delve more in building up an attack for the players are better suited mentally, psychologically and technically. You teach kids only when they are ready and not before, which coaches here tend to miss.

  11. Ric Fonseca replied, August 8, 2017 at 10:43 p.m.


  12. don Lamb replied, August 9, 2017 at 2:34 p.m.

    U9 and U10 players definitely have the ability to possess the ball and build out of the back. Physiologically, however, many are not developed enough to effectively kick the ball long. Starting with the foundational exercise of building out of the back is a no-brainer.

  13. Cool Dudes replied, September 9, 2017 at 10:41 p.m.

    Amen Brother, the powers at be just need to feel superior. Less rules, less players, the better. 1/2 games without goalies, just playing, that would be the ultimate in development. But what would we need all these club coaches for then?

  14. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 5:31 p.m.

    So what can coaches do as an exercise to make kids learn, how to kick long, high balls and trap it dead. I have an exercise, I called "TRAP CITY", you split the team in two halves and separate them about 20-25yards apart. The object is to kick the ball out of your hand as high as possible to the other team who tries to trap the ball dead for which they receive a point. Use all the balls kicking them back and forth. You will note in the beginning kids have even difficulty kicking a ball out their hand and giving it high enough airtime, and of course trapping it is another problem. Try it on your 16-17 and see how many have difficulty trapping a high punt. This stuff was simple ABC's for kids in the street soccer days. The team that reaches 10 points wins. This is a fun game but there is technically so much you can learn from..

  15. Cool Dudes replied, September 9, 2017 at 10:42 p.m.

    No, bad

  16. R2 Dad, August 8, 2017 at 5:39 p.m.

    Idiot kickball coaches rebel! Bwahahaa!

  17. frank schoon replied, August 8, 2017 at 5:55 p.m.

    R2, LOL, You must have had a lot of bad experience like I have with these kick ball coaches...

  18. R2 Dad replied, August 8, 2017 at 6:13 p.m.

    Frank, occasionally I'm a referee and I still see it in youth teams now. As long as coaches think winning U8 matches by kicking and running and scoring a bunch of goals is the primary objective, we're failing as a soccer country. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a repentant kickball coach.

  19. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 6:32 p.m.


  20. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 6:36 p.m.


  21. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 6:38 p.m.


  22. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 6:40 p.m.


  23. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 6:43 p.m.


  24. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 6:46 p.m.


  25. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 6:49 p.m.


  26. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 6:53 p.m.


  27. Cool Dudes replied, September 9, 2017 at 10:45 p.m.

    Not any more. Now you just sit behind a dumb line like a moron.

  28. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 7 p.m.


  29. frank schoon, August 8, 2017 at 7:02 p.m.


  30. cony konstin replied, August 9, 2017 at 11:42 a.m.

    Tip 106 build it and they will come.

  31. Cool Dudes replied, September 9, 2017 at 10:48 p.m.

    Your tips are far better "new rules" than these stupid ones someone made up. I guess the difference is your rules are made up based upon how to play soccer well and the other rules were made up to stroke someones ego that they are so much smarter than everyone else.

  32. beautiful game, August 8, 2017 at 7:31 p.m.

    Great idea. Learning possession is crucial in youth development. Cracking the ball up field creates bad habits.

  33. George Vista, August 8, 2017 at 7:51 p.m.

    Morons being morons. Take technically inept players and give them a rule which essentially protects their weaknesses. Snowflake rules to sanitize the game. Do you realized that defenders will be lining up behind the painted stripe waiting to pounce? You don't advance technical skills by playing this way when you only get avg. of 30-60 secs on the ball in a game if you're lucky. You learn by practicing technical skills outside of matches on your own or in street/pickup. Oh well...US soccer players won't be good anytime soon.

  34. don Lamb replied, August 9, 2017 at 10:37 a.m.

    This is more for tactical development than technical development. The rule conditions the environment so that kids will build out of the back instead of lumping it up field.

  35. Cool Dudes replied, September 9, 2017 at 10:50 p.m.

    don lamb

    Have you EVER watched a Premier League game?

    "Playing out of the back" is not always the tactically superior option.

  36. uffe gustafsson, August 8, 2017 at 7:56 p.m.

    I think it's a great idea.
    Reffing the young ones the one thing I hated most was when the coach had 4 of his sharks lined up out side the penalty box to get the ball when goalie kicking the ball into play.
    Most goals where scored this way, it's a waste of time and teaches nothing how to play.
    And please this talk about street soccer be something great I still don't get.
    If I had the coaching the kids have today I certainly been a much better player then what we had in the 60is, no comparison.
    My daughter is 17 and wastly better player then I was at that age.
    I remember her early days, the big fast girl scored many goals from booting the ball and have her out run the defense. Today none of those players are still playing, they never learned how to keep position of the ball and later could not keep up with players that had real footskills.

  37. Michael Canny, August 8, 2017 at 8:36 p.m.

    I don't like this idea. Younger players should not be taught the game one way, then have to change what they have learned just a couple of years later. There are a few exceptions, which make sense, but we don't need to make the game even more confusing for the developing player.
    For starters, the current concussion protocol, including the restrictions on heading at the younger levels, makes sense. Safety is paramount.
    I also agree that the fields need to be modified to realistic sizes for younger players. I think we all realize that offsides is a concept that has to be introduced a little later.
    Beyond that, we need to teach the players the game as it is. One of the keys to both effective refereeing and coaching--I've done both--is consistency.
    Punting is part of the game. Teach the kids how to deal with it, including the situation where the goalie isn't good at it.

  38. don Lamb replied, August 9, 2017 at 10:48 a.m.

    Keeping possession of the ball is THE way to play the game. Many tactics and principles revolve around and depend on this core tenet of the game. The earlier players learn this, the better. There are still a thousand variations/strategies, but kids need to learn the basics of possession first. If a coach's ego is so fragile that he can't stand teaching this foundational aspect of the game, he should not be coaching this stage.

  39. Bob Ashpole replied, August 9, 2017 at 4:03 p.m.

    Don, there are different ways to see the game. I see the primary tactic as penetration, but inherent in penetration is the need to maintain possession while the team advances up field. In other words there is no penetration without possession. I introduced novices at the very first session with the concept of playing keep-away while advancing up the field to score a goal. In my view possession without purpose is a warm-up drill not a teaching objective.

  40. don Lamb replied, August 9, 2017 at 7:58 p.m.

    Of course there are different ways to see the game. But possession is the foundation of the game. Coaches can emphasize whichever principles and tactics they want, but possession is the baseline for everything in the game that is done at high levels. The term "possession without purpose" is at best oxymoron and at worst a complete nonsense. All possession has a purpose and especially when you are laying the foundation for young players to learn the game.

  41. cony konstin, August 8, 2017 at 8:49 p.m.

    More gimmicks. More smoke n mirrors. We need a soccer revolution in the US. We need 600,000 futsal courts in our inner cities and suburbs so our kids starting at the age of 5 can play king of the court, 24/7365 for free and with no adult interference.

    Biggest disservice in soccer in the U.S. Is what we do with recreational kids ages 5 to 10.... It is an abomination... We take good intentional parents who can't even tie their shoes and ask them to coach kids that can't tie their shoes.... It's a travesty..... Another racket is private training.... Another reason why We need 600,000 Futsal courts in our inner cities and suburbs.
    I have been coaching internationally and domestically for 42 years in 5 continents... There are two profound things that I have discovered.. The ball is round... and bad ass players win championships not coaches... We don't have badass players and we are spending more time putting lipstick on a pig than focusing in how is the US ever going to have badass players.... Our system nor does our environment develop badass players.. The current system does help to make great kids... and that is very important to everyone... But nor our system or environment will ever make magical players.... So we need a system that does.. First phase create a playing environment where kids can create their own world without any adult interference... Once the kids can do the business without some coach telling him or her what to do then you can bring in someone who understands the x's and o's of the game. That's where the second phase then kicks in. The System, the Style, the Way, our way not somebody else's. Second phase is building a NEW SPARTA to turn the magical players into warriors that will eventually bring the spectacular to the show and then we will conquer the soccer world.
    Coaching is totally over rated. To become magical it first starts out with DNA then you must be immersed in natural environment where kids are fighting everyday to see who will be king of the court. MJ, Pistal Pete, Connie Hawk, Byrd, Magic Johnson. and other magical BB players became magical by playing and not doing drills. We need a soccer revolution in the U.S. Futsal can be our version of streetball. Once we create this environment not only will we have natural, talented, magical players but we will win a World Cup and finally the world will respect us. You can't make chicken soup with chicken minutia.

  42. Cool Dudes replied, September 9, 2017 at 10:54 p.m.

    You are absolutely right.

    If you took all of the money paid to coaching kids under U12 and used it to build futsal and small sided fields, you would have a way better return on investment.

  43. Jay Wall, August 8, 2017 at 9:06 p.m.

    A decade ago we played youth Futsal in small gyms and as a safety rule the ball couldn't go into the far quarter of the gym in the air. The rule prevented collisions between players so fixated on the ball in the air that they often ran into each other. The ball had to touch a player or the court before going into the far quarter of the court. If the ball went into the far quarter the game was restarted with an indirect free kick by the opponent. >> Teams and players quickly learned to attack out of the back at speed using the 75% of the court to attack at speed. The rule also caused coaches and players to view the playing field in quarters starting with the defending quarter with your own goal, a transition quarter for moving from/to defense and attack, a creation quarter for creating space to attack, and an attacking quarter where most goals were scored. This view helped players learn how space is created and used in each quarter of the pitch. >> The size of court also forced players to learn faster, develop sharper skills and to not to hack at the ball without concern for where it would go. Fields that are too long and wide for an age group create bad habits, bad coaching and poorer less successful players. Also players with less space are much more focused, learn faster and make fewer errors. To develop elite players consistent who play by FIFA's LOTG as followed worldwide, our youth players need to play on smaller pitches to learn speed of play and skills under pressure. Fields the width of a back street in Amsterdam for example would be a great start. >> The build out line delays the game, gives opponents time to set their defense and punishes attacking teams who want to instantly play the ball up a line to put as many players behind the ball as possible at a significant disadvantage. This artificial change puts U.S. players at a developmental disadvantage. >> The counter to the build out line is for opponents to task their two faster and biggest players to instantly press the player receiving the ball from the keeper to win possession and to instantly shoot or pass for a shot within one or two touches before the defending team can recover to prevent a goal. A perfect setup for high pressure defense as seen in American basketball and Rinus Michel's Ajax and Netherland's National teams of the 1970's. >> The build out line includes using it for offsides. NASL used a 35 yard offsides line in the 1970's that was dropped so it wouldn't foul up the long term development of American players. >> A rule to limit punts beyond 3/4's of the distance to the opponent's goal as a safety rule to protect younger players is fine, but changing game concepts denies Americans, who pay to play, the opportunity to learn to play well like the rest of the world. >> Curious but couldn't find . . . does any soccer playing nation that develops elite players play with build out lines and a build out offsides rule on fields too large for their age groups?

  44. Bob Ashpole replied, August 9, 2017 at 4:21 p.m.

    Very useful information. Thanks.

  45. uffe gustafsson, August 8, 2017 at 10:46 p.m.

    Can we stop the neatherland comparisons.
    They where great many years back, but as this article pointing out it's a new way of teaching kids to get more comfortable on the ball and learning how to build up an attack with possesing the ball and good foot skills. Punting the ball is just another version of booting the ball up to a fast forward if that player even get close to the ball.
    We talking about young youth not HS age.
    Don't understand some of you.
    When was the last time you watched U 10 game?
    20 years ago.

  46. cony konstin, August 9, 2017 at 1:52 a.m.

    Pele CR7 Messi Neymar Ronaldo Ronaldinho kaka and many others started playing futsal. Futsal is the foundation to football. If the US embraces futsal then we will develop magical genius football players.

  47. don Lamb replied, August 9, 2017 at 10:38 a.m.

    That statement is a little over-simplified, no?

  48. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 9, 2017 at 11:04 a.m.

    Of course Don but that has never stopped him before.

  49. cony konstin replied, August 9, 2017 at 11:38 a.m.

    Yes it is simple. People are the ones who make it complicated.

  50. don Lamb replied, August 9, 2017 at 11:44 a.m.

    Cony - Lots of kids play futsal in Singapore. Where are their Ronaldos and Kakas?

  51. Bernie Lenhoff, August 9, 2017 at 5:45 a.m.

    Replace slider rulers with calculators? That's just crazy talk!

    It's rather shocking to read these comments, as if no one here has watched European or World Cup soccer at the highest level in the last decade. All the top teams play technically, advancing the ball out of the back with accurate passing, resorting to booting the ball only when a high press leaves no easy options. The top teams are so good at moving the ball in tight spaces that they rarely need to resort to giving up possession with a long boot, even under the most intense pressure. The defenders on these teams are also quite good with the ball on their feet. Even the Premier League, the main influence on the USA kick and chase game, has largely given up the roulette wheel punt in favor of passing out from the back.

    The author perfectly sums up the purpose of the new rule:

    "At the youngest ages, the punt can create scoring chances, but it also denies the field players the important challenge of trying to pass and dribble their way downfield. It denies them the experience of “playing out of the back,” which is a requisite to successful soccer at the higher levels.

    At the older ages, and even at the very highest levels of soccer, you will see, if you start tracking it, punts most often result in a loss of possession. Punts aren’t even 50-50 balls, because the defending players, who are facing the oncoming, soaring ball, have a significant advantage."

    If the USA ever wants to compete at the highest level, they need to join the rest of the modern soccer world in emphasizing a technical game instead of relying only on athleticism. This is a useful step in that direction, to instill a culture of technical play.

  52. Jay Wall replied, August 9, 2017 at 8:26 a.m.

    At the highest level quality teams play in compact schemes with between 45 and 55 meters (50 to 60 yards), from the back to the front lines. That's under half a field so age appropriate rules that keeps teams compact is what we really need, not killing off punting. >> And the best teams at the highest level look for instant safe quick passes forward a line or two to put as many of their players behind the ball as possible with the first pass. They avoid square passes in the back line because a turnover there gives an opportunity to their opponents. And as each pass is taken all teammates make supporting adjustments to create spaces and receiving opportunities for themselves or their teammates. The lines are close enough together for all teammates to support each other and they can attack at speed and with a high level of skill under pressure. >> Given the professional model as the ideal, changes to the rules to create a build out line make no sense compared to: 1) Making fields shorter and narrower consistent with the age group playing on them. This ends kick and chase because players need to develop skills to keep the ball in play. And players under immediate pressure are closer together so there is less space for kick and chase. 2) Kill the build out line and have a line 2/3's of the way down field beyond which a punt can't go in the air unless it has been touched by a player. If it does it's an indirect free kick for the opponent so punting too far gives the ball away. >> We do need a change, but we need one consistent with long term development of quality players.

  53. don Lamb replied, August 9, 2017 at 12:12 p.m.

    Jay - Sticking with your "highest levels of the game" standard, how many professional teams do you see putting players at the edge of the opposing team's 18 yard box to pick off goal kicks?

  54. Bob Ashpole replied, August 10, 2017 at 11:24 a.m.

    Don, everyone, including you, involved in player development has a vision in mind of what the ideal senior game looks like. It makes little sense for you to criticize Jay for having his vision. I would rather read your comments (which I value) on the substance of what Jay said.

  55. don Lamb replied, August 10, 2017 at 4:33 p.m.

    Bob - I am not criticizing Jay unless he is saying that possession is not the core foundation of the game. Creating environments so that children learn those skills at a young age is a good thing. There is still room for different visions and ideas to be incorporated, but as we are talking about kids learning to play the game in their golden years of learning, the emphasis should absolutely be on the foundational skills and tactics that others can be built off of. There is no foundation being built when players are mindlessly booting the ball down the field, or a team is unfairly picking off goal kicks for easy goals. That is all I was saying.

  56. stewart hayes replied, August 11, 2017 at 9:59 a.m.

    In Costa Rica the goals used for youth games are much smaller, much like those used for indoor soccer. The fields are wider and not as long. There is more space to play wide in the back and if possession is lost the goal is easier to defend. No build out lines nor restrictions on punting.

  57. David Trapp, August 9, 2017 at 7:41 a.m.

    In 41+ years of coaching, what I have learned is that different styles and systems of play come and go. I believe that we should develop players that understand tactics even at the youngest levels. If I'm playing a team that punts out of the back then I have to use different tactics than I would if they are passing out of the back. Let me as a coach decide what is best for my team based on the size, speed and tactics used by the other team. Don't mandate my players out of the game. My D.Ed dissertation is on why kids quit playing soccer as they hit their teenage years, mandating certain styles takes the fun out of the game and the number one reason players say they are quitting is because it is no longer "fun".

  58. don Lamb replied, August 9, 2017 at 10:43 a.m.

    There are a million reasons the game is not fun. I would bet that the number one reason is that they are not skilled players, thus they experience little joy in actually playing with the ball. This rule encourages development of skills, which will in turn lead to more "fun." It also forces coaches to deemphasize results, which should result in more of a focus on a more fulfilling individual experience for the players. Have you reached any conclusions about what kids mean when they say they are quitting because they are not have "fun?"

  59. Bob Ashpole replied, August 9, 2017 at 4:29 p.m.

    I agree David. I think the problem lies with playing matches, but then restricting the matches to make them "better training sessions." This mixing of contradictory purposes will only frustrate players who want to play and coaches who want to train. Matches should be unrestricted match-like play. If you want training, then get rid of the officials and let the coaches run a training session. Have we forgotten our love of playing the game? Players join and train in order to play games. They don't play games in order to train.

  60. frank schoon, August 9, 2017 at 10:07 a.m.

    Guys, having read the comments of everybody, I've got a feeling we all agree that we don't want kids blasting the ball back and forth and kicking a long balls without PURPOSE or IDEA. That is a given! The question is WHEN should these kids be taught not to uselessly blast a ball and HOW. Understand that developing players comes in stages , thereby you can't teach them aspects of the game that they are not ready for. In other words you don't teach tactics to kids who are just beginning to play, or have difficulty passing a ball or teach them how to pass with outside of the foot or show them how to lift the ball over an opponent while under pressure. The first thing these kids need to learn is to be able to at least feel comfortable with the ball and that is done just by playing which improves their motor and timing skills with the ball. The NEXT
    most important step and to me THE most important aspect of development is for the player to learn to be comfortable with the ball under PRESSURE. How many on the USMNT actually feel so comfortable with the ball that when an opponent approaches he would just look and laugh at him and say" Don't bother me, go play in the sandbox, Sonny!" How many? NONE, is the answer.And if you are not comfortable with the ball and have lack the technical ability we will not see the USMNT be able to build up an attack from the back.
    So for example 9 and10 year olds first need to feel comfortable with the ball under pressure, for if they aren't how can you begin to teach build up concepts to a kid who gets nervous the moment he receives the ball with an opponent coming at him. These kids first need to have the poise to look and think with a ball on the foot and feel comfortable with the ball under pressure, before you insist to play a short passing game
    So to employ what this article suggest is fine only when the players have decent skills and are not rattled while under pressure. That stage of development comes later.
    What worries me is that coaches who think kicking balls long is bad miss an important point. First of all long balls is part of the game just like short passes. It becomes a problem when you want to just play only one particular style, long ball or short ball, which is as stupid as to deny kicking a long or short ball. In our street soccer days, most of techniques employed was just dribbling and short passes, not many long passes at all . Here is the difference ,we as kids spend many hours kicking long balls back and forth to each for fun on our own time,so although we did not employ much long pass in the streets we did practice long balls. I would recommend coaches spend 20 min every other practice kicking long balls back and forth for it develops the players touch and feel on the ball and getting a feel for long ball placement. Not only that, it forces the kid to look up to see where his teammate is, for so many don't look up at a young age. NEXT POST

  61. Bob Ashpole replied, August 9, 2017 at 4:37 p.m.

    Good post, Frank. I notice you specifically reference the MNT, not the WNT. The WNT players were not developed in a USSF Development Academy. Obviously somebody somewhere was doing a good job. Anson Dorrance has recruited high school players and furthered their development (outside of USSF), contributing about 90 players to the WNT over the years. Maybe all coaches should be looking at his system for ideas.

  62. frank schoon replied, August 9, 2017 at 8:33 p.m.

    Bob, I don't really spend my time on the WNT or women's soccer. It is not worth it. I watched the Dutch women's team win the European Cup. Not impressed. As a matter of fact Arnold Muhren (and other players who watched were asked their opinion) the former Ajax player who played for the Dutch team that won the EK'88 and who gave that pass to Van Basten who scored that great goal, stated that the level of play of women's soccer is comparable to the 5th division of men's amateur soccer, which is the lowest division of men's soccer in Holland. It is just not good soccer. The dutch by nature have critical eye and were very critical of the game and how it is played by the women. As far as development of US women soccer players , I'm not impressed. I find the technical finesse level in women soccer very low, meat and potatoes,stuff. Dorrance, has no problem recruiting the better athletes/players at NC, because of previous history. I find the US success of the women's program from the beginning more due to a cultural advantage that we have over other countries of accepting women playing soccer. I have yet to detect over the years in women's soccer an increase the technical development. I have videos of women's games going back over 20 years and I don't see the technical growth.

  63. Bob Ashpole replied, August 10, 2017 at 11:40 a.m.

    I agree that there hasn't been any improvement. The WNT situation is different. There the problem is the early success. I know that I don't have to say more; you will know what I mean. Too much focus on keeping what was instead of improving what was. Regarding Dorrance, he has some good ideas on training girls at the high school and college level which you will miss if you just attribute all his success to recruiting the best players. (His ability to attract quality staff is also important, not just the players.)

  64. frank schoon replied, August 10, 2017 at 11:57 a.m.

    Bob, I'm not going to get into Dorrance, he left a bad taste in my mouth after the Paul Gardner's column back in the 80's when Dorrance ran the USSF coaching school. Gardner's column was a classic, the funniest , most satirical, but also the most saddest column ever written. He and his cohorts flunked, Nene Cubillas, the Peruvian National Team player, a world star, 3rd leading goal scorer behind Pele, a great star with Fort Lauderdale Strikers, for B-coaching license. This guy has had more playing experience and knowledge of the game than this idiot Anson Dorrance and his college coaching buddies combined. Who would you rather hang with and learn from about the game Dorrance or Cubillas. This was tragic to US Soccer. The problem is that if Cubillas obtained his B-license ,he would be the most experienced of all trainer/coaches in America and obviously a threat to that group who ran and control US soccer. I know people at that time who had
    a B-license who I considered to be a joke and that was one of the reasons I decided to not get one

  65. frank schoon, August 9, 2017 at 10:50 a.m.

    I think Futsall is great for it reminds of street soccer the only difference is that they only use one type of ball.
    In street soccer we employed all kinds of balls, different sizes weighted differently. We never knew each day what kind of ball we were going to play with. Because we used different balls the kids learned to adjust to the weight and size of the ball thus increasing their feel and touch for it. It forced them to think about the capability of what they can do with the particular ball they played with at any moment which also effected the tactics. The MOST IMPORTANT aspect that is not mentioned when we talk of street soccer that kids of different ages played together. That gave STRUCTURE to the younger players for they saw and learned how better players played. Again, this is not talked about or stressed by the USSF. For example 9 year olds together don't learn from each other but playing street soccer with different age groups does so much more for them. They learn to play under pressure playing with older players and learning the tricks of the trade at the same time. Everything evolved so naturally that today with all these coaching seminars, coaching courses forcing the kids to do this and that denying to this and that, is so ridiculous and not helpful to a kids development. Cruyff, when he coached Ajax , made the youth teams play without a libero or sweeper. In other the 3 defenders needed to play man to man defense against 3 attackers. This is best way for defender to learn ,think and play smart defense withut a man of last resort(libero) to help. He wasn't concerned about winning or losing , only in making the defenders better. In street soccer, teams were never even, it all depends who showed up ,so one team might have one more player. This taught the kids automatically how react defensively playing with a man less. Everything you learned in soccer was covered in street soccer , and that is why Cruyff and Rinus Michels stated that street soccer was greatest playing grounds . Street soccer and club soccer combined was the best. But today street soccer has been taken over by licensed coaches, programmed garbage ,forcing kids to play in a controlled way or prohibiting kids of dribbling too much . And each year the USSF comes up with a NEW of way of coaching and teaching that is supposedly is suppose to be much better, what a JOKE!! The answer is to study the elements of street soccer and what made the kids so much better technically and tactically as compare to the garbage these kids are learning today.

  66. cony konstin, August 9, 2017 at 11:29 a.m.

    The main thing is the courts. What ball you use will depend on the kids. They may have to make a ball out paper or rags. In the end the kids need a place to play for free, that is their santctuary, they set their rules and no adult interference. This is the environment that is missing in the US. Without it we will continue to create robots and not players who are risk takers, have flair, innovative, creative, magical geniuses. We are not talking about building a rocket ship to mars. This is simple and a no brainer but it goes against the status quo that wants the pay to play model to continue to create nice kids but are robotic and predictable. We must get away from selling and buying minutia and focus on creating a playing environment that ruled and controlled for the kids and by the kids. King of the court...

  67. Goal Goal, August 9, 2017 at 1:35 p.m.

    There are OPTIONS!!!!! Why would you want to take the option away. I agree that punting the ball in most cases is a toss up but it has its place. If you are a coach and want your kids to play out of the back that is fine and I agree with that is the way to do it. Teach the kids the game and then coach them to the tactics you want to use.

    The game is the game.

  68. R2 Dad replied, August 9, 2017 at 8:32 p.m.

    The game is the game--unless it stuffed full of coaches that feel they are entitled to do things their way--and where has that gotten us as a country? As long as the keeper and back line have the option to play long balls, they will because it's easier, it relieves the pressure. And if the coach doesn't like his players airing it out, we get to listen to said coaches scream from the sidelines. I say take the option away from the coaches until we as a country have developed world class defenders. We've done it your way forever and our defenders are still crap. I'm tired of poor defenders, I'm tired of screaming coaches. I'm tired of kickball. So stop defending you right to play long balls--it's not about you the coach.

  69. Ric Fonseca, August 9, 2017 at 3:39 p.m.

    Gee whiz and golly willikers, I do remember my first internationally known coach and teacher from Germany, back in 1971, when he implored us to TEACH not just little ones but big ones to learn to play from the back, and when and IF necessary, punt the ball high and wide! His name? Detmar Cramer.

  70. Bob Ashpole replied, August 9, 2017 at 4:21 p.m.

    Yeah Ric. Exactly. The threat of a long pass, or punt, is what keeps defenses honest and makes more space around the ball for dribbling and short passing. It is why combination passing mixes long and short passes. No long passes makes any attack too predictable. No long passes in a large sided game encourages everyone to play near the ball. What is the development point of playing large sided games if breakout passing is not allowed?

  71. frank schoon replied, August 9, 2017 at 4:34 p.m.

    BOB, EXACTLY!!!!!!
    These coaches who come up with this garbage can't see beyond their nose and have no clue....

  72. Nick Daverese, August 10, 2017 at 2:24 a.m.

    Actually I think punting is low percentage so I agree with Mike on that. It is lower then 50 percent when trying to distribute. Again agree with Mike because the backs are facing the ball. I like throwing as a distribution because the distribution is much more accurate then a punt and it takes far less time for the keeper to distribute by throwing then a punt. But there are things the keeper can try when throwing that will make it less likely for the defending team to intercept those throws. As simple as make the save and wave everyone down field. Then when the defenders drop back then you throw or roll the ball short. Keeper can use his steps before distributing. New keepers just want to get rid of the ball after the save. When Tim Howard left my beloved Metrostars the first think the Manchester United team worked with him on was his throwing distributions. Tim punted way to much after the save. But longer distributions there is a time to use them as well. A fast low and far distribution is a half volley distribution on quick counter attack. On any short distribution the keeper should have multiple options no just one or two options. This takes time on the practice field.

  73. Bob Ashpole replied, August 10, 2017 at 2:55 a.m.

    I agree that routinely punting up field to a waiting group of players is low percentage, but so is a goal kick. It is not the technique that is the problem. It is the tactics. A team should be creating space for the pass regardless of technique used or length of the pass. I have known amateur adult keepers with excellent distribution, the best able to punt an accurate ball on a running winger's foot at 50 yards, 9 out of 10 times. Doing that even once stretches the opponent. Youth keepers can get the same accuracy on a scaled down basis. The problem though is I don't like to see young kids specializing in keeper.

  74. Cool Dudes replied, September 9, 2017 at 11:01 p.m.

    Anyone who says punting is just a 50/50 prospect has no idea how to properly distribute a ball. You just shouldn't be coaching.

  75. Nick Daverese, August 10, 2017 at 3:22 a.m.

    There is a lot of long distributions that can be higher percentage. I think I posted them here so I won't do it again. The way we played we tried to quick strike or counter as the first option right after the save. If we could not start it by the third pass then it's too late because by that time the defending team has their defensive shape. So can't do it by the third pass we play a possession game. So you should be able to play both ways.

  76. Jay Wall, August 10, 2017 at 7:18 a.m.

    BACK TO BASICS - Children love to play sports they enjoy, feel successful at and in which they can play free without excessive rules they don't understand, coaches demanding how they play, where the feel they are learning, which their friends play, in which they can live up to reasonable expectations of parents and themselves, and in which they feel successful. According to a poll conducted by the National Alliance for Youth Sports ( nearly 70 percent of kids in the United States stop playing organized sports by the time they turn 13. Children who quit complain their sport was too competitive and specialized, they weren't getting better, and they couldn't live up to the demands of their parents and coaches whom they felt expected them to win. >> So we lose most of our player pool, close to a million players a year, because we are doing an exceptionally bad job in soccer and other youth sports. So now we impose new, new additional rules on children, and make it more of an adult controlled boring game. Ask any coach in Sao Paulo or Amsterdam . . . children need smaller space to keep them mentally engaged and focused all of the time so they learn to play and don't get bored. Children need smaller space to eliminate the demands of coaches and parents because by the time the adults start to speak the play is over. Children need smaller space because as John Wooden, UCLA basketball coach who won 10 NCAA Championships in 12 years, said "Teaching players during practices, was what coaching was all about to me". >> AND THE OTHER DANGER for U.S. Soccer is the new rules will encourage our immigrant families to abandon U.S. Soccer and to establish more of their own youth leagues that will recruit U.S. Soccer players so their children can play the game they loved growing up. >> BEST EXAMPLE to keep players in the pool would be to let soccer be a children's game at the pre-teen ages by a wholesale conversion to Futsal on small courts and even grass fields. And yes you can play Futsal on grass, river sand, dirt, parking lots, outdoor basketball courts, double wide tennis courts and more. You can even put 8 Futsal fields on a full size adult field.

  77. frank schoon replied, August 10, 2017 at 9:48 a.m.

    Jay, good points. I do want to add that there needs to be a time or stage in the beginning where kids need to be left alone and not bothered by the Buzzards (licensed coaches or otherwise)who fly around like flies on poop wanting to put their two cents of "control and interference of organizational concepts" on the youth, who don't think tactual at a young stage and likewise have weak technique to carry out tactical concepts. Another aspect which is not the taught to the youth is the stories of great players what they could do with a ball. How many coaches, have actually talked about the great wingers, for example ( Garrincha, Matthews, Keizer, Johnstone, Best, Dzajic, Pepe, Edu, Rivelino, Rensenbrink, Gento "the jet" and what they did in games . These kids need to dream, visualize and learn about the greats besides a Ronaldo, or Messi. This kind of stuff in not filtered down and talked about. We need to set up a course for coaches, who themselves have never seen a Cruyff or a Puskas or DiStefano play,etc, which is a history of appreciation for all the great players, known and not so well known, so that they entertain and nurture a feeling of appreciation to the youth. Especially the youth need to be allowed to be creative regardless if it is inefficient. I can guarantee you that all the great players were "BALLHOGS" when they were young. But what happens, today, kids are restricted, yelled at in their over indulgences and creativeness.LIke i've stated before , I will take 10ballhogs over 10 team players anyday. I would also suggest for the USSF coaching school, to set up an history coaching class and categorize all the Youtube videos for coaches in order to see and learn about the greats. Many kids drop out because their coach lack the ability or don't have the info to make kids excited about the game.

  78. Jay Wall, August 10, 2017 at 7:45 a.m.

    FUTSAL FOR CHILDREN - Started teaching Futsal back in the very early 1990's and found players benefited from being given control of their own game and team. >> Substitutions - At first setup the bench alternating a strong player then a weak player, etc. and after 3 minutes the player closed to mid-court would come on, the players on the bench would slides down and the player coming off went to the end. Thereafter a new player rotated on every minute. Soon players decided the order on the bench and did all their own substitutions. >> System of Play - To encourage attacking from behind we started with a 3-1 with one player attacking and 3 defenders coming forward into the attack. Then we had the keeper come into the attack from time to time in a 3-2. We also started games with a 2-2 or a 4-0. Players were encouraged to and did exchange positions with each other in the run of play based on space available or that could be created. They enjoyed creating their own movement. >> Communication - Whomever was in goal was captain and responsible for making sure everyone talked, worked together and instantly adjusted all the time. And I said very little and within 6 months was sitting with spectators. >> Ownership - I owned practices, but players owned the game and even created they own rules for how to play if they were playing down a player, had corners, free kicks, etc. >> By age 12 they played U14 travel high division outdoor travel teams and usually played better. >> Players need small space to keep them engaged and ownership to become creative.

  79. Goal Goal, August 10, 2017 at 9:27 a.m.

    I say we do away with all rules. Especially the ones we don't agree with. All constructive coaching and we hand out trophies to each player when they register.

  80. Nick Daverese, August 10, 2017 at 9:44 a.m.

    I think the first job of the coach in youth soccer is try and pass on their love of the game to the kids they are trying to help. If the coach does not love the game he should quit coaching. Do that it becomes less important for a player to stop playing if they can't achieve the highest level.

  81. Goal Goal replied, August 10, 2017 at 9:52 a.m.

    Well said Nick!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  82. frank schoon replied, August 10, 2017 at 10:11 a.m.

    Nick, Amen!!!

  83. GA Soccer Forum, August 10, 2017 at 10:15 a.m.

    I love the idea, but I think we are just making a simple game way too complicated.

    My kids have always played on teams that build out from the back, but even they occasional bang a punt long. If a kid is wide open and the keeper can play an accurate little punt why not. Lets the keeper think and make decisions on their own. Now a keeper will just with his/her eyes closed just give the ball to the outside back who has no pressure.

    You want you right/left/center backs to receive a ball under pressure so they learn at the young ages! now that ain't going to happen.

    Just let the kids play, if a dumb a** coach is going to punt the ball every time and give it away let them.

    USA keepers will decline - I don't believe our DA keepers play enough games if they are on a team with 2 keepers splitting time.

    The benefit of no punting is it gets rid of the headers on punts. That is a major positive.

  84. Bob Ashpole replied, August 10, 2017 at 11:15 a.m.

    If like me you are old enough to have played with leather balls in the rain, then you will truly appreciate what GA Soccer said about avoiding heading punts. Safer to use another body part. Using the chest rather than the head also better shields the ball from a marker behind. So why don't we coach that?

  85. frank schoon replied, August 10, 2017 at 11:39 a.m.

    GA, You stated< I think we are just making a simple game way too complicated.> Boy, isn't that an understatement. These discussion were never taken place in the street soccer days..we just played and developed without all the extraneous professorial garbage in how to develop players. Cruyff stated in his book that one of the main problems of player development today as compared when he developed is the institution of the coaching school issuing licenses to coaches no matter how bad a player he was. They were now allowed to be involved in coaching and training by the sheer fact that you have a license. This is one of the main reasons why in the late 70's did acquire a USSF coaching license for I saw the who walked around with one couldn't take a lamppost one on one. Whereas in Cruyff's youth when there was no coaching school institution issuing license to everyone, the best player on the team worked with the youth and guided them allowing the kids to do things and not restrict them for these types of trainers/guidance have a better feel and hands on than some nitwit with a license who lack the experience of a good player...

  86. frank schoon replied, August 10, 2017 at 11:41 a.m.

    GA, meant to say I didn't acquire a coaching license for the sheer fact that I saw those who had a USSF license couldn't take a lamppost one on one

  87. Nick Daverese replied, August 10, 2017 at 12:41 p.m.

    I think a punt takes to long to get it off and it takes to long to come down to hit an open player before the defender has time to turn it into a 50/50 ball. Unless it comes from ball side to the far side of the field. Then even then if the defender is not completely to far from the receiver on the far side of the field is not an automatic completion. Ga do you know Bruce Brownlee I think he lives in Georgia a terrific women's coach there if I remember right,

  88. Cool Dudes replied, September 9, 2017 at 11:04 p.m.

    You just can't make coaches smarter with rule changes. You can, and these rules will, make players dumber.

  89. frank schoon, August 10, 2017 at 12:56 p.m.

    Nick, a quick side punt to the front line who is guarded at midfield into open space behind the defense can be dangerous..You punt when you see plenty of space behind the opponents' last line of defense. Punts shouldn't go to the player but to space behind defender

  90. Bob Ashpole replied, August 10, 2017 at 1:06 p.m.

    Long passes or punts to a stationary player give plenty of time for the defense to adjust because of the long flight time. The target needs a lot of separation to make it work.

  91. frank schoon replied, August 10, 2017 at 1:11 p.m.

    Bob, when the defender is positioned square to the attacker around midfield then it doesn't matter about the time for the ball to travel If the attacker has the jump on the defender for the defender has to turn to make his run and thereby the attacker willl get to the ball first regardless of the time of flight

  92. Nick Daverese replied, August 12, 2017 at 7:25 a.m.

    You see the opponent is doing that you just play deeper so there is not much space behind the opponent. If you want to distribute real Long the half volley is the answer it is a much lower ball then a punt. But you have to get some part of the body on it right away or it will run off the field plus if the the defender is supported and spaced right he will get to the ball before the target player.

  93. Rankin S, August 10, 2017 at 1:06 p.m.

    @Jay Wall- Spain uses the build out line. Check out the MIC tournament on youtube to see it in action.

  94. Jay Wall replied, August 10, 2017 at 10:47 p.m.

    The only 2017 MIC 7 v 7 U12 full game video I found was at >> The pitch is in yellow over part of much larger full size pitch in white. The Spanish team attacks very well from the back, scoring goal after goal, but the line on the field seems to be a white line from the full size field, not a build out line. I also checked the published rules for the MIC online and found no mention of a special build out line for the U12 age group. >> If you have the URL of the game you are referring to could you please post it, so I can see a game using a build out line.

  95. James Froehlich, August 10, 2017 at 2:49 p.m.

    OMG! I can't believe the amount of opposition to this change. It immediately reminded me of the cliched Pogo comic strip where he says,"We have seen the enemy and it is US". First of all we are talking about U9's and U10's. Secondly, this is not a difficult or complex rule that will traumatized the players for a life time! And, thirdly it promotes the development of skills and tactics that are sorely lacking today in most US players.
    When people respond that it removes a tactical option, I wonder for whom? The player or the coach? At this age, the kid is not thinking tactics when he gets the ball: it's dribble, pass, or kick. The coach however is terrified of losing the ball anywhere near his area.
    Another worry is that it removes the opportunity to learn to trap long balls! That's hilarious! First off, how many punts are actually trapped. Most are headed down. Also, this rule does not eliminate long passes!! Much more opportunity for trapping.
    I have not been a big fan of US Soccer's coaching techniques but this rule is a major step forward in improving youth training!

  96. don Lamb replied, August 10, 2017 at 4:39 p.m.

    Let's hope some of those who wrote their dissatisfactions above read this far...

  97. Bob Ashpole replied, August 10, 2017 at 11:26 p.m.

    James, you do realize they are using modified off sides Law? I have coached 8 and 9 year old girls playing 11 v 11 and you are underestimating their mental skills. If you teach them the fundamentals and let them be creative, they will play as a group and attempt to maintain possession. It takes a bit of retraining with some players to overcome prior bad coaching, but they learn fast. In my circumstance the club was intentionally teaching the kids to play 235 kick and chase bunch ball because they thought the kids were too young to be taught the principles of play. Ages 8 and 9 is the start of the prime time for learning (8-12). Shame to waste it.

  98. Cool Dudes replied, September 9, 2017 at 11:06 p.m.

    Actually it reduces player's ability to learn how to play under pressure.

  99. Allan Lindh, August 11, 2017 at 1:02 a.m.

    As usual most of you know-it-alls have the question bass-ackwards. Punting is the most boring play in football, and Goalies picking the ball up and punting it kills most attacks. Ban punting at all levels, will be a much better game. And will greatly reduce the concussion problem. Not only is heading a long punt a great way to damage a brain, but a large fraction of the head-to-head collisions occur going for punts. The beautiful game is played on the grass.

  100. Bob Ashpole replied, August 11, 2017 at 6:43 a.m.

    People viewing soccer as entertainment have different priorities than people who think of soccer as a participation sport. I don't want the sport changed further to satisfy TV audiences. The penalty kick shootout is the most offensive example.

  101. don Lamb replied, August 11, 2017 at 10:12 a.m.

    Bob - As a player, I can tell you that there is nothing I hate more than challenging for a meaningless 50/50 ball from a punt or goal kick at midfield. Now in my less competitive days, I simply won't do it. Let the other guy win it or win it without using my head...

  102. frank schoon, August 11, 2017 at 9:58 a.m.

    Alan, injuries happens sometimes to players who go up for a head ball but not on punts, they usually occur from a medium range air pass, and even then it is because of the wildness , macho and lack of thinking of the players involved. I was never a person for heading in duels, for example at midfield, I never would attempt to out head an opponent for it serves no purpose since neither one knows where the ball will end up. That is why I tell my players only head if you are sure it will go into the goal or it is a sure pass, for the rest leave it be. But in this case here, we are dealing with young kids , 9,10 year old, who don't have the power to kick long air ball to head , two ,who lack jumping and heading skills and three, have you noticed how to run towards a bouncing ball only to go over their heads for they lack timing skills. As far as I'm concerned ,I don't even bother with teaching heading at that age or even throw ins, it is all about foot skills with me.
    To say banning punting the ball from soccer,due to concussions is going a bit too far. In all my years of coaching teams ,I've never had problem with concussions because my players follow what I've stated about when to head. But I take issue with two statements you made,one, that punting is the most boring play in soccer, and two ,it kills most of the attacks. One, Boring?, what is not more difficult and more beautiful than being able to trap a ball coming from a high punt, taking it on the run without losing it under pressure, or able to trap it dead at your feet or able to catch it in your foot ,lowering it gently and turn. Do you know exactly how difficult this is when taking into account the touch, timing and confidence needed to execute this under pressure. If you can't see the difficulty factor and appreciate the ability factor, then I would suggest go watch "Bowling for Dollars" for obviously you don't have a clue about this game. Second, "killing the attack", HOW?. Punting a long ball downfield at right the moment, for example, when the opponents back line has moved up to wards midfield leaving a lot of space behind them is the right moment to kick a ball long downfield over the heads of the opponents for the speedy attackers to run after. Also realize that if the opponent moved up to begin high pressure defense why would you want to build up an attack from the back with so many opponents there in your half ,instead use the space, given, behind them to kick the ball for the attack. Or, corners is another reason to quickly start an attack with a punt by quickly kicking a long ball for all the opponents are in your half. Again it shows how little you really understand the intricacies of tactics and space of playing soccer. Maybe for those "Snowflakes" I would suggest to the USSF,since they have done such a great job at player development, to install, "handicap zones" in punts. If a player runs quickly in that zone the opponent is not allowed in to stop him from the ball.

  103. Allan Lindh replied, August 22, 2017 at 3 a.m.

    I disagree. Long punts give defenders a long time to take aim, and after a long run, jump into the receiving player, cracking the back of his head with their forehead. Saw a couple cases tonite catching up on the weekend matches. But soccer needs more offense, and punting is the least interesting, most boring, worst offense killing play in the game.

  104. frank schoon replied, August 23, 2017 at 4:03 p.m.

    Alan. long punts give the players more time what to do and set up as compared to a fast pass in the air , short range, where there is no time to think but to quickly react....And if you watch any head ball injuries will come from this situation rather than long punts. Players who get injured in long punts are fools for neither player knows where it will end up.

  105. Bill Dooley, August 11, 2017 at 7:24 p.m.

    The time will come when balls controlled by a keeper using hands will have to be distributed from the hands. This makes sense immediately at the youth level as a way to diminish concussion opportunities (more often a result of the competition for the ball - head-to-head or elbow-to-head - than ball-to-head.). But it also eliminates turning 100% possession into a less than 50-50 proposition.

  106. frank schoon, August 11, 2017 at 9:51 p.m.

    Bill, that is very simplistic. Because The opponents know the only option the goalie has is throwing the ball out, they will flood that half with players, making it virtually impossible to build up an attack. Furthermore, this whole scenario works in favor for the opponents since the speed of throwing the ball is also much less than kicking it, thus giving the team with the ball less time to set up.
    As a result there is an extremely high % of the team losing the ball near their own goal, with tons of opponents near the goal as well. So I pose the question to you ,is it better to have a 50/50 situation much further away downfield from you own goal then a situation where you stand a great chance to lose the ball near your own goal right after the goalie throws the ball out.

  107. Bill Dooley, August 11, 2017 at 10:23 p.m.

    Flooding a zone works if the keeper doesn't play quickly. True for punts, too. But I guess a lot of one's response to your take, Frank, has to do with purpose. You may lose more games - at first - if the team goes without the punt. But in my experience making things more difficult, and the learning possible when "failing well" (see McCardle: The Upside of Down) is far preferable when developing players takes the front seat, Saturday's results the rear.
    (Within the past month I read somewhere about a youngish team that plays everything out of the keeper's hands and they are killing people. Alas, didn't bookmark but it could have been here, at Changing the Game or at Doug Lemov's site.)

  108. Bob Ashpole replied, August 12, 2017 at 11:04 a.m.

    "Flooding a zone"? Balance is a defensive principle. Crowding the penalty area? Depth is a defensive principle. So why would a coach even consider teaching kids to defend unbalanced or with no depth? The problem is and always has been bad coaching from the adults. Shortsighted coaches wanting to win meaningless youth matches at the expense of teaching fundamentals. Rule changes to compensate for bad coaching is not fixing the problem.

  109. frank schoon, August 12, 2017 at 8:48 a.m.

    Bill, ??? First of all Bill, I would not be flooding a ZONE but tight MAN TO MAN defense,thus giving the defenders no to time nor space . Bill, it doesn't matter how quickly the keeper throws it out! Let me explain. Do you know when a team sets up to play defense?...It is when they are on offense. In other words that offensive team is already thinking and preparing a step ahead of the defending team, in a case they lose the ball. In other words, if I were the coach, then as my team is in your team's half on attack, I would be instructing my players off the ball who are not directly in the play or flow of things to pick up man to man your players who are not directly in the play of flow of things. In other words I'm closing things down ,so to speak, ahead of time. And furthermore,
    I've also instructed the attacking players who are directly involved in the attack that the moment the ball leaves and is traveling towards the goal/goalie is to run and pick up the closest players to the goalie.This particular move is likewise a step ahead of the opponents before they ATTEMPT to go on offense. In sum ,it doesn't matter how fast the goalie throws the ball out
    because ,my team has taking care of the situation 2steps ahead of time before the goalie ever gets the ball. That puts to rest any attempt to start an offense, by throwing out the ball fast.
    The only thing I can agree with you on is your statement to make things more difficult for players to develop. I totally agree with you on that. That is why I believe that kids should not practice with the same age group but with older better players for that makes them learn faster. This is why I rave about street soccer for there all kids of different age groups play together. Or you place a restrictions in a small sided games that you need to make at least 5 passes in your own half before going on offense..stuff like that.. As far as that book goes, I would trash it. Professional teams have trouble building up from the back, even when they have the option of punting it long and your telling me that these youth teams without the option of punting can handle it by practiced long enough. Good luck on this one ,Bill!!

  110. Bob Ashpole replied, August 12, 2017 at 11:11 a.m.

    Frank, only someone who has played at a relatively high level is going to understand tactics. 90% of the people think of offense and defense as unconnected like in American football. They view the side as splint into offense and defense, unchanging roles as attackers and defenders. That language is perpetuated even by people that know better. Notice how over the years everyone including USSF and Soccer America now refers to "backs" as "defenders"? It is one reason I say we, collectively as youth coaches, are not as good as we were in the past.

  111. frank schoon, August 12, 2017 at 12:24 p.m.

    Bob, Amen. I checked this guy out, Doug Lemov. Another EDUCATOR trying to put his 2 cents into how to coach. This is one of the problems, educators , professors, who have ruined this beautiful game with their pedantic approach to the game. Notice the discussion is
    about coaching not developing, but developing through coaching, something that players didn't need in the street soccer days for it wasn't about coaching, but developing. But these educators love control , and it is all about the process, certification systems, analysis....LOL.
    That is what killed the Ajax youth program according to Cruyff who had warned Ajax at the time about these types of coaches with an educators background. Street soccer kids didn't need coaches to make them as good as they were, for the element of coaching as an important feature came at much later time in the development of the player. But here the main thrust with these young players is not development but coaching...
    You can see why are players are not getting proper development. What scares see so many of the people like Bill ,who probable coach ,see this guy Lemov as serious.....

  112. Bob Ashpole replied, August 12, 2017 at 5:06 p.m.

    Frank, I see "how" to coach as different than "what" to teach. Method as opposed to substance. Especially working with young kids, coaches should have more than playing experience to guide them as to how to coach. But I am 100% with you about great players having the best knowledge of the game. I can't knock Doug Lemov. Anybody that quotes John Wooden gets respect from me.

  113. frank schoon, August 12, 2017 at 6:18 p.m.

    Bob, quoting John Wooten doesn't take brains.
    And yes you need more than playing experience to guide players or coach them, for a good player doesn't make good coach, but street soccer players didn't need a coach in the streets to learn the game, they learned in the best possible way without a coach. But one thing you do need is good playing experience when working with kids, for you need to be able to demonstrate the various techniques.

  114. Cool Dudes replied, September 9, 2017 at 11:13 p.m.

    frank, you have backed up every one of your statements with excellent soccer knowledge. This is far more than others have done. Its obvious you know the game.

    The retort is always, "its better to play out of the back". Possession, possession, possession. Like there are some "absolute truths" in soccer. The whole point of the game is it is a blank slate that you can create. The only thing that is certain is that getting the ball in the back of the net is a good thing. Think about this, during every game each team has the exact same number of possessions +/-1 and chances to score a goal.

    Great job frank and I've enjoyed reading your comments. I wish they were understood by more.

  115. sid cormier, September 9, 2017 at 2:51 p.m.

    We just played our first U-10 game with the build out rule against a team about 2 years older per child. As expected they put their 4 best players on the build out line and attacked the ball the second it left the keeper. We crossed midfield twice. I am all for back passing and playing out of the back but this is the STUPIDIST idea at this point in time. Reconsider having defenders not allowed past the midfield line until the ball is in play or simply let the play discipline itself; the best countries in the world don't have this nonsense. When these types of poorly thought out rules are implemented by a country notorious for a disgraceful performance in Olympics and world cup qualifying it makes me realize why a country of 360 million gets schooled by a country of 5 million (Costa Rica) and can only manage a last second tie against Honduras. By the way, I wonder how France and some of the countries with beautiful flowing attacking play would feel about the build up/back pass nonsense.

  116. Cool Dudes, September 9, 2017 at 10:34 p.m.

    How on earth could you be so dumb to think stupid rule changes can replace good coaching?

    This whole change is predicated that players are too stupid on how to think and make decisions. No one is open in the back, everyone is covered, punt the ball; you have an open player, make a pass.

    Players learn to play the game by playing. These rules simply take decisions away from the player. You must throw the ball, brilliant. We'll get some great quarterbacks out of it.

    No pressure on you when you receive the ball. Great, we will get some super slow defenders out of it.

    It is illegal to press. This is the dumbest one of them all. If anything lack of pressing by forwards is one of the biggest problems teaching players. This rule standardizes it.

    So dumb. The rules are the rules and you teach players how to make decisions and how to play the game. If US soccer was serious about developing skills there would be 1/2 the number of players on the field in every division up to 17.

    The worst of all worlds, just so dumb.

  117. Eric Buck, September 10, 2017 at 10:50 p.m.

    BOL is the worst rule ever. But what is worse is the coaching at any age under 12 only to be outdone by the parents. My 9 yr old daughter has been playing high level club soccer for the past 2 years. I've witnessed many goals scored as the result of horrible goal kicks by the keeper or defender before the introduction of the BOL. So in theory I thought it might be a good idea. After seeing the rule in effect for many games this fall it only takes 2 girls to press the recipient of the goal kick behind the BOL and secure a shot on goal, 1 to pressure the ball, and the other to pressure the recipient up the line. (attempting to pass the ball in the middle is even a more dangerous play). So in effect it does little to alleviate the problem of weak goal kicks that barely go out of the box.
    As far as punting goes, what is the point of eliminating the punt if the keeper can just drop the ball at the feet of a strong legged defender who can kick the ball well past midfield (and in a lot of cases to the cherry picking striker sitting at the BOL just yards from the opposing goal.

    That puts us at coaching. Yes, coaches should not employ these tactics and I'm sure the good ones don't. But that's not the majority of coaches we have in this age group today.

    Which brings us to the parents, who will move their kids to the clubs that win, which in turn encourages more bad coaches who take advantage of arbitrary rules made to improve the game.

    Additionally, the refs struggle to enforce the BOL in a consistent manner.

    The off sides component of the BOL is even more troubling. It encourages cherry picking and the poor coaching associated with it. I'd rather see two players race for possession from midfield than have a player marked 3/4's up the field where neither of them are even remotely "in the play" and for that matter developing any skills other than paying attention to see if the ball happens to come their way.

    US Soccer cannot regulate their way to better players, only better coaches and parents can accomplish that.

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