My U10 Rec team had their first scrimmage last night and did well. I was thrilled to see them finally starting to look UP and get aware of what’s happening on the field (vs. looking at the ball all the time). However, I’m still struggling with how to arrange my players for 6v6.
I talked about U10 formations previously, but didn’t really come up with a ‘best’ answer. Of course, there may not be one since soccer is a fluid and dynamic game. I’ll admit that post was written from a theoretical point of view. Now that we’re coming up on our regular season, we’ll see how things pan out on the pitch.
So back to last night’s scrimmage. Both teams started out with a 2-3 formation (2 defenders, 3 forwards) and it worked well. However, being a scrimmage, I started to mix things up and move players around. I also encouraged the kids do some things they hadn’t done before, like defenders who had time to settle the ball – take it up an open lane instead of just passing. This worked very well in some cases. I had one of my defenders streak up the touchline with the ball and take a good shot. Another time, with the wings making runs up the touchline and drawing opponents towards them, the defender with the ball saw an opening up the middle and just flew up to the goal.
Now this was on a 53 yard field (our match fields are just under 60 yards long, but were being used by other teams) so take that into account. One dangerous thing about this was the rest of the team wasn’t quite expecting certain defenders to take off either and that left our end of the field woefully uncovered. However, I pointed out to my team that if the front 3 saw a defender streaking up the field with the ball, the closest player to midfield HAD to stay back and cover. Near the end of the scrimmage, they started to do just that and we protected our goal much better. They really started to grasp the idea of protecting ‘space’ and using the space, though we still bunched up at goal too much at times. But I digress.
We never tried a 3-2 formation officially. However, given how successful the defenders were moving the ball upfield on the wings, we might just use that more often. I’m torn on that, however. We’ve spent a lot of time this preseason working on possession. Keep possession of the ball at all costs and the goal opportunities will come. Having 3 up front makes it easier for us to control the ball up front. I’ve always figured I’d start out with 2-3 and if we built up a lead of a couple goals, switch to a 3-2 with defenders allowed to make runs if a lane opens up. If things are winding down and we need a goal to tie, etc., I might even go with a 1-4 with the ‘1’ being one of my more tenacious defenders. Some might say U10 kids can’t grasp different formations, but I’m not sure of that. I’ve seen kids on a number of our Rec teams understand about positioning, open space, staying clear of the ‘diamond’ in the center of the field, etc.
I know some of you have been playing 6v6 at the U10 level for a while now, so I’d love to hear what your experiences have been. What have you found worked as expected? What didn’t? Did the kids understand what you were trying to get them to do? Definitely post some comments – successes and failures I can’t honestly say I’m confident in any formation I come up with. I know in the pros that managers will use formations based on the opponent, but this is Rec ball! So you go with what you feel comfortable with, but have the flexibility to change things up if the opponent warrants during the match. The key is making sure the kids are ready for it and can handle the pressure so they are ready to play in a new formation.
I love that our league decided to stick with a larger field as it really gives the kids space to run and move, encouraging more 1v1 and longer passes. I expect the matches will be high scoring affairs as well, but that’s not a bad thing. Many of my players got to score or got good looks (the other team’s 3 keepers did an outstanding job all night) so that raised the ‘fun’ for them a bit.