10 responses

  1. Jeremy
    January 5, 2012

    Really interesting post. I wonder if other people have noticed the same things. In our youth league kids are split onto gender specific teams, but the teams will cross over and playe each other because of numbers. They train seperately, and about half of their games are against the opposite gender. Good stuff, definitely would like to hear more about this down the road.

    • Soccer Dad
      January 5, 2012

      Jeremy – we really were startled by it. Case in point. We sporadically had younger girls travel teams, but they sort of fizzled out each year and didn’t do very well. Sure we’re a young league, kids aren’t at the level of other clubs, etc. But then we started our U9 Academy. I coached the ’01 Girls in U9 and they were the last group that had grown up playing all coed. The first few matches were eye opening. They’d get scored on, and get the ball out of the net and have NO CLUE what to do with it. Same with throw ins. No clue. Why? Because in Rec, the boys would generally grab the ball out of the net and bring it to midfield, take throw ins, etc. Unless coaches worked to ensure the girls got equal touches – these girls were completely unprepared. Up front on offense – again it was a shock because many had played defense. So it took them a year before they finally started to feel ‘comfortable’ in pressure situations. But it blew me away seeing it firsthand playing against kids from other teams who also had ‘come up from Rec’ It will certainly be interesting to see what our U9 Academy teams are like in a couple years when we bring in the first group of kids who played split since U5.

  2. Sean
    January 5, 2012

    Great blog.

    I can see your point. I, too, was in favor of co-ed teams … but have never been in a club or league that supported it. Now I am on the fence.

    My daughter wanted to play on an age-appropriate boys team a few years back–and the coach wanted to roster her, but several of the boys’ parents complained so it never happened. She guest played for them once a year or so later and was very competitive with their best players.

    Her u12 team (she’s 11) plays u13/14 all the time. Their coach entered them also in a u16 indoor league — I am still not comfy with that (risk of injury and worries that it might diminish confidence) and would rather they play age-appropriate boys leagues. Apparently, however, indoor facilities around here will not permit girls teams in boys leagues … so ….

    Great post!


  3. Dennis Murray
    January 5, 2012

    Really great read.

    Our club plays co-ed in U5 and U6 and then splits the genders after that. Practice nights for each age group are held together though, so we see mixed gender training groups for skills work. In the training work (most of it done 1 ball each or 1 ball per two players) there’s little difference in technical skills between the average players.

    I haven’t had much of a chance to see match play from the girls teams, but I’ll make a point to do so this spring.

  4. Stickman
    January 9, 2012

    Great article and I completely agree but like you I coach a boys U6 team and a girls U6 team. I tried to practice the teams together but really ran into issues with a joint practice. Maybe it was my style with the Girls and Boys but when I ran practices together OR my son practiced with the girls (because he was around) I found that the girls “confidence” with the ball was an issue. Just as in a coed game when we practiced the girls seemed to back off when the boys would “attack” the ball.

    SO in the end I broke up the practices and this spring I will not allow my son to practice with the girls.

    If you have some magic advice to impart to allow group practices I would really appreciate it!

  5. Soccer Dad
    January 10, 2012

    My biggest issue with the joint practices was size. I had 12-14 6 year old kids running around, so it was a challenge because I didn’t have an assistant. But with the technical drills I rarely had issues as the boys and girls would often self segregate (unless a girl latched onto one of the boys which always made me laugh) At this age it’s one ball per player anyway so they often are on their own. When we’d do stuff in pairs, the girls and boys would often stay away from each other. So it worked. When we’d scrimmage, I’d always have them scrimmage separately. Occasionally I’d take the stronger girls and throw them in with the boys, but that was the exception. And it seemed to work. This Spring, I likely will see if some of my U15 girls are up for helping as asst coaches. Otherwise I’ll split the practices just because of the numbers.

  6. Stickman
    January 11, 2012

    Good advice, I appreciate the feedback.

  7. Ohio
    February 5, 2012

    Great article. My family lives in a small town in Ohio where co-ed teams are the norm until high school. My children both play for very competitive teams in the Columbus area. When they do play locally, we have observed everything that the article points out–girls not knowing what to do, lacking in aggressiveness, and generally being short changed. And the boys are simply not aggressive enough. What you say is true.

  8. Raye Knoll
    February 12, 2012

    an interesting article about an issue that causes challenge to leagues and coaches alike. I was fortunate to coach a couple teams in an Upward league in the past. Our league ended up co-ed for the same reasons as most. Upward has some guidelines that made a big difference, so the co-ed experience actually worked in favor of the girls in my opinion.

    first, everyone had to play, and we were encouraged to mix the players, so girls and boys were usually splitting defense and offense assignments at the same time. Players also had to play at least half of the game, so the weaker players were guaranteed playing time.

    This league plays 4×4 without a goalie. Playing time is divided into 6 periods, players are changed during stoppage. I rotated my players thru a number system, so in theory, they would play 3 periods, and a different position each period. I found all players developed, but girls seemed to improve the most because of the level of competition. The games are small sided, so touches on the ball are also maximized. It was never perfect, sometimes we would come across a team who would use a player, either boy or girl, to stand in front of the net as a ‘handsless goalie’…which did nothing for that players development…some coaches seemed to think it was a great way to use a kid who didn’t want to get involved…I refused; we’re there for the kids, not for ‘wins’…but as the year would move forward, I found the girls, many who had not played before, would improve and often become experts on tactics. Our group handles kids pre-K thru 5th grade. coed can work, but you have to be careful to ensure the opps are kept equal. Ideally, if the numbers are there, keep them separate, but it can work. Interesting points from all. Thanks for sharing.

  9. CJBurns
    February 26, 2012

    I am a Referee of 6 years, having done both girls and boys but never together. Main difference I notice is this. Girls tend to have an element of fear in there play. It causes them to pull back on there ability and shy away from anything physical. Boys tend to be a little reckless, they will go for it even when it is not a good idea, or unsafe. As they get older the better girls start to overcome this with confidence in there skills, but still play a little more cautious than boys. Boys tend to learn a little more control and rein in there recklessness.(Unless they get mad, then the reckless attitude comes back strong!)

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