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Post by 06Girls 23/04/12, 11:16 am

My dd has been playing rec soccer for a couple of years now and she is 5 years old. As we get into a littlt bit more competitive phase with her I notice that she is not as aggressive (or "brave") as the other players on her team. She loves soccer and wants to play it every minute (and it quite good at it) but when she gets on the field she gets timid and will not act brave in certain situations when it is needed. When I ask her why she tells me she is afraid to get hit by someone or the ball. I want to help her get over this fear if possible and help her become more brave as I have been reading that this is a must in soccer. The unusual part is that she use to be very aggressive on the field then this past year she suddenly stopped being aggressive. Has anyone experienced this with their child?

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Post by bigtex75081 23/04/12, 11:28 am

06Girls wrote:My dd has been playing rec soccer for a couple of years now and she is 5 years old. As we get into a littlt bit more competitive phase with her I notice that she is not as aggressive (or "brave") as the other players on her team. She loves soccer and wants to play it every minute (and it quite good at it) but when she gets on the field she gets timid and will not act brave in certain situations when it is needed. When I ask her why she tells me she is afraid to get hit by someone or the ball. I want to help her get over this fear if possible and help her become more brave as I have been reading that this is a must in soccer. The unusual part is that she use to be very aggressive on the field then this past year she suddenly stopped being aggressive. Has anyone experienced this with their child?
Before this phase (and it is a phase) started, did she get nailed by a ball? Do you know what started the issue?
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Post by 06Girls 23/04/12, 11:58 am

Yes, she has gotten hit by the ball...a lot. In the face, in the chest, in the shins. I know she she has collided with players, one kid kicked her in her hip and the other kids cleat marks were branded in her hip (those cleats hurt) plus we started our first season of indoor this past winter and everything was fast paced and there were alot more balls flying. Her father and I have chalked the body and ball contact as normal experiences that are apart of soccer but I think it has made her more afraid of the ball. Her coach also for whatever reason made the decision to play their team up to 2nd grade (my dd is in kindergarten and her team is already first grade) and we have lost 3 games, tied 3 and won one game (my dd was the only scorer). My husband and I decided to take her off that team and put her with her age group next season and not play her up b/c I think it messed with her confidence. But she loves soccer and will play every minute she gets so, I know it's not b/c she doesn't like the sport.

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Post by bigtex75081 23/04/12, 12:02 pm

Here are 5 things I would do for my ’06 BB if he started to struggle with this issue…
1. Play catch with a soccer ball. Toss the ball underhanded to your DD. Start by targeting her tummy or her knees. She should catch it with her hands and toss it back. Make it a fun game; something like a successful catch without it hitting the ground equals 1 point. As the game goes along she should start to flinch less. Try a couple gently tossed balls a little closer to her head. Take your time and allow her confidence to grow. This will help her get used to the ball flying towards her.
2. A game I use as a coach to get my youngest teams accustomed to traffic is to secure a few balloons to their ankles. The game is for the players to pop other peoples’ balloons. The last one with a balloon is the winner. I always do a few iterations of this drill. Some kids will be scared at first but they all eventually get engaged in the fun. (FYI… As a coach, blowing up 100+ balloons can be exhausting but the benefits significantly outweigh the effort. The kids won’t want to stop. Even the shyest kids will insist on going again.)
3. Talk to your daughter about staying on her toes with her knees bent. A player on flat feet with locked knees is a lot more like to get tagged by a ball then a player that is in an athlete stance and ready to react. If she is standing rigidly, she is probably going to get knocked around. (I tell my kids a story about a bunny that is running towards them and a busy road. They are the only ones that can save the bunny. They need to save the bunny by catching it before it gets to the road. Then I say, “How are you going to stand to catch the bunny so it can’t get past you?” As they show me their stance I begin my coaching points.)
4. Remind your DD that a soccer ball is really only a balloon. It's leather patches wrapped around air and nothing more. There are no rocks or anything in there. It is only air. Make the ball appear harmless.
5. The ABSOLUTE LAST RESORT for me… Tell your DD that if she needs to, she can use her hands to protect her face if the ball is coming hard at her head. Tell her it’s OK to protect herself if she needs to. Tell her that nobody will be upset with her if she touches the ball with her hands if she needs to protect herself.
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Post by 06Girls 23/04/12, 12:18 pm

Thanks for the advice. I have read that its not easy to teach a player how to be aggressive, but hopefully since she is still really young she will catch on. Another thing is I notice that she would rather wait on the ball as opposed to go "to it". I suppose that is another way of not being aggressive - to not attack the ball. Do you have any suggestions on how we can help her in that regard?

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Post by bigtex75081 23/04/12, 12:46 pm

Looking for a magic bullet? If I knew of a way to make timid soccer players into aggressive soccer players, I’d be worth a lot more money than I am right now. I wish I knew a quick fix but through my experience I believe that aggressiveness is a choice or a learned response. Younger siblings usually find it easier to be aggressive because that is a learned response. Kids with older siblings pushing them around usually decide on their own to toughen up and start handling situations more aggressively. That aggression usually carries over to the soccer field. Some kids have already learned, outside of soccer, to be more aggressive.

The only way I know how to make a player more confident/aggressive is by experience and comfort. If they are comfortable on a soccer ball, if they understand soccer so well that what they need to do becomes natural (instead of forced), then they appear more aggressive. Experience, repetition, touches… all those things create comfort and confidence. A confident player is generally a more aggressive player. It does take time though. Time, and touches on the ball. Also realize that a lot of how your DD will learn to play will come directly from the coach you choose for her and the style (and drills) he uses to teach with.

Realize that almost every kid in your DD’s division is struggling with something. The shy players that stick with it will eventually become the stars.
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Post by grassyknoll 23/04/12, 12:54 pm

bigtex75081 wrote: The shy players that stick with it will eventually become the stars.

What happens to the not-so shy players that stick with it?
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Post by 06Girls 23/04/12, 01:00 pm

Thanks for the info. I am not looking for a magic bullet, I am just trying to help her. I am not a coach so I don't know if this is something I should be practicing with her on at home (in addition to the other practices we do). Sometimes when you see a weak spot you just try to make them stronger at it if you can, and that's what we are trying to accomplish if possible.

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Post by oldboot 23/04/12, 01:16 pm

We put our DD into a special training program that has worked wonders - she is now very AGGRESSIVE:

http://www.extremesealexperience.com/
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Post by bigtex75081 23/04/12, 01:26 pm

grassyknoll wrote:
bigtex75081 wrote: The shy players that stick with it will eventually become the stars.

What happens to the not-so shy players that stick with it?
Seriously? The players that find HUGE success really early in their careers will need to find a coach that takes them out of their comfort zone. A coach that will stop them from doing the exact same thing over and over and over again during games. They will need to find a coach that pushes them to try new things. If they don't find a coach like that, and instead they stay with a coach that only uses them to win games (at the U06 level mind you) those players will stop advancing. The other players that were too shy to stop them before, will figure out how to manage the different situations, and will begin catching up. The superstar 5-year old will get upset that they aren't scoring 10 goals per game anymore. When soccer at u08 isn't easy like it was at u05 they will get frustrated, burned out, or walk away from the game to look for new challenges. A superstar at u05 or u06 presents a whole different set of challenges for a coach.
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Post by bigtex75081 23/04/12, 01:35 pm

oldboot wrote:We put our DD into a special training program that has worked wonders - she is now very AGGRESSIVE:

http://www.extremesealexperience.com/
lol!
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Post by grassyknoll 23/04/12, 01:43 pm

bigtex75081 wrote:
grassyknoll wrote:
bigtex75081 wrote: The shy players that stick with it will eventually become the stars.

What happens to the not-so shy players that stick with it?
Seriously? The players that find HUGE success really early in their careers will need to find a coach that takes them out of their comfort zone. A coach that will stop them from doing the exact same thing over and over and over again during games. They will need to find a coach that pushes them to try new things. If they don't find a coach like that, and instead they stay with a coach that only uses them to win games (at the U06 level mind you) those players will stop advancing. The other players that were too shy to stop them before, will figure out how to manage the different situations, and will begin catching up. The superstar 5-year old will get upset that they aren't scoring 10 goals per game anymore. When soccer at u08 isn't easy like it was at u05 they will get frustrated, burned out, or walk away from the game to look for new challenges. A superstar at u05 or u06 presents a whole different set of challenges for a coach.

Really?? I've seen that most of the kids that are studs at u17, u18, were studs at u6. Are there studs out there that weren't at u6? Of course there are. But I'd guess there are many more that were than werent.
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Post by bigtex75081 23/04/12, 01:48 pm

grassyknoll wrote:
bigtex75081 wrote:
grassyknoll wrote:
bigtex75081 wrote: The shy players that stick with it will eventually become the stars.

What happens to the not-so shy players that stick with it?
Seriously? The players that find HUGE success really early in their careers will need to find a coach that takes them out of their comfort zone. A coach that will stop them from doing the exact same thing over and over and over again during games. They will need to find a coach that pushes them to try new things. If they don't find a coach like that, and instead they stay with a coach that only uses them to win games (at the U06 level mind you) those players will stop advancing. The other players that were too shy to stop them before, will figure out how to manage the different situations, and will begin catching up. The superstar 5-year old will get upset that they aren't scoring 10 goals per game anymore. When soccer at u08 isn't easy like it was at u05 they will get frustrated, burned out, or walk away from the game to look for new challenges. A superstar at u05 or u06 presents a whole different set of challenges for a coach.

Really?? I've seen that most of the kids that are studs at u17, u18, were studs at u6. Are there studs out there that weren't at u6? Of course there are. But I'd guess there are many more that were than werent.
The kids that were studs at u06 and are still studs at U17 and u18... those kids (and their families) found the right coaches to move down the path with. Being a star at u06 doesn't automatically mean your going to be a star in college.
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Post by txtransplant 23/04/12, 02:23 pm

There may not be anything you can do about it and it is also quite possible that there is more than fear of being hit by the ball.

My '05 grew up at practices. When we lived in Oklahoma, I coached both her older sisters from the time she was 18 months. She grew up aggressive and competitive. When we moved here a year ago, she played 3v3 rec. I decided to move her to academy after I watched her lay down a clean slide tackle weeks before she turned six.

Academy was a challenge socially. She was the smallest on the team despite the fact two girls were playing a year up. In the summer, her team played indoor. The coach intended for them to play up a year (U6 playing U7), but due to a lack of teams, they were moved up another year. Being a young six year old, she was now playing kids that were turning nine by the time summer leagues were over.

She got hammered. A lot. And not just by opposing players.

In practice, she got ran over by teammates that elbowed and shoved kids off the ball. As a coach, one of three rules I enforced before every game was no elbowing, pushing, or shoving. So the style of play they got away with went against what she had been taught for years.

As summer went to fall, things became worse. Her own teammates would knock her off the ball during games and she would allow it. Her teammates didn't respect her because they felt she was weak. And perhaps she is. But ironically, she'll still go toe to toe with her 11 yr old sister who plays select. She has great ball skills. She has speed. She has passing accuracy better than many kids years older than her. But she's small and not a powerful player. She also no longer plays organized soccer at this time.

It's easy to get caught up in all things club. Take a good hard look to see if you are in academy for her or for you. Looking back at it, I made a mistake. I wanted to get out of coaching rec. I despise 3v3 and 4v4 soccer. But my six year old didn't have the self-confidence to be as competitive/aggressive as she needed to be despite her love of soccer. As a result, she'll probably go back to rec in the fall and I'll be back coaching. Not what I want to do, but it's not about me.

I truly do hope things work out with your DD.
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Post by Gunner9 23/04/12, 02:26 pm

I thought she said the kid was 5 years old. Academy? Or did she mean '05?
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Post by txtransplant 23/04/12, 02:32 pm

Ooops. I may have misunderstood. Read it as having played rec and now playing '06 academy since there were mentions of indoor and playing up.

Either way, she's still young. Remember that (I'm going to assume a moment) for years you have taught your daughter to share her toys, to not grab and take things from other children, to play nice. Now you're sticking her on a soccer field and telling her to do the exact opposite. Some kids grasp that difference sooner than others. Give it time.
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Post by 06Girls 23/04/12, 02:42 pm

My daughter is 5 years old (U6)

We started playing rec soccer at the YMCA. She was only 3 years old but they put her on pre-k team. After that we attempted to retain her in pre-k however due to a lack of teams in her age division she had to get bumped up to kindergarten. The team that she had at that point she has stuck with all they way up to now. Currently she is in kindergarten, her team is a first grade team and they are playing in the second grade division. My dd is the only one that is about two years younger than the competition. For the past couple of seasons she has came up being the only scorer on the team, she was always quite aggressive until recently. We will not be returning to her team next season but we will place her back into her age divison. I think that it is easy to get caught up, and that it is probably better to let them practice "up" but depending on the child it may not be best to play "up". My dd still plays soccer and enjoys it, she goes to an academy program once a week, and plays organized 3v3 pick up soccer once a week, in addition to regualar/daily practicing. Lucky for me, she loves soccer and wants to spend every moment doing something soccer-related. Something I definitely want to nourish. I agree, we have entertained the thought of putting her in academy all year round but I think we should probably hold off for now b/c I don't want it to do more harm than good. Especially if she has not successfully mastered her level yet. In the meantime we'll just let her have fun and still prepare her for academy and cross that bridge when we get to it.

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Post by 06Girls 23/04/12, 02:49 pm

@TXTRANSPLANT: Could be. My child is actually aggressive by nature, so you would think that the "aggressive" nature would transfer to the field. She is the type of daughter that likes to play fight with her dad. As I explained earlier, she use to be aggressive but it recently stopped. When I asked her why she said she was afraid to get hit by the ball or another person as she has many times before. It's funny because I have seen kids that are non-aggressive off the field but are aggressive on the field...which is weird to me.

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Post by Gunner9 23/04/12, 03:01 pm

06Girls wrote:My daughter is 5 years old (U6)

We started playing rec soccer at the YMCA. She was only 3 years old but they put her on pre-k team. After that we attempted to retain her in pre-k however due to a lack of teams in her age division she had to get bumped up to kindergarten. The team that she had at that point she has stuck with all they way up to now. Currently she is in kindergarten, her team is a first grade team and they are playing in the second grade division. My dd is the only one that is about two years younger than the competition. For the past couple of seasons she has came up being the only scorer on the team, she was always quite aggressive until recently. We will not be returning to her team next season but we will place her back into her age divison. I think that it is easy to get caught up, and that it is probably better to let them practice "up" but depending on the child it may not be best to play "up". My dd still plays soccer and enjoys it, she goes to an academy program once a week, and plays organized 3v3 pick up soccer once a week, in addition to regualar/daily practicing. Lucky for me, she loves soccer and wants to spend every moment doing something soccer-related. Something I definitely want to nourish. I agree, we have entertained the thought of putting her in academy all year round but I think we should probably hold off for now b/c I don't want it to do more harm than good. Especially if she has not successfully mastered her level yet. In the meantime we'll just let her have fun and still prepare her for academy and cross that bridge when we get to it.

One of my gd's just turned 5 (U5) and has shown some affinity for the game as well. She loves to play and goes to skills with an older academy group with her older sister. I've attended a couple of sessions and I noticed while she hangs fairly well with the older kids in skills, when they scrimmage at the end, she is nowhere near aggressive enough to be effective with these kids (06's and an '05 or two). The coach of the '06 team asked if she wanted to join the team but we declined. While as fast as the older kids, she is relatively slight and I can't see where playing up at this age will benefit her. We'll continue to do skills with the older group but for now she will stay with her U5 rec team. I wondered when I read your post about her getting hit in the face. In my gd's U5 division, I don't think there are more than 1 or 2 kids in the whole league that can hit a ball that high....LOL. As to instilling aggression, it's a very tough thing to do. In my experience, when a kid has confidence in their ability, they will play more aggressively. The good news is she is 5. There is plenty of time.

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Post by 06Girls 23/04/12, 04:24 pm

I am not really sure what the head coach's motive was to play our girls up to second grade, I do know that we play against second grade in the our end of season shootout so I think that was part of his reason for playing them up to second grade. Last season we had no choice but to play 2nd grade in the shootout tourney and we won 2nd place. However I just asked my daughter about playing with her current team and she told me that she didn't like playing with them b/c the girls we played against were big and always beat us. Needless to say we won't be following this team next season and we will be making sure she stays in her age group.

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Post by txtransplant 23/04/12, 05:17 pm

Another thing to consider... is she good at practice drills but seems lost during scrimmages or on the field?

When kids go on the field they suddenly do not have the security of a coach standing three feet away telling them exactly what to do. They aren't sure who to cover or where to go. If your DD is a perfectionist and is afraid of making a mistake, then soccer may not be the sport for her.

My middle DD played for a year and then I pulled her from soccer completely. She still loves to play in the backyard, loves to play at school, etc. But when she got on a field, the situation was vastly different for her. She thrives with structure so she now does dance because the repetitive motions learned to perfection with zero improvisation suits her well. She also is very good at golf because it gives her time to contemplate her next shot. This is the complete opposite of my oldest who was a very strong gymnast and hated the structure and repetition.

Maybe try some one week sport camps through the summer to see if she excels at something else. It might be her personality or her thinking process that is her biggest hinderance.

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Post by 06Girls 23/04/12, 06:25 pm

She is good at practice drills, but she is not at all lost during the game. She just isn't as aggressive as some of the other players on the field. She use to be aggressive on the field, but all of a suddent its as though she has acquired her own thinking and has decided its best to "wait" for the ball to come out of the "bunching up" that the girls tend to do. The coach plays her as forward, so that helps her get the ball up the field to the goal. Sometimes she makes it, sometimes she doesn't. The defender/sweeper is usually the one that she has difficulty going around.

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Post by copa44 23/04/12, 08:45 pm

You're description matches my dd. She's 8, has been playing rec or academy since age 5 off and on. She has a brother who plays U10, she would fight him and his teammates to the death for a ball(she's known them for years), but on the field was timid. We finally figured out she did great at rec but was a completely different player (timid) at her academy games. Difference was she was playing up. She was as good as the older girls, she just had NO confidence. We had always played her up because we knew and liked the coaches and they wanted her - they had coached bb and had seen her play.. It was just too much for her to play up and hurt her confidence a lot, wish we had never done it even though we thought it was best. So we've pulled her and will find her an 04 team in the fall

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Post by USA203 23/04/12, 08:55 pm

but all of a suddent its as though she has acquired her own thinking and has decided its best to "wait" for the ball to come out of the "bunching up" that the girls tend to do

Perhaps she is just plain smart and needs a team where her teammates are also smart and don't bunch so much! Smile

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Post by Booked again 23/04/12, 11:17 pm

Some kids are advanced mentally and physically and excel against older players. Some may have the foot skill etc., but the speed and physical play of older girls is too much for others. I think you are making the right move placing her back in her own age group. If she is going to overcome it, it will be there. It should allow her to build confidence and progress. Playing up is great for some kids, but its not for everyone.
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