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MUST READ "Relative Age Effect"

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Post by santos.l.halper 12/10/15, 10:50 am

If you are not familiar with the "relative age effect" and its impacts on our kids, you might want to read this.  This rings true to my experience with my kids and the ones I coach too.

http://changingthegameproject.com/help-my-child-is-a-late-bloomer-5-tips-for-overcoming-the-relative-age-effect-in-youth-sports/

Under the current "old" system, a U7 player born in October, November or December would be relatively old (more developed) for her soccer age group.  Moving to the "new" system that same player would be among the youngest in the league, a "late bloomer". The article gives some good tips for how to help and encourage your kid when she is the youngest/smallest, etc.

Thoughts?
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Post by RightWingDad 12/10/15, 11:31 am

The recommendations the author proposes are good, especially the part about sports being a marathon not a sprint...so be patient and encouraging to your young athlete.

I think the hardest part of the "finding play time" is when you go down a division or two, or league I think you find more kids and coaches who have a casual attitude towards the sport. The most committed kids with the drive to excel and push each other are usually at the top. Not in all cases of course, but it certainly has been my observation.
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Post by santos.l.halper 12/10/15, 11:40 am

RightWingDad wrote:
I think the hardest part of the "finding play time" is when you go down a division or two, or league I think you find more kids and coaches who have a casual attitude towards the sport. The most committed kids with the drive to excel and push each other are usually at the top. Not in all cases of course, but it certainly has been my observation.

Agree, I am not recommending or advising that we all move late bloomers to rec. I just want us to be sensitive to the issue when we are parenting or coaching the late bloomers.

I believe encouraging the kids to focus on technical work (ball control) will pay dividends, and remind them that they can "make up" what they lack in size and speed with foot skills and vision (soccer intelligence). Even if they don't catch up developmentally, they can see that Messi and Cazorla and other similar diminutive players are regularly the smallest men on the pitch but the best playmakers.
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Post by RightWingDad 12/10/15, 12:38 pm

Santos,

I like your line of thinking...it's the way I'd like to see things pan out...but I have to ask.

Is it fare to compare men to women when it comes to development and success? The reason I ask is because yes, you are correct about some of the smaller guys in the great Euro leagues being studs. However look at the USWNT roster. I did not check them all, but seems only Meghan Klingenberg is of smaller stature physically. The rest are at least above average height for a woman...5'5".

Japan has very good players with great technique and skill, with the exception of their goalie they are all of much shorter stature...and look what happened to them at WWC, they were absolutely crushed.

Seems we like big, strong, fast players here in the USA...and especially in North Texas. The bigger, the stronger and the more physical seem to get the attention and focus.

I know of a certain well respected coach in NT who will often look at the parents and if they are tall with athletic build, that will catch his eye...because what he is looking for (size, strength, speed) is "in-the-genes".

So I ask, is it fare to compare boys/men to girls/women beyond the U11 age group?
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Post by Guest 12/10/15, 01:03 pm

santos.l.halper wrote:
Agree, I am not recommending or advising that we all move late bloomers to rec.  I just want us to be sensitive to the issue when we are parenting or coaching the late bloomers.

I believe encouraging the kids to focus on technical work (ball control) will pay dividends, and remind them that they can "make up" what they lack in size and speed with foot skills and vision (soccer intelligence). 

I see this a lot already, the smaller/slower kids that are ball-masters. I want to see the kids WITH the size and speed advantage, that also have the best foot-skills.

Actually, I don't want to see it. Very Happy Everyone, just keep doing what you're doing.

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Post by santos.l.halper 12/10/15, 02:21 pm

To be clear, here are the takeaways from the article and studies mentioned in it:

1. There is a clear and statistically proven effect of what age a child is in competitive sports, in relation to their peers on the team and league. The studies across many sports show that a child on the younger end of the age group is at a competitive disadvantage due to their "relative age gap" in that group. This is true regardless of whether the playing year starts on Jan 1 or Aug 1.
1.A. A related point is that if your DD has a late year birthday (Oct, Nov, Dec), she is currently one of the older kids on her team, but in the new system, she will be among the youngest. So heads up

2. There are some studies that show that the younger players / late bloomers can overcome this gap and become elite players of their sport. The interesting question is how, which leads to the next point...

3. The focus of the article (and my post) is to sensitize parents and coaches of this gap, and to provide suggestions for how to encourage and coach our kids who are late bloomers not to be discouraged, and to focus on their own development of the things they can do something about (skill, reps, vision, fitness, etc.). They will probably (but not always) "catch up" on the physical development.

4. Smaller players can compete with larger stronger players in different ways. I am not saying "smaller = better". Yes, if two players are comparable in skill, but one is much more athletically built, I cant blame a college coach for giving a scholarship to the bigger one or national team coach for giving the playing time to the one with size. But at the ages of our kids, all players (regardless of size) should develop the skills, intelligence, and fitness they would need.

To get to your question RightWing:

RightWingDad wrote:
Japan has very good players with great technique and skill, with the exception of their goalie they are all of much shorter stature...and look what happened to them at WWC, they were absolutely crushed.

I know of a certain well respected coach in NT who will often look at the parents and if they are tall with athletic build, that will catch his eye...because what he is looking for (size, strength, speed) is "in-the-genes".

So I ask, is it fare to compare boys/men to girls/women beyond the U11 age group?

The Japanese women actually show that smaller players can compete and win at the highest levels (they played in 2 consecutive WC finals and won one) against the larger teams.

Good discussion.
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Post by RightWingDad 12/10/15, 02:33 pm

Yes they did win one of them. I think the real effort was in coming back to level the game to get to PKs.

My take on PK's is when it gets to that point it's pretty much luck. Anyone can win or lose in PK's and it's not really about talent/skill as luck and coping with pressure.

That said, all part of the game.
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Post by Guest 12/10/15, 03:15 pm

After watching the Japanese women connect about 1000 passes in that WC finals match, with many of those passes in tight spaces and under heavy pressure, I was guessing that they could put the ball wherever they wanted at an extremely high accuracy rate. I don't think that particular ending was luck. They were by far the more precise team for the entire match.

I think timely, properly weighted and accurate passing are neglected by most teams. I watch teams warmup all the time, players standing 10 yds apart and passing back and forth. Girls are constantly chasing after the ball, because they can't hit a stationary target that is 10 yds away, while under zero pressure or they can't receive a pass without popping it up in the air chest high.  Good with both feet is even more rare.

Everybody watches it, nobody says a word. Must just be me.

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Post by RightWingDad 12/10/15, 03:51 pm

OLJW,

Yes, I observe much the same. I'm trying to encourage my dd to work on first touch, convinced if she can master that she'd gain maybe 3 to 4 seconds of time needed to make the proper decision (soccer IQ).

I'm still a believer that skill, technique and soccer IQ are the most important factors in this game. It however does not always translate to victories...which is hard for most sports minded Americans...especially for those who participate in pay-to-play soccer.
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Post by Guest 12/10/15, 04:49 pm

I'd agree with your line of thinking. Around here, bigger, stronger, faster seems to be what most are looking for. Bigger, stronger, faster is fine but if that's all you have, then you have a bigger, stronger, faster version of crappy soccer. Bigger, stronger, faster is the easy way. Bigger, stronger, faster will win you a bunch of games. But if bigger, stronger, faster was the best way, then the Japanese would never win a game. The very best players and teams in this game aren't bigger, stronger, faster........they're smarter and more skilled.

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Post by RightWingDad 12/10/15, 04:57 pm

I hope you are right by the time they are U17-19. B/C what I see at U13 is that most kids don't have the strength to connect/receive a 20-30 yard pass or switch the field and control it. When you are trying to connect short passes it gives the bigger, stronger players more ability to knock you off the ball, regardless of skill. And they know the ref simply won't call those fouls should they get a little rough...60-70% of the time anyway.
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