On Saturday, both the U6 and U8 teams had their second matches.
We had six of our seven team members for the match – which meant every boy played three quarters and a couple got time in the fourth quarter.
The U8 Boys had an early morning match – at 9 AM. These are a little more challenging to get the team to on time, but we are fortunate only to be about 10 minutes from Fowler Park.
The team warmed up with some 1v1 play again. I really think for this age group and younger kids it’s the most effective way to warm up – since they are still so individually focused and the most important aspects of their game is dribbling and 1v1 defending.
Before the match, I also introduced the idea of retreating to midfield whenever the opponent has a goalkick or the goalkeeper picks up the ball. The kids were receptive and seemed to understand it during the match and it really helped their defense. Prior to the fourth quarter, we also talked about a defensive line across the field and each player working specific areas. That lasted for a few minutes and then reduced to the more chaotic format.
We showed more commitment to dribbling in today’s match than I had seen in our first week or during scrimmages in practice. There was still a lot of balls blasted downfield, but several kids who I hadn’t seen dribbled did at least briefly during the match. Maybe by the fourth match we can upgrade the skills level of the team a lot! It’s a hard habit to break – that impulse to get the ball away – and hopefully we can continue to improve in this area.
Our team scored one goal – I’m proud to report my son was the responsible man. He showed a lot of skill on the ball and dribbled past a couple of defenders before shooting. Two other boys had shots on goal after similar runs – so I know they have the skills in them to do even more this season.
Based off of today’s match, I think I’ll repeat a 1v1 exercise in the U8 team’s practice this week. Perhaps after that we’ll run a similar 2v2 game – but first talk about how to use the second player on each side of the ball (1v1, then 2v1 and then 2v2). Perhaps if the boys “build” an offensive and defensive side to the ball and work it out, it might be stickier in their minds.
We had another lunchtime match for the U6 team, and all six team members played today.
Today, they were really successful – with four of our six players scoring!
In addition to my son, two other members of the team were on our squad last year. I think one of the two never scored in either the Fall or Spring season. Today though, the sparks came alive and he scored four times! He really engaged with dribbling today as well as on defense. I was happy for him to have that success. I hope it gives him increased interest in the weeks to come.
Otherwise, we really had a similar performance to the first week. We have two players on the team who score with ease most of the time because they can dribble well. My son Evan shows a great confidence on the ball and is also fearless it seems – although he has a tendency to fall and get hurt as well. His game sense is what really surprises me I think – he’s got a nose for the ball and knows what direction play is moving.
That’s my big question – how do you teach that nose for the ball? It would really be useful with the U8 team for them to be more direction aware, but it isn’t coming yet and was our major impediment last spring on the U7 team. I’m hoping more time scrimmaging or with pick-up the kids build that awareness.