A story made the rounds Monday on Twitter regarding the new policy of the Telford Junior League in England: Recording scores of 1-1 for a draw and 1-0 for a win regardless of the actual score of the match. Reaction from parents and coaches on the subject was mixed.
I guess we’ve had for years a similar policy in our club regarding recreation team records: there are none. (For my overseas readers, youth Soccer in the United States splits broadly into two major groups: Recreation and Academy/Select. Recreation is open sign up, without regard to prior skill and has parent volunteer coaches; Academy/Select is more selective and has higher costs due to professional coaching. For purposes of this article, I am mostly talking about recreation.)
So every time we set foot on the field with our U8 team – there is a referee, and he or she keeps his or her book – but at the end of the day no score is recorded and no league tables (standings) are kept. There is no end of season champion crowned.
So this kills the kids competitive spirit, right? Kids don’t have anything to play for since there isn’t a winner, right?
Kids keep score. And they do it pretty accurately. They know when they score a goal and they have a good idea of how many goals go in against them. They know what we’ve done on the season.
I’m not sure the boys on our U8 team could play any harder.
So what’s missing from our club by not keeping records?
I think it removes temptation from the adults charged with coaching and organizing teams. It’s very easy to get carried away as an adult in charge of, or associated with a youth sports team. And at the U8 age group – I could probably use some tactics in my decisions for each match that would alter the outcome of some of our matches.
I entered the season, and each match week, with the intent of teaching our team skills and imparting knowledge that will make them a better soccer player and a better athlete over time. It’s a long term engagement!
There are shortcuts I could take as a coach and tactics I could introduce to this limited rule set age group that would probably improve our short term performance. However, they would lose the advantage over time in future age groups as more of the laws of the game are applied to their game.
It’s frustrating as a coach to watch the kids struggle with the basic points of the sport – maintaining a dribble, not losing the ball to opponents, failing to engage 1v1, failing to use the turns taught in training to avoid the opponents. But I sincerely believe that they will grow over time in these areas through staying on a path of playing the game, and touching the ball and they will earn the wins later.
I also believe these wins will be enjoyed more because they didn’t come at the expense of player enjoyment that imposing specific use of certain players, or tactics, might bring.
As a parent, what do you see as the wins and losses of tracking wins and losses?
As a coach, do your young players fail to perform without the incentive of a league championship?