Question for Parents of Olders

I don't think the statement about smaller boys at a young age is true. Lots of great flight 1 teams with smaller players at young teams. Smaller boys play different positions and have to be more agile. The 7-9th grade years is when size becomes an issue because puberty comes later for some and may create a 1.5 feet height difference. If your player has not developed great footskills and quickness, the puberty years can be tough. If your player is having a hard time hanging with bigger players during puberty, it's not a bad idea to drop a flight or two until they can handle it. Some small players can hang and some can't. Be realistic and observant as a parent. It's ok to drop off to another flight to protect your child and prepare him for the future. Don't let flight dictate the puberty years, let growth and development do it. When your child is 16, that's when scouts start paying attention unless they're an early bloomer and already 6 feet by 14. Some kids will get noticed first but others will remain noticed once they hit their stride. Scouts know about puberty too.

If your player was never fast or quick...it's very unlikely they will develop that skill after puberty. They will get faster and quicker but so will the other players, therefore your player will still be slower than others. Yes, there are exceptions to this but it's a very small %. Uncoordinated small kids generally grow up to be uncoordinated tall adults.

My son wasn't always the tallest or biggest but he was quick. When he grew legs, he became fast because he was always able to move his legs quickly. I've seen most of the boys do the same through puberty.
I disagree about the youngers. My kid had just started club ball when they made the age switch and it proved to be a tremendous disadvantage. He went from being the tallest and fastest to at best middle of the pack. Lots of coaches in the early flights needing to get promotions also play run and shoot ball so that extra leg speed is of benefit for both the attacking players and the defensive players.

To see the difference, his private elementary school ran an annual jog athon where the boys and girls competed separately but all the age classes competed together. The winner for the last 10 years (with 1 exception) has been a fifth grader. Yes there are some 4th graders who finish higher than the fifth grader, but ON AVERAGE the older the boy the better they perform. He finished second the jog a thon his final year, first was a birthday roughly his age, beating out another 5th grader who is very small and agile but is 8 months younger and just simply couldn't keep up with either of them in the multiple laps even though he dominated the first lap, trained cross country, and trained for the event (while the two winning boys, basketball and soccer GK respectively, didn't)

Otherwise agree.
 
I disagree about the youngers. My kid had just started club ball when they made the age switch and it proved to be a tremendous disadvantage. He went from being the tallest and fastest to at best middle of the pack. Lots of coaches in the early flights needing to get promotions also play run and shoot ball so that extra leg speed is of benefit for both the attacking players and the defensive players.

To see the difference, his private elementary school ran an annual jog athon where the boys and girls competed separately but all the age classes competed together. The winner for the last 10 years (with 1 exception) has been a fifth grader. Yes there are some 4th graders who finish higher than the fifth grader, but ON AVERAGE the older the boy the better they perform. He finished second the jog a thon his final year, first was a birthday roughly his age, beating out another 5th grader who is very small and agile but is 8 months younger and just simply couldn't keep up with either of them in the multiple laps even though he dominated the first lap, trained cross country, and trained for the event (while the two winning boys, basketball and soccer GK respectively, didn't)

Otherwise agree.
We all have different perspective and experiences sometimes.

Our youngest son was on the smaller & younger side up until sophomore year in high school when he was about average weight & height. At graduation he was taller vs average player but no means big at 5.10" 150ish.

Soccer is about speed, skills, and a mindset for most of the youth years. Have to put them all together will some luck, good coaching, support and with other players that compliment each other if they really want to play at the highest levels and compete for championships.

His elementary school had a track team but you had tryout or clock certain times to make it. We had mostly 5th graders but 3 or so underclassmen with (2) of 4th grader setting track records at a couple meets. The longer legged runners where tougher to beat but possible down the stretch at certain distances.

Best advice for younger players is work on your footwork, ball skills, running stamina, and speed and develop your game to fit your style. Size or age in soccer is a factor no doubt but it's no bigger than some of the other things that will make a difference.

Can't really change genetics , growth patterns or spurts. Good diet and developing all aspects of skills and game play by participating in as much soccer they fell comfortable with can go a long way.
 

Emma

SILVER ELITE
I disagree about the youngers. My kid had just started club ball when they made the age switch and it proved to be a tremendous disadvantage. He went from being the tallest and fastest to at best middle of the pack. Lots of coaches in the early flights needing to get promotions also play run and shoot ball so that extra leg speed is of benefit for both the attacking players and the defensive players.

To see the difference, his private elementary school ran an annual jog athon where the boys and girls competed separately but all the age classes competed together. The winner for the last 10 years (with 1 exception) has been a fifth grader. Yes there are some 4th graders who finish higher than the fifth grader, but ON AVERAGE the older the boy the better they perform. He finished second the jog a thon his final year, first was a birthday roughly his age, beating out another 5th grader who is very small and agile but is 8 months younger and just simply couldn't keep up with either of them in the multiple laps even though he dominated the first lap, trained cross country, and trained for the event (while the two winning boys, basketball and soccer GK respectively, didn't)

Otherwise agree.
My son always played flight 1 then letter leagues as a starter and half his team was always small, including him. Almost every team we played against had at least 2-3 small players who were very impressive. As we always said, watch out for the small ones, they're on the team because they're very good, not because they can out muscle or out run someone.

My daughter went thru the age change and her first year she struggled because she was the youngest. Thereafter, she figured out how to handle the that she wasn't always one of the biggest and fastest players, she started working on her foot skills speed, passing accuracy and stamina. Age change was probably the best thing for her because she was forced to adapt and learn soccer skills rather than rely on her speed and strength.
 

Jar!23

BRONZE
Smaller kids have to rely on speed, both on and off the ball, passing accurately and quickly, and good footwork. Being able to pay the entire game without slowing down and playing whatever position is needed will make the player so important to the team.

My own experience is that I have a small boy who hasn’t had his growth spurt yet. But he is quick and has good foot skills. He doesn’t stay on the ball longer than he has to and makes good passes quickly. Bigger opponents don’t have many chances to knock him off the ball. ic he is defending he doesn’t usually try to shoulder or knock the other kid off but instead focuses on the ball, staying in front of the attacking player to slow him down or make him lose the ball or cutting off an angle. The problem right now for him is in shooting with power. The boys on his team tend to be smaller and would get very nervous if they saw bigger opponents. They would play in a fearful manner because they didn’t want to get hurt. That feeling seems to have faded a bit after getting used to playing bigger kids.

Bigger kids have an easy time knocking kids off the ball (also leads to more foul calls) or running through defenders. They also tend to have a stronger power kick to bang in goals.

To me speed and good passing is more important than size. But most importantly, the kid has to keep playing. Doesn’t matter how great or terrible the player is if he stops playing. Many kids on your current team if its a younger group will stop playing in the next 2-3 years.
 
Smaller kids have to rely on speed, both on and off the ball, passing accurately and quickly, and good footwork. Being able to pay the entire game without slowing down and playing whatever position is needed will make the player so important to the team.

My own experience is that I have a small boy who hasn’t had his growth spurt yet. But he is quick and has good foot skills. He doesn’t stay on the ball longer than he has to and makes good passes quickly. Bigger opponents don’t have many chances to knock him off the ball. ic he is defending he doesn’t usually try to shoulder or knock the other kid off but instead focuses on the ball, staying in front of the attacking player to slow him down or make him lose the ball or cutting off an angle. The problem right now for him is in shooting with power. The boys on his team tend to be smaller and would get very nervous if they saw bigger opponents. They would play in a fearful manner because they didn’t want to get hurt. That feeling seems to have faded a bit after getting used to playing bigger kids.

Bigger kids have an easy time knocking kids off the ball (also leads to more foul calls) or running through defenders. They also tend to have a stronger power kick to bang in goals.

To me speed and good passing is more important than size. But most importantly, the kid has to keep playing. Doesn’t matter how great or terrible the player is if he stops playing. Many kids on your current team if its a younger group will stop playing in the next 2-3 years.
You make a really good point about shooting with power (which seems to be less of an issue with the very Younger’s) which becomes an issue on the boys end around 12 13 and 14. Part of it is the puberty issue: bigger frame stronger kick. But the other issue is the gkers. By 11 and 12 most of them have begun specialized training and can dive on a weaker shot with their area. Unless the gk is a beginner, you aren’t going to score against them on a weak shot into their bubble even on a 1v1. That leaves 3 options: a shot perfectly placed either over the keeper or to a corner, a shot banger heavy enough the keeper doesn’t have time to react, or a cross into the area between the 6 and Pk when the keeper is postside.
 

Jar!23

BRONZE
You make a really good point about shooting with power (which seems to be less of an issue with the very Younger’s) which becomes an issue on the boys end around 12 13 and 14. Part of it is the puberty issue: bigger frame stronger kick. But the other issue is the gkers. By 11 and 12 most of them have begun specialized training and can dive on a weaker shot with their area. Unless the gk is a beginner, you aren’t going to score against them on a weak shot into their bubble even on a 1v1. That leaves 3 options: a shot perfectly placed either over the keeper or to a corner, a shot banger heavy enough the keeper doesn’t have time to react, or a cross into the area between the 6 and Pk when the keeper is postside.
I agree. When my boy’s team went to 11v11 on the big field, our gk who started specialized training a few months before, really grew into the position. The progress was incredible.

Definitely harder to score goals. My son used to consistently score goals, not the highest on the team but up there. As I said, he is a smaller kid. Now with playing 11v11, he can’t score much. The only goal he’s scored this year was in a situation where his teammate passed him a through ball as my kid was running, runs faster than the defender, gk comes out and my kid goes around him to slot the ball into the net. He can give assists pretty consistently though. Goes back to the question about size. If the kid isn’t big, speed is important. That will hold the kid through those 12-14 years when other kids are bigger.
 

youthsportsugghhh

SILVER ELITE
Someone might have already said this somewhere -- be smarter! If you aren't that big physically be big mentally. My undersized daughter played center back for years and did so admirably against bigger and stronger forwards; she just didn't let them touch the ball. Coaches and parents and the players on the other team would get flustered with playing her when their goal scoring machine didn't get a whiff! Ultimately she ran into a coach that moved her out of center back, not because of skill but the antiquated thought that she was too small to compete. Due to circumstances she was forced back to CB duties for a couple of games and after the refs approached her and said how well she had played, 2 wins. The coach when able moved her out again. Moving ultimately was good for her in the long run (2 years of struggle) as she can now play every non goal position on the field and rarely comes off.
 

watfly

PREMIER
I guess my next question to parents of olders is... How did height and size effect your player?
At least on the boy side of things at the top levels size matters significantly, particularly at U12-U14. My sons team is an anomaly in MLS Next in that his team is small. They were U14 last season and probably averaged 5'3 while I'd say most other teams averaged 5'7"-5'9". 6'+ players werent uncommon. My son is 5'1" and a bag of bones. He played kids that were a foot taller and twice his weight. I joked that our team was prepuberty playing postpuberty kids. Puberty is really the advantage more so than size per se.

Size really matters in the short term in club soccer. Assuming a kid is reasonably skilled, size is a significant characteristic that coaches look at for top winning teams at the u12-u14 level. Smaller kids can adapt at these ages but there is only so much they can do. My kid has learned to play smarter. He also has learned to play scrappier because the smaller/faster kids cant always keep the ball away from larger players as some have suggested. It doesn't hurt for some of the smaller kids to learn a few of the Dark Arts to level the playing against the bigger kids. The bigger kids hate nothing more than a scrappy and annoying small player. Its always fun to see a small player frustrate the crap out of a bigger player.

In the long run I believe the smaller players will benefit and the post puberty size difference advantages will be nominal. Unfortunately a few small kids may never get the chance due to our youth soccer culture's preference for bigger players.
 
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