Panthers on the Web!: Panther News

Thursday, March 25
A Word About Substitutions and Positions

I would like to explain a little about substitutions during the game and the positions on the field.  I hope this will help you understand, a little better, what is happening on the field.  If you still have questions, please feel free to contact me or grab me at the field to get an explanation.

Regarding substitutions, in the U12 Division, we play 11 v. 11, full-sided soccer.  This means each team has 11 players on the field at a time and we play on a full-size soccer field.  With 16 players on the roster, obviously everyone cannot start each game.  As such, it is necessary to substitute players in and out of the game.   We do not have a regular "starting lineup".  Each player should expect that they will start some games and go in as a substitute in some games.

At this level, each player at the game, who is regularly attending practice, is expected to play at least 1/2 of every game.  Exceptions would be discipline or injury issues.  This does NOT mean that each player will play an equal amount of time, but that each will be slotted to play at least 1/2 of the game.  Please be aware that in any given half, or even any given game, this may not always work out; however, over the course of the season, it should average out.  This will occur most often due to the fact that we are limited as to when we can make substitutions.

Substitutions can be made: 1) At the beginning of any half; 2) On any goal; 3) On any goal kick; and 4) On a Panther's throw-in. Even in those situations, substitutions may be completed only with the permission of the referee.  Injuries are the obvious exception.  An injured player or players for whom play has been stopped MUST leave the game for substitute.  In this situation, the other team allowed an equal number of substitutions. 

The game is played in two (2), thirty-five (35) minute halves.  If it is especially hot/humid or if one or both teams is short-handed, the referee may agree to provide a quick "water break" at a normal stoppage of play occurring near the half-way point of each half.  This will allow the boys to rest and get a drink when, with usual substitutions, they might not be able to do so.  I generally try to rotate subs in every 5-10 minutes; however, at times it may be longer while waiting for a stoppage as described above where a legal substitution can be made.

At this age, I fully expect the boys to be paying attention to the game and to be ready to go in when and where I request.  When the referee allows a substitution, we must complete it quickly without undue delay.  The boys must be prepared when the whistle blows for the substitution and there simply is no time to repeat their assignments as the game starts up again quickly.  If a player is not ready when told to go into the game, he will have to continue sitting until the next round of substitutions.   That will reduce his overall playing time.  Please be assured that they are given their assignments well in advance and reminded at least once before they are sent in.  Your help in encouraging the boys about this when discussing the game and/or the team would really be appreciated.

As for the positions on the field, we generally deal with four.  They are: 1) Forward; 2) Midfield; 3) Defense; and 4) Goalkeeper (my personal favorite as I was a Keeper when I played soccer and hockey growing up!)  During the game, we will be using two different systems  a 4-3-3 system (4 Defenders, 3 Midfielders and 3 Forwards) and a 3-4-3 system(3 Defenders, 4 Midfielders and 3 Forwards).  Later in the season, we may try to switch to a 4-4-2 system, but that will depend on the team's overall speed and the strength of our opponent.

With the exception of Goalkeeper, players will likely have an opportunity to play all field positions.  Unless a player specifically asks to play only Defense or only Midfield, there should be opportunities (not equal time at each, necessarily) at all 3 positions.  A player who constantly asks to play Forward only will likely NOT find himself playing that position very often. Everyone wants the glory of scoring goals, but this is a team sport.  As the boys develop, they will find a position that brings out their strengths.  As that occurs, the boys may end up playing predominantly that position.  They will NOT play only one position throughout the year.  Again, all players should have a chance to play each of the field positions.

As for the Keeper, any player who expresses a desire to try to play goal, WILL be given the opportunity to play goal.  It may not be immediately, but it will happen.  We do have some talented and experienced Keepers and, when the situation calls for it, we may use that experience to our advantage; however, I have a strong preference, when possible, not to have any player spend more than 1/2 of any one game in goal unless absolutely necessary.  Again, over the course of the season, any player who wants a shot will be given a chance in the goal to try it out. 

Finally, each player on the field must come to the field with a desire to play and have fun.  If, for any reason, a player tells me that he'd rather sit out (whether it is for injury, illness, exhaustion, temperature (too cold/too hot), etc., I WILL NOT PUT THEM ON THE FIELD.  There are several reasons for this; however, the two most important are fun and safety.  A player who does not want to go into a game is not going to enjoy himself.  A player who is not giving his all on the field could be a hazard both to himself and to those on the field giving 100%.  As such, I will NOT force a player onto the field if he tells me he doesn't want to play.  What I may do, if it does not appear to be just a temporary thing (ie, I got kicked in the leg and I'm still trying to "walk it off"), is ask the player to go speak to his parent(s) about the situation.  Again, your help in encouraging the boys to get back on the field is very much appreciated.  Obviously, this only applies if they are physically capable of returning to play.

Please also keep in mind that the coaches are parent-volunteers and not World Cup Championship professional coaches.  Despite our best efforts, we may at times overlook someone or something accidently.  Should that occur (it will), please feel free to discuss it with me and bring it to my attention; however, remembering the above will make any conversation more pleasant to get through.  Those of you who have been Panthers for several seasons know that I am not above bringing the whole group of boys together and apologizing to them for mistakes I have made. This game is a learning experience for ALL of us.

Last, thank you for your continued support.  I hope that this will be a fun and exciting season where everyone, including parents and coaches, learns something new about the game of Soccer and has fun doing it.

See you on the field.

 Coach Jeff