Early specialisation? Not yet

Guide 5 - 11

No one knows which players in the Foundation Phase will go on to play football, or any other sports, in a particular position in the future.
However, all young players should be comfortable, running, changing direction, throwing, catching and playing other sports.

This is what begins to give them confidence in their body and what it's capable of doing.

With this in mind many teams won’t have a designated goalkeeper for their matches and will instead rotate players in and out of goal to share this position. If your team does this then you may well experience a variety of reactions. Some players will play anywhere, do anything you ask and will remain confident and upbeat regardless of how they play. Other players may require a different approach when asked to “take their turn”.

In the clip that follows, Will is asked to take his turn. He plays rugby so is used to handling the ball and is a good choice when the coach is looking to rotate the goalkeeping position.

However, Will still needs help, support and encouragement when playing even though he appears quite relaxed about the whole thing.

Offering support

There are lots of benefits to giving players experience in different positions but this comes with a health warning. You must treat each child as an individual case as some will relish the challenge of playing in different positions whilst others may crumble at the thought of it.

Here are some ideas to think about:

  • Treat every player as an individual.
  • Play lots of multi-sport throwing and catching games in your warm ups as all children need to be able to throw and catch.
  • Try players in different positions in training before they do it in a match.
  • If you have a designated goalkeeper then get them to play as an outfield player in training and games as well to develop their ability on the ball.
  • Trust your gut feeling. If the player is going to have their confidence shattered by playing in goal, play a longer game rather than forcing the issue.
  • Talk to the parents to see how the player may react.

To learn more about Foundation Phase DNA, click here.

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