There are two important reasons why we encourage IBU Juniors teams to follow a rotation policy.
- Development of the players
- Team cohesion and happiness
Development of the players
“Good players need to know the whole pitch.”
“The modern game at the top – level is lightening quick, so a player needs to be able to react quickly and correctly to the largely unpredictable situations as they evolve in front of them.
Another aspect of this awareness is the ability to play comfortably and effectively in any part of the field. By contrast all too many British players have been ‘pigeon – holed’ early in their careers to play in a set role, position as part of the field which severely limits their footballing development. The consequence of this is that many of them become ‘one-eyed’ in terms of their awareness rarely daring to venture into other areas of the field other than the ones that they are used to and when they do they perform poorly.”
Rotation will sometimes mean that you will not have the best players in the position you want to score the most goals and win the most games. So occasionally you may get a lesser result however the primary aim of junior football is player development not game winning.
There are some solid development reasons to use a rotation policy;
- It is recommended by FIFA, NZF, Johann Cruyff and most reputable junior academies
- The temptation is to put your best player on strike so they can score goals. However what say your best player will grow up to be an international central defender. Ryan Nelsen was probably the best player in his 9th grade team. Ironically an IBUJ player was selected for the reps. He was always a defender in his team. The reps gave him a chance as a striker and he started to score goals – lots of them – who knew?
- The Capital Football rep coaches report that most players selected for the reps are strikers. So at the age of 12 the multi- positional education begins. This is quite late.
- After a season of rotation the 2012 10th grade Sharks saw a natural striker track back 40 mtrs in defence. This player hated playing defence but he had learnt.
Team cohesion and happiness
Once the reasons for rotation are explained and everyone accepts the team superstar will not be left to score the goals then everyone relaxes.
Kids have an acute fairness radar. Rotation is obviously fair to all and you will find they accept it easily.
The parents are then left with one issue to handle, “I hate being in defence” or “I suck at striker”. The explanation is always that everyone needs to take their turn – end of story. This is one of the valuable lessons to be gained from being part of a team.
There is one source of unhappiness that is eliminated by rotation. If the team does not follow rotation and a player is put in a position they dislike for the season then they will start to complain to their parents. The player will either be told to “take one for the team” or the parent will in turn get in the ear of the coach. It is natural for a parent to be protective of their child’s happiness – that is to be scared of their unhappiness – so these discussions can become heated. This can easily lead to serious division in a team.
In summary rotation gives everyone – parents and players confidence that everyone is a valued member of the team and will treated fairly. It also ensures that we keep our eye on the primary goal of junior football which developing well rounded players.
How do you do it?
It is very simple. If you have 9 players in your squad you have a 9 week rotation, 11 in squad 11 weeks etc. See the attached spreadsheet.
A couple of tips.
- Create an order so that your best player is paired with your weakest . Then second best with second weakest etc. This will ensure you don’t have all your strength in one part of the field.
- Don’t play the weeks in sequence. If you do a player may be in defence three weeks in a row. Play week one then week four then week seven etc until you have been through all sequences.
- Choose one position to be the captain each week – striker is good
- Start substitutions from the back. That is the first substitutes come on for the right and centre back. When the starting right and center back have finished their time on the side they come on for the right back and the left mid – who come on for center mid and right mid and finally the striker . This is because striker is a bit of a treat.
- If you are rotating the keeper then a complete game or half is easiest to manage
- If someone is away take the opportunity to use the week where they are substitute first. Don’t use their week as striker.
Any questions please email ; firstname.lastname@example.org