Playing Up?

Playing Up
By John Dingle 

Many players can benefit from the opportunity to play up an age group or more. Many considerations must be taken into account before players take on this challenge. Clubs should not set policy on this issue. The club’s role is to give the player and the family information so that they can make a decision in their best interest.

Issues to consider:

  • The player’s physical development in relation to the team’s physical development (A player has a better chance of preventing injury if their size is close to their team mates and opponents.
  • The player’s social development in the relation to the team’s social development (A player may be in the same grade which makes the playing up easier, if not the parents may have concerns and need to watch the team’s social development when considering playing up prior to pubescence)
  • The player’s cognitive development in relation to the team’s cognitive development (The player needs to understand the coach will be challenging the players at the common cognitive level of the team. They may need to make alternative methods of learning if they are behind in this area.)
  • The player’s soccer abilities in relation to the team’s soccer abilities (The player must fit in on the field)
  • The player’s athletic ability in relation to the role they will fill on the team. (If the player is a gifted athlete, they do not need to be a starter, when they are not they may only benefit from playing up in the event they have a role on the team that takes responsibility in games. In many cases players playing up fill subservient roles and never learn to have an impact on the game.)
  • The coaching philosophy in regards to playing positions, situational responsibilities, playing time, and player development (Do these fit the player’s needs?)
  • The player’s self esteem. (A child can benefit from being the best on the field in their own age if they have trouble in school or other areas that begin to affect their self esteem.)

When considering these issues the parents need to prioritize the issues they deem most important and make a decision based on their conclusions. A concern in one area does not indicate a player needs to play in their own age group. The conclusion needs to be taken as a whole.

 Copyright, Soccer Source 360, 2007

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