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Substitution rules are damaging US development

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Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by davito on 2/20/2018, 11:13 pm

The unlimited or almost unlimited substitution rules in youth soccer are damaging our players development and holding the USA back.

Real soccer is played with a maximum of only 3 substitutions so players must pace themselves through the game and cannot sprint and press non stop. With an almost endless supply of fresh legs tactics are limited to pressing the opponent relentlessly and hoping for errors near their goal.

Most classic league coaches make about 10 substitutions per game. DA is slightly better with a limit of 5 substitutions at U17 and U19 but even there more are allowed at the lower ages.

All of this subbing meshes with our expensive pay to play system and it’s bloated 22 player rosters. Players really want to play the full game but settle for 50% and run their ass off pressing in the final third.

Sadly this grim system does not end at 18. Even the adult college game doesn’t play 3 subs like the rest of world football.

See the following articles for more on the negative consequences of all this subbing.

http://d3soccer.com/columns/ryans-ruminations/2016/ruminations-10-28-2016

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.foxsports.com/soccer/gallery/the-7-biggest-flaws-of-college-soccer-111816%3famp=true
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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by 04Soccerdad on 2/21/2018, 3:16 am

I see the points that are being made and I don't disagree. Limiting subs would Hodor the teams to play more possession style soccer. Something all the coaches claim they do but don't. This would get rid of the boot ball style of soccer that so many teams depend on to win their games.

But this will never happen. Where's the money in that? We have a pay to play system because clubs and coaches make money that way.

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by longview on 2/21/2018, 7:43 am

Especially at the college level but even at U15 and above, I agree this is a joke. I don't dislike the ~5 subs with no re-entry - I think that could work (keep in mind full international friendlies allow 6). But when a 21 year old can sub in and out in each half, that's not soccer.

This irony isn't lost on me. My older son is very technical but on the small side and not the fastest motor. Plays more in the style of a deep-lying playmaker with great vision and accuracy. Alas, he struggles to find his place in a lot of games because in his mind he's "playing like what I see in the Champions League on TV" but kids 6 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier are running around like their hair is on fire.

Ages 16-22 is where we lose the plot. With the new regime in US Soccer, hopefully issues like this are finally recognized and addressed. Signed, But Not Holding My Breath.

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by LLHowie on 2/21/2018, 9:02 am

Just curious how other country's youth leagues handle this? Do they only allow 3 subs as well? Anyone have any insight into that?

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by Uncleof05AP on 2/21/2018, 9:28 am

This Spring College Program might be a step in the right direction: New College Initiative

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by davito on 2/21/2018, 9:36 am

The number of substitutes may seem like a small thing but it totally changes how coaches approach the game. Non-stop pressing is generally a very effective tactic if you have plenty of fresh legs to sub in.

The rules of the game have evolved carefully over 150 years to make for a game of skill, where the players make their own decisions. Offside was introduced early on because goal hanging was too easy and ruined the game. The back pass rule was invented because teams like Liverpool learned to sit on a 1-0 lead and pass back to the GK the rest of the game in the 1970s and 80s. It was boring. What people wanted to see was technical flowing football for 90 minutes.

The three subs rule provides cover for injuries and allows the manager to change things around a little if chasing a game. But really the game is about the 11 starters going out and playing a full game. The game is supposed to open up as the players tire. Soccer is not supposed to be like ice hockey or basketball with ever changing line ups. So why has the US ruined the nature of the game? Money? Ignorance? Both?

Youth soccer unlimited subs below about age 14
Youth soccer almost unlimited subs over age 14
DA unlimited U12, 7 U13/14, 5 U15 up
High school soccer unlimited subs
College soccer almost unlimited subs

DA is the one slightly bright spot but should not be unlimited at U12 and should be only 3 subs from U13 up in my opinion.

I would hate to play youth soccer in this country. You get on the pitch for 15-20 minutes at a time and the game is played at 110 mph around you so no rhythm and hardly any meaningful touches before you are back on the bench for a breather. The coach can yank you for the slightest error and critique every last little detail whenever he wants.

We are not teaching our players how to play a 90 minute game. We are not equipping them to make their own decisions in a game of possession where you need to know when to press and when to drop and be compact. It is little wonder that we cannot make it to the world cup in spite of our huge population and resources.

When our team decides not press and the forwards drop to defend in our half it is comical to watch the defenders of the other team. They have the ball uncontested in their half and look utterly perplexed. (Even though this is how the vast majority of professional games are played on the TV). They pass it about a bit in their half wondering what to do in this unusual situation that they have never been in before. Inevitably they decide to try a 30 yard pass into our compact defense and turn the ball over. This is a fundamental part of the professional game. As routine as goal kick. And yet most youth players have no clue what to do and have almost never been in the situation.

US Soccer needs to do something about this grim state of affairs. Just as they have hodor small sided games they need to Hodor reduced subbing and smaller rosters. And as parents we need to think about what kind of game our kids are playing.
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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by CLASS ON GRASS on 2/21/2018, 11:03 am

I'm with you 100% subs are killing the real football but more the re-entry of players,but it's a fight the we never going to win having parents pay 3+K a year for a 2 days a week practices and leagues and tournaments that all what they want it's money they don't care about the development of our kids all they want it's $$$$,
 Parents all they want it to bragging how good it's their BB team and fill the living rooms of trophies on tournaments of American soccer (100 mph,100 subs 100re-entry's kicking ball and run over defense I can keep going but I only have few mins lol)
DA it's going on the right path according what a see and the improve in the last 5 years but they still far away from the best leagues around the world

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by davito on 2/21/2018, 11:13 am

The parents don't pay for high school or college soccer and yet they have the same huge rosters and almost unlimited subbing/re-entry.

I don't understand why. Anyone know what drives the crazy there....?
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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by finish1 on 2/21/2018, 1:13 pm

I haven't been on the site for a while because most of my access rights were removed, but they seem to be back for now. LOL!

The reason why I support the substitution rules is coaching. We lack quality coaching at every level of soccer, particularly in NTX. I was so frustrated with my oldest son and the ID process, that we had to manage on our own. Not a single club offered him any college opportunities or a chance to play DA. Yet, he leapfrogged 90% of them into NCAA D1.

Take a look at the Texans and the recent decision to crown Kevin Smith king of DA. Seriously? His best days were over a long time ago. Same pile of poop, different location.

If the roster sizes were smaller to accommodate limited substitution, then the number of coaches/teams has to increase exponentially. We already suffer from a lack of coaching, so the problem only gets worse, not better.

I'm on the other side of this coin. Most of our boys will not play soccer beyond the HS ages. For those who do, less than 1% will play in the MLS (insert congrats to Reggie Cannon at FCD here).

So for the overwhelming majority of players who continue to play beyond HS age, the next level is College ball where the substitution rule is mostly unlimited. I fully support this rule because 99% of those players won't advance beyond College. They are students who play for the passion of the game and a secondary means to help offset the cost of their degree.

No, I believe the substitution rule in Classic League that begins at U15 (only in D1 in that age group, mind you) should be eliminated because it doesn't translate to the next level, which is College.

If the intent of the DA is to separate itself to solely become a vehicle into the MLS, then fine, let them adopt the global substitution rule. Presumably, The MLS clubs should have better quality coaching, but politics rule those tight circles. Contacts and influence are huge factors (names withheld on purpose)


Last edited by finish1 on 2/21/2018, 2:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by finish1 on 2/21/2018, 1:24 pm

Check out this video of the Barcelona U13 Academy team from earlier this month. These are 05 birth year kids that I have followed since one of our local kids headed over there a few years ago. I can tell you the substitution rule is not the dealmaker, it the coaching.


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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by davito on 2/21/2018, 3:16 pm

I don't think we can blame a lack of good coaches on anything other than the system they work in. The problem is how the coaches here are motivated. They are motivated to win and to get paid. The coaches we have are very good at figuring out what works. And to win and get paid in our system you are best off playing constant pressing boot and run with a nice long bench of payers.

We have bastardized the game in high school and college.....for no good reason as far as I can tell. We are not playing the game according to the FIFA rules and our kids are missing out on the true beauty of the real game in favor of some smash ball ugly relation. My son does not go to this game hoping to play 50% of the game and I don't think other players aspire to that either. Our system is doing them a disservice.

The reason those Barca kids in the video are so good is because they had good coaches WITH THE RIGHT MOTIVATION. The Barca coaches are motivated to teach players to pass and move for 90 minutes. If they don't Barca will fire them. They are not hired by Barca to teach them to play 110 mph and sub in fresh legs every 15-20.
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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by Sprint on 2/21/2018, 3:57 pm

davito wrote:I don't think we can blame a lack of good coaches on anything other than the system they work in. The problem is how the coaches here are motivated. They are motivated to win and to get paid. The coaches we have are very good at figuring out what works. And to win and get paid in our system you are best off playing constant pressing boot and run with a nice long bench of payers.

We have bastardized the game in high school and college.....for no good reason as far as I can tell. We are not playing the game according to the FIFA rules and our kids are missing out on the true beauty of the real game in favor of some smash ball ugly relation. My son does not go to this game hoping to play 50% of the game and I don't think other players aspire to that either. Our system is doing them a disservice.

The reason those Barca kids in the video are so good is because they had good coaches WITH THE RIGHT MOTIVATION. The Barca coaches are motivated to teach players to pass and move for 90 minutes. If they don't Barca will fire them. They are not hired by Barca to teach them to play 110 mph and sub in fresh legs every 15-20.


Completely agree with you, but also don't blame the coaches. The parents establish what kind of system we have by putting so much pressure on coaches to win. If a coach loses, he loses the majority of his team the next year because parents seek greener pastures elsewhere. So the coach decides to do what wins games and that is play fast and high intensity for the entire game.







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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by davito on 2/21/2018, 4:13 pm

I think I might start a youth baseball league where each team has one set of kids who only bat and another set who only field. I will be able to charge teams more to enter my league because there will be 2x the players/payers on each team. And the coaches will get paid 2x so everyone will be happy.
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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by Sprint on 2/21/2018, 4:23 pm

davito wrote:I think I might start a youth baseball league where each team has one set of kids who only bat and another set who only field. I will be able to charge teams more to enter my league because there will be 2x the players/payers on each team. And the coaches will get paid 2x so everyone will be happy.

If it was deemed a "top league" or "elite" by the parents you would make a killing.

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by finish1 on 2/21/2018, 4:32 pm

I have always said that blaming the parents is a club mentality copout because most parents don't know what to demand from the clubs, and if they did, they aren't organized enough to walk away en masse. The parents want wins because the system is setup to reward them for the wins. The parents don't get a vote in that setup.

I don't agree that College soccer has bastardized the game as a blanket statement. If you have watched Stanford play in the past 3 years, you will see a really good quality, high pressure, ball movement game. Well coached and well executed. I will agree that outside the top 10 D1, coaching becomes marginal at best.

We can agree on this; Coaching is the problem.

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by davito on 2/21/2018, 4:51 pm

I think we sort of agree....

There are some good coaches, there are some bad coaches. But the problem is the coaches operate in a system that allows and rewards endless subbing, non stop pressing, boot and run.

I would argue that the coaching is not the very root of the problem. It is the pay to play system and it's rules where it all stems from. The coaching is a result of that system.

I agree that while parents are a large part of the cause we should not exactly blame parents. They are not organized and not in a position to make change. We should all be informed but the reality is we are not. That is why we have an association (US Soccer) it is their job to ensure the integrity of the game.

I bet if I start my baseball league with 2x the players (payers) USA Baseball will soon shut me down, sue me to call it something other than baseball, etc......
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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by davito on 2/21/2018, 5:24 pm

I haven't seen Stanford play so I can't comment on their play. However a quick look at a couple of their fall 2017 games play by play tells me that there is a hell of a lot of subbing going on in their games.

Against UCLA they made 5 changes in the first half, 4 changes at halftime, 4 second half changes before the 77th minute and 3 more to kill time after that. So 16 changes in the game. Against Coastal Carolina they made 5 changes in the first half, 5 changes at halftime, 5second half changes before the 73rd minute and 4 more before the 90th minute. So 19 changes in the game. Their opponents in both games subbed similarly.

They might be skilled and well coached but with that many changes the tempo must be much higher than if they only made 3 changes in the entire game. They can afford to press relentlessly with 15-20 changes per game.

Even the super fit pros at Liverpool playing in Klopp's gangen press system can't press all game long.
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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by LLHowie on 2/22/2018, 9:05 am

It is funny to me that this topic has come up as I can relate. I remember when I was playing in college I would watch an EPL game or a World Cup game and as a defender say to myself, "I wish I had that much time to push the ball around the back." I never thought about the reason being the amount of subs that coaches could do.

All very good points.

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by Number13 on 2/23/2018, 4:10 pm

davito wrote:The parents don't pay for high school or college soccer and yet they have the same huge rosters and almost unlimited subbing/re-entry.

I don't understand why. Anyone know what drives the crazy there....?

Compressed season perhaps?    They are playing 10 games a month.   That's assuming anybody is putting concerns about safety/fatigue first, which may or may not be the case.    Its universal across the US, so you'd kind of think that mostly that is just how people think the game should be played, perhaps because its how all the other sports are played.  

People have their kids play up and do other things to push them and make them better.   I've mostly thought having the other team run around full speed and play 2 kids at a position while my kid played the entire game would make my kid better.  That's how fit you have to be, that's how quick you have to be, you need to be able to thrive against that.   I don't care how the other team decides to play.  

The problem is when your kid's coach thinks its an arms race and he needs to do the same.  Then its no longer a good learning experience.  And maybe you are no longer playing for 80 mins.  Very Happy

So yeah.  Let's do something different.
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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by cmhwalk on 2/27/2018, 11:40 am

I suggest a kind of middle ground.
Seems to me that it needs to follow some American Football standard practices for age groups. Learn the basics catch, pass, run, block, tackle how-to's, etc. Everybody plays at the younger ages (up to about middle school). Of course, substitution rules in American Football are the same across the board. But they effect the two sports differently.
Progress from there to where kids have to try out and make the teams, with the ones that didn't make the cut falling into a lower division, kind of like a junior varsity. By the way, why do only high schools have soccer? Why not middle school teams? But I digress.
As the player would move up in age and development, the rules could change as far as substitutions to reflect the changes in the complexity of formations, strategies, etc. After all, in American Football, the plays, both defensively and offensively, as well as the strategies, become more complex over time, but the players adjust.
The players have the physical tools by then and just have to adjust mentally. This COULD be a gradual process.
All you have to do is watch a middle school football game, a high school game, a college game, and a pro game to see what I mean.
Right now, we have 5v5 (no goalie), 7v7, 9v9 and so on. We have the build-out line and get rid of that at older ages. Why can't the unlimited substitution rule be phased out in the same way if it's hurting the game so much?

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by cmhwalk on 2/27/2018, 11:46 am

Oh, I almost forgot. Much like the system in soccer, the coaching talent varies from level to level in American Football. There is even a pay-to-play sort of system reflecting in 7 on 7 teams made up of the best of the best. This system reflects mostly travel and entry expenses of tournaments. (Baseball's the same). So, I don't really see these as issues if the public supports the sport.

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by Riquelme Rises on 2/28/2018, 11:34 am

None of these ideas will ever work because USA soccer will never compare to the world's best....ever. Face the fact that USA will never win the World Cup or be even close. We will colonize the Moon and Mars but we will always suck at soccer as long as the USSF keeps putting the same type of players on National teams.
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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by cmhwalk on 2/28/2018, 1:12 pm

see below


Last edited by cmhwalk on 2/28/2018, 1:19 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : duplicate)

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by cmhwalk on 2/28/2018, 1:15 pm

If, in fact, US Soccer does not implement any of these ideas to try to better develop its players, then you are correct.  Then, we will be putting the same type of players on the National teams.
It's one of the reasons I was for other candidates in the US Soccer President election this year (Carlos Cordeiro won).  He's an insider, a corporate lawyer, and hasn't played soccer as far as I know (maybe rec league).  I just don't think he know enough about the development rules and leagues and so on.  It was all about today's sponsorship money at the expense of the long-term gain of a better product.  They need someone who has played both overseas and over here. Someone who came up in the system and maybe played on the National teams. By the way, Hope Solo and some other former players ran, but didn't make it out of single digits percent-wise.
None of the other things will be solved until the top of the organization has a mixture of business AND former players that have actual input.

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Re: Substitution rules are damaging US development

Post by Goal04ref00 on 3/4/2018, 9:49 am

There is blame on both sides the clubs/coaches and parents. I see most of it being on the clubs but parents fall into the keeping up with Jones’s scenario where they think their kid is as good or better then their neighbors.

Most parents biggest problem is rewarding their kids for goals. As it usually takes away from what the coach is trying te teach. My youngests team (u15) still has parents that do this and it shows in their child’s play.

The system in NTX, at least, is geared against the parents. Coaches and clubs have full control once a parent signs the contract and are all about the money. The clubs are set up so that they get their money first and then the coach gets paid. Therefore if a coach doesn’t have a full roster he doesn’t make as much.

The problem with that is that parents cannot pull their kids from a team where they aren’t getting playing time due to the contract and NTX rules. If they do pull their kid and the coach won’t sign a release (which most wont unless the parents pay in full for the year) then that kid can’t play on another club soccer team until the next year. Which could cause a child to fall further behind the pack.

Bottom line the big clubs/coaches hold parents and players hostage. There are numerous examples/stories out there. One will argue that it’s to keep coaches from recruiting/poaching during the season which some coaches do. There are a couple issues with using that excuse; NTX only holds one time period for parents to petition for a release if their current coach won’t sign one, it would become obvious if a coach was recruiting/poaching & that would mean a coach who wanted to do that couldn’t commit to a full roster at seasons start (July 1st).

This goes on in all sports that have competitive levels. As a country we’ve turned youth sports into a business in lieu of remembering that it’s for the kids.

My boys have played and/or still play sports (soccer, baseball, football, hockey) on the competitive level. I been involved as a parent, manager and coach so I have seen it from every side.

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