5 v 5 is a fantastic game for our lads to learn and develop confidence in football.
Read about our approach to roles and positions in 5 v 5 football.
Positions vs Roles
There is a temptation to allocate each player a position such as attacker or defender, even right back and left but at this age my preference is to have the children playing where they see gaps.
Gaps exist when two team mates are stood right next to one another. Our boys have learned to identify gaps at goal kick so I see no reason they can't learn the same at throw ins, corners and even in general play.
If they can see where there is a gap then they can either fill it or suggest a closer team mate fill it.
The easiest example of this so far is at goal kick.
The lads know that the keeper needs someone either side of him to create space up the middle and offer an easy pass. As soon as the keeper gets the ball they're looking to see if there's anyone in either of those two gaps.
If there is then they're heading to half way to offer a passing option up the field.
Most players have a natural tendency to fill the gaps they feel most confident in. This is natural and we don't want to dissuade them from developing their abilities in that role but we don't want to box them as just a defender or attacker.
If, as a naturally defensive player, they find themselves at half way when our goal keeper get's the ball we don't want them to rush all the way back to the keeper and offer the easy pass (discussed in example above) when there are already people there to fill the gap.
I am of the opinion that all players should learn to play in defensive roles, transition/midfield and attacking roles in their first few years.
In order to become a good attacker a player should have defended a lot of attacks. It will give them better insight into what it's like to defend someone who's doing different things like moving around a lot or simply standing in front of the goal and asking for the ball.
Attack minded players should spend time learning what it's like to be the goalie when an attacker faints to shoot, then passes across the box for a team mate to tap in.
The same obviously goes for defenders learning what it's like to be an attacker and how much easier it is to go around a defender if you know which leg is strongest.
Learning whether it's easier to shoot at far or near post is vital for a goal keeper's positioning awareness. We don't want those keen to play in goal specialising in that position until they've played a few seasons in the field and goal.
Expectations of Team Mates
We all rely on team-mates but our expectations aren't always realistic. Asking for a pass when there is no clear channel, expecting someone to cover for us when we've lost the ball in our own half.
One of the most common causes of conflict on the pitch comes down to unrealistic expectations. The more our players play in different roles the more accurate their expectations and the less bickering.
Everyone Defends and Everyone Attacks
The other downside of allocating positions in 5 v 5 is attacking players will be less inclined to come back and help on defence and vice versa. We will, over time, learn to make the most of getting more players up the field on attack and limit scoring opportunities by getting more players back on defence.
The lads will become fitter this way and start wearing oppositions down through the amount of running required to mark our players as they move from goal box to goal box.