Academy Coach Course

SSG Selecting Teams & Gender Considerations

There are a number of different approaches to selecting your teams when having a match or game day. Having an idea or rationale behind how and why you are selecting teams in a certain way will help you achieve the objectives you want for your players. Each of these methods has its own unique advantages and potential considerations. Depending on the learning objectives, the coach can decide which method is the most appropriate for a given session.

Skill-Based Selection

Teams are selected based on players’ skill levels. This can create evenly matched teams or ‘overload’ situations where one team is deliberately stronger.

Friendship Groups

Teams can be formed based on friendship groups to increase enjoyment and cooperation within teams.


Players choose their own teams. This can encourage them to take ownership of their teams but might lead to unbalanced teams if not managed carefully.

Balanced Teams

Teams are made up of players with different skill levels. For example, each team could have one high ability player, one medium ability player, and one low ability player. This creates a balance of skill within each team.

Unbalanced Teams

Teams are purposely unbalanced. This could involve older vs younger players, or high ability players vs medium ability players. The aim here is to challenge certain players and create specific learning opportunities.

Random Selection

Players are randomly assigned to teams, which ensures a mix of skill levels on each team. This could easily be done by lining players up and going down the line an numbering them.

Age-Based Selection

Teams can be selected based on age, to challenge older players or give younger players an opportunity to play together.

Position-Based Selection

Players are assigned to teams based on their usual playing positions for specific positional play during the SSGs.

Uneven Teams

Teams have different numbers of players, such as 2v3 or 5v3. This can provide a unique challenge and stimulate different tactical considerations.

**Guide on Mixed-Gender Play in Youth Soccer**

**Pros of Girls Playing with Boys:**

1. **Competitive Development:** Playing with boys, who often have different physical attributes and playing styles, can provide a good challenge for girls, helping them to improve their skills, physicality, and tactical understanding.

2. **Social Development:** Mixed-gender teams can promote social integration, encouraging boys and girls to interact, cooperate, and learn from each other.

3. **Confidence Building:** Girls who compete with and against boys can build confidence in their abilities, especially if they are able to perform well.

**Cons of Girls Playing with Boys:**

1. **Physical Differences:** As children age, physical differences between genders often become more pronounced. Boys generally develop physically faster, which may result in mismatches in strength and speed on the field.

2. **Confidence Issues:** If girls find themselves constantly outpaced or outmuscled, it could affect their confidence and enjoyment of the game.

3. **Social Dynamics:** Sometimes, social pressures or biases can create a less-than-positive environment for mixed-gender play. For instance, girls might feel unwelcome or boys might be reluctant to pass to girls.

**General Guidelines:**

**Younger Age Groups (5-8 years):** At this age, physical differences between boys and girls are minimal, so mixed-gender teams can work well and can promote inclusivity and mutual respect. 

**Older Age Groups (9-12 years):** As kids grow older and physical disparities start to appear, you might consider splitting them into single-gender teams. However, this should be flexible depending on the skills, confidence, and preferences of the individuals involved.

If there are enough girls, it’s often beneficial to have all-girl teams. This not only allows them to build camaraderie but also promotes an environment where girls can take on leadership roles and feel more comfortable expressing themselves. The same applies to boys.

In a mixed group where separation into single-gender teams isn’t possible, strive to keep girls together on teams and add more girls to a team instead of splitting them up, if needed.

Above all, communication is key. Ask the kids what they prefer. Some girls might relish the challenge of playing with boys, while others might feel more comfortable in an all-girl environment. Always consider the children’s comfort, confidence, and enjoyment when making decisions. After all, the goal is to create a positive and fun learning environment for all players.

Absolutely, these are valuable points to include. Here’s how they fit into the previous list:

**Additional Considerations:**

**1. Preferences for Same-Gender Environment:** Generally, many girls prefer to play in an all-girls environment. It’s important to respect and facilitate this preference where possible. This creates a more comfortable space for them to express themselves and grow as players.

**2. Accommodating Outliers:** Some girls may desire the challenge of playing with boys. In these cases, it’s vital to support this ambition and find ways to include them in such games if it’s beneficial for their development and they’re comfortable with it.

**3. Competing Against Boys:** Girls often don’t mind playing against a team of boys, even if they might lose, provided their own team consists of all girls. The camaraderie and unity that comes from being on a same-gender team often outweigh the result of the game.

**4. Balancing Ability Levels:** A good solution for balancing the competition can be to have a slightly older girls group play against a slightly younger boys group. This strategy considers the physical development disparities and helps make the game more balanced and competitive.

By being sensitive to the preferences and developmental needs of the girls and boys in your team, you can create a soccer environment that is inclusive, competitive, and enjoyable for everyone. Remember, each child is unique, and their individual preferences should be considered in addition to these general guidelines. The ultimate goal should always be fostering a love for the game and developing each child’s skills and confidence on the soccer field.

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