Trick plays on kids teams…right or wrong?

It was on the news last night and it’s got over 3.5 million views on YouTube already as of today. It’s the trick play that a junior high school football team ran against their opponents to score a touchdown. If you haven’t seen it yet, here it is:

The kids involved are about 13 years old. The refs ruled the play legal and the touchdown stood. The question is: if a similar play existed in soccer would you, as a coach, think it appropriate, worthwhile and/or ethical to teach your players to do this.

Is this developing young players to get better at their sport or is it contriving to find ways to score unearned points? Is it harmless fun that creates a great memory? Is it creative coaching? Is it something that illustrates the difference between the sport of football and soccer? Is it illustrative of the different approaches to kids sports in the U.S. and Canada?

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5 Responses to Trick plays on kids teams…right or wrong?

  1. J Larkins says:

    Bosh. I have seen all sorts of set plays in soccer devised and taught to youth over the years designed specifically to “trick” or “fool” the opposing side. There is no right and wrong in soccer – just decisions and outcomes within the laws of the game. Give young players some opportunity to interpret situations and act with some “flair” or “trickery”. Teach them that every kick-off does not need to be a tap and then a pass back to a center midfielder and that every throw-in does not need to be “down the line”. Frankly, this 13 year old defensive line needs to learn to react to the ball – not to move in some pattern based on what “usually happens”. I trust that is a lesson learned. I suspect the Tottenham keeper will now play to the whistle – something that Nani appears to have learned.

  2. Gregor says:

    For me, when you start instructing players to say “Wait the ref says we’re moving the ball five yards this way.” it moves beyond flair and trickery to outright deceit. You are involving the authority figures in the game into the ruse.

    Yes, Gomes should have reacted to the whistle but it’s not like Nani yelled “Hey, the ref blew his whistle. It’s a free kick for you. Put the ball down…”

    I think there’s a lot of room for trickery that doesn’t cross the line into implicating game officials in the plan. In fact, my girls team have a cute little free kick nicknamed Jessica that does just that…makes the other team think something’s going to happen that ends up not happening and hopefully catches them unaware.

  3. Rich H says:

    …so where do we stand on the quick taken short corner? Player A goes up to the corner flag puts the ball in the ‘zone’ and quickly, nonchelently, taps it out of the zone and promptly runs away from the ball into the box. Player B then runs up to the ball and starts to dribble the ball into the box whilst all the defenders stand still wondering what’s going on as they think the corner has not been taken correctly. Man United tried it last season and did it perfectlyonly to be ordered to take it again…

    Nowt wrong with it if you ask me…secret is to make sure the ref knows what you are doing.

    Thoughts?

    • Gregor says:

      I see what you’re saying Rich and I also get what Jeff was saying in the first comment. Deception is part of the game. Taking advantage of inattentive opponents is part of the game and to a large degree both are generally encouraged.

      For me the difference with the football play is that it wasn’t just a deception. The QB shouted to everyone that the refs had interceded and were going to march off another five yards. He co-opted the refs into the deception and counted on the opponents to believe him and that they would ‘obey’ the ref’s authority.

      The closer example in soccer, I think, is when Barcelona’s back up keeper started against FC Copenhagen in a recent Champions League game and imitated a ref’s whistle so that the Copenhagen player believed he had been called offside and stopped running.

      That to me falls into the category of going beyond deception and trying to confuse opponents by giving the appearance that the refs have halted play. Similar to the football play. There wasn’t much support for Pinto and I think he got a two game suspension.

  4. J Larkins says:

    It is perhaps the fact that soccer (Law 12) and rugby (Law 10 I believe) have vested in the referee the ability to exercise some judgement as to unfair play that is routinely, if not inconsistently, applied. I did not hear the audio in the clip but suppose in N.A. football it could be interpreted as “unsportsmanlike conduct” but given a generation of coaches raised on the original M.A.S.H. movie – or either Longest Yard – it is not surprising the play would be tolerated. My point is that all sport contains within it some trickery – err creativity – that is applied within the context and laws/rules of the game. N.A. football lends itself to this sort of thing because everyone stops, comes up with a plan, executes and then regroups. The repetition of N.A. football makes it perfect for a trick or two once and awhile – just as the flow and speed of soccer makes it perfect for the occasional “simulation”. My point is that I do not think that soccer is immune to trickery – just a matter of context and application of the laws/rules.

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