In youth soccer, nearly 70 per cent of throw-ins are foul throws and the ball is lost to the other team. It seems young teams might be better off kicking the ball out of bounds and stealing the ensuing throw-in. To reverse these odds, every player on your team must be prepared to execute a proper throw-in and get the ball into play almost immediately.
A sudden restart can catch the defence off-balance and greatly increases the odds of keeping possession, and offers a chance to get behind the defence and make a run on goal.
Take advantage of opponents
While teaching players to get the ball back into play quickly hardly seems like rocket science, simple actions and moves, done correctly at the U-10 level and below, are extremely effective. Marking off the ball is one of the weakest areas of youth soccer, and a quick-thinking player can take advantage of opponents not only during the run of play, but on restarts as well.
Don’t go for designated throwers
Some soccer coaches rely on one or two players to take all throw-ins. We’ll call them designated throwers. The designated thrower is the most exhausted player on the field. The designated thrower is required to sprint up and down the sideline, or even across the field, to take a simple throw in. Most adults would soon collapse under such a pace, but it is routinely required of U-10s with shorter legs and smaller lungs.
Let them all throw it
All too often, when a ball is knocked out of bounds upfield, a quick-thinking forward prepares to toss it back in play, only to be halted by her coach. “Why can’t I take the throw?” protests the confused forward. “Because you’re not a midfielder,” yells the coach. “Only the midfielders take throws.”
Five soccer coaching tips for quick throw-ins
Quick throw-ins increase the chances of your team scoring goals.
Make sure every player on your team knows how to take a throw-in.
Don’t slow the game down by calling for a designated thrower.
Throw the ball towards the opposition goal “down the line”.
Don’t stop players who are first to the ball from taking quick throw-ins.
While a quick throw may lead to a great scoring chance or two, the impact of this soccer tactic goes far beyond the win-loss column. In age groups where games may last only 50 or 60 minutes, too much time is wasted just putting the ball back into play. Young players must touch the ball as much as possible.
Teaching tactical awareness
Soccer coaches who emphasize quick throws also play an important role in teaching tactical awareness to their opponents. Teams defending against a designated thrower usually have at least 20 or 30 seconds to drop back behind the ball. Casual defending against sudden restarts will not work.
Take time and teach skills
Since skills, experience and endurance are limited at the lower age groups, young players should never be asked to do the impossible. Coaches who truly care about preparing young players for a higher level of play should take time to teach every beginner how to execute a proper throw-in. Once that is accomplished, throw the ball back on the field and let the kids play.