Look at the Spanish national team squad and all the big names, more specifically look at their midfield. Let me rattle off a few names for you: Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Cesc Fabregas, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Santi Cazorla, Jesus Navas, David Silva, Javi Martinez, Benat, Javi Garcia, Thiago Alcantara, Isco and Juan Mata. Imagine having the head coaching job of Vicente del Bosque and deciding which three, four or five of those guys you are going to start. Even more so, who is going to make the 23 man roster? The same thing could happen to you as a coach. What do you do if you have too much talent at a specific position?
I’m sure you never imagined that having too much talent would be a problem. How are you going to decide who is going to play and who is going to sit? Will it be based on pace, size, skill? Will you give seniority the role or the player who has more experience? Will you give the starting position to the parent you are likely to hear the most from if their kid doesn’t start? How are you going to divide up the playing time so you aren’t wasting talent?
The first thing you need to do in order to make this decision is look at your entire roster. Where are your strengths and where are your weaknesses? If you are like Spain and very midfield heavy you might want to consider a different formation compared to what you’re normally playing. Your best option might be playing in a 4-5-1 so you are able to get the most out of your talented midfield. Spain took its midfield heavy issue and played with a “False 9″ where someone who is typically a central midfielder (Cesc Fabregas) played as a “fake-forward” where he would sit deeper in a central midfielder position, leaving the two center backs with no one to mark, allowing for runs to be made in behind them. The ”False 9″ essentially created a 4-6-0 formation where Spain would dominate possession.
If you are blessed with tons of striker talent you might want to adjust your formation to maximize this in a 4-3-3 formation. If you have a big strong striker play them centrally and use them as a target player. If you have strikers with pace get them on the outside and have them attack the flanks and get crosses in or cut back into the middle for a shot at goal.
The key component is figuring out how to maximize your talent. If you don’t have time to make an adjustment to your formation then your players are going to have to have an understanding of how things are going to work or some players are going to have to adjust to a different position.
Option one is having a rotation of your players. There are several positives that come from rotating your players. First of all it gives your players a rest and prevents injuries (this is more applicable to the older age groups). A lot of players are playing five, six or even seven days a week and that takes a toll on the body. With a rotation this will give their body a chance to rest and not have to play the entire game. The biggest thing is making sure your players understand the rotation and when it’s going to be their turn to sit. Just because they are not starting doesn’t mean they will not be playing in the game. Also make sure the parents understand the rotation as well so you won’t have to get an earful from the parents.
Another way you can handle this situation is have someone try out another position other than their natural position. Having a player who is versatile and understands how to play multiple positions makes them a huge asset as they become older. You want to have your most talented players on the field but if you have too many quality players playing the same position that will make it difficult. You can have an ultimatum with a certain player by saying, “These two players are ahead of you right now at center mid but I know your quality and the team needs to have you on the field. Would you be willing to try out an outside mid or a striker position? We will make sure you get time at center mid but for right now this would really help the team out. Otherwise, you are going to have to come on off the bench.” No competitive player in their right mind will turn down playing vs being a substitute.
Having too much talent is a problem but as a coach it’s a great problem to have! You need to find what formation will best fit so you can get your most talented players on the field at the same time. If you aren’t able to make adjustments to your formation you will have to implement a rotation with your players or have certain players play out of their natural positions. If you are going to rotate players make sure you communicate not only with the players in rotation but also with the parents so everyone is on the same page. Communication on and off the field will be a driver to your success as a coach.