The Dreaded Red Card and Your Youth Soccer Team

The Red Card - (Photo:

Rarely does this occur in youth soccer, but as the children grow into adolescents, the game becomes faster and more severe.  With such development of the game, children can greatly injure each other with violent tackles and thus the referee will have to control the game more.  When a player makes a horrible challenge, there is a possibility that he or she will be sent off with a red card.  So as a coach, what is the best way to deal with the player?

In the immediate aftermath of the red card, you need to focus on the team because playing a man down is sure to harm your play.  Your team will need to re-adjust to make sure they can still compete in the match.  This is the coach’s time to shine so try to push the sent off player out of your mind.  Tell him or her to sit down on the end of the bench.  This is not the time for a lecture because the game is still going on and the player (and likely yourself) is probably too angry to have a mature conversation about what happened.

After the game you need to approach the player and have a serious talk.  Players rarely get sent off for challenges that aren’t completely reckless so you will need to express to the player that his tackle was wrong, especially if he or she injured another person.  There is a high possibility that the player will feel unjustly treated, and in reality, the game happens so fast that the challenge was likely a split-second thought.

Therefore, help the player come to terms with what he or she did and discuss how to limit such actions in the future.  Obviously, the matter is a difficult one to delve into because players are taught to be aggressive, but not overly aggressive so where is the line?  Well, the red card in my mind is that line.  Try to help the player in practice by letting them know if they are being dangerous so they realize what the limits are.

Chances are the red card will get the message straight in their head and will lead to more caution in the future.  However, if the player continues to make rash challenges and earn red cards you should probably have a chat with their parents and maybe think about finding them a new sport.  Soccer doesn’t need another Joey Barton so please do your part to prevent one from emerging.

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Nicholas Spiller

Nicholas Spiller resides in LA where he dreams of musical super-stardom on his bass guitar. He also writes for and is an avid Arsenal fan!

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