The FA Power Play Rule: A game-changer for junior grassroots football?
The Power Play rule, introduced by the FA in 2018, means that junior grassroots football teams are allowed to bring on extra players when they fall four goals behind. The rule is aimed at teams from under-sixes to under-11s in five and seven-a-side games. It is up to the county FA’s to decide whether or not to implement it.
It is aimed at preventing teams from getting thrashed and suffering humiliation, however there are critics in certain areas who say it will make players soft. Other’s argue that losing and losing heavily is all part of the game and how players respond to the loss is the bigger challenge. Some coaches go further to say that this rule penalises teams for great performances, and that coaches could implement other measures, rather than give the other team an unfair advantage.
How does it work?
During a match when the goal difference reaches 4, the losing team may field an additional player. If the goal difference reaches 5, the losing team may field another additional player (taking the total up to 2 additional players). At the point the goal difference falls to 5, the losing team must withdraw one of their additional players. At the point the goal difference falls to 3 the losing team must withdraw their final additional player (this does not need to be the same player that was put on as the additional player).
To address this in games and in attempt to ‘even things out’, certain coaches introduce challenges for their teams focused on developing certain skills such as use of weak foot, one touch, multiple touch turns and instating all players on the team have at least one or tow touches before they are allowed to shoot, but does this work, and does this still prevent the humiliating thrashings for some teams?As grassroots football coaches, parents and players, we all know that shorelines such as 8-0, 10-0, 12-0, 15-0 etc. can be soul destroying. This happens all around the UK, week in and week out and who actually really benefits from these types of scorelines?
Other options available are taking players off, thereby reducing the number of outfield players and also playing other players out of position – but is that really in the benefit of players?
Has the Power Play rule helped?
Within the FA counties which have so far adopted the rule, The FA confirmed that anecdotal evidence so far has been very positive. Certainly, from the many games which we have witnessed, the rule has been adopted and received positively and has helped balance out games and make the shorelines much more respectable. This has helped avoided humiliation which can be so detrimental to player’s morale and development. It means that weaker teams have a better chance of success. At such an early age, football should be about development and enjoyment, and many in favour of the power play rule believe that the rule has benefitted everyone.
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