Is it ever ok to break the rules? Here’s a case to consider.

In this mornings soccer game Caleb was playing goalkeeper and a player on his team had the ball and was under pressure about three feet away from him. The player passed the ball back to Caleb (who had a forward on him) with his feet so following the rules Caleb had to handle the ball with his feet and did not pick it up even though both of his coaches were hollering at him to pick it up. Consequently, the player from the other team kicked the ball right into the goal. The referee explained to Caleb’s coaches that Caleb was following the rules, but one coach just kept repeating that Caleb knew the rules too well.

In older more experienced leagues soccer players committ “professional fouls” and knowingly break the rules to prevent a goal. For example, the goalkeeper is out of the goal and a defender steps in front of the goal and prevents a goal from being scored with his hands or a forward beats the last defender between him and the goal and the defender grasps at the forwards jersey and pulls him down preventing a goal. You also see players in basketball purposely fouling all the time to stop the clock and put their opponent on the line rather than letting them take a shot.

So here’s my dillemma, do I teach Caleb about the professional foul? Tell him to go ahead and pick up the ball to prevent the goal, because at the worst if the ref calls it (which they only do about half the time) then under his age groups rules it would only be an indirect kick (two players have to touch the ball before it goes in the goal).

Do I teach him that it’s ok to the break the rules in a game as long as he is willing to accept the consequences of breaking the rules or is this to grey for him to understand? If I teach him it’s ok to break the rules of soccer under certain circumstances do I start down the slippery slope of it’s ok to break some rules some of the time depending?

One thought on “Breaking the rules?

  1. At Caleb’s age, I would vote for teaching him the rules. As he gets older and plays more, he will learn the art of the “professional foul” but by clearly understanding the rules his first instinct will be to follow the rules. From a sports perspective, this is much better in the long run as in the older leagues, the refs will be more strict in calling these fouls and by understanding them instinctively he will be a better player.

    From a life and sports perspective, I don’t think you have to teach “professional fouls” as much as you have to teach rules. Our human nature is to cut corners and figure out what we can get away with while it takes discipline and practice to follow the rules.

    Once he clearly understands the rules, and it sounds like he might already be there, you can explain to him that there are consequences to breaking the rules and sometimes you have to weight that against the consequences of not breaking them. In soccer, the ball is going into the goal and the only to stop it is to use you hands. You do so knowing that you will get called for a hand foul and the other team will get a penalty kick but that is less of a consequence than the other team scoring a goal. In life, you see someone was has a flat tire and needs your help but stopping will make you late for work. You stop and help because breaking the rule is the right thing to do.

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