Q&A February 2013, Part III
3/3/2013 (updated 3/10/2013)

Re: Best U8-U9 soccer formation?
Hi Richard,
I'm in my 2nd year of coaching my youngest daughter's U8 soccer team. While they are starting to spread out and looking for passes it's still a bit of a scrum around the ball for most of the game. I've thought of teaching them a 2-1-2 formation this Spring to get them spread out a bit more and also prep them for the bigger fields, positions, etc... that come with U9 in the Fall. Since you spent some time coaching kids footy I'm curious what your opinion is teaching U8/9 kids concepts like this, and if you were ever successful doing something similar? Also, as a coach how did you deal with it when you team(s) lost? Not only personally but dealing with the kids attitudes as well? Cheers, KAL

At U8, two big factors are attention span and practice time. All information has to be delivered quickly, and then move right on to the practical.  All a coach usually has is an hour after school a week to work on skills and teamwork - never enough.

Yes, good to get ready for the bigger field. A formation is a good idea for U8, teaching the responsibilities of each position, and having left-sided players not stray to the right side of the pitch, backs supporting the forwards but thinking always of defence, etc.

At this age, always rotating players through all positions.

Showing the players how passing the ball is faster than running with it.

Getting the team together to watch a live game, or a video, of MLS or Premier League, will give them a better idea of how the game is played, and the huge advantage of the passing game.

Players in 2s or 3s running up and down the field passing the ball.

One player inside a square of cones, 3 players outside the square passing the ball through it, the inside player trying to intercept - the outside players forced to keep seeking new positions by pressure from the inside player. There are many variations on this exercise.

 And at U8, taking a touch to control the ball received before passing it on.

At the beginning of the season, I used to like to get the team and parents together socially for a barbecue and a swim (this was Southern California). Things like this help to build friendships and team spirit, which help when the results aren't good. A very short team huddle after the game is useful for pointing out the positives after a loss. It's also good for the coaches not to emphasise winning and losing - the kids will do enough of that themselves.

I was bemused by the news that the skeletal remains of Richard III were found buried beneath a parking lot in Leicester, and I'm curious to know your reaction. This story seems as if it would be good source material for a song : )

I just watched the documentary of this extraordinary event. For me, the most interesting thing was that the curvature of the spine was real, and not just Elizabethan propaganda (Shakespeare made up some other stuff of course). The wounds that killed him were clearly visible, and the reconstruction of his face from the skull remains was quite stunningly like the famous portrait.

As someone who has attended scores of your concerts over the past 30 years and marveled at the peerless quality of your live sound, I am curious to know how and when you and Simon Tassano first connected professionally. Ditto for Bobby Eichorn.

I first worked with Simon in about 1979, when he was the house engineer at the Venue in Victoria, London. When we hired him for the US tour in 1981, it was the first time he had tour-managed, and also the first time he had been to the US! He pulled it all off with flying colours, as he has done ever since. He is absolutely one of the top sound engineers around, and spends many hours a day fighting bad acoustics and PA systems. If the sound at our shows is not perfect, it will not be because Simon hasn't worked tirelessly to try to give every seat in the house the best possible audio.

I think Bobby has been with us for about 10 years. He is vastly experienced in many aspects of the music business, and although slumming with the RT band, he is a terrific guitarist, songwriter and producer, among other things. He must like the exotic locales of so many of our venues…