An important part of player development in soccer is to learn to play through physical contact even when the player was, technically, fouled.
And an important skill for a referee is to recognize when to wait to blow the whistle until it has become clear that the player being unfairly challenged has indeed lost the ball.
In many cases (but not always) it is better to play ‘advantage’ and parents and coaches need to have the patience for this to unfold and then forget about the ‘unfair’ challenge that just occurred.
Also keep in mind that a referee can still yellow-card a player at the next stoppage even if an ‘advantage’ was given.
Here’s a perfect example during one of my recent U12B games between two top teams:
A small, slightly built but skillful midfielder was being challenged by first one, then two, then three much bigger boys. But he kept dribbling, kept moving and spinning, until he eventually, after around seven or eight seconds, broke free and was able to lead an attack on goal.
I was watching carefully, ready to whistle for a free kick if he had lost the ball at any point but was very glad to be able to signal for ‘advantage’ instead.
The moment this small boy broke free the parents erupted in very loud applause.
This moment was entertaining, surely boosted the boy’s confidence and the respect from his teammates and coach, and elevated skills over physicality.
A big win all-round. It was a beautiful moment.
A little patience can go a long way.