Remember these are general guidelines. Each player is different and will arrive at a practice or game in hopes of getting something specific. If you do not provide every player exactly what they want every day, don’t worry, the goal is they come back for another season of soccer.
There are four parts of the game of soccer: Technique, Tactics, Fitness, and Mentality. In the beginning, players should focus on technique, a bit of tactics, and learning the game and develop/progress from there each year as they get older and more mature.
Technique is “just playing with the ball” getting a feel for it. We use the phrase becoming, “friends with the ball”. Help them see (practice) how to guide the ball straight and to the sides using the insides of both feet. Kicking the ball accurately with the insides of both feet over 8-10 yards.
Tactics include simple phrases such as: “Yes, run up and down the field” (You may need to explain what up and down mean) “Look around and see who is with you”, (who is wearing the same color?) “Shoot! Score a lot of goals!” “Try to win the ball (take it from them) and if the other team has the ball, get in their way!” ** “The ball should go in ‘that’ goal, not this one!” Now the game is often: “one against the other team” Kids at this age think: “Where the ball is, that’s where I want to be.” It’s completely against their way of thinking to move away from the ball, to spread out, or to “go wide”. (And that is ok.) Virtually no instruction in the rules - just rely on the kids’ intuition and innate sense of fair play. ** Teaching the kids to “take the ball from another player” can be difficult. They have been taught to share and play fair and that does not include taking. Just explain it as a part of the game.
Fitness This is easy for the little ones, turn them loose and let them run, chase, hunt the ball, and kick it all over the place. Encourage them to MOVE!
● Nothing should be done without the ball!
● Everything is new for most of them: ○ getting them used to the feeling of being at soccer and that this place is for soccer is a big objective.
● Kids are playful, concerned with themselves, absorbed with trying to control the ball.
● Attention spans are short - keep them moving.
● Develop a signal to get their attention.
1: Hold up one hand and ask them to tell you how many fingers you're holding up, switch numbers so they begin calling out different numbers and their attention returns to you, then say bring it in, huddle and whisper what you are going to do next. If you go loud, they will go louder.
Example 2: Let them know when you go to a designated spot (nearby tree, or next to the ball bag, etc.) they should follow you and you have a “team announcement” they follow and you huddle and tell them quietly the next activity.
● Chaos may occur, that’s ok, just keep them safe and let them have fun.
● Your aim should be to offer lots of footwork and dribbling games, (everyone should have their own ball): the goal is a maximum number of ball touches.
● For kicking: use target games, (i.e. hit a cone, hit the coach (from a distance), hit the tree, throw out a frisbee and see how many kids the kids need to hit it, (helps with accurate distance kicks.)
● Lots of repetitions
● One ball per player
● No positions
● Practices should be 45-60 minutes max
● Equal playing time
● Coaches stand on the side line/no adults on the field
● Have FUN