Soccer for this age is a fun activity for the kids that encourages a lot of games to goals and encourages experimentation with the ball. The ratio of balls to players should be small enough that all your players are involved all the time. The focus is on developing a relationship with the ball in a joyful environment. There should be no standings and no awards.
At the youth level, games are a forum for players to test their ball skills and game awareness, and should be considered an additional means of development, rather than the objective. Results are important as it gives the players a competitive focus in the match. Coaches are encouraged to promote soccer that:
- is free flowing,
- is coach-guided, not coach-directed,
- demands that all players on the field, regardless of their specified position, participate in defending and attacking.
Game Application Game Form
A maximum of 6 v 6 including a goalkeeper Game Duration: 2 X 25 minutes Substitution: Free GK Status: Players rotate as goalkeeper in game. All players should experience playing all the different spots on the field during the season. Field Size: 60 yards x 40 yards Ball Size: 4
What I hear I forget, What I hear and see I remember a little; What I hear, see and ask questions about or discuss with someone else, I begin to understand; What I hear, see, discuss and do, I acquire knowledge and skill; What I teach to another, I master. (Adapted from the Chinese Philosopher Confucius)
Characteristics of Soccer Players at this Age
- Motor skills becoming more refined and reliable. Boys and girls begin to develop separately.
- Ability to stay on task is lengthened. They have the ability to sequence thought and actions.
- Greater diversity in playing ability and physical maturity.
- Skills are emerging. Becoming more predictable and recognizable.
- Able to pace themselves, to plan ahead.
- Increased self-responsibility. They remember to bring their own equipment but still forget to take it home.
- Starting to recognize basic tactical concepts, but not exactly sure why certain decisions are better.
- Repetition of technique is very important, but it must be dynamic, not static.
- Continued positive reinforcement needed.
- Explanations must be brief, concise, and mention “why”.
- Becoming more “serious”. Openly, intensively competitive, without intention of fouling.
- Adult outside of the family may take on added significance.
- Prefer identification with a team. Like to have good kit, equipment, balls.
- More inclined towards wanting to play instead of being told to play. Will initiate play more.
Things to Expect
Some coaches say that the 9 and 10 year-old players are beginning to “turn the corner” and starting to look like real soccer players. However, games are still frantically paced and unpredictable for the most part. These players are starting to find out how much fun it is to play the game skillfully, but they will still stop and laugh if the referee gets hit in the backside with the ball during a game. Some other things that we can expect when working with this aged player are:
- They start to understand offside, but still forget themselves when the goal is in front of them.
- They will really beat up on each other during practice… especially boy’s teams.
- During a game, the parents will scream out “HAND BALL” or “COME ON REF, CALL IT BOTH WAYS” at least fifteen times.
- They might cry after the game if they loose, but will forget it if you ask them if you want to go out for burgers and fries.
- You might actually catch them practicing on their own without you telling them to do so.
- Their parents are telling them to do one thing during the game, you are telling them another thing, but what they end up doing might be what their friend is telling them to do.
- You will see a pass that is deliberate. You might even see a “back pass”!
This is a great warm-up for a session that allows players to work on touching the ball with all parts of the foot. If you want to improve player’s footwork and sense of touch this is a good start to each practice.
Setup: Either use the center circle of the field or build you a circle with cones. Each player needs to have a ball and start inside the circle.
- Have the players juggle for 2 minutes using only their feet.
- Have the players juggle for 2 minutes using feet only this time trying to alternate from right to left.
- Have players juggle with their thighs and feet for 2 minutes. Again instruct players to switch feet while juggling.
- Now instruct the players to juggle again. This time juggle with the feet and pop the ball to the head or shoulders and back down to the feet. Do this for 2 minutes.
- Now have a free juggle time to have them work on increasing the number of touches they get before the ball hits the ground.
- Novice players should be able to get at least five touches without the ball hitting the ground. Experienced players should try to reach 50 touches.
- Make sure the player is constantly lifting their head and checking their surroundings. This will help players find space and avoid other players.
- Make sure players keep the ball close to them while in congested areas. This will help them not run into other players.
Focus: Control, Touch
This game is a very fast paced 2v2 session that focuses on aspects of small-sided soccer such as dribbling, passing, teamwork and defense.
Setup: Setup a 25 x 25 yard grid with a small goal at each end, play 2v2. You can adjust the size of the field based on the skill level and number of the players.
Instructions: The coach stands on the touchline with a supply of ball. Divide the players into two person teams. Have the remaining two person teams line up by touchline.
The coach plays a ball into the field and the teams try to win the ball. The team that wins the ball needs to score a goal by dribbling through the cones. Play continues until one team scores or the ball goes out of play. If a team scores they stay on and the other team leaves. A ball is immediately played back into the game for the next teams. If the ball goes out of bounds both teams are “outta here” and two new teams are added.
- You can start with a 1v1 before progressing to the 2v2 if there aren’t enough players or if it helps demonstrate the rules.
- If you have enough players add two goals and play with 4 two person teams.
- Limit touches to encourage passing.
- Promote good small group passing, early support, dribbling under control and good skills to beat defenders and get goals.
Focus: Dribbling, Defense, Control, Endurance, Teamwork, Vision
Shooters and Shaggers
Shooters and Shaggers is a great game to help improve shooting on target, leg strength and could be altered to help with more complex shooting techniques.
Setup: Pick one player to be the shooter while the other players will be the shaggers. The shaggers will retrieve balls for the shots that miss the goal. Organize an arc of cones approximately 10 yards from goal with no keeper in the goal. Place a ball at each cone.
Instructions: Each shooter will begin at the start cone while the shaggers begin behind the goal. At the first cone, each shooter will take turns shooting on goal in an attempt to a direct shot into the goal without it hitting the ground (no bounce). If the ball bounces before scoring a goal, or if they miss the goal, the shooter does not receive a point. However, if the player is able to strike the ball into the goal without it bouncing, the player should run to the next cone and shoot the next ball. This continues until the player shoots all the balls. The goal is to score 5 times.
- Have the shooter shoot left footed from the left side and right footed from the right.
- Have the coaches lob balls towards the cones to practice trapping the ball and even volleying the ball (This is only for the U13 players)
- Watch the angle of approach, make sure they come at the ball at a good kicking angle
- Make sure their planting foot is not too close or too far from the ball.
- Make sure the player is locking their ankle
This game focuses on making good passes as well as conditioning.
Setup: Start by setting up a 20X20 grid using 4 cones. Divide the players into two teams. One ball will be needed for this game.
Instructions: The defense will pick four of their players to start out as infielders and place one infielder at each base (the cones). The offense will line up their players in their batting order. The first batter will start at home plate. The defender at home plate will start with the ball. When the coach yells, “pay ball” the batter runs around the bases counter clockwise as you would in regular baseball. The batter cannot stop, they have to sprint around all the bases and head for home. The infielders will pass the ball (soccer style) clockwise around the infielder. The goal is to have the 1st baseman pass the ball back to the catcher before the batter returns to home. If that happens it is an out. If the batter beats the pass home its a run. Play until you either get three outs or you make it through the entire batting order. Once this occurs switch offense and defense. Repeat the game. For the next innings make sure that the defense picks four new infielders so that everyone gets a turn.
- Appropriate use of 1st touch
- Good passes to feet
- Good trapping technique
Focus: Passing, Receiving