The developmental phase that players aged 5-8 go through is preparation for the critical phase between ages 9-12. The rate of agility and motor skill development is very important as the young players learn the skills of adjusting their body shape to the path of the ball. Demonstration is very important and the players learn best by “Doing” and “self-discovery.” This is also an important time to introduce and teach when to use certain skills during game situations.

Players must have fun and enjoy the learning process. The premise that players develop faster and experience more enjoyment in small side games is universally accepted and proven.

Technique:

It is important to establish a good preparation phase of basic technical skills. The ability to dribble is absolutely critical since dribbling is the foundation skills and preparation for all other fundamental techniques of soccer, such as receiving, passing, and shooting.

  • Dribbling: Encourage risk taking! Moves to beat an opponent;
  • Shielding: Change of direction.
  • Receiving: Ground balls. Main surfaces, from a partner and on the move.
  • Shooting: Proper striking technique
  • Passing: Proper technique – Laces, Inside, Outside

Tactics:

Players must have the basic technique before they can successfully learn individual tactics, and that advance technique (the ability to execute skills with only one or two touches) is a pre-requisite for group tactics and is taught at old age groups.

Players at this age do not possess the analytical thought process to think ahead and plan their next play. In these age groups, being in possession of the ball is the most crucial moment during games. Players need to spend a lot more time practicing and not play too many games

Individual:

  • 1v1 situations in the attack and defense. Play 1v1 frequently.

Small Group: 2v1, 2v2, 3v1, 3v2, 3v3, 4v2, 4v3, 4v4

Player should play a variety of positions; develop awareness / complete player; Basic principles of play.

Attacking:

  • Keep possession; Encourage risk taking; Take players on 1v1 where and when. Promote attacking soccer.
  • Communication

Team:

Team tactics do not take priority at these ages. Focus is placed on maintaining balance, playing skilful soccer and basic shape – diamond for 4v4. Players play a variety of roles and emphasis is placed on player development.

Physical:

No focus on fitness at these age groups and all activities should be fun and engaging.

  • Flexibility
  • Agility – with and without the ball
  • Speed – teaching proper running technique
  • Coordination – with and without the ball
  • Balance

Psychological:

Keep in FUN and ENJOYABLE to foster a desire to play.

  • Encourage decision making
  • Imagination / Creativity
  • Discipline
  • Academics – Learning good study habits. Maintaining good grades and balance between school and sports are important.

The Game: 4v4