The effect of the role-model is very important at this stage of development. Hero worship, identification with successful teams / players and a hunger for imaginative skills typify the mentality of this age. This is a time of transition from self-centered to self-critical. Players of this age have a high arousal level in relation to the training of basic skills. This is the “golden age of learning” and the most important age for skill development. Demonstration is very important and the players learn best by “Doing.”

This is also an important time to introduce and teach the basic principles of play.

Technique:

It is important to establish a good strong solid base. This refers to the ability to dribble, receive and pass short and medium range ground passes; the development of individual skills under pressure of time, space, and an opponent.

Increased technical speed:

  • Dribbling: Encourage risk taking! Moves to beat an opponent; Keeping possession; Shielding: Spin turns; Change of speed, Change of direction.
  • Receiving: Ground and air balls. All surfaces, from a partner and on the move.
  • Shooting: Proper striking technique, partner serve from all angles, Turns, Cut backs; Volleys.
  • Passing: Proper technique – Laces, Inside, Outside, Short and Long; Crossing
  • Heading: Self serve; partner serve – jumping to head, turning the ball; partner juggling.
  • Tackling: Proper technique, in balance, no fear.

 Tactics:  – “Dawn of tactical awareness”

The other important point about these ages is that young players need to have the freedom to explore the limits of their ability, to express themselves, and gain the confidence to try the unpredictable. The problem is that too much pressure is placed on them to win at U-10 through U-14 age groups. This pressure hinders their development and affects their performance. Parents should take the long range out look and not be overly concerned with results at this early stage.

Individual:

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

Small Group: 2v1, 2v2, 3v1, 3v2, 3v3, 4v2, 4v3, 4v4, 5v5, 6v6

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 in proper areas of the field.
  • Support
  • Basic combination play (give/go, take over). Promote attacking soccer.
  • Communication (who, what, where, when).

Defending:

  • Proper pressure (in front and behind); Channeling player; immediate chase; Cover; Marking; Introduction to Zonal defending and their roles.
  • Communication (who, what, where, when).

Team:

Team tactics do not take priority at this age. Focus is placed on maintaining balance; playing skilful soccer and shape. Players play a variety of positions and emphasis is placed on player development.

 Recommended Systems of Play:

Focus should be on teaching the principles of play and team shape as opposed to systems.

Physical:

All fitness work should be done with the ball, in partners, and in fun engaging activities.

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

Psychological:

  • Keep in FUN and ENJOYABLE to foster a desire to play.
  • Encourage decision making
  • Imagination / Creativity
  • Discipline
  • Encourage players / teams to watch professional and national team games on TV.
  • Academics – Learning good study habits. Maintaining good grades and balance between school and sports are important.