The most fundamental skill in soccer is individual mastery of the ball. This means that player should be able to control the ball with all surfaces of their body, once this is achieved creativity follows.
It is often called the “Golden Age” between 6 and 12 years of age and developing ball mastery and control should be the priority in your training sessions.
As technical movements are mastered, the rest of the game should become easier to both teach and learn.
Therefore, practice sessions should be organised around facilitating the development of the skills necessary to receive, control and move the ball.
Once players achieve a decent level of competence in their individual ball mastery, then their creative flair and skill development can take place… with player roles and responsibilities, movement, creating space and team organisation becoming the basis of sessions.
Junior and youth coaches who have a clear understanding of the value of organising technical practice sessions will often reap the benefits when competitive soccer takes place.
While points and league tables are not at stake, individual player development should form the core training purpose of coaches.
If you want to get the most out of developing your entire soccer squad you should adopt the following ideas:
1) At a young age, children just want to play. So, set up situations where the players can learn by playing the game.
The game is the best teacher for young players. Use 3 v 3 & 4 v 4 teams without goal keepers regularly in your sessions.
2) Keep your interventions to a minimum. However, when you do have feedback to give, remember to keep it short and simple. A picture paints a thousand words, so demonstrate, test player understanding then let the exercise or game carry on.
Utilise breaks to get themes and coaching points across.
Ask the players at the end of the session what the key learning points were, you’ll be amazed at what they retain.
3) The soccer coaching process is continual… so reflect this in your philosophy. Some of the foundations that you lay now, may not pay dividends for a number of seasons. So set your coaching goals on three levels, seasonal, monthly and by coaching session.
Ensure that each of your sessions contributes to your overall objectives.
4) Set age appropriate goals.
The golden age of U6 to U12 is ideal for motor skills to develop and gain mastery of the ball. As the players enter adolescence their mental capacity to process information increases and the complexity of the 11 a side game can be worked on like team organisation, tactics, strategies and patterns of play.
In the private, members only area of Junior Soccer Coach we explore all of these topics in far more detail. Age specific drills, exercises and key technical development points are ready for you to print out and give to your team.
Whether you are coaching mini, little league, junior or youth soccer – you’ll discover a vast database of practical information written by coaches who are passionate about grass roots soccer for coaches who share our passion.
Let us help you develop the talent within your soccer squad today.
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