Know Your Age Group
Characteristics and Expectations
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MCSL Coaches: Inside the shed are cones, hoops, mini-hurdles (4, 6, 8 inch), and pinnies. Feel free to use these items for your practices. Please return them after using them.
Section 1 - General Characteristics of the U-6 Age Group
• Catching skills not yet developed
• Constantly in motion – love to run, jump, roll and climb
• Eye-hand and eye-foot coordination is raw – not ready for bouncing or flighted balls
• No sense of pace – go flat out
• Physical coordination is immature – can balance on dominate foot
• Controlling the ball is a complex task
• Prefer large soft balls and foam balls
• Only understand simple rules • Individually oriented (me, my, mine) – little or no concern for team activities
• Believes in Santa Claus, but will not discuss with peers – lofty imagination
• Physical and psychological development of boys and girls are quite similar
• Psychologically, easily bruised – need generous praise
• Short attention span – tends to one task at a time
• Limited understanding of time and space
U-6 players must play at least 50 percent of each match they attend. They should not play a season longer than two months. They must have at least one full month off between seasons of play. The components of the game are the building blocks of player development. Coach and player must work jointly throughout a player’s career to reinforce and add to these building blocks. The core goal is to create a well-rounded player.
Section 2 - Components of the Game for the U-6 Age Group
Fitness: Introduce the idea of how to warm-up and movement education. Begin education about nutrition with players and parents. Balance, walking, running, how to start and stop, jumping, hopping, rolling, skipping, changing direction, bending, twisting and reaching. Technique: Dribbling (stop and start) and shooting. Experiment with the qualities of a rolling ball.
Psychology: Sharing, fair play, parental involvement, “how to play” and emotional management.
Tactics: Where is the field? The concept of boundary lines, at which goal to shoot and playing with the ball wherever it may go. *Please note that the components of the game are in a priority order for this age group.
Section 3 - Typical U-6 Training Session
• Should not exceed 45 minutes.
• Every child should have a ball.
• Free play or a warm-up, including movement education challenges and soccernastics.
approximately 15 minutes-
• Game-like activities, mostly body awareness and maze games. -approximately 15 minutes-
• Finish with a 3v3 game with two goals, no goalkeepers -approximately 15 minutes
Coaches should devote the end of each training session to playing 3v3 practice games. During these practice games is the best time for the coach to teach rules of the game to the players. Fun games involving small numbers can be played, especially 1v1, 2v1, 1v2 and 2v2 leading up to a final activity of 3v3. It is important to ensure each child has a ball and to focus on fun games. The benefit of the increased number of touches on the ball in those games is irreplaceable. Coaches should be well prepared and have a selection of game-like activities planned, while keeping in mind these young children have short attention spans.
General Characteristics of the U-8 Age Group
• Like to show skills – need approval
• Beginning to develop some physical confidence (most can ride a bicycle)
• Lack sense of pace – go flat out, chasing the ball until they drop
• Still in motion – twitching, jerking, scratching and blinking are all second nature physical movements
• Still into running, jumping, climbing and rolling
• Boys and girls are still quite similar in physical and psychological development
• Attention span is a bit longer than the U-6 age group
• Developing playmates
• More into imitation of the big guys (sports heroes becoming important)
• Still very sensitive – Dislikes personal failure in front of peers, making ridicule from the coach in front of the group very destructive
• Still do not believe in the intensity of the team at all costs
• Inclined more toward small group activities
Components of the Game for the U-8 Age Group
Technique: Experiment with the qualities of a rolling or spinning ball. Introduce ball lifting, juggling, block tackle, receiving ground balls with the inside and sole of the foot, shooting with the inside of the foot, toe passing and shooting and dribbling while changing direction. Introduce the push pass.
Fitness: Agility, eye-foot and eye-hand coordination, balance, leaping, bounding, tumbling, catching, throwing, pulling, pushing, warm-up activities and movement education. Continue education on sports nutrition with players and parents.
Psychology: Encourage working in pairs, sportsmanship, parental involvement, how to play, emotional management, creativity, dynamic activities, participation of all players in a safe and fun environment. There is still a short attention span unless the player has peaked (keep interest high). Like to show what they can do – encourage trying new things. Developing self-esteem – activities should foster positive feedback and attainable positive success.
Tactics: Back line and forward line, 1v1 attack and choosing to dribble or pass. Introduce the names of positions (fullbacks and forwards). Institute games of 2v1, 1v2 and 2v2, playing with the ball with a purpose and promote problem solving.
Typical U-8 Training Session
• Should not exceed one hour.
• Free play or a warm-up, each player with a ball, dynamic stretching and soccernastics. -approximately 15 minutes-
• Some individual body awareness activities.
• Introduce partner activities.
• A mixture of individual and partner activities. Add more maze-type games. Introduce target games with a variety of player combinations: 1v1, 2v1, 1v2 and 2v2. -approximately 25 minutes-
• Conclude with a Small-Sided Game of 4v4, two goals and no goalkeepers. -approximately 20 minutes
Coaches should devote the end of each training session to playing 4v4 practice games. Fun games can also be played involving small numbers, especially 1v1, 2v1, 1v2, 2v2, 1v3, 2v3 and 3v3 leading up to the final activity of 4v4. Through these games, expose the U-8 age group to the principles of play. It is important to ensure each child has a ball and to focus on fun games. The benefit of the increased number of touches on the ball is irreplaceable. Be well prepared and have a selection of game-like activities planned while keeping in mind these young children have short attention spans.