Grass Roots Coaching Manual – Coaching Notes Booklet
FFA National Football Curriculum – FFA Curriculum Publication
Training Games for 4 – 6 year olds
Tips for Coaches of young players ( 5 – 6 year olds)
- FUN – Fun is the single most important thing.
- If soccer IS FUN, they will want to keep playing –
- If soccer is NOT FUN, they will quit or not come to practice.
- Winning and keeping score is NOT IMPORTANT to U4 and U6 soccer players.
- Fun is the coach creating an environment where the kids will have fun learning. And improvement in play is what we all want!
- The more touches your players get in practice and games, the faster they will improve -You are teaching little kids to do something they haven’t done before – to use their feet to dribble and kick a soccer ball.
- A Ball for Every Player and NO LINES at Practice – Think about it – if players have to share a ball and stand in line, they are wasting a lot of time and they get bored. BUT if every player has a ball and is constantly dribbling or kicking the ball, they WON’T get bored and they will get 2 or 3 times as many touches on the ball. The way to do this is by having a ball for every player and by playing Practice Games instead of soccer drills. Practice Games are fun and line drills are boring.
- Keep Practices Short, Arrive Early and Be Prepared – As a coach, you need to arrive at practice and games early and be prepared, with a plan in mind. Practices should probably not be more than 35 to 45 minutes.
- The Skills You Should Teach young Players and How to Judge “Skill” at U4 and U6 – Focus on getting players used to using their feet to dribble and kick a soccer ball (and to kick a soccer ball while running) – the key to this is hundreds of touches per practice. If you do this as part of a Practice Game, the kids will naturally learn to look up while dribbling and kicking the ball and to be able to dribble and kick with both feet, and that is very important. Don’t make the mistake of comparing U4 and U6 players to U10 players, or of trying to turn U4 and U6 players into U10 players. At U4 and U6, don’t worry about tactics or formations or even passing the ball (passing the ball is too complex for U6 players and will result in confusion about when to pass and when to dribble – just have fun and get lots of touches on the ball.
- Don’t Keep Score and Don’t Measure Your Success by “Wins” – Keeping score and keeping track of wins is not important at U4 and U6. These are little kids. The most important things at U4 and U6 are to have fun and to learn how to effortlessly dribble and kick a soccer ball.
- Try to Avoid Embarrassing the Other Team – If your team is killing the other team, consider moving your scorers back to defensive positions, play a player short or swap a player with the other team. Or, let your best players play at the same time as their best players, and your weakest players play at the same time as their weakest players.
- TIP: Do NOT make the balls hard – these are little kids with little feet – if it hurts when they kick a ball, that is counterproductive. It is MUCH better for the balls to be underinflated than overinflated.
- Do not associate any sort of punishment with soccer – Do not play elimination games; do not punish children for bad behavior. Correct bad behavior with positive reinforcement of GOOD behavior with patches and praise. No punishment.
- Do not scrimmage at practice – Scrimmaging is a poor way to practice – the activity level is too low with only one ball with several kids. It is a poor use of precious practice time. Only the fastest and strongest get to touch the ball and the rest get frustration.
- Make your practice games or drills include traffic – Traffic is best created by having lots of kids dribbling through and around each other in close proximity. Skills are best learned when practiced in a way that simulates real matches. Real soccer matches are chaotic and don’t involve cones or kids standing in line. In real soccer matches a lot of things are happening at once and kids get bumped and sometimes knocked down.
- Be enthusiastic all of the time – You are the leader. Make the experience fun and exciting and the parents and players will follow your lead. Enthusiasm is contagious. Build the love of soccer in your entire team and in their parents. Do not be a mean coach or a ‘yeller’, that’s not a fun way to coach!
- Include your parents as part of the practice – A lot of parents are reluctant to offer to help, but many will if you just ask them. Include your parents in everything – they are an asset. It reduces your workload if you have parents help and it is a better experience for them and their kids. Getting parents involved is a good way to train assistants.
- The three most important things to teach U4 and U6 players are dribbling, shooting and kicking (kicking using the laces and NOT their toe) and proper 1 v 1 defending.
- It is Better NOT to try to teach passing to U4 and U6 – The age to teach passing should not be based on foot skills, it should be based on mental readiness to understand the complex decision-making that is required. The problem is that most U4 and U6 soccer players aren’t mentally ready to deal with the complex decision-making required to determine “when to pass and when NOT to pass”. Trying to teach passing to U4 and U6 players can be counterproductive because it can confuse them and can diminish their dribbling skills and aggressiveness with the ball.
- Remember to Be Nice, Fun and Patient. (NFP)
With thanks to Coach Doug and www.soccerhelp.com