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Old 03-21-05, 11:41 AM   #1
reich17
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Coaching U8 Soccer

Anyone out there have experience coaching kids soccer? My son's team was without a coach so I stepped up and volunteered but I have almost no experience, other than watching a few games my son played in last year. It's an Under 8 (years of age) team and I know the focus is to have fun but does anyone have any pointers?
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Old 03-21-05, 11:59 AM   #2
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Well, I am an AYSO Certified Advanced Coach. I've also player/coached adult teams and refereed up to Div 1 (High School). So...I know a few things about soccer.

Is this AYSO? They usually have very good beginning coach training (My wife and I wrote the course "This is a Soccer Ball" for absolute beginner coaches and taught it for several years).

I know this sounds hackneyed, but at this age (shoot, at EVERY age) the most important thing it to have fun. Some players will understand the importance of playing positions and passing at this age, they won't swarm all over the field chasing the ball. If you can get your player to simply play in positions, you will do very well. Sharks are the forwards, they score the goals. Cheetahs are fast and get the ball to the sharks as soon as they can. Bears help the keeper protect the goal.

Move the players around to different positions. Sometimes a timid little kid can be a ferocious forward if they get the chance!

If you are completely clueless, you need to learn the laws as they pertain to this age group. Take a ref course, they go into a lot of detail.

I could go on and on...did this help at all?
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Old 03-21-05, 12:02 PM   #3
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One thing that my little league coaches did was to have the parents sign a behavior statement (This was in 1986 or so):
1. The coach is the only one providing on-field instruction during the game and practices.
2. Parents will not berate the umpires, fellow teammates, or competitors.
3. I understand that every child has the same right to play.
4. I will stand by decisions that coach makes in terms of discpline (i.e. benchings)
5. I will support the team win or lose.

These are just some of the basic ideas not the actual wording.

As far as drills, stress passing and dribbling skills. Dribbling slalom style through cones. Two dribbles and a pass, two dribbles and a pass between two players all the way down the field. You probably don't need to worry about headers at that age.
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Old 03-21-05, 12:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eubi
Well, I am an AYSO Certified Advanced Coach. I've also player/coached adult teams and refereed up to Div 1 (High School). So...I know a few things about soccer.

Is this AYSO? They usually have very good beginning coach training (My wife and I wrote the course "This is a Soccer Ball" for absolute beginner coaches and taught it for several years).

I know this sounds hackneyed, but at this age (shoot, at EVERY age) the most important thing it to have fun. Some players will understand the importance of playing positions and passing at this age, they won't swarm all over the field chasing the ball. If you can get your player to simply play in positions, you will do very well. Sharks are the forwards, they score the goals. Cheetahs are fast and get the ball to the sharks as soon as they can. Bears help the keeper protect the goal.

Move the players around to different positions. Sometimes a timid little kid can be a ferocious forward if they get the chance!

If you are completely clueless, you need to learn the laws as they pertain to this age group. Take a ref course, they go into a lot of detail.

I could go on and on...did this help at all?
Sure it helps, I was basically thrown into this position over the weekend and the first practice is tomorrow. What I am worried about is giving them incorrect information on the basics. I can't even tell them at this point the proper technique for dribbling the ball. We are playing with 1 goalie, 3 forwards, 1 halfback and 3 forwards...I know their duties, I guess, but am unsure where exactly on the field they play. For example, should the fullbacks ever cross the halfway line? It's the duty of the halfback to get the ball from the fullbacks to the forwards,right? So the halfback covers the middle third of the field? That kind of thing. Anyway, I'm heading to the library tonight but your feedback is welcome too.

Thanks
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Old 03-21-05, 12:17 PM   #5
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Sharks= Forwards
Cheetahs= Halfbacks
Bears=Fullbacks

Right?

Jabba the Hut= Goalie
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Old 03-21-05, 02:49 PM   #6
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Ok, the very basics...

The players can go anywhere on the field they want. I've even seen showboating keepers try to dribble forward and score a goal. But, a team needs to be more efficient to be successful. What I describe below is my coaching style, others may be different. As long as it's legal.

At this age, "successful" is if your team is developing and playing together. There's plenty of time for win at all costs later. My teams have played terribly and won, and played the best game of their season and lost.

8 a side...Just a suggestion, I would use a 2-2-3 setup (from forwards to fullbacks). Two forwards, two mids, three fulls. If you have a really good keeper, you can run a 2-3-2.

Yeah, get the dribbling down. At this age, they need to be taught to dribble (carry the ball) with the instep. Passes are also done with the instep. NO TOE KICKS!!! It will be hard to break them of this habit. Put a sticker (a happy face, soccer ball) just above the arch of their shoe. The sticker is where you strike the ball.

Get them to pass from the Bears to Cheetahs to the Sharks as fast as possible with no challenges. They shouldn't just pass the ball away every time they touch it. PASS TO A TEAMMATE! Everyone needs to touch the ball. They get better with each touch! Get the keeper in this drill too, as not only the last defender but as the first attacker! As they get better, add a player to challenge them, then 2, etc.

Are you playing with or without the offside rule? If you are playing with offside, they need to understand what it is. You do too. That's where it takes a class to really clarify things. MOST coaches and players do not understand offside. I got the chance to educate quite a few when I referreed.

That being said, Forwards (Sharks) typically hang out on the other team's half of the field (subject to the offside rule). Midfielders (Cheetahs) are usually the big playmakers. Center Halfback is typically the "captain". They move the ball from the back up to the front. They get the run of the field, but I like them to stay in "lanes". Right half would stay in the right half of the field, center half in the center half...there's some overlap...you get it...

Fullbacks (bears) would stay on their side of the field, in lanes. Fullbacks are important! They need to understand that if they simply boot the ball out of play what will happen. If they must kick the ball out of bounds (US term) on the touch line (the long, side, lines), the game will restart with a throw in by the other side (practice throw-in's too). If the ball is kicked out of touch (correct term) past the goal line, the other team gets a corner kick. At this age, "giving up a corner" isn't too bad. As they get older and get good with headers, a corner kick is a dangerous threat! One of my teams won a hard-fought semi-final Regional match on a corner kick in the final minute of play. You will develop set plays for this restart at higher divisions.

Also remember the lines are part of the field of play. To be out of touch, the ball must be completely past one of the boundary lines. A ball sitting on the line is still in play! Many players this age will stand around and watch it. Parents may try to pick it up. NO! I tell my players to take it, it's yours!

Now for the keeper (goalies play hockey). This is what I played for way too many years! I like my keeper to function more like a center fullback. Don't sit back there on the goal line! Get out between the goal box and the "18" (the edge of the penalty area, the larger box at the goal area). Boot anything that comes your way back to a midfielder.

Oh man, I'm writing a book again! Sorry. I hope I haven't overloaded you with information.

I'll try to see if I saved my pamphlet for new coaches. That was a couple of computers ago...

Last edited by eubi; 03-21-05 at 03:10 PM.
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Old 03-21-05, 03:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eubi
Ok, the very basics...

The players can go anywhere on the field they want. I've even seen showboating keepers try to dribble forward and score a goal. But, a team needs to be more efficient to be successful. What I describe below is my coaching style, others may be different. As long as it's legal.

At this age, "successful" is if your team is developing and playing together. There's plenty of time for win at all costs later. My teams have played terribly and won, and played the best game of their season and lost.

8 a side...Just a suggestion, I would use a 2-2-3 setup (from forwards to fullbacks). Two forwards, two mids, three fulls. If you have a really good keeper, you can run a 2-3-2.

Yeah, get the dribbling down. At this age, they need to be taught to dribble (carry the ball) with the instep. Passes are also done with the instep. NO TOE KICKS!!! It will be hard to break them of this habit. Put a sticker (a happy face, soccer ball) just above the arch of their shoe. The sticker is where you strike the ball.

Get them to pass from the Bears to Cheetahs to the Sharks as fast as possible with no challenges. They shouldn't just pass the ball away every time they touch it. PASS TO A TEAMMATE! Everyone needs to touch the ball. They get better with each touch! Get the keeper in this drill too, as not only the last defender but as the first attacker! As they get better, add a player to challenge them, then 2, etc.

Are you playing with or without the offside rule? If you are playing with offside, they need to understand what it is. You do too. That's where it takes a class to really clarify things. MOST coaches and players do not understand offside. I got the chance to educate quite a few when I referreed.

That being said, Forwards (Sharks) typically hang out on the other team's half of the field (subject to the offside rule). Midfielders (Cheetahs) are usually the big playmakers. Center Halfback is typically the "captain". They move the ball from the back up to the front. They get the run of the field, but I like them to stay in "lanes". Right half would stay in the right half of the field, center half in the center half...there's some overlap...you get it...

Fullbacks (bears) would stay on their side of the field, in lanes. Fullbacks are important! They need to understand that if they simply boot the ball out of play what will happen. If they must kick the ball out of bounds (US term) on the touch line (the long, side, lines), the game will restart with a throw in by the other side (practice throw-in's too). If the ball is kicked out of touch (correct term) past the goal line, the other team gets a corner kick. At this age, "giving up a corner" isn't too bad. As they get older and get good with headers, a corner kick is a dangerous threat! One of my teams won a hard-fought semi-final Regional match on a corner kick in the final minute of play. You will develop set plays for this restart at higher divisions.

Also remember the lines are part of the field of play. To be out of touch, the ball must be completely past one of the boundary lines. A ball sitting on the line is still in play! Many players this age will stand around and watch it. Parents may try to pick it up. NO! I tell my players to take it, it's yours!

Now for the keeper (goalies play hockey). This is what I played for way too many years! I like my keeper to function more like a center fullback. Don't sit back there on the goal line! Get out between the goal box and the "18" (the edge of the penalty area, the larger box at the goal area). Boot anything that comes your way back to a midfielder.

Oh man, I'm writing a book again! Sorry. I hope I haven't overloaded you with information.

I'll try to see if I saved my pamphlet for new coaches. That was a couple of computers ago...
More than I ever expected, I love you man. Reich
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Old 03-29-05, 08:52 PM   #8
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So...how did the first match go?
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Old 03-29-05, 08:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reich17
Sharks= Forwards
Cheetahs= Halfbacks
Bears=Fullbacks

Right?

Jabba the Hut= Goalie

Haha, my sister is Jabba the Hut

I'm gonna call her that at her next game

(don't worry, she deserves it. You should see her when she watches me sparr for wrestling.)
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Old 03-30-05, 09:09 AM   #10
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Hahaha. The correct term is "Keeper". I played keeper for many years.
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Old 03-30-05, 09:20 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by eubi
So...how did the first match go?
The first game is this coming Saturday (04.02.05). The practices are going better than I expected, thanks to your input and one of my players parents. He is a former player/referee. It is definitely challenging trying to keep these youngsters "entertained" while teaching them soccer basics. I'm having fun, hopefully they are too.
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Old 03-30-05, 11:07 AM   #12
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Try to get a basic coaching class if you can. US Youth Soccer has coaching clinics that start at the "F" level and go up to the "A" level (upper collegiate/professional). The basics, keep the kids engaged. Practices should be built around one theme for the practice - ie passing, dribbling, shooting, defense. Begin a practice with individual drills, build with several players, add a defender, then finally have a scrimmage with rules that enforce the particular theme for the practice.

Example, for a passing themed practice: start with pairing them up to do basic passes. Show the correct form (instep, toe pointing up). Then move them into triangles to pass and move. Add a defender to the triangle, etc. until you have a "scrimmage" where your team scores a point when you have five successive passes without having the ball stolen.

Other basic rule - avoid the three "L"s - lines, lectures, and laps. They are all boring. Let me know if you need tips to avoid these, it is possible with some planning.

And coaching is for practices, the game is where they get to do what they were coached in practice. In other words, don't have parents or yourself telling them what to do when they have the ball during the game. That is their chance to make their own decisions. IF you are going to coach players during the game, only talk to those that are not directly involved in the play (such as the defenders, to position them while the ball is with the forwards).
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Old 03-30-05, 11:59 AM   #13
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ArtM, the part about coaching during games is good. By the time the players hear and interpret what you want, it's too late. Even more, at this age, they may actually stop and look at you.

I used to listen to my hockey coach tell us what to do with much amusement. You think in a game that fast we have time to listen to the coach and do what he says?
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Old 03-30-05, 02:30 PM   #14
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Check out http://usyouthsoccer.org/ and review their coaches section. It includes the FIFA rules, which you might want to print and keep with you. Also, they have sample "lesson plans" for running practices.

Your local soccer club should also have some materials about the basics. Our local club has over 3,000 players, so we have a lot of resources.

Coaching 8's can be hard, but it can be very rewarding. A lot depends on the support of other parents, and the attitudes of the kids. Having that shy kid with two left feet score his first goal in the last game of the season (even when the team loses) is a great feeling.

- Try to be a positive role model, it pays off. Praise ALL your players, praise players on the opposing team when they do well. Thank the referrees after the game, etc.

- Don't run up the score (put your better players on defense if the score gets too high).

- I bet at least half of your boys will want to try keeper - rotate them through so they all get a chance (even that kid with two left feet).

- If the field is muddy, let them splash in the mud before the game so they are already dirty.

Wow - I could write a book too.
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