Tag Archives for " Young Players "

Organizing Small-Sided Teams - Part II

Last week I gave examples of formations that you can use in the 6v6 format that is used in many areas of the US for U9 and U10 teams. You don't have too much flexibility when there are only six players on your team.

With the 8v8 format you can do a number of things to play to the strengths of your team or the weaknesses of the opponent.


The most common line-up I've seen is a 3-3-1. This formation gives you

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Organizing Small-Sided Teams - Part I

There are many books and dvds that discuss the different formations that can be played in the 11v11 game but I haven't seen that much discussion about how coaches organize their players when playing 6v6 or 8v8. While there are some areas that use 7v7 and 9v9, the former are the two most common formats for young players in United States.

Players that are U9 and U10 generally play 6v6 I'll focus on this post. I'll discuss the 8v8 format that U11 and U12 players progress in next week's blog.

It could be that this subject isn't discussed often because the focus at this age is on players developing their skills.  This is true but they also need to learn how to play the game and understand the responsibilities of each position.


I keep it very simple most of the time with the

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Developing Soccer Intelligence

Soccer is a 'Player Centered' game. The players make the decisions as the game is played. Unlike our traditional American sports of football, baseball and basketball. In those sports the players rely heavily on the coaches for direction and decision making. The coaches call the play, give the sign for a certain pitch or run an in-bounds play that the team has worked on at practice.

By contrast, soccer is a free flowing, constantly changing game where the players have to decide what to do based on where they are, where their team mates are and where the opponents are at any given moment. There are no time outs and few stoppages that allow the coach to directly effect the play. The players must have the ability to

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Just Let Them Play

I sat down to plan my U8 and U10 practices the other day and while going through my old sessions and thinking about previous games I realized that it would be a great day to just let them play. We didn't have any games the following weekend and there hadn't been a practice this season that I just let them go at it.

I regularly have the boys play various 1v1 games and we always finish with a small-sided game at the end of training but every once in a while I like to plan an entire session around playing competitive 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 games. This gives the players a break from the usual format and gives them a chance to use all of the skills that we've been working to improve. They love it because

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Finding the Motivation to Try

This post is a follow up to a previous post called, "Developing Confidence in Young Players" from our Soccer Conditioning Experts at SoccerFITAcademy.com. This post advances on those ideas.

“Things are hard when you HAVE TO…but become easy if you WANT TO…”
- Alan Stein

What motivates younger players? Not surprisingly it is the same things that motivate all of us when we are placed in an unfamiliar position or situation. In the beginning, it all comes down to three simple things that have total control on our confidence to get involved…

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Should Coaches Appeal for Decisions in Youth Soccer?

Every weekend you can go to a soccer complex and stand in between the fields while games are being played and just wait. It won't take long and you'll hear, "Heeeeyyy!" or "Refereeeee!" It's not coming from the player or the parents (although you'll hear it from them but that's another post) but from the coach. I'm as guilty of this as the next coach. It's almost a reflex for me by now. This weekend I caught myself and started really thinking about it.

I can shout quicker than the referee can get his whistle to his lips so it's a bit unfair because if the referee calls the foul there will be someone that says he gave it just because I shouted. If he doesn't then he knows I'm going to be upset because I've already indicated that I thought it was a foul.

At a certain level of play with experienced, adult referees then I don't

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The Most Important Age Group

When I visited the Ajax Academy they were in the final phase of selection their U8 Academy team. The process began with more than a hundred players and they had narrowed this down to the final 30. When we spoke to the coaches they emphasized that this was their most important age group. They said that this was the future of Ajax and they took great care to make sure that they selected players carefully and then assigned excellent coaches to look after their development.

The U8 teams are the foundation of any club. Without a strong development plan and coaching structure the future of the club is in jeopardy. I think that most people would agree with this. Why then

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Developing Confidence in Young Players

This weeks post is inspired by a post from our Soccer Conditioning Expert, Scott Moody with Soccer FIT. He talks about the spiral that occurs as a result of a player either being confident or lacking confidence. Players that lack confidence will also lack motivation, be more reluctant to try and as a result have perform low level of skill. This will confirm the players lack of confidence and the spiral continues. But we, as coaches, can turn this spiral in the opposite direction by encouraging them to attempt a small part of the skill, praise them when they

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Is the U.S. Development Academy Taking Away Choices for Players?

The main topic of discussion among soccer coaches and parents over the last month has been the U.S. Soccer Developments Academy's move to a 10-month season beginning in 2012-13.

U.S. Soccer created the Development Academy in 2007 to improve the everyday environment for the elite youth player. The Development Academy is a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country to provide the best youth players in the U.S. with an everyday environment designed to produce the next generation of National Team players.

U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach JURGEN KLINSMANN commenting on the change said, “If we want our players to someday compete against the best in the world, it is critical for their development that they train and play as much as possible and in the right environment. The Development Academy 10-month season is the right

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