You may be an awesome soccer coach who has a ton of experience playing the game and you can even call yourself an expert. But that doesn’t mean you’re ready to coach a team of young kids just yet. There are certain things about being able to play the game that makes it challenging to teach young children. But don’t worry, it’s not impossible. It takes time and patience to reach those new players on your team, especially since they have never played before. To help with this transition, we put together a great list of u8 drills and some great ways you can build your knowledge and skills as a soccer coach to make sure that these kids will continue to want to play for many years to come. You can also find more u8 soccer drills here.
U8 Game Relevant
At the U8 age group, the players are recommended to play the game at 5v5 or 4v4 depending on where you are living. The USA is 4v4 with no goalkeepers and Europe is 5v5 including goalkeepers.
How Do You Train U8 Soccer Drills?
The coaching, training, and matches should last no longer than 60 minutes at this age group. You will need to use warm-up's, a drill, and small-sided games. The warm-up should be 15 minutes and a drill 20 minutes plus a game with however long you have left of the hour once you take into account stops for water breaks and setting up.
Try to arrive early to set up the warm-up and if there is space for the first drill.
Make sure all the players are wearing shin pads or they should not take part.
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U8 Soccer Drill Objectives
- Individual and collective basic soccer techniques – ball control
- Introduce both feet, shooting, passing
- Players should be ‘doing’ not ‘listening’
- Develop speed, coordination, and motor skills with and without the ball
- Little and often – make it fun
- Balance in relation to the ball and teammates during games
- Fun and enjoyable with direction
U8 Soccer Drills Coaching Tips
Communication Is Key
Before you even start to coach, you have to make sure you can communicate with the children on your team. If you have a team with a bunch of kids from different age groups, then it does become a challenge. But even so, you can always find a way to make it work. For example, if you have a bunch of really young children, maybe you can draw on the board or use visual aids to help them understand what you are saying. If you have an older team, you may want to consider writing down key points or even having them listen to audio while they run their own practice sessions. There are a lot of ways to help you communicate with the team, so make sure you take advantage of them so they can understand what they need to do!
Warm Up Together
Before you even get into teaching kids how to play soccer, you want to make sure they are warmed up and ready to go. The best way to do this is to have them run some soccer-specific exercises like a few different kinds of dribbling drills. Not only will this help them get warmed up and ready to play, but it also gives them a chance to start learning the game and practising the basic skills you want them to learn. You can also try getting into some team-building activities. This can help them get to know one another better and also make them excited to be on the same team. It also shows them that you care about them as individuals and not just as players.
Teach The Basic Skills
When it comes to teaching the basic skills, you have to start with dribbling. This is the basic skill that every other skill builds off of. It’s what allows them to control the ball, make passes, and get the ball into the goal. So make sure you start there. Once they have mastered the dribbling technique, you can work on passing and shooting. Passing is a very important skill that you can use to move the ball up the field and make a goal. Shooting, on the other hand, is what allows you to get the ball into the goal. Once you have taught them the basics, you can then move on to the game.
Breakdown The Game
Once they have learned the skills and are ready to start playing soccer, you can break down the game and teach them how to play. The first thing you can do is to give them a general overview of the game. Tell them about the different positions on the field and what they do. You can also talk about the different rules and regulations they need to follow while they are playing. After that, you can break down the game even further by going over the positions one at a time. Talk about what each position does and what they need to be doing throughout the game. This is when you can also go into the basic strategies used in soccer. While you don’t have to go into a ton of detail, you can at least let them know what a strategy is and what it does for the game.
Let Them Have Fun
As you are teaching your team the skills and breakdown of the game, you want to make sure you are also letting them have fun. It’s a sport and should be enjoyable for everyone. So make sure when you are coaching, you are keeping that in mind. Let them play during practice and let them know that it is just as important as the coaching they are getting. After all, practice is the time where they can get better and learn the skills they need to become better players. When they are having fun, they are less likely to want to quit and they are also more likely to keep wanting to play the game.
Try Co-Ed Soccer
There is a huge difference between boys and girls when it comes to playing soccer. Boys, generally, are more aggressive and therefore more likely to be vocal on the field. On the other hand, girls are usually more reserved. They are much more likely to listen to their coach, but they are also more likely to get frustrated if they can’t meet their own expectations. So if you have a team full of girls, it can be a bit more challenging to coach them compared to a team full of boys. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t teach them a valuable skill. In fact, it can actually be a bit easier to teach them since they are more likely to listen and follow your instructions.
Don't talk too much
30 seconds is the maximum length of time children of this age group will listen – let the players learn by playing the game. If you talk for longer than 30 seconds they will have stopped listening and you will be wasting your time.
There are times when we shouldn't step in to point out a mistake made by a player – mistakes are a great way to learn the game and their teammates will often do the pointing out which is better than an adult stepping in and making the player feel bad.
Any bad behavior like fighting, kicking, pushing over, verbal abuse, or any form of poor behavior must be pointed out. This is a must. Do not hesitate to stop play and highlight the problem so that everyone is aware of it and knows that it is wrong and play will stop.
Asking questions is a great way for players to learn from self-discovery. This means that players can find their own ways to correct mistakes or solve problems. Try not to give the answers when you are asking the questions although I know it is difficult at this age.
We ask questions to check player understanding and to get feedback. It also helps to get players to think about the question and in finding the answer be far more aware of the coaching point you were asking them about.
Try and use open questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no. Questions should start with What, How or Where. Using Why can be seen as a negative question.
Asking questions works because:
- Gets player attention
- Informs the coach of what the players know
- Involves the players
- Allows a player to give their opinions
- All these things also help team bonding and team spirit
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U8 Soccer Drills
The following activities underpin the development of the basic skills that are the building blocks of the complete player. At U8s players need fun games to develop their love of the game and generate the will to learn.
This game gives young players a lot of repetition in game-related techniques that will help to develop them to the best they can be.
This is all about accurate shooting and it provides a natural handicap that equals up teams in terms of skill.
A social game with some hidden physical and technical outcomes to use either at the beginning of the session as a warmup or as a general social activity.
Working on players dribbling skills and individual technique will improve a player's ability to keep possession and master the ball.
A fun game that will develop players' confidence through storytelling and allow for lots of touches on the ball.
This drill will help you to coach your players to press and win the ball in all areas of the pitch - win possession and keep the ball.
1v1 is one of the key battles you will see in any youth soccer match and success in these battles are key to winning games.
8. Ball Tag
Encourage players to move around in this drill, trying to find space and keeping their head up, looking for opportunities to receive the ball and keep away from ‘taggers.’
Working on players' support, movement, and combination play will help teams keep possession and create goal-scoring opportunities.
For teams to keep possession players must move after they have passed the ball. In this activity, players can move and pass between the lines of the opposition and move quickly to score a goal
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