This handbook is geared towards coaches of U6 (kindergarten) players – i.e. the players in HYSA’s Micro program. Its aim is to provide coaches of this age group with the following:
• What to expect in terms of player behavior.
• How to teach soccer techniques.
• Basic techniques to teach at this age.
• Drills and exercises to use during practices.
Information contained in this handbook came from a variety of sources. However, two that were used extensively graciously gave their permission to use the material. Thank you!
• Jeff Pill, U-14 Region 1 Director of Coaching for USSF.
• Oregon Youth Soccer Association.
Players – U6 Age Group (Micro)
- Short attention span.
- Can attend to only one problem at a time.
- May understand simple rules that are explained briefly and demonstrated.
- May or may not understand or remember: what lines mean on the field; what team they are playing on;
- What goal they are going for. We need to be patient and laugh with them as they get “lost” on the field.
- Easily bruised psychologically. Shout praise often. Give “hints”, don’t criticize.
- Need generous praise and to play without pressure. No extrinsic rewards (trophies, medals, etc.) should be given for winning.
- Prefer “parallel play” (Will play on a team, but will not really engage with their teammates. Thus, a 3 against 3 game is, in reality, a 1 against 5 game because they all want the ball at the same time.
- Very individually oriented (me, mine, my).
- Constantly in motion, but, with no sense of pace. They will chase something until they drop. They are easily fatigued but recover rapidly.
- Development for boys and girls are quite similar.
- Physical coordination limited. Eye – hand and eye – foot coordination is not developed. Need to explore qualities of a rolling ball.
- Love to run, jump, roll, and hop.
- Prefer large, soft balls.
- Catching or throwing skills not developed.
- Can balance on their “good” foot.
Things You Can Expect
- Most players cry immediately when something is hurt. Some cry even when something is not hurt.
- No matter how loud we shout, or how much we “practice” it, they can not or will not pass the ball.
- Somebody will come off the field in need of a toilet. Somebody will stay on the field in need of a toilet.
- The only player to hold a position is the goalkeeper (if you play with one). Don’t even consider positional play.
- Twenty seconds after the start of a game, every player will be within 5 yards of the ball.
- Several players will slap at the ball with their hands, of pick it up. Several parents will yell at them not to do that.
- A model rocket that is launched from a nearby field will get 99% of the player’s attention. By all means, stop whatever you are doing and watch for a couple of minutes
- During the season, you will end up tying at least 40-50 shoelaces.
- They will do something that is absolutely hysterical. Make sure that you laugh!
It is important to understand at the outset that players coming to any sport prior to the age of 6 years old, in general, do not do so by their own choice. As a result, their coaches need to give them something about which to get excited. Further, at this age, learning to play soccer is secondary to most other things in their lives.
With the above assumptions, lets look at some things that we can do to energize the U-6 players, and, hopefully, get them to the point where they will enthusiastically sign up for next year!
Each session should be geared around touching the ball as many times as possible, Involve the ball in
as many activities as possible. Basic movements such as running, skipping, hopping, etc. need to be emphasized. If these can be done while kicking, catching, rolling, or dribbling a ball, all the better!
Training should not last for more than one hour. This is primarily due to the physical fatigue and attention span considerations.
Have as many different kinds of activities ready as you can get into one hour. Emphasis needs to be placed on what is FUN!
Every player should bring his or her own sizes #3 ball.
Remember that although they may have very similar birthdays, their physical and / or mention maturity may vary as much as 36 months. Activities need to accommodate these individual differences whenever possible.
Team play and passing is an alien concept to these players. They know that if they pass the ball, they may never get it back. In fact, they often steal it from their own teammates. Do not get uptight if they do not pass, let them dribble to their heart’s content.
Plan for at least 4, 90 second drink breaks, especially in warmer weather. Their “cooling system” is not as efficient as in older players.
Teaching Soccer Techniques
Soccer players do not automatically know how to execute the various techniques (skills) associated with the game. Even after learning the basic skills, players need instruction on how and when to use the techniques they have learned in a game situation.
Our job as coaches is to teach our players the basic techniques and give them the knowledge of the game and confidence in themselves that will help them reach their full potential as soccer players. Here are some tips to help you teach the fundamentals to your players:
- Explain the importance of the technique … keep it short, keep it simple. The players are more apt to learn if you tell them how and when the technique fits into a game setting.
- Give 3 or 4 key points to help the players perform the technique.
- Demonstrate the technique. If you are unable to do it, ask one of your better players to do it for you.
- Organize the team into small groups. The smaller the better, depending upon the technique and the amount of help you have.
- Practice the technique. Observe the players trying to do the technique.
- Make corrections as necessary. Be POSITIVE and try to point out when the technique is being done well; however, you must correct technique that is being done wrong. You can do this without directing your corrections at any particular player. If none of your players can perform the technique, you need to reconsider whether it is appropriate for their age and experience level.
- Practice under match conditions. In order to tell if the players can do the technique in a game situation, increase the difficulty by adding a defender, making their space smaller, or by speeding up the pace of the activity. Small-sided games work well to show whether a technique has been learned.
Enlist other coaches or parents to be additional tunnels. The players dribble after him and try to shoot through the tunnel whenever he stops. After three shots, the coach moves on again. Who can score the most points in 5 minutes?