Younger Players (U6 - U9)

"The more you learn, the more you find you don't know" - Aristotle

Coaches
Introduction to Coaching Very Young Players

An introduction to the key points with regard to coaching very young players. At these ages, children's love (or not) for the game will be cemented largely by how much fun they have and how much they enjoy the sessions you put on for them. In terms of their footballing (and general sporting) development and providing a solid grounding, there are also certain simple ideas that can make an enormous difference.

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Coaches
1v1 Skills and Ball Mastery

It's vitally important for all young players to be as comfortable as possible in 1v1 situations, with good close control, ability to change pace and direction and a good set of skills to beat opponents. We feel these skills are best demonstrated by video, so we've compiled a series of links to YouTube videos that demonstrate them far better than we could in words.

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Coaches
Warm Ups

Warm ups for young players should be fun first and foremost. This section contains some ideas for warm ups for young players that are fun, useful in terms of developing their agility, balance, coordination and football-related movement skills whilst also keeping everyone involved and burning off some energy...

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Coaches
A Ball For Everyone

This type of setup is a great way to start your session when coaching younger players. Your players will be getting lots and lots of touches, working on their ball control, spacial awareness, turning, some simple skills and so on. Their focus at this age is the ball, so giving them one of their own is a great way to engage them with the practice and there are bags of variations on this that you can introduce.  

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Coaches
Traffic Lights

This is very similar to the "A Ball for Everyone" exercise, but it really introduces the the topic of looking up and being aware, as the players have to constantly be noticing where the coach is, what he/she is doing and what the other players around them are doing. But at the same time, we're involving plenty of touches, trying new skills and tricks and everyone has a ball.

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Coaches
Skills Corridor

This was a exercise I first saw on the FA Youth Module courses and it works really well for young players, with everyone getting lots of touches, lots of opportunities to try different skills, improving “ball mastery”, whilst also dealing with the traffic of other players. It also allows you to introduce passing, shooting and defending as progressions if you want.

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Coaches
Netball Style Game

Netball style games can be incredibly useful for getting players thinking about their movement off the ball. Because they naturally play netball with their "heads up" then they get used to noticing the movement of their teammates and where the best passing option is. When you then introduce the ball on the floor and play with your feet (i.e. football!) you can keep referencing how they played with their heads up in the netball game.

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Coaches
The Numbers Game

This is a popular game that gives your players plenty of opportunities to practice their 1v1 skills, both attacking and defending. It also involves shooting (which of course everyone enjoys) and there is a focus on work rate and effort levels. As well as 1v1, team play in 2v2 and 3v3 situations can also be introduced. It's a fast paced, fun game that your players will enjoy and get lots out of. Just make sure that you keep it flowing so nobody is sat out too much.

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Coaches
Risky Business

This game allows the players plenty of decision making, whilst also being great fun. It involves 1v1 skills, team play, passing, overloads, defending (matched up and outnumbered), counter-attacking, shooting, goalkeeping... pretty much everything in fact! It's also a really competitive game, which the players tend to enjoy.

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Coaches
Training Matches for Younger Players

Playing 9v9 matches with one ball is only going to lead to your young players seeing very little of the ball and most likely, one or two big or quick players dominating, to the detriment of others' development (and their own in fact). This section gives you some ideas for how you might structure your training matches to maximise the benefits of such a game for the younger ages.

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Remember, if you can't find what you're looking for, you can use the search or e-mail ian.knapp@langtongreencsa.org.uk to ask any questions...