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Developing Youth Soccer Players

Sep 13, 2008
Developing Youth Soccer is a challenge for everyone involved in soccer, youth soccer organizations , soccer clubs , teams, coaches and parents all have a major part to play in Developing Youth Soccer Players

The development of youth soccer players is a challenging task to the youth soccer coach.

The competitive nature of soccer allows player to understand that they get out of the sport what they put into it. In other words a lot of effort and determination is required to succeed, and soccer provides a great training ground for players to learn valuable life skills like:

1. The importance of teamwork
2. The importance of sportsmanship
3. Being able to win
4. Being able to lose
5. Learning what it takes to succeed

Developing Youth Soccer Players
When dealing with youth soccer players, it is important to remember that there are major differeneces between players of different ages.
Understanding the differences in characteristics of players of different ages will help coaches construct training sessions that suit the characteristice of players according to their age and ensure developing youth soccer players correctly.

Players Aged 5 - 8
Players in this age group have some significant physical and emotional traits. At this age it is vital that coaches construct training sessions that help encourage participation in soccer and that the coaches expectations do not exceed the capabilities of the players.

1. They have minimal fine motor skills
2. They have very little accuracy
3. Their coordination is still developing
4. They have minimal attention span
5. They are playing for fun and enjoyment
6. They do not understand team play

Of paramount importance at this age group in developing youth soccer players is the development of basic skills, the understanding of the basics of the game and the fostering of a genuine pleasure in the game
Basic Skills for Players Aged 5 - 8
The skills that can be expected of this age group are:

1. Simple Passing.
2. Simple Trapping.
3. Simple Heading.
4. Dribbling.
5. Shooting

Advanced Skills for Players Aged 5 - 8

1. Using both feet for basic skills.
2. Intermediate Close Control Skills.
* Juggling the ball.
3. Intermediate Trapping.
* Chest
* Thigh
4. Basics of Running with the Ball.

Goalkeeping Skills for Players Aged 5-8

* Basic Goalkeeping Elements
* Introduction to Goalkeeping Equipment.
* Stance and Hand positions for goalkeepers.

Game Structure for Players aged 5-8
At this age, small sided games of 3v3 or 4v4 should be used as much as possible. It is important to try and group players of similar ability together so that players at a very early stage of learning with lesser skills are not alienated and discouraged to play.

Games of this size that are organized correctly will allow all players to participate and will not alienate players.

Players Age 9 to 12
This age group sees some growth in the physical traits of players and also in players awareness.

1. They have improved fine motor skills
2. They have better accuracy
3. Their coordination is still developing
4. They have increased attention span, but it does not extend to lengthy instructions
5. They are still playing for fun and enjoyment
6. They are beginning to understand team play

Of paramount importance of developing youth soccer players at this age group is the continuing development of basic skills with the added pathway to more advanced skills, a greater focus upon understanding the mechanics of the game of football and the persistence of fostering of a genuine pleasure of the game with the added component of the competitive edge.
Basic Skills for Players Aged 9 to 12

1. Intermediate Passing
* Short range passing with all parts of the foot using both feet.
* Mid range passing with all parts of the foot.
* Crossing
2. Intermediate Trapping.
* Trapping with both feet.
* Trapping with both thighs.
* Trapping with chest.
3. Intermediate Heading.
* Defensive headers.
* Nodding the ball.
* Attacking headers.
4. Intermediate Dribbling.
* Dribbling with almost complete vision.
* Fluency in running with the ball.
5. Intermediate Shooting
* Long range shooting.
* Short range finishing.
6. Intermediate Close Control Skills
* One - touch exchanges.
7. Increase the speed and proficiency attached to all of these skills.

Advanced Skills for Players Aged 9-12

1. Advanced Passing
* Long Range passing
* Applying Curl to passes and crosses.
2. Advanced Close Control Skills
* Tricks with the ball.
* Rounding the keeper.
3. Advanced Trapping
* Chest to Foot.
* Thigh to Foot

Goalkeeping Skills for Players Aged 9-12

* Basic Goalkeeping Elements
o Introduction to Goalkeeping Equipment.
o Theory of Angles.
o Correct hand position "W" shape.
o Correct stance.
o Diving Techniques.
o Catching Techniques.
o Parrying Techniques.
o Distribution Techniques.
+ Short range throwing.
+ Clearing kicks.

* Advanced Goalkeeping Elements
o Reading the game.
o Punching.
o Command of defensive area.
o Coping with set pieces.
o Penalty kicks.
o Distribution techniques.
+ Goal kicks.
+ Long range throwing.

Game Structure for Players aged 9-12
At this age, small sided games of 3v3 or 4v4 should be used as much as possible in pracice sessions. It is important to play games of 7v7 or 8v8 as players have developed more team awareness, and are wanting to play more realistic games like their heroes!

Players Aged 13+
I have seen this age group referred to as "The Golden Age". Players in this age group

1. They have developed fine motor skills
2. They have very a better degreee of accuracy
3. Their coordination is virtually developed
4. They are striving for realism and leave the fantasy world behind
5. They are playing for fun and enjoyment, but with the added component of competitiveness
6. They understand team play
7. They are motivated to practice for continued improvement
8. They try to emulate their sporting heroes

Of paramount importance of developing youth soccer players at this age group is to significantly further the tactical education of the player, and consequently, advance the skill levels to cope with the increase in pace and strength. As always we must ensure that the fostering of a genuine pleasure of playing the game is continued.
Basic Skills for Players Aged 13+

* Advanced Passing.
o Passing with both feet over all three ranges.
o Crossing, both driven and curled.
* Advanced Trapping.
o Trapping with any legal part of the body with ease.
* Advanced Heading.
o Defensive headers.
o Nodding the ball.
o Attacking headers.
* Advanced Dribbling.
o Dribbling with complete vision.
* Advanced Shooting
o Shooting from all ranges.
o Finishing from most angles.
* Intermediate Close Control Skills
o Complex exchanges.
* Maximum speed and proficiency attached to all of these skills.

Advanced Skills for Players Aged 13+

* Proficiency in dribbling tricks.
* A thorough understanding of Spatial Awareness.

Goalkeeping Skills for Players Aged 13+

* Introduction to Goalkeeping Equipment.
* Theory of Angles.
* Diving Techniques.
* Catching Techniques.
* Correct positioning of hands.
* Punching techniques.
* Correct stance.
* How/When to close an attacking player down.
* Parrying Techniques.
* Distribution Techniques.
o Short range throwing.
o Clearing kicks.
o Goal kicks.
o Long range throwing.
* Reading the game.
* Command of defensive area.
* Keeping for set pieces.
* Penalty kicks.

Game Structure For Players Aged 13+
At this age, small sided games of 4v4 up to 8v8 should be used as much as possible in pracice sessions.

Players in this age group are ready for 11v11 games under full match conditions.

The only difference between these games and adult games is the length of the games.
About the Author
Nigel Reed has been involved in soccer during the 60's, 70's and 80's as a player and has been coaching youth soccer in Australia since 2000.
Nigels main soccer webite has detailed information on Developing Youth Soccer as well as a number of Free Soccer Drills

Good luck with your coaching
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