As players progress from U6 soccer to U8, they are becoming aware of their surroundings and you’ll be surprised when they remember concepts taught in last practice and begin to use them in the new session. But, don’t expect your players to have this new found skill consistently. It has nothing to do with “paying more attention this time around,” but rather young players developing. Still, players at this age are not capable of executing the complex schemes that you’ve witnessed older teams play. Continue to focus on technical skill development.
[button url=”/areas-of-soccer/tactical/u8″]U8 Soccer Tactics[/button]
U8 soccer players still own immature bodies and can only be expected to do so much. They still have a high energy V8 engine, but only expect it to run for just a few miles before pooping out to the sidelines. Activities should be short to allow for ample water breaks. Keep a close eye on players as their will to want to please may overcome their common sense of overheating. Players at this age have naturally loose, limber bodies and generally do not need stretching. The notion of sprints, running or warm-up laps should be quickly erased from your mindset.
[button url=”/areas-of-soccer/fitness/u8″]U8 Soccer Fitness[/button]
Fear is a key driver at this age. In short, social has become an important part of their being and players don’t want to mess up. Using this knowledge, we want to create players that are comfortable with the ball – on their own terms. Technical soccer skills should be a main focus for this age group. Continue to develop comfort on the ball by emphasizing drills that use a 1 to 1 ball to player ratio and more than 1 soccer goal. Coaching is all about helping players overcome their fear of the ball and their fear of messing up. You will have done well if players are willing to “try things” without hesitation – you will have helped overcome the fear.
[button url=”/areas-of-soccer/technical/u8″]U8 Soccer Skills[/button]
Players at U8 have fragile egos and crave acceptance as they being to understand social ramifications. A great way to help players at this age grow and develop is to have older players come to practice to demonstrate. Simply by watching and providing role models, players will become more motivated and learn through osmosis. Unlike U6 players, U8’s begin to understand boundaries (time and space) and you can loosely introduce them, but don’t make it a focus and cause frequent stoppages of play.
[button url=”/areas-of-soccer/psychological/u8″]U8 Soccer Psychology[/button]
All soccer coaches should be positive and enthusiastic. Coaches of U8 players must keenly be aware of the psychology of this soccer age group: learning by watching is a key tenet as well as helping players overcome fear of ball and fear of failure. Players will develop at different paces, so find that balance between challenging advanced players and providing ample time on the ball for less developed ones. Players find joy and success in scoring goals at this age. Parents will still take an active interest in players – utilize these parents to help practices run smoothly. And, as always, communicate with your parents – don’t make them guess what’s going on!
[button url=”/areas-of-soccer/team-management/u8″]U8 Team Management[/button]