Games and Field Space Policy
U5s do not play games against other teams. Instead, a one-hour soccer practice is held each Saturday (or Sunday depending on field space) that introduces the child to soccer with fun exercises and games.
Fairfax County does not allocate field space for teams involving children 5 years-old and under, and field space is provided by VYS on a space-available basis for this program.
Every effort is made to accommodate the program, and to date VYS has never had to cancel. However, in the event that there is not enough field space, the program is subject to cancellation and refunds will be made.
Arrive at least 10 minutes before your session so you can start preparing physically (set up your grid) and/or mentally (what to work with the players) for your session.
- You don’t need more than 30 x 20 yds. to set up your session.
- Please follow the rules of inclement weather. It is not worth taking the risk. You should always have a plan in place in case of bad weather.
- Have the field address, permits with you at all times.
- Use cones to clearly mark out the area of the field. Please use the appropriate number of cones according to your session needs:
- Too many cones: kids will get confuse and distracted
- Too few cones: kids will not know the boundaries
- When you are setting up cones, please watch for any objects, rocks, and holes on the field that can hurt a player if he/she falls.
- Have the player’s roster with all players’ information and first aid kit with you at all times.
- Use bibs/pennies to avoid confusion among players in your activities/games.
- Play with a size 3 ball for most of your activities/games. But you can be creative by using:
- Big balls: so the kids can have fun
- Mini balls (size 1): to challenge the players
- Explain your topic of the day.
- Remember: Simple and straight to the point. Do not spend more than 45 seconds explaining your topic and activities/games.
- After you explain the activity/game, let them do it before starting to provide your coaching points.
- Play 5 - 10 minute activities/games and allow time for water breaks, etc.
- Be flexible: your main aim is that all players have a positive experience.
- Make sure all players drink water between sessions. Some players may feel that is cool to not drink water (they are not a “camel” J). So, start educating them on the importance of fluids in the body, especially when they are doing activities.
- Provide a progression in your activities (Simple to complex) Example:
- Simple = Dribble the ball towards the goal without any obstruction
- Complex = Dribble the ball towards the goal with some obstruction (cones)
- Provide activities with and without pressure. Example:
- Without Pressure = Dribble the ball around the grid
- With Pressure = Dribble the ball around the grid and do not let the coach steal the ball from you.
- Try to find a balance in your activities, especially when you are working on competitive drills. Be sure to make the group/team’s skill level as even as possible.
- Praise, the individual and/or the group if he/she/they are doing something right. Correct the performance of the players:
- Individual: while the activities still running
- Group: Stop everybody so they can watch you doing properly.
- Sometimes let a player that is doing something well demonstrate to the others. After the demonstration, make everybody “clap their hands” to congratulate. Kids love to feel important. Remember to fill up their “emotional tank” all the time!
- Encourage players to touch the ball and be involved as much as possible. Keep instructions clear and to a minimum and use your enthusiasm to keep all players motivated.
- If a player gets hurt, ask other players to “take a knee” so you can give full attention to the player that got hurt. If necessary, pull the player away from the session and let the parent observe the player. If there is any symptom of a concussion, the player should not come back to the session.
- Give names to your activities and games. Example:
- Name for your activity:
- Defenders, you are the sharks
- Offense, you are the fish.
- So, don’t let the shark get fish.
- Team Name.
- The blue team is USA and the yellow team is Brazil.
- By doing this, you will generate excitement without putting emphasis on the outcome. Always stress the importance of fair play and sportsmanship.
- Initially the organization of the activities/games will take a little longer, but after a few weeks the players (and parents) should understand the set-up. You may then be able to add a little creativity and variety to these activities/games by introducing some simple variations:
- a) Play with a mini ball/big balls.
- b) Players dress different (Halloween).
- If necessary, don’t be afraid to ask the parents to help you during the training session. Remember that you are a coach, not babysitter ;-)
- Finish all your sessions with a “cool down”.
- Teach the importance of stretching after any activities. You can provide fun moves that can get their body stretched and relaxed. Meanwhile, you could be asking the players what they worked on.
- Example: Coach: What did we work on today?
Kids: Dribbling …
Coach: How do we dribble the ball?
Kids: With our laces …
Coaches: Should we dribble the ball close to or way from our body?
Kids: Close …
Coach: Did you guys have fun? (I hope that they say yes!!! )
- Make sure that all players have been picked up by a parent.
- No players should be left alone.
- Please, ask other parents on your team to stay with you waiting for the players to be picked up.
- Also, you should not be alone with a player that is not your son and/or daughter, another adult must be with you at all times.
To succeed in coaching players in this age range, you must have:
- Patience – they will not understand things right away.
- Persistence – sometimes minor changes are all that is needed.
- Flexibility – recognize when something is not working and change it.
- A sense of humor – laugh with your players.
- A very positive attitude – give generous praise often.
- Lots and lots of energy – participate in practice.
And if your activity with the players is not working … change it up!