Activities should be fun, appropriate for the age, promote decision-making, and encourage creativity and participation of all players.

core technical cartoonDeveloping soccer skills is where U5 and U6 coaches earn their stripes. You are setting the foundation to succeed at the game.

Almost all practice time and energy should go into developing comfort with the ball. Focus on dribbling, shooting and agility exercises to create athletic players in a fun way.

At U5 and U6, players are only marginally capable of playing a game that looks like soccer. But don’t let that frustrate you! Focusing on the building blocks and having fun while experiencing ample success will turn your players on to the game!

Coaches need to make sure to provide activities based on games that emphasize exploration and experimentation with the rolling, spinning and bouncing qualities of the ball. The soccer ball should be considered a “toy”. There should be no activities where players wait in lines to perform a pre-determined movement or required action.

At this age children work hard and tire quickly. Allow them to have “active rests”, where they are not running but are trying to do something specific with the ball, often sitting or standing. Everyone should be occupied with something, even when resting.

So, the technical training sessions should be mostly technical repetitions on the ball, be psychologically friendly and positive, and have simple combinations with decision-making activities. Individual basic skills with an emphasis on ball control are crucial activities along with lots of balance and coordination exercises. Much of the training time should be free play with trial and error, discovery and experimentation.

“From 5-6 years of age children should be absorbed with play, in games of their own devising.”
Plato 427-347 B.C

One ball per player - all the time!!!

They don’t like to share …

Key components of teaching/learning – Technical:

  • Enjoy activities that include skipping, jumping and running
  • Training Games: body awareness, maze games, and target games
  • Be able to perform a few components of the “Technical Core”:
    • Dribbling 1 vs. 1 and Shooting
  • Tend to one task at a time
    • controlling the ball is a complex task (realistic expectations).
  • Can only comprehend one task at a time
  • Do not understand group or collective play (sharing is still a difficult concept at this age)
  • Individual activities (all players with a ball).
  • Prefer doing over watching
  • Do not waste too much time explaining (straight to the point, always!)
  • Dribble with all surfaces of BOTH feet
  • Maintain close control with BOTH feet
  • Keep head up
  • Be a friend with the ball
  • Change direction and speed when turning
  • Dribble out of trouble
  • Dribble past someone
  • Be agile, stay on toes
  • Control ball first, don’t just kick it away
  • Move to get behind ball’s path
  • Soft first touch
  • Learn how to strike a ball; use the instep (lace) & no toe kicks!

If you feel that your players, by the end of the season/year, have progressed in the majority of these areas, you have done a fantastic job!

There’s no more surefire way of boring the kids than the three L’s --  NO LAPS, NO LECTURES, NO LINES!!

Kids at these ages are fit. They don’t need to run laps. It’s a waste of precious time when the kids could be combining fitness with skills.

And, as we’ve said before, every child should have a ball. This way, there’s no need to wait in line for their turn.

Again, use activities that keep all of the children active. Keep your comments and instructions brief. A lecture is the last thing a child wants when soccer time is supposed to be a fun time, and you will find that the attention span will almost certainly not allow it.

A well organized training session will leave no idle time for their minds to wander.

US Youth Soccer provides a great archive of lesson plans for training sessions on their website.

If you need to get some ideas and strategies to help you get started, or alternatives within the season, please visit this valuable website:  Article: – Technical:

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