What are the best things to teach to U-6 and U-8 soccer players?
Is it a bad idea to teach passing to U-6 soccer players?
Does teaching soccer passing at too young an age diminish 1v1 soccer attacking skills?

(Below is part of a letter that was posted in the Premium Forum and my reply. It's from a U-7 coach whose team was doing great and whose skills were noticeably better than the teams they were playing. One of the things he mentioned was that he didn't teach passing, but instead focused on Dribbling and teaching defense and movement. His comments are similar to Coach Doug's current view. I edited the letters some for continuity)

Hi SoccerHelp,

My team is now 4-0 and my scores have been: 5-4, 9-3, 7-0, 6-2. The first game I tried a 2-1-2 formation and only won 5-4. I switched to a 3-1-1 formation, and easily won the next 3 games.

Keep in mind, the team I inherited this season had NEVER WON A GAME in the past two years.

By applying SoccerHelp's best practices with some tricks of my own like, contacting the starting goalie for my local HS team and getting her to put on cheap clinics for my goalies, have been the keys to my success so far.

Also, the ONLY things I am working on this entire season are dribbling and defense (shift/sag, 1st/2nd defender) and rules like "don't get thrown/kicked over´┐Ż.

All the other rec coaches are trying to teach passing, etc and it's painfully obvious that my girl's ball control is becoming so much more advanced that it is getting embarrassing for the other teams.

Plus keep in mind, the teams I play are ALWAYS bigger, faster and stronger.

Coach F

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Hi Coach F,

I think there are several good lessons in your letter:

  1. Play the Formation and Style of Play that best suits your team
  2. Focus on the Basics (at all levels in most sports, the team that is best at the basics usually wins)
  3. I agree with you about passing, and Coach Doug believes the same thing now: Until U-8 it's better to NOT even try to teach passing, because it can diminish 1v1 attacking skills (kids start to worry too much about passing and stop being good 1v1 attackers)
  4. Teaching Defending and positioning is good, because those skills and knowledge will have value at every age. The same is true for dribbling skills and Brave play -- they are important at every age.
  5. One reason your players skills are better is because your practices are more focused and more effective -- you are achieving more by having efficient practices. I'll bet if you compared your practices to the other coaches, your players are getting at least 3 times as many touches on the ball at each practice.

David at SoccerHelp