Best Way to Teach Soccer Positions
How to Turn Around a Losing Soccer Team
Soccer Games that Teach Skills
Teaching the Concept of Attacker & Defenders
Is it Ok to Coach During Games?
Losing too Many Games Can Affect Confidence
Hi, I am coaching my oldest two son's teams, U8 and U6. This is my eighth soccer season. My oldest son's soccer teams did OK until he went from U6 to U8 and we switched from the Y to a more competitive rec soccer league. My middle son's team did well in this new league, but it seems there is a big jump from U6 to U8. My oldest son's team didn't win a game all season although we were close a couple times
. Looking back I think a lot of that was my fault. The kids had fun in practice and my philosophy was that fun was the most important. But after reading some of your articles I realize that it is a lot easier to have fun if you actually win some of your games. By the end of that season, the kids were very discouraged. I think most of them enjoyed the practices more than the games. I was playing too many games like freeze tag and the crab game that stressed fun more than soccer skills
. They helped the U4's and U6's, but the U8's needed to leave some of the kid stuff behind. I also didn't really have a formation - we played 6v6 with goalies, so I just had one goalie, one fullback and the rest were just free to roam. The "official policy" of the league is that U8 was too young to have "real positions" so I went along with that, to my detriment.
I had seen your website before, but decided to risk it and sign up for Premium and I am very glad I did. We had our first practices this week and the drills went very well - no crab games and no Red Light Green Light! The Dribble Across a Square
game was great. Also, I really like your Coaching Rule # 3
. We were on the wrong end of that "get 2 to 3 extra goals per game" in that tough season. Every game it seemed like a defender would step up, steal the ball and get an easy shot.
Once again, thanks for your website.
Hi Coach T.J.,
First, thanks for the kind words and for being a Member. Also congratulations on your improvement - you are already seeing the results and I think you will have a good season and be a good coach. You already have a great attitude, you just need to change a few things.
- You said: "I was playing too many games like freeze tag and the crab game that stressed fun more than soccer skills. They helped the U4's and U6's, but the U8's needed to leave some of the kid stuff behind." You are right about Crab Soccer and similar games - they don't teach real soccer skills. The SoccerHelp games are designed to teach real skills and there are NO elimination games.
- "I also didn't really have a formation, we played 6v6 with goalies, so I just had one goalie, one fullback and the rest were just free to roam. The "official policy" of the league is that U8 was too young to have "real positions" so I went along with that, to my detriment." To me, it isn't a good idea to just have U8 players running all over the field in a pack, and as you can see, that habit is hard to break. I think it is better to at least teach the concept of positions - that there are attackers and defenders. It is also good to teach the idea of spreading out instead of bunching up. That can start to teach the concept of "Movement Off the Ball" and concepts such as that when a teammate dribbles toward you, you should move away to create a passing opportunity. Until you teach your U8 players to stop bunching up and running all over the field, you won't have a "team", you will just have a group of undisciplined players and you will lose to a disciplined team. As you have seen, it isn't any fun to lose most of your games. Have your U8 team play the "Bunching Up Game" to teach them to Spread Out instead of Bunching Up. That game really works - I get lots of letters from coaches about how much it has helped their team.
- Unfortunately, you are seeing first hand the problem if a coach loses all their games - the kids will lose confidence or quit.
- With your U6 team, play the Soccerhelp U6 games like "Hit the Coach" and "Monster Invasion" - don't play Crab Soccer and Freeze tag. Games like "Hit the Coach" are fun and also 100% "onball". I recommend you watch Coach Doug's Video Clips on SoccerHelp and join Coach Doug's site. Doug has 25 games for U6.
- About the "Win the 50/50 Ball Game" for your U8 team, I think your players aren't ready for it yet and that you have more important things to focus on, such as Goal Kicks, Throw Ins and Coaching Rule No. 3. However, when you are ready to try it again, keep in mind that it takes a while to learn it. When you play it again put the Cones farther away from the ball so the players have to run farther - that will make it less likely that they arrive at the ball at the same time.
- A big tip for you is to buy some of the patches and use them to motivate and reward the behavior you want. It is CRITICAL that your players come to practice, so give a patch for that. Also, give one for listening to the coach (about positions and Throw Ins). I found that parents will usually contribute and one of the parents might be willing to sponsor the patches. The patches really work. There is a coupon on Premium for 10% off at "Coupons".
- At your U6 practices, just play the SoccerHelp or Coach Doug games like "Hit the Coach".
- For your U8 practices, for the next few, play "Dribble Across a Square" and "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" a lot AND teach Coaching Rule No. 3 AND work on Throw Ins and Goal Kicks AND Positions. Coaching Rule No. 3 can be worth 2 or 3 goals per game and teaches your players how to position effectively on goal kicks, throw ins, free kicks and punts.
- The best way to teach positions is to give your U8 players "Rules" to follow that are based on specific points on the field or "relational" distances (such as staying a "short pass" apart). There are many articles about this on Premium and many "rules" at articles such as "Positioning Rules, 20 and "Positioning Tips" on Premium. Here are some examples:
- tell Fullbacks NOT to go past the Center of the Goal (show them where it is and practice them "Shifting" while you walk around holding the ball).
- tell Fullbacks NOT to Push Up farther than the Top of the Penalty Box Arc, that way you will have Fullbacks in position to defend your goal and won't give up goals on breakaways (show them on the field)
- tell your Left and Right Players NOT to go past the Center of the Field (show them where the Center is - an imaginary line between the 2 goals)
- teach your Forwards to stay a short pass apart and show them what that means.
- tell your Midfielder that the Rule is that he CANNOT go inside either Penalty Box AND to stay a short pass away from the Forwards. Show him what this means and enforce it. If he won't do it, then he can't play that position.
- I think Rec coaches have to coach during games until their teams get good enough not to need it. The reason is that you simply don't have enough time to teach all that you need to teach during practice, and ALSO, games are different from practices. I think you will have to remind your players to stay in position during games or they won't learn to do that.
I hope there are some ideas here that help. Please let me know what helps.
David at SoccerHelp