With these age groups do not try to teach too much in one practice; their attention spans are too short & it won't be fun. SoccerHelp Practice Games are the ideal way to teach these age groups. Our Games are fun, they keep all the players involved and active, and they are "self-teaching" and players learn by simply playing the games. The Games are designed to teach different skills and concepts. Simply select the Games that teach the things you want your team to learn.
There are only 9 things you should be concerned about when coaching U-6:
- Make it fun & try to have fun yourself. Whether your players continue to play soccer will depend on whether it's fun. Coaching U-6 is the most fun you will ever have as a soccer coach because you really don't have to know or do much except have fun and keep your players from getting hurt. A simple way to coach U-6 and have fun is by following the Practice Plans (Pre-Planned Practices) in SoccerHelp Premium and playing the 29 U-6 Practice Games. A few U-6 Practice Games are on SoccerHelp Basic at "SoccerHelp Practice Games (Basic Version)", which can be reached by clicking this link or from the Home Page by clicking "Soccer Drills" or "Soccer Practice Games".
We highly recommend you watch Video Clips from the Coach Doug DVD Soccer Coaching Ages 3, 4, 5 and 6
- Lots of touches and a ball for every player at practice. It is very important that every player at practice has a ball. Each child should have a ball with their name on it and it is a good idea to ask those who have extra balls to bring them to practice and for the coach to bring several extras (several parents will always forget to bring a ball). Your practices will be much more efficient and effective if every child has a ball to practice with. Your objective should be at least 300 touches per child per practice and for each child to be doing something with a ball for at least 50% of the practice (as opposed to watching, listening to instructions or standing in line). The best way to do this is to play SoccerHelp Practice Games. SoccerHelp Premium has over 28 Practice Games for U-6 players, all of which are fun, keep players active, teach important soccer skills or concepts and are easy for the coach to set-up and manage. Most of the Games are "self-teaching" and players learn by simply playing the game. See "Introduction To SoccerHelp Practice Games", for "Tips For Good Practices", "Things You Need For A Good Practice" and 9 SoccerHelp Practice Games.
- How to choose Practice Games; why SoccerHelp Practice Games are better. There are thousands of drills on the Internet, but most are not well thought out, efficient, effective or fun. Most drills and games do not provide enough touches on the ball or the activity level is too low (i.e., there is too much standing around) to meet SoccerHelp standards. SoccerHelp Practice Games are selected from hundreds we have tried and less than 5% of the games we evaluate are selected and adapted for SoccerHelp Premium. We believe in positive motivation and don't believe in punishing a child who has tried their best but lost a Practice Game. Thus, we do not recommend punishing the losers or making the losers leave the game. SoccerHelp doesn't use "knock-out" or elimination games which leave kids standing on the sideline and we don't use games such as "Crab Soccer" which are fun but have many kids crawling on the ground instead of learning to play soccer. SoccerHelp Practice Games are "Third Generation" games and are designed to be fun, to keep players active and to teach important skills or concepts. They are also easy for the coach to set-up and manage and most of the games are "self-teaching" and players learn by simply playing the games.
- Have your players dribble and kick the ball a lot so they get used to using their feet. Read "How To Teach Soccer Dribbling" for more about this. This is very important. Most of the 29 U-6 Premium Practice Games practice dribbling and other basic skills and the "Driving School" Practice Game is a good way to teach basic dribbling and turns.
- Don't let anyone get hurt. (See Number 22.d., "Safety Rules" at http://www.soccerhelp.com/Basic_Info.shtml#keeping_children_under_control).
- Teach the following concepts and rules. A good way to teach these is by playing the "Beginners Soccer Game" at SoccerHelp Premium.
- Not using hands (except the Goalie) and not tripping, holding, pushing or hitting other players (it is good to "fight" for the ball, but not to use hands to hit or push).
- The concept of a "field" that has lines (or is outlined by cones) that you should stay inside.
- The concept of "our goal" (the one our Goalie is in) and "their goal" (the one the other team's Goalie is in) and that when we have the ball we should go toward "their goal" (to "attack" it) and when the other team has the ball we should "defend" our goal by kicking the ball away from it. Demonstrate what this means in a slow and patient way and repeat it in several practices. Playing the "Beginners Soccer Game" in SoccerHelp Premium is one of the best ways to teach this. Also, scrimmaging other teams can be helpful.
- The concepts of "attacking" and "defending" and how we try to kick the ball into the other team's goal and how we try to kick it away from our goal.
- The very basic idea of "positions" and that some players play in different areas of the field and don't just run all over the field (e.g., that there is a "Goalie", "Defenders" and "Scorers").
- How to do a simple Throw-In if your team is expected to inbound the ball by using a Throw-In. See "Soccer Skills" for how to teach a simple Throw-In.
- Start teaching your players to use the inside of the foot and the "instep" of the foot (i.e., the top of the foot where the shoelaces are) to kick the ball and discourage them from kicking it with their toes. Show your players how it is better to use the inside of the foot and the "laces" to kick the ball instead of using their toes, and encourage them to use the inside of the foot and the instep when they practice kicking and shooting. The natural tendency will be for beginners to use the toe to kick the ball. In soccer, the toe is only used to "poke" the ball (on defense as a way to "dispossess" the ball from the ballhandler or on offense as a way to take a short shot near goal). The toe is an inferior surface for kicking the ball because it is too small. It is easier to kick the ball accurately for long distances by using larger surfaces such as the top (instep) of the foot or the inside or outside of the foot. The instep can be used to kick both low "power" drives or for "lofted drives". How to teach an instep kick is explained in SoccerHelp Premium at "Skills" and in the "Chips/Lofted Passes" Practice Game. The technique for kicking with the inside of the foot is explained at "Soccer Skills" on both Basic and Premium at "How To Teach Inside-of-Foot Passing". Don't expect U-6 players to become great at kicking the ball, just try to get them to start kicking with the inside of the foot and the "laces".
- Consult your age-group advisor to discuss what your League expects you to teach.
- For U-4 and U-6, emphasize dribbling and kicking the ball. We recommend you avoid trying to teach passing, and instead let players dribble and try to score so they develop an attacker's mentality and aren't afraid to take on a defender 1v1. Be careful to NOT decrease aggressiveness by teaching players to "be nice" or to "share". A player can't be good at soccer unless they are aggressive. If you teach them to be unaggressive, it is very difficult to change them back. Getting knocked down is part of playing soccer. Teach players that if they get knocked down, to bounce back up -- don't teach players to be timid or to be afraid of contact. See the Coach Doug Premium section for more about this and how to teach it.
- NOTE: Coach Doug now thinks it is better NOT to teach passing to U4 and U6 players, because it confuses them and can diminish their dribbling skills and aggressiveness with the ball. He recommends focusing on dribbling and recommends you DON'T teach them that it's wrong to dribble and score, and DON'T teach them that it's better to pass the ball than it is to dribble. He recommends teaching passing at U8. For more about this, see the article titled How and When to Teach Passing.