See Stretching - Good or Bad?(Below is a letter from a Premium Member and my reply.) Dear SoccerHelp, I am a Girls-U8 AYSO coach and a Premium Member. I have been using some of your Practice Games at practice, and it has been working out great. What is the best thing to do with the girls during the 15-minute warm-up before the game starts? Traditionally, girls line up and kick balls into the goal (almost every team I have seen does this), but it seems like the girls would benefit more from a game or activity where they will get more ball touches. Do you have any particular games that you would recommend for this? Thank you for your wonderful web site. Coach Jean Hi Jean, Thanks for being a Member. What I found worked best was light activity such as small groups passing the ball around (2 to 4 passing it around). I never saw the benefit of kicking it into the goal and, in fact, it can be dangerous. We would end up chasing balls that missed the goal and once I had a kid get hit in the face when he stood up after picking up a ball in the back of the goal. I think there are better things to do than randomly kick balls at the goal. Also, I found it counterproductive to do anything that burned up a lot of energy -- it seemed that my players didn't have any extra energy to waste and played better if they were fresh. I recommend you spend at least 5 minutes prior to the game being sure every player is "hydrated" (have them drink water or Gatorade), being sure they've all gone to the restroom, that shoes are tied, going over your game strategy (for example, if you want your Fullbacks to "Defend Deep") and giving a brief pep talk. As Coach Doug says: "You're the Coach - you're in charge of the fun!" If you have enough balls, a slow game of "Dribble Across a Square" would be an excellent warm-up -- it would be a way for your players to show their dribbling skills to their parents, and it would be impressive and psych-out the other team -- or, a slow game of "Follow the Leader". It can also be a good time to go over last minute reminders such as: proper technique for throw-ins (use the "Throw-Ins Teaching Game"), strength on the ball (use the "Shoulder Tackle Game"), or a Short Corner Set Play, Positions, Movement Off the Ball, How to Set-Up Your Goal Kick, what it means to Defend Deep (if you Defend Deep), or Coaching Rule No. 3 (Coaching Rule No. 3 is a great one to go over since you can do it on the field). This is a good time to go over things ON THE FIELD if you don't have a real field and a real goal to practice on. Use this time as another opportunity to help your team improve and to be sure they are ready to play. Good Luck, David at SoccerHelp
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