U-8, U8 Soccer Coaching, Ages 7 and 8

(We recommend you read "U-6 Soccer Coaching, Ages 5 and 6" before reading this)

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View Video Clips of The Coach Doug Soccerhelp Method of Coaching Ages 3, 4, 5 and 6

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. The 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 SoccerHelp Practice Games that teach the things you want your team to learn.

The 9 things listed in SoccerHelp's "U-6 Soccer Coaching, Ages 5 and 6" also apply to U-8. However, there are some other things you can also start to teach:

  1. Dribbling and Shielding the ball may be the most important skill to teach. For how to teach these see "How To Teach Soccer Dribbling".
  2. Terms & concepts such as these (they are all defined in the SoccerHelp Dictionary) so you can communicate with your players and they can communicate with each other: Far Post, Near Post, Goalside, Control Dribbling, Speed Dribbling, Mark A Man, Clear The Ball, Cross The Ball, Center the Ball, Go To Goal, Danger Zone, Push Up, Defend Deep, First Defender/Second Defender, First Attacker/Second Attacker/Third Attacker, Win the Ball, Shift & Sag, where the "Middle" of the field is, where the "Center" of the field is, where the Center of the goal is (you will use this as a guideline when teaching a zone defense), Pass To Yourself, Pass To Feet & Pass To Space. (Just like teaching a foreign language, it is good to teach or at least to expose children to concepts such as "Mark A Man", "Pass To Space" & "First Defender" when young. These aren't skills but are a way of thinking about playing).
  3. Basic rules such as not using hands except on Throw-Ins or when the Goalie.
  4. Encourage teamwork, passing, getting open for a pass, passing to space, constant movement when on offense (to support the attack by shifting or pushing up) & on defense (constant "shifting & sagging"), talking, & no straight legs (knees should always be slightly bent). See "22 Coaching Rules" and How and When to Teach Passing.
  5. Teach them what it means to "pivot" (they usually don't know)
  6. Definitely work on proper technique for inside-of-foot passing and receiving. These are 2 of the most important things you can teach & it is important to teach the correct technique early before they learn the wrong technique. (By age 11 improper passing technique is hard to correct). Proper technique makes a great difference. (See the section titled "Soccer Skills" or "How To Teach Passing" on the SoccerHelp Home Page for detailed instructions on teaching inside-of-foot passing and receiving).
  7. Teach proper technique for a Simple Throw-In and start working on Advanced Throw-Ins. (See the section titled "Soccer Skills" for how to teach Simple and Advanced Throw-Ins).
  8. If you play with only 4 or 5 per side, don't worry about "Formations; instead, stress "First Attacker/Second Attacker", "First Defender/Second Defender", "Shift & Sag", "Go To Goal", "Don't Get Thrown Over" & similar concepts. Only if you play 6 or more per side will you need to worry about teaching the concept of positions & playing a position in a formation (See No. 11 of this section, above, titled "Small Sided Games & Formations", and "Formations" in the Dictionary).
  9. Some SoccerHelp "Coaching Rules" such as "Don't get thrown over" (on your opponent's Throw-ins). (See "22 Coaching Rules" at SoccerHelp and SoccerHelp Premium).
  10. You can easily teach U-8 to start marking up behind an opponent on the other team's throw-ins, goal kick, punts & free kicks & then stepping in front & stealing the ball. (U-8 can catch on to this quickly, but you will have to keep reminding them; I still had to remind my U-12 players). See "22 Coaching Rules that will guide you during games" and "23 of the Best SoccerHelp Tips and Tactics" at SoccerHelp Premium for more similar tips and tactics.
  11. Start to teach a "Lofted Kick". This is important so your players can clear the ball when on defense and so they can send lofted passes or take lofted shots when on offense. How to teach this is found at "Skills" and the "Chips / Lofted Passes" Practice Game in SoccerHelp Premium and links are provided to sites that show visual demonstrations of technique. It is important to practice this and to try to teach it to your players starting at U-8.
  12. 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". Premium also has links to sites that show good visual demonstrations of these kicks. Don't expect U-8 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".
  13. By U-8, soccer matches often start to become more competitive. Because SoccerHelp Practice Games involve competition and pressure (which drills don't), they better prepare players to perform under pressure in "match" conditions and at "game speed".
  14. You won't teach this all at once; teach it in small doses over 2 seasons.
  15. Also see "Most Important Things To Teach" for more on this subject.

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