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Age Appropriate Guidelines

RSA Elite Dev Coaches

As you are aware tonight is the first Development Clinic to be conducted at Heritage Park at 5.00pm. Here is some information to help you create your coaching assignments.

·      Clinic Overview: Philosophy of coaching, Identifying needs of players, Organization of practice, and Parent/Team management

·      Assigned Sessions: Dribbling, Passing, Receiving, Heading, Shooting, and Goalkeeping

·      Be sure to get a copy of our Coaches Handbook for 2013. You can download a copy off the RSA Elite Web site. There is important information inside that will help you during the season and may answer some of your questions.

Upon completion of these clinics, it is our hope that you will be able to better understand the characteristics of U-6 and U-10 players, as well as their soccer needs and abilities. You will also be introduced to the proper execution of basic techniques like dribbling, passing, receiving, etc., during the field session component of these clinics.

Finally, you will understand the rationale behind small-sided soccer activities, as well as be able to plan and conduct age appropriate activities. Most importantly, you will feel confident coaching because you know that you are having a positive impact on the development of your players. It is tempting for coaches who have coached older age groups to emphasize tactics and fitness in training sessions, because this is the way you coach older players, and you have been coached this way as a kid growing up.

Coaching tactics and conducting fitness activities with young players will prove a waste of time for the following reasons. Do not confuse coaching tactics with coaching team shaping. 

1. Players that can not execute the proper technique of passing, dribbling, controlling, receiving, etc. will find it almost impossible to carry out tactical instructions.

2. Children biologically do not need a separate fitness session. They reach their own maximum fitness level simply by playing, and will not experience any significant gain in fitness beyond their natural level. If a five or seven year old player is slow, there is not much you can do about that.

3. Do not let players take away with them the thoughts that sprints, laps, sit-ups, etc. are a form of punishment because they will be less likely to come to practice for more punishment or to perform those functions in games.

4. At this age, nothing is gained physically or otherwise by running laps around the soccer field. Believe it or not the younger kids enjoy running.

Static Dynamic
Military Unstructured
Lines Free Movement
Boring Fun
No Thought Decision Making
Age Inappropriate Age Appropriate

 Some Age Appropriate Guidelines

U5-U6 Coaches

·      Without a doubt coaching U5-U6 soccer is the most challenging, but at the same time, the most rewarding. The main goal is for this age group is to have fun. Please remember 5/6 year olds are very distractible and have short attention spans. Your main goal is to provide a fun, safe and educational soccer experience. Coaching U6 soccer is slightly different from U5 soccer. At U6 the player is socially more advanced and physically more capable to playing the game. With this in mind the coach may be able to add a few coaching points into his coaching sessions. These points will be very discrete with the player not realizing that they are performing a task that will improve their skills. The important thing is not to force the issue, if a player is unable to do a task it is OK, as long as they are trying, remember they are only 6 years old. The main focus is to have fun.

·      As a coach we must understand that a 6 year old sees the game of soccer very differently than adults. To be a successful coach we must understand this. For a 6 year old the soccer ball is not a ball we kick to score goals with. It is a “toy”, and it is “my toy”. It is not uncommon to see players constantly searching out their “toy” at any point during your practice (even during scrimmages). This behavior is OK, don’t be alarmed by it. We find that 6 year olds get the ball they dribble in any direction whist their teammates and opponents attempt to get the ball off them. Again this is normal behavior. The player on the ball is trying to keep his/her “toy” away from everybody and the remaining players on the field, want their “toy” back.

·      The games that we play at this age group incorporate the player’s new “toy” in a fun and dynamic way. The players are still learning the game of soccer, but we are introducing in a way that they can truly understand and enjoy. The important thing is not to force the issue, if a player is unable to do a task it is OK, as long as they are trying, remember they are only 5/6 years old. The main focus is to have fun.

Emphasis of the U-6 and U-8 Curriculum


U6 Technical Skills

·      “Me and the ball” Concept. Which relates to its my present and I will not share.

·      The ball and me

·      Passing

·      Dribbling

·      Shooting

·      Receiving

·      Body Mechanics

·      Changing direction

U6 Game Awareness & Strategy

·      Going in the right direction when attacking and defending

·      Every player defends and attacks

·      Moving away from the team mate into space when they have the ball

U6 Essential Knowledge

·      Basic soccer rules

·      Throwing

·      Sportsmanship

·      FAIR PLAY

·      Love the game

·      The game is the best teacher



Psychomotor Development:

·      Skeletal system is still growing; growth plates are near joints, hence injuries to those areas merit special consideration.

·      Cardiovascular system is less efficient than an adult’s; a child’s heart rate peaks sooner and takes longer to recover to full resting rate. They need full rest periods.

·      Temperature regulation system is less efficient than adults; children elevate their core body temperature more quickly with activity and take longer to cool down than adults. Poor body temperature regulation.

·      There seem to be some improvement in pace coordination from U6 to U8; however the immaturity of a U8’s physical ability is obvious.


 Cognitive Development:

• They have limited ability to attend to more than one task at a time; the simple task of controlling the ball demands most of their attention capacity, thereby leaving little or no capacity for “tactical” decision making.

• Their concept of time relationship is just beginning to develop and will be limited by the capacity to attend to multiple tasks.

• They have limited experience with personal evaluation; effort is equal to performance, “if they try hard, they perform well” regardless of the actual performance.

• Knowledge is compartmentalized; some relationships that “do” exist are not recognized and some relationships that “do not” exist are assumed.

• They are less egocentric and are strongly modified by rules and code of conduct, especially in terms of cooperation with others.


 Psychosocial Development:

·      Their self-concept and body image are beginning to develop, but very fragile.

·      They have great need for approval from adults such as parents, teachers, and coaches.

·      They like to show individual skills

·      Adults easily bruise • _They psychologically; negative comments carry great weight.

·      They like to play soccer for fun – intrinsic motive

·      Their universe is expanding from home to the neighborhood.

·      True playmates “Buddies” emerge with the inclination toward partner activities.

·      Team identity is limited; I play on coach Bob’s team’ or “I play on the Tigers” – club or league concepts are non-existent.

·      There is desire for social acceptance; they want everyone to like them.

·      The influential person is most likely their significant parent.