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U6- U8 The Fundamental Stage

Individual - Me and My Ball

General Characteristics 

  • Catching skills not yet developed
  • Constantly in motion - love to run, jump, roll and climb
  • Eye-hand and/or eye-foot coordination is primitive at best – not ready for bouncing or flighted balls
  • No sense of pace - go flat out. 
  • Physical coordination is immature - can balance on dominate foot
  • Controlling the ball is a complex task
  • Prefer large soft balls and foam balls
  • Only understand simple rules Individually oriented (me, my, mine) – little or no concern for team activities
  • Believes in Santa Claus, but will not discuss with peers – lofty imagination
  • Physical and psychological development of boys and girls are quite similar
  • Psychologically, easily bruised – need generous praise
  • Short attention span – tends to one task at a time
  • Limited understanding of time and space

U-6 players must play at least 50 percent of each match they attend.

The components of the game are the building blocks of player development. Coach and player must work jointly throughout a player's career to reinforce and add to these building blocks. The core goal is to create a well-rounded player.

Components of the Game 

Fitness: Introduce the idea of how to warm-up and movement education. Begin education about nutrition with players and parents. Balance, walking, running, how to start and stop, jumping, hopping, rolling, skipping, changing direction, bending, twisting and reaching.

Technique: Dribbling (stop and start) and shooting. Experiment with the qualities of a rolling ball.

Psychology: Sharing, fair play, parental involvement, “how to play" and emotional management.

Tactics: Where is the field? The concept of boundary lines, at which goal to shoot and play with the ball wherever it may go.

*Please note that the components of the game are in a priority order for this age group.

Typical Training Sessions

  • Should not exceed 45 minutes.
  • Every child should have a ball.
  • Free play or a warm-up, including movement education challenges 25-approximately 15 minutes
  • Game-like activities, mostly body awareness and maze games.-approximately 15 minutes
  • Finish with a 3v3 or 4v4 games with two goals, no goalkeepers-approximately 15 minutes

Coaches should devote the end of each training session to playing 3v3 or 4v4 practice games. During these practice games is the best time for the coach to teach rules of the game to the players. It is important to ensure each child has a ball and to focus on fun games. The benefit of the increased number of touches on the ball in those games is irreplaceable. Coaches should be well prepared and have a selection of game-like activities planned, while keeping in mind these young children have short attention spans.

Coach's qualities: Uses the games approach to learning, not drill oriented. Act as a facilitator rather than a coach. Other characteristics are: good humor, friendly helper, organizer, stimulator, ability to see soccer from a child's perspective, patient, able to demonstrate movements and simple skills, enthusiastic and imaginative.

License Recommendation: Volunteer coach - U-6/U-8 Youth Module Certificate or National Youth License. 

The Game: Preferably these should be unstructured pick-up game style matches. If scheduled matches must occur then every effort must be made to reduce the us versus them mentality and outcome-based expectations that surround too many youth games.

US Youth Soccer Player Development  Revised 8/24/17U