U6-U10 Player Development
The U6-U10 age group is THE PIVOTAL age for players development. This is the age where Learning is key.
The U6-U10 age group is massively important to how quickly a kid will progress in soccer. Kids should just be doing out of the Advanced Playing stage where they had lots and lots of discover. Now they will need focused instruction to get them the foundational techniques needed. These skill sets will allow them to naturally advance into the advanced learning associated with team structure and the ability to function effectively with their teammates.
Here are a few key factors to acknowledge about the U6-U10 age group. You might not believe me on all these – but they are true!
CAUTION: Be careful approaching skills at this age with a Beginner to Advanced mindset. At the younger ages, it is a blank canvas. Challenge kids with difficult moves and movements. DO NOT limit them to what you think is a beginner or an advanced only more. Do ALL the moves. They will shock you with what they can do.
They are still curious and playful. Just because we have bridged into more instruction, that doesn’t mean turn your training model on it’s head. The best way to incorporate learning skills is still with lots of games. However they will have more capacity now to absorb the steps as you explain and demonstrate them.
Begin to introduce a practice progression that they will see as they get older. Practices should be a timeline progression that go in this order: Immediate drill, set the tone (mental prep), skill drill, topic – small side, phase play – team size, play. Check out the course below for an explanation on this practice plan.
Talent begins to emerge! You will begin to see the talented. What seems to be natural talent will begin to become apparent. This is a great thing! And a dangerous one. Know that understanding and awareness must be taught – it is a part of Player Development. CAUTION: If all but the “talented” are falling behind, it has everything to do with Player Development.
Fight the temptation to win with talent. What? YES that’s right! Do not sacrifice Player Development by yelling, “Kick it to Johnny! He’s the biggest, fastest, and most talented kid on the field!” Player Development at this age cannot be to teach the kids to play a MINOR role in the game. In the end you do a disservice to everyone on the field – including your talented kid.
It must still be Fun. It is a game! They are kids aged 6-10! Make it a fun experience. Don’t overload it with an Adult ideal of razor sharp focus on winning. It must still be fun for them – the practices and the games.
No yelling at the Ref. This is key at this age. It not only sets the tones for the kids for the rest of their soccer, but for parents on the sidelines also.
Champion in Training. Every Champion knows that you win in practice long before you ever win in the game. Make sure this is drilled into them. Be careful of game fatigue. You will create bad habits.
Attitude is Everything! Begin to nurture the idea of attitude and having the mindset of a Champion. This is a great age, while their imagination is still vivid, to inspire them to dream and have vision.
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