Format of a Practice


Youth Soccer Coaching Manual for an Instructional Soccer Program


 (Generalized for older ages.  See the separate approach for Soccer Coaching 3 and 4 Year Olds.)

WARM UP (Approximately 5 minutes)

This should include general body movement and coordination activities that may be with or without a ball. Without really knowing it, this introduces the players to the need to bring up body temperatures and stretch in advance of physical exercise. The use of a ball for stretching, sometimes referred to as “soccernastics,” is preferred over static stretching. Static stretching may be introduced at this time, but it is not as fun as playing with the ball. In addition, it is not really necessary with this age group. (See the suggested list of warm-up activities.)

WATER BREAK (Suggested – Approximately 2 minutes)

FUN GAMES (Approximately 18 minutes)

This should include as much activity as possible with each player working with their own ball in a group situation. It is not recommended that you play the same fun game more than twice in one practice, although the children quickly develop favorites. They need to constantly be challenged with new activities and learn to respond to the direction associated with each. (See the suggested list of fun games.) (There may be a water break in between games.)

WATER BREAK (Mandatory – Approximately 2 minutes)

INSTRUCTION AND DRILL (Approximately 10 minutes)

This should include a very brief demonstration of the skill topic for the day (less than 2 minutes), giving the name of the skill and showing how it is to be performed (and sometimes what not to do). This should move promptly into activities that maximize one-player/one-ball in the performance of the skill. (See suggested list of skills and drills.)

WATER BREAK (Mandatory -Approximately 2 minutes)

SCRIMMAGE (Approximately 18 minutes)

Large games where one strong player on each team dominates play are inherently not fun for the other players. Accordingly, if at all possible, it is suggested that coaches set up games with small, equal teams, and just let the children play. It is recommended that you not use goalkeepers. Further, in order to maximize involvement and the number of touches, it is recommended that games not exceed 4 v. 4. If a coach has 9 or more players, two scrimmages should probably be established (e.g., one 2 v. 2 and one 3 v. 3). A parent or the coach (or even a visiting sibling) can always fill in if there is an odd number. Move players around to “balance” the teams. (See the suggested formats for scrimmage.) (There may be a water break in the middle.)

CONCLUSION AND ANNOUNCEMENTS (Approximately 3 minutes)

Ask the children to tell you what the skill topic was and to demonstrate it. Suggest a “homework”* assignment. Announce the next practice. End on time.

* Homework – Parents, please play “soccer” with your children. Don’t try to coach them, just PLAY with them! Place down cones, saucers, or pieces of cloth for goals. Make sure that your child gets the majority of the touches on the ball. Don’t try to take it away from them. It’s yours if they kick it too far out in front of themselves, then tap it back to them. Remember to show excitement and provide encouragement. Also remember that you’re bigger and stronger than they are! Don’t KICK at the ball! Use gentle touches or a blocking move. You can stand in the way and make them go around you. Let them score. Quit when they say they want to quit.

© Copyright, John C. Harves