This is the beginning of the developmental stage for kids. Players at this level are becoming more familiar with soccer, handling the ball, and their own bodies. U8 players have improving coordination as their size and strength increases. The introduction to a larger field size with new lines, more players, goalkeepers, and a larger goal area presents new challenges. In this age group, players’ skills and soccer interest will vary greatly. The most important thing is to develop good habits and be positive. No lectures, no lines, no laps, no elimination games.
Coaching six, seven, and eight year olds requires special considerations for their overall readiness. U8 players have not developed enough physically, mentally, psychologically, or social to meet the same challenges as older players. However, some players may start to develop a basic game sense and may actually make “tactical decisions” that include passing the ball with a purpose. There is no special emphasis on fitness workouts. Well-organized activities and small-sided games fulfill their fitness needs.
1) They have short attention spans
- Minimize lecturing and use a variety of activities every practice
2) Players still submit to the “swarm effect”
- Encourage passing
3) Individually oriented and desire to participate at all times
- Each player needs to have a ball and be involved at all times
4) Cannot judge distances or speed, and are still developing visual and motor skills
- Must experience soccer as much as possible
5) Begin to understand simple rules
- Must explain briefly and be demonstrated
6) May enjoy being part of a team, but do not play as a team
- Encourage engagement with other players by passing
Age Appropriate Skills/Techniques
U8 is a crucial developmental time for players. Dribbling should continue to be a focal point, but this is also the level for the introduction of passing and soccer rules. Some players will be more ready than others. It is important for these young players to learn the correct techniques and basic feel of the game.
The following are the objectives for each age group as well as drills that accomplish those objectives. Coaches should choose from these drills the activities they feel are most beneficial to their team. Practices should include a mix of dribbling, passing, and ball control with scrimmaging at the end of practice. Make sure to meet all objectives when planning practices-they will be required to have those skills at the next level.