10 Youth Soccer Training Techniques

10 Youth Soccer Training Techniques

When developing our youth players, the primary focus should be on increasing their technique while the kids are making decisions. While increasing their technique, the youth soccer games will also compliment the tactical side, the physical side, and the psychological side.

So what is technique? Technique is quite simply the ability of the player to manipulate and maneuver the ball as he or she wishes. When evaluating a player for technique, there are nine different capacities that should be focused on.  I will list the areas below and also show you the age at which I start to focus on the different areas.

Let’s remember, these areas can be hit in the coordinated warm-up, in the core focus session, in the small sided game, in a simulated game, or a combination of any or all of the above.

The ten areas of importance are:

1.  Passing (U10 and above): With kids, the focus should be on mastering the inside of the foot first.  Once they are comfortable there, you can venture to the outside of the foot, the laces, or even the creative sole of the foot pass. Creative players also pass via the head, shoulder, chest, thigh, heel, or just about any other body part if needed.

2.  Trapping (U8 and above): This is the ability to take a pass from your teammate or opponent, control it, and manipulate the ball into the area that you wish. Again, we will always start with trapping on the inside of the foot because it is the largest surface and the one kid’ s will feel most comfortable with. More advanced trapping can be taught with the head, chest, thigh, laces, or outside of the foot.

3.  Dribbling (U6 and above): Nothing in soccer is more spectacular than a gifted player on the dribble. Dribbling entails having the ability to move the ball anywhere on the field while keeping possession. Basic dribbling for kids starts with the inside laces and outside laces.  These skills can be reinforced with soccer drills. They will use the inside of the laces to manipulate the ball when moving at slower speeds in all directions. However, when they need to move with pace, the outside laces allow them to push the ball up the field while maintaining their forward stride. A more advanced form of dribbling is done with the sole of the foot.

4.  Turning (U8 and above): This is such an underrated technique that most youth coaches seem to ignore. Turning is the ability to dribble and change direction, or to take a pass and change direction. Soccer training can help hone this technique. Again, we start with the inside of the foot here and then move to the outside of the foot. Once the child feels comfortable with those two surfaces, you can move to the sole of the foot and more creative turns such as the Cryuff.

5.  Shooting/Finishing (U10 and above): The creative goal scorer is the most coveted person in modern soccer. The ability to finish is simply being able to stay composed while slotting the ball in the back of the net. With soccer drills, we always start kids shooting with the inside of the foot as again, it is the easiest and most comfortable for them. We progress from there and teach them how to drive the ball with their laces or the outside of their foot.

6.  Crossing (U10 and above): This is really a combination of shooting/finishing and passing as both techniques can be used when crossing the ball. Crossing is simply striking the ball from the corner of the field to a teammate in the center of the field to strike on goal. Crosses can vary from chips (backspin) to drives (laces or outside foot) to bent balls (inside of the foot). All of the aforementioned are techniques within the technique and take hours of practice to master with intensive soccer training. The easiest to teach a youth player is the chip.

7.  Heading (U10 and above): Heading is when we use our head to put the ball where we want it to go. On offense, it could be a strike on goal, a pass to a teammate, or means to control the ball. On defense it could be to clear the ball, to pass to a teammate, or a means to control the ball.

8.  Anticipation (U10 and above): This is the ability to sense what is going to happen next and get in a position to maximize the outcome. With kids, the game is the best teacher of this. As coaches, when we see the opportunity present itself, we can step in, demonstrate it to our player, and then allow them to play again. This facet of technique is elicited in a tactical environment and enhances the player’s cognitive abilities (psychological).

9.  Creativity/Improvisation (U6 and above):  The ability of the player to take the above techniques and apply them in a game situation under pressure. During a game, the player must be able to create and work through situations with very little time. The great players learn to improvise. This technique is also taught in a tactical, or game environment and really develops the cognitive abilities (psychological) of the player.

10.  Evading Markers (U10 and above):  Evading markers means making deliberate deceptive movements away from the intended space that you wish to occupy.  The movement away draws the defender to you which will open up the space for the player to move into.

There is really no need to use some drawn out complicated games when teaching these techniques to our youth.  Remember, repetition is the basis for teaching the fundamentals.  Mastery is developed within the game.  If you take our philosophy and “Keep It Simple”, you will have great results with your kids while creating a fun atmosphere for them.

Keep it Simple,

Randle J. Bowling


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