Girls Under 6

Discussion in 'Youth & HS Soccer' started by California Jack, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. For the first time this season I'll be coaching a girls team, and this will be U6 division, so for most players it will be their first experience in organized soccer.

    Since the USWNT that will compete for the World Cup in 2019 and 2023 are currently about 5 years old, I want to approach this in the right way. Okay, seriously, I want them to have fun, develop a knowledge of and love for the game and come back the following year(s).

    Any tips on good books, guides, other resources for coaching girls of this age? Thanks.
  2. Gary V

    Gary V Member+

    Feb 4, 2003
    SE Mich.
    The most important part of your halftime speech: "Remember, we're going THAT WAY now."
  3. hiddink_magic

    hiddink_magic New Member

    Feb 27, 2003
    Just be really polite to them. They will speak to you nicely.
  4. spartanpele

    spartanpele New Member

    Feb 17, 2005
    Tell them these simple rules: 1-when coach talks, everyone must be quiet and listen, 2-be respectful of each other...the other team...the refs...and the parents... and 3-the most important rule...HAVE FUN! I would tell them that they need to keep a smile on their face while playing soccer.

    As for things to work on, keep it very simple: passing, trapping, dribbling, offense means we have the ball...defense means the other team has the ball, basic terms (ball, out of bounds, kick offs, goal kicks, corner kicks,...we don't use our hands unless we are the goalie..and the goalie is the person with the gloves on...hehe, that kind of stuff).

    For games...think of kids games, and then incorporate a ball. Ideas such as: soccer marbles, ball tag (use your feet, not your hands), soccer baseball, red light green light with the ball at their feet, dribbling races, simon says with the ball, etc.

    Get them in the routine of doing a light jog, jumping around to loosen up, then stretch. Do some skill work, some games, stretch at the end. You can expand on what you're teaching as they pick up on the simple stuff.

    But always keep it fun for them...and yourself! Don't worry about the parents either. They'll have plenty of years to complain and be obnoxious. Just put the parents in charge of the treats and refreshments and that will keep them busy.

  5. Thanks to all.

    Fortunately, there are no goalies at this level, so that reduces the amount of necessary instruction items substantially.

    I've seen these games at this level, the ball is never visible from the sideline, but you know where it is because at least 10 of the 12 girls are within 2 feet of it.
  6. LOL :D
  7. uniteo

    uniteo Member+

    Sep 2, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    May want to check out this thread from the coaching forum;

    Biggest things...teach them to dribble witht their heads as little as possbile (if it takes longer than 20 seconds to explain, try something else)...remember that the beehive approach is inevitable, it's a development issue.
  8. RonP811

    RonP811 New Member

    Jul 15, 2005
    I have coached both of my daughters at the U6 age, and more important than anything I found that you should never do any drill for more than 4-5 minutes (with the exception of an end of the practice scrimmage of 10-15 minutes). Any more than 4-5 minutes on any drill and the kids get bored and lose interest. I also try to split them up into smaller groups (AYSO rosters are eight players) of four and have one assistant work with one group, the other assistant work with the other group and I move from group to group. Smaller groups mean less standing around with nothing to do. Avoid long lines where seven players are watching and one player is doing. If a drill is not working for whatever reason (too hard, they don't like it, etc.), bail on it and move to the next thing (at this age there's no point trying to force a bad drill on them, they'll get more out of drills that are working). I always try to have a couple of backup drills that won't be part of the practice so that I can have them in reserve if other drills are not working. Make sure they have enough water breaks as they'll get more out of practice if they are fresh. I find that in a 60 minute practice, water breaks at the 20 and 40 minute mark works best. If they need a third water break on a given day (i.e. it's hot), don't hesitate to give it to them. A water break need only last a minute or two.

    I try to squeeze in as many different drills that involve dribbling as possible. I think the development of dribbling skills at this age is more important than everything else combined. Some dribbling drills I have found to be successful: 1) I take a picture of all the girls on the team and print up 30-40 copies on my computer ( and fold the sheet of paper and tape it up so the picture is on top and their is enought weight that it doesn't blow away) and then spread the pictures out on the middle of the field and split the girls up into two teams and have them dribble the ball to the middle of the field, pick up one picture and then dribble back to a coach and keep doing this until all the pictures are gone and then add up the pictures to see which team got more. Do this with a team picture and not individual pictures of all the players because if it is individual players the kids stop and hunt around for their own picture rather go as fast as possible back and forth; 2) Shark: One player is the shark and tries to kick the balls away from the other players who are dribbling. When a player loses their ball they join the shark until there is only one player left dribbling a ball; 3) Dribbling relay races. Divide into two teams and have the players dribble to a coach (if you have two assistants), high five the coach and dribble back to the starting point at which point the next player goes; 4) Soccer musical chairs. Put 10 or so cones in a circle and place socks in the middle (always have one less sock than players). Have the kids dribble around the circle and when you blow the whistle they charge toward the socks and grab one. Whoever doesn't get a sock is out and then you take out a sock. Do until only one player left; 5) Tick tock dribbling (tapping the ball back and forth from the inside of one foot to another); 6) Snake dribble through 4-5 cones; 7) Side-to-side dribbling the player dribbles toward a coach and the coach overcommits to one side forcing the player to cut the ball back toward the other direction at which point the coach overcommits to the other side, making the player cut it back the other way. Keep doing this back and forth teaching the player to change direction with the ball; 8) Crazy dribbling. Each player has a ball and every time you blow the whistle the change direction. It doesn't matter which direction as long as they change to a new direction. Quick whistles to make them change direction as much as possible; 9) The Ouch Game. Every player has a ball and they dribble around the field going after the coaches. When they get near a coach, the shoot the ball at him and when they hit the coach with the ball, the coach yells "Ouch." Coaches should go at a pace in which the kids can get them; 10) Red light, green light, yellow light. A lot of people do red and green but not yellow. When you say green light the kids dribble their ball. When you say red light, the kids stop the ball and put one foot atop the ball. When you say yellow light, the kids get on all fours and push the ball with their head. Yellow light doesn't teach them anything useful, but the kids love it. If they have fun doing a drill, they get more out of it; 11) Balloon dribbling. My theory is that anytime you can add a balloon to a drill, the kids will have fun with it. Set up nine cones around the field. Take nine balloons (three ree, three, white, three blue) with string attached to it and attach them to the cones. When you call out white, the kids dribble to one of the three white balloons. When you call out red, they dribble to a red balloon. When you call out blue, they dribble to blue. Keep the same colored balloons on different parts of the field. Another balloon dribbling game is to give each kid a balloon. Have them put the balloon in their right hand and dribblie with their right foot 20 feet away. Then they turn the ball around, put the balloon in their left hand and dribble back using their left foot. This is a fun way to get them to use their off foot.

    At times you want to split the kids into two groups by ability since some of these drills may be too hard for some of your less talented kids. So have the more talented kids work on a harder drill and the less talented kids on an easier drill. Be certain that you don't always divide them up solely on ability since this will make the less talented kids feel bad. Make sure several of the times you break them into two groups it has nothing to do with ability.

    Other drills: 1) 1v1. Divide the kids into two groups and give each player a number. Try to have the more talented kids go against each other and the less talented kids face each other. Have them stand on opposite end lines, to the side of goals (or cones set up as goals). Kick the ball to the center of the field, call out a number and that number from each side goes 1v1 for 20 or so seconds or stop if a goal is scored or the ball goes out of bounds.; 2) Some people say you can't teach aggression, but I disagree. I have a charge-the-ball drill every practice. The coach has the ball and you have the player charge the ball as hard as possible. Although at an older age this would result in the player overcommiting, at this age attacking the ball is a good quality. This is an especially good drill for your more timid players. You can also call out two numbers and make this 2v2; 3) Scrimmages. I end every practice with this. I find it works better if when the ball goes out-of-bounds, which happens a lot given the young age, it is best if you have a coach on each sideline and throw at new ball in immediately to the center of the field to keep the game going. As a change up you can have two balls in play at the same time. That way more players get touches (the multiple ball concept is more of a change of pace) than a staple.

    I don't work with the kids on passing at this age. It seems too difficult a concept for them.

    I work on shooting every practice. I don't worry about teaching them to shoot with their laces at this age (it's too difficult for them). I don't even worry about location of shots. All I'm interested in is developing strength on shots (make sure they follow through) and more importantly I stress the development of being able to shoot with BOTH feet. I roll a ball to each foot each time its their turn to shoot. I start with their strong foot and then go to their weak foot. If you have them practice shooting with both feet every practice at this young age before they've developed much power, they develop the ability to shoot with both feet and don't have a weak foot. My older daughter plays U11 travel soccer and its amazing how many of the players (even on top teams) either try to run around their weak foot or have an extremely weak off foot on their shots.

    I work on very little strategy at this age since I believe they aren't old enough for much of this. Strategies I do teach are 1) Always make throw ins down the line and toward the other team's goal; 2) On our goal kicks, kick it to the side of the field away from traffic and not in the middle of the field where the other team will get it and drive toward our net; 3) I teach them where to stand when the other team has a goal kick to take advantage if they kick it up the middle; 4) I tell the players that when they play sweeper, when they get the ball move it to the side of the field and not straight up the middle into the scrum of players; 5) I teach the sweeper to move up to midfield when we have the ball in the other team's goal box. 6) One the first day of practice I'll show them how to do a throw in and I explain what a corner kick is, but I don't spend much time on this afterr that as long as they understand proper throw-in technique. 7) I never work on plays at this age, since I find that it just doesn't work.

    My approach to coaching at this age appears in a frame from a Gil Thorp comic strip I keep in my wallet. Thorp is a high school football/basketball/baseball coach and the story line in this comic strip was that he was going to help coach a young youth sports team of some sort. His wife asks him "What's the key to coaching kids this age." Thorp replies, "Fundamentals, encourage 'em and let 'em play."

    Set realistic goals for your team. I have always had strong teams, so I haven't had to deal with this, but I'm always amazed when I see coaches of weak teams getting frustrated with their players for not doing better. If you are outgunned, make scoring a goal the goal for the day. If scoring a goal is unrealistic, make getting a certain number of shots the goal. If that is unrealistic, set a goal of getting the ball past midfield a certain number of times.

    On game days I don't do a ton of coaching at this age. That is what practice is for. On game day I spend most of my time offering positive reinforcement. If a player does something wrong, don't criticize it. Make a mental note of what they did wrong and work on it with them in the next practice when they can process the information better. When the players do something right, offer praise "Great job Jenny, way to shoot with your left foot," loudly. They can learn just as much by you telling them what they get right as opposed to you telling them what they do wrong. Make sure that you catch every player doing something right as often as possible and call out praise during the game. You can always find something to praise. For a lesser player maybe it's the fact that they touched the ball or the fact that they are hustling after the ball. Positive reinforcement teaches, it motivates (and it also makes the parents happy). Remember that they are only 6 years old.

    Lastly, make it fun. I end every practice with the 3 rules cheer. We gather in a cirle and I whisper: Rule #1 is always have fun" and then I yell "What's rule #1?" and they scream "Always have fun." I whisper, "Rule 32 is always try your best," and then yell "What's rule #2?" and they scream "Always try your best." Then I whisper "Rule #3 is always be a good sport," and then I yell "What's rule #3," and they yell "Always be a good sport." We also do this right befor the start of every game.
  9. chinaglia

    chinaglia Member

    Jan 25, 1999
    Florence, SC USA
    Motherwell FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Just make it fun. Make sure they get some basic instruction on the rules, dribbling (using 3 parts of the foot), passing, etc.

    If they're having fun then you're doing your job.
  10. MelH

    MelH Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    :) Have fun, and I sincerly mean that... U6G is my very favorite group of kids. They have fun, you have fun, and there's lots of smiles, hugs, and cupcakes.

    Oh yeah - and something that *vaguely* resembles soccer going on...


  11. JTorres

    JTorres New Member

    Mar 2, 2000
    The Globe-Chicago
    California Jack, as everybody said, most of all, have fun.
    There's been some great comments and suggestions made already.

    I coached my daughter in U6s about 15 years ago and my son about 8 years ago in that age group. I do remember those bee hive scrums and I was lucky because the players I coached were smart enough to spread out, and let one player win the ball or wait for it to pop free.

    Funny, after those early years of telling the players to stay out of those scrums, then I had to switch to encouraging single players to get stuck-in.

    Anyway, a couple years back, a friend told me about his "blanket" technique for teaching very young players how to spread out and avoid those bunch ups. At the beginning of the first and each practice thereafter, he would bring a very large blanket out to the field, have everybody huddle around the blanket and grab it on the edge. Then they would all count to three and say "spread out". Everybody would spread out and let go of the blanket. The players loved it and that's how they would open & close practices.

    Before games, he would remind everybody that one player would attack the ball and all the rest should use the imaginary blanket to spread out. He said it worked like a charm - no bunch ups and plenty of room for players to run & kick.

    Enjoy California Jack, it's a great age to introduce them to the sport.
  12. EJDad

    EJDad New Member

    Aug 26, 2004
    Two pieces of advice:
    Your primary goal is not to teach them soccer but to teach them to love soccer. If the players learn nothing but end the season saying "Mom/Dad I LOVE soccer." You have succeeded.
    On a more practical level: almost any game can be converted to soccer -Red Light- Green Light, Mother May I, Red Rover Red Rover, Tag etc
    The advantages being that they already know these games and know they are fun. That means less time expalining rules and enthusastic particiapnts

    By the way- these games work with DI College teams as well. We're all kids at heart :)
  13. soccertom

    soccertom New Member

    Jun 2, 1999
    Perfect advice.
  14. Red Star

    Red Star Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    Fayetteville, AR
    Hell periodically through each half I have them all point at the goal we are attacking. I frequently ask them all to point at the ball to generate a little concentration.

    Better yet, get the other coach to agree not to switch ends.

    Shooting and dribbling. Just work on those. Talk about passing to introduce the concept but it is really in future. When I say talk I mean mention it in passing. If it takes more that 20 seconds to explain you have lost them. If you see an accidental pass give effusive praise as if it was a ball from Zidane.
  15. NHRef

    NHRef Member+

    Apr 7, 2004
    Southern NH
    One other thing: during the game become a cheer leader not a coach!

    If they are smiling, having fun and want to play again next session, you were a very successfull coach!
  16. RonP, I deleted most of this just to keep it tight. But yours was just an awesome post. It contains an entire season's worth of drills, great gameday and keeping-it-fun advice, and reflects the kind of diligence, thoroughness and care I'm sure you show as a coach and from which your teams greatly benefit. This is truly appreciated. Thanks, and good luck to your team(s) in this and future seasons.
  17. charliegeorge

    charliegeorge New Member

    Jun 14, 2005
    - shameless -
    Psychologically they are in the 'me' period. Teach them how to dribble and cut the ball with each foot. Relax on game day - they're U6!
  18. minsguy

    minsguy New Member

    Feb 15, 2005
    Walden, NY
    Absolutely beautiful EJ, I will measure my success as a coach not by wins and losses but by how many of my players continue to play whether at the highest level or in a fun adult league somewhere and especially if someday they are coaching. Keep them active and make sure they all have a ball, no lines, no laps, no lectures. Help them to learn to use all the surfaces of their foot (even that nasty toe we were all warned about) encourage them to dribble, dribble, dribble it will help them to gain confidence on the ball, passing will come later. And let them roam the field, you will run up against teams who look like players on a fussball table, search the web for a great article called "Who are those guys and why are they back there?" I tried to find a link but could not. I had three rules for my U-8s 1) have FUN, 2) ALWAYS do your best 3) NEVER give up. Some of those youngsters still play for me and they still know the rules only we have a little different twist as young teens:
    Me: "What is rule #1"
    Team: "Have Fun!!!"
    Me: "And what is more fun winning or losing?"
    Team: "Winning"
    Me: "Well alright then lets go have some FUN"
    It works for us and they are a great group of young men. Anyway good luck and while you are at it do not forget to have some FUN yourself.

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