Not too much changes from coaching U5’s to then progressing to coaching U6’s.
You’ll still focus on fun, their ABC’s, basic ball skills and some ball familiarity work. There is however some slight changes I personally use in my coaching, that you can steal and test for yourself.
For U5’s I usually stick to one sized ball and allow the children to just focus on that. As they progress into the U6 age group and beyond I will start to introduce other sized balls such as;
- Tennis Balls
- Small Spongy Balls
- Beach Balls
- Reaction Balls
Now, you might be asking do I actually get the kids to play soccer with these balls? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Let me explain…
I may, in one training session decide to use tennis balls within a dribbling game to hone their focus on a smaller sized ball. This has all sorts of benefits such as:
- Improving their focus
- Improving their close ball control
- Progressing the game or activity
- + a whole host of other reasons
…but, that doesn’t mean I then get them to dribble with a beach ball sized ball. Sometimes, I might use different sized balls to work on their throwing and catching. These kinds of activities and games, while not requiring the use of their feet, develop other fundamental skills such as;
- Ball Flight Perception
- And other skills depending on how you set the drill up
Again, these are some variations I start to add in with this age group but the fundamentals of; FUN, ABC’s, Basic Ball Control and Ball Familiarity are still the core topics of focus.
What to Expect from Under 6’s
Pretty much the same as before; short attention spans and whole lot of noise and laughter! And again, as always – enjoy it!
Your Priorities Coaching Under 6’s
Approach your coaching in a light hearted, patient and balanced way. You’ll use general sporting skills and combine these with specific soccer skills to give your players a solid foundation to build upon.
Remember, soccer is NOT the priority at this age but it IS the tool.
Main Topics of Focus
As your focus should be on building a foundation for their later years (U7’s, U8’s and U9’s) the topics you coach should be a progression on what they have already been doing:
- Building Relationships and Making Friends
- ABC’s (Agility, Balance, Coordination): That help them develop strong foundational physical attributes E.g: Lots of Jumping, Running, Hopping, Skipping
- Basic Ball Skills
- Ball Familiarity: Using activities that require them to develop both their hand/eye and foot/eye coordination skills
U6 Soccer Drills, Games and Activities
Your players will likely be of different abilities and skill ranges. Because of this you can use soccer games and activities from both the U5’s soccer drills guide and the U7’s guide to progress and regress your practices. Similarly, the soccer games below can be brought up or down an age group too.
Figure of 8 Dribbling Drill
In the image above I have only shown one player for demo purposes. However, a great way to run this drill is to setup 1 or 2 figures of 8 (depending) on the size of your group.
Place anywhere between 4-8 players on each figure of 8 and have them dribble around.
I primarily use this drill to develop; dribbling, awareness and close ball control.
I do however, like to change things up now and then might have two groups working on the same figure but going in different directions.
King of The Ring
The image above was taken from our ‘Warm Up Drills Guide‘ – and for this age group the conditioning equipment on the outside would be too complicated for U6’s.
That said however the original setup (boxed off area with each player with a ball) stays the same.
The aim of the game is each player must protect their ball while simultaneously trying to kick another players ball out of the ‘ring’.
This game works on your players; close ball control, awareness and basic ball kicking techniques.
The winner is the last player left.
Handball is a great game to start teaching your U6’s space awareness, working as a team, passing and moving.
It’s also a great all-inclusive game that can be played with minimal equipment.
Setup a normal pitch with either small portable goals and/or a ball on top of a cone at either end.
The aim of the game is for each team to pass and move until they are in throwing distance of the oppositions goal / ball and cone. A team gets a point for every time they throw the ball in the goal OR knock the oppositions ball off the cone.
Remember, players are NOT allowed to move while in possession of the ball.
Fox Tails as long as I can remember has been known by so many names. The game essentially starts with every player tucking a vest or one of these (highly recommended for tag games) into their shorts.
The aim of the game is to run round and try stealing another players vest or tag. The player with the most tags at the end of 1 minute is the winner.
Players are only allowed to steal 1 tag at a time.
Follow The Driver
Follow The Driver is a great game to introduce your players to; teamwork, close ball control, stopping the ball, using all sides of the feet and basic dribbling technique.
Start with pairing your players up. I would recommend giving each pair their own colored vest.
1 players becomes the ‘Driver’ and the other player becomes the ‘Passenger’. The ‘Driver’ is in control and they walk / run / jog in any direction without the ball. The ‘Passenger’ must follow the driver with the ball.