I find coaching U8’s the most rewarding and progressive age group to work with.
At this age, you’ll be building on all the work done when they were U7’s. They’ll start to develop a better understanding of the game and develop their technique in areas such as;
- Passing Accuracy and Speed
- Basic Positional Awareness
- Rules of the Game
- Basic Shooting
At u8’s, you’ll also be able to start to introduce more complicated skills and techniques. The best way I found to do this was take the skills they have already learned in previous age groups and start to ‘stack’ or ‘combine’ skills to together.
This sort of progression allows them to further cement their previous skills while introducing new ones along the way.
You’ll also want to focus on really getting your players to understand and learn how to strike the ball for different situations e.g Passing vs Shooting vs Goalkicks.
What to Expect from Under 8’s
- Again, like U7’s your U8’s tend to be an extremely attentive group – so, use this to your advantage.
- Again, lots of energy to be expected
Your Priorities Coaching Under 8’s
Building your U8 soccer drills around FUN is still priority. But there are also a few other things you can focus on too…
I still continue with ‘basic theory knowledge’ at the start of each session but for this age group I primarily focus on technique and soccer. (Under 7’s we focus on more general topics).
So for example one topic I might get them to learn is using all 12 sides of the feet (Yes 12!). This kind of topic gets your young players to think more creatively and thus empowers them to not only make mistakes but express themselves too.
For those of you still wondering what those 12 sides are; sole, outside, inside, back heel, toe, laces x two feet 😉
Main Topics of Focus
The main topics of focus have a few additions and progressions from previous age group:
- Building Relationships and Making Friends
- ABC’s (Agility, Balance, Coordination): Combined with soccer specific skills
- Ball control with more complex movements
- Learning to use all sides of the feet
- Running with the ball
- Passing and receiving
- Ball familiarity
- Basic Positional Awareness
- Goal kicks
- Small sided games (4v4 / 5v5)
U8 Soccer Drills, Games and Activities
Please note: You’re players are more than likely to be of different ranges of abilities. Because of this, I would recommend incorporating some of the drills from our U7’s and U9 drills guides into your training practices.
Basic Throw-In Drill
This is a really simple setup that only involves 2 players. The drill is designed to allow your players to start thinking about the different heights, strengths and positions a throw-in can take.
Here’s the setup:
- Setup 5 cones or markers in a semi-circle
- Place one player in the middle of the cones
- And the other player opposite. Far enough away to perform a decent throw-in but close enough so the accuracy of the throw isn’t compromised too much
- Feel free to use other equipment to progress and increase the challenge
As you can you see there are 4 ‘stations’. Each cone represents a different ‘rule of control’. The thrower picks a cone for other player to shuffle towards and the player must perform the ‘rule’ for each station. In the above example we have (left to right);
- Control the ball, dribble to the slalom pole before passing back to the thrower
- Control the ball with the weak foot before passing back to the thrower
- Control ball on the ground, take a shot at the goal then return to the starting position
- Control ball with thigh and then return back to thrower
Feel free to come up with your own ‘conditions’ and make sure each player gets a turn.
Just like a normal gold range, the throw range is setup in such a way where a point(s) is scored every time a thrower hits a target.
You can use all sorts of equipment, big or small, round or square – make sure to assign points to each of them. For added fun, place some mannequins in the way and assign minus-points if one of these are hit.
Split your group into two teams and set the ‘courses’ up identical to each other.
Ensure each team has enough balls to go through and place an assistant coach and/or a player from each team either end of the course to retrieve the balls and send them back to their team.
On the coaches whistle players throw the balls (using the correct soccer throw-in technique) at the the targets for an allotted time. The team with the most points win.
This is a great game to play at the end of training practice.
The Throw-in Circuit is a great drill to use at the start OR at the end of a session. Split your group into 4 groups of 4 and use the following setups:
- 1) The thrower throws the ball into the oncoming player. The player must control the ball, play it back to the thrower and sprint to the cone to receive the second pass. (NOTE: Ensure the player returns the ball back to the thrower and returns to the start position)
- 2) The thrower throws the ball into an oncoming player but this time he has a defender on his heels. The attacker must control the ball, turn and get a shot on target. The defender must try and stop the attacker
- 3) Here we have a similar setup from #2 but this time the thrower has the option of 2 players. The attackers must make 5 passes to score point. Ensure all players rotate between attacking and defending.
- 4) Mini 2v2: 2 players play a 1v1 while the other two players take up throwing positions on the wings. If the players in the middle decide to pass to their teammate on the outside (throwers), the throwers must pick up the ball and pass the ball back to their teammate using a throw-in only.
Cross Ball is a simple drill that gets your young players to focus on moving, receiving, controlling and passing the ball at an angle.
Unless you are working with high level U8’s I suggest you try to keep this drill as exciting as possible. For example you could add in a points system and award a point for every complete pass made within a chain of passes. If one pass is not good enough the points reset and the players have to try and beat that score next time round.
You could also add this drill into one of our Quad setups.
This is a drill that can be used with U5’s, U6’s, U7’s and U8’s. It’s particularly good game to use if you’re confined to an indoor space as you can use the multi-sport court markings to help.
Essentially the games involves all players having a ball each. They must dribbling and run with the ball while keeping it on the line.
Players are allowed to go different directions if they so choose. If one court marking goes over the top of another line they are allowed to follow the new line but they cannot ‘jump’ lines
Timing of The Pass
This is a great drill to work on your players ability to know when and where to pass the ball.
Split your group into 2 and set them as shown in the above diagram.
- Group A pass the ball to each other across the grid.
- Group B dribble, one by one through the grid
The aim is for Group A to not only be aware of Group B but to know when and where to pass the ball.
This drill gets even more interesting the more players you add to the mix.