Two weeks into our U8 season, my analytical half is fast at work thinking about what needs to be addressed and instruction given to the team.
But just like in my day job – I need to decide what the first key item to address is and then move on from there. What one item, if I address it, will the players most improve from?
It’s easy to get bogged down in detail items, because there are so many of them.
- Sending goal kicks and throws from the goalkeeper across the front of the net (and pace of the ball) versus getting the ball down one side of the field.
- Goalkeeper skills – where to position, when to pick up the ball, and how to dispatch the ball again
- Corner kicks on offense and defense
- Defending on free kicks (all free kicks in our age group are indirect)
- Finishing and Shooting
- Failing to dribble first touch versus blasting the ball downfield. I really think a lot of this is just kids who aren’t comfortable to be the center of the attention of the game and are fearing failure.
- Game sense and being able to follow the run of play and see the transition. We are scored on when the team doesn’t get back fast enough to slow down the opponent’s counterattack. We don’t get players forward fast enough on offense to help.
- Confusion on defense. Players are unsure when to engage and not engage. Sometimes a player will run back to cover the goal and sometimes will run to cover the ball handler. Defense alternates between constant jabs to try to steal the ball and not trying to take the ball.
- Basic understanding of passing situations. I’m not trying to force the kids into passing, but they need to be able to understand where to place the ball in situations where a pass is required (like a throw-in, corner kick or goal kick.)
- Continue technical training with the central trainer. All of the kids still need improvement on their dribbling and touch – continuing the training each week will make everyone better.
- Play the games and scrimmages. In the end, the kids who have some self-insight will start to tune their performances based on prior outcome. I think the game sense will really come from playing more often and more minutes in the game. Along the way, hopefully the kids will start talking on the field to help each other out as well.
- We’ll work on some defensive schemes in practice. Explain the role of 1st defender, 2nd defender and 3rd defender. Continue playing 1v1 to help players footwork and ability to stay in front of the ball.
- I need to come up with a game or way to to teach the placement of passes, and basic body position to receive the ball.