After last week’s match, I’ve spent a lot of time considering my plan for Match Week 3’s training for the U8 team.
Ultimately, my #1 improvement that’s needed is game sense – players to be engaged in following the ball and transitioning from offense to defense. At the same time, I want to continue getting players to commit to dribbling as a first touch on the ball and further reduce balls sent downfield with no clear objective or target.
Our U8 team practices again Friday night. Following the 30 minutes of technical training the club provides, I’ll have the kids for 30-45 minutes (our scheduled time is 1 hour, but I may run over with the interested kids.)
- Provide players further exposure to playing the sport in a small setting to increase their personal ownership in each play of the ball. In the 1v1 setting, players can’t expect other players to do the hard work – they need to do it themselves.
- Begin learning to work effectively with teammates to multiply efforts.
- Increase 1v1 dexterity on both sides of the ball.
Following training, meet with the team and lay out session objectives and plan with them.
7 Minute Scrimmage
Before starting the scrimmage, I’ll ask the boys what I’m looking for in play and what “doing it right” will be measured as. I’m expecting to hear dribbling, defending the ball. I’ll also probably hear “Passing” as an objective from a team member, but I won’t be asking for it. I’d like to hear looking up – but if it isn’t given, I’ll suggest it.
If they do respond with passing – I’ll ask them what they need to do to pass – and remind them about being available to receive the ball when they don’t have the ball.
We’ll play Lightning Round 1v1 – players in for about 60 seconds at a time of fast paced 1v1. If they slow down, I blow the whistle and either replace them or send in a new ball. Winner stays on, loser goes off.
Give each team an extra player – and ask them how they would use the extra player. Suggest, if it isn’t mentioned that in defense the extra player provide coverage (secondary line of defense) to his teammate and on offense the player is in a supportive position that can be reached in a straight line. Same rules as 1v1 – winners stay on and losers go off.
Give one team an extra player and the ball. See what happens!
Bring teams back to even and ask the defense how they can use their third teammate. Ideally, they will form a line or a triangle instinctually and we’ll go through a few examples of how the defense should pull to one side or the other based on ball position.
Finish the practice with a 3v3 scrimmage, and perhaps with our 7th player playing offense for both teams so the offense is always in advantage. I’m not sure if this will be too confusing for the kids or not.
Before starting the scrimmage, review our objectives again and see how many we can hit.
If we hit a stopping point along the way where the team is performing especially well in the current situation, we may stop and stay on that step. 2v2 or 3v2 might be the magic number (and I can put the other pair of players in waiting playing 1v1 or jockeying for the ball.)
A lot of this practice might be a reach for the team at this stage, but I’d rather introduce these concepts now and start them thinking about where we will try to be at season’s end. We do have several players that are showing strong skills (and are in the club’s skills enrichment program), and have analytical minds as far as second graders go. It’s worth a shot, and some of it might rub off in their match Saturday morning.