Friday night we had practices for both the U6 and U8 teams. Another evening of great weather – clear and warm to start, and cooling as the sun went down. I was in a bad state for Friday night – I had slept poorly Thursday night due to the onset of a sinus infection and was taking decongestants Friday that made me sleepy.
We had three of our six U6 players for practice tonight. The other three had schedule conflicts and soccer lost out.
Our central training was focused on dribbling and turning. Again, our trainer started with stationary ball touches – tick-toks and toe taps. After that, he moved on to dribbling and turning in the grid. The kids did a red-green-yellow speed with the added instruction of turning. This changed to a one-at-a-time dribble around a cone and come back with two lines of six and a single ball for each kid.
The central training session finished with a American Football style soccer game – ball has to be dribbled into or passed into an endzone. I like the game, but we had 12 kids chasing one ball.
I broke into our session with 2v2 (I started as the initial 4th player, and was replaced by my older son joining the group.) However, my younger son does a poor job of containing his sibling rivalry and I sent both of them out of the session. We changed to 1v1 “Lightening Round” and stayed there for the rest of the session.
We had a full team – seven players for our practice tonight.
We had a new trainer tonight – and he earning instant credibility with some of the kids (like my son) for having an English accent. The central training started with dribbling around inside of a circle, working on turns and speed. After that, the group broke into pairs with each pair working on passing.
The initial instruction was passing using two touches – first touch to stop or control the ball, second touch to pass. I worked with several of our team’s players on passing technique – placing the plant foot, and which surface of the foot to strike the ball with. I also tried to coach a couple of the kids in putting proper weight or pace on the ball – not sending a slow roller but also not just hitting it as hard as they can.
The drill changed to 1-touch passes – and I noticed that most of the kids end up putting the ball in the air when they try to one touch a pass. Again, it’s a matter of kids keeping control on the force they strike the ball with and not trying to overstrike it. They need more touches to understand.
Final iteration of the passing drill was to work on a two touch pass around a center cone. The idea is that they receive the ball on the left side of the cone, and then pass the ball back to the other player from the other side of the cone. The drill emphasized good first touch – preparing the ball to be sent back to their teammate as well as understanding receiving the ball.
Our team session started off with mass 1v1 – all players paired off, playing on the same grid against a teammate. With an odd number, I played against one of our team’s newer players and tried to get him in the mindset of defending at a proper distance. With some coaching on positioning, he quickly picked it up. We stayed with this game for about six minutes and then transitioned.
We went into our 1v1 Lightening round. The kids really enjoy playing in this style and I hear a lot of encouragement for the teammates on each side of the field. There’s a lot of natural competitiveness in seven and eight year old boys for any team they get thrown onto. It was good to hear them cheer their teammates on.
I started adding players – making it 2v1 in one direction or another. I asked them job of the first defender – where if they are outnumbered, where should they go – and they answered correctly with to the ball! We built to 2v2 and finished the practice there.
They are still having trouble with splitting responsibility in this format – and ending up clustered on the ball – but if we stay in this format for 2v2 I think they will sort it out.