I received our team roster for the Spring season on Thursday evening. Overall, it’s five of the six players from last fall returning to us. We are adding one more boy – who is new to soccer altogether (but fairly athletic already) so we’ll have some work to do to get him ready.
Season Goals and Objectives
I’ve coached Evan’s teams since he came into the sport – so this is the fourth season (our seasons run about two and a half months) that I’ve coached his team. It’s also the last season playing “Mini-soccer” before we move up to the larger field and deeper rule set. I feel obligated to start teaching the kids what they will need to start being successful at the next step in soccer. Different players will work on different parts of these objectives this Spring.
- Skills: Skills work will continue to be our most important objective, since that’s what they can most easily carry with them to the next level. In the absence of maintaining and advancing their skills, they will regress or not be able to compete next fall.
- Playing Head-up soccer: Seeing the options on the field in all directions.
- Break the Kick-it-Far thoughts from players heads. Encourage confidence on the ball.
- Open Space: Really reinforce the idea of open space. Evan really has come to understand this idea playing “Rondo” (Keepaway) in our front yard with Aidan, as well as front yard 2v1 soccer. He does a great job of passing and moving to open space and being open to receive the ball.
- Introduce inbounds plays: Our U5 and part of the U6 Fall season worked under a blurred sideline and “New ball” rule for out-of-bounds balls. We will continue to have a loose sideline, but we started working on a tighter end of the field at the end of the season. We will probably play with kick-ins this Spring to introduce the idea of inbounding the ball. This was an area that the U7’s I coached last spring struggled with – they didn’t have a good idea of where to pass the ball to on goal kicks, corners or throw-ins. This is an extension of understanding open space.
We will continue to have the club trainer facilitating half of the practice. Based on the curriculum handed out at the coaches meeting, the first five weeks are dedicated to dribbling. I will be encouraging Evan to continue during these session to work on his more advanced moves – turns, step-overs and other skills he learned during the Fast Track training last fall. He’s very willing to try these in game situations, so I’m hoping he can refine them this spring.
We will spend a lot of time playing the game in various formats this spring. One-on-one has been a great tool for me in both U5 and U6 and I’ll return it to our team this Spring. It’s given me a lot of time to work with players to coach basic defending as well as encourage their on-ball confidence and break the kick-it-far thoughts from their heads. One-on-one also gives every player on the team a chance to be successful and score multiple times during practice.
We will also play some 2v1 and various combinations up to a 3v3 game to start building some decision making skills in players, and learning to take supportive positions when your teammate has the ball.
I’ll continue to take the field with them and play alongside them – to lead on the field and help them understand the roles of a teammate in play.
Match day is great in U5 and U6. As a coach, I feel no pressure going into it like I have with U7 and U8. It’s a joy to watch the kids perform and take the victory they get with each goal.
While we still have responsibility this spring to “Officiate” the games – I’m trying more and more to stand back to a sideline and give the kids more space to play. It’s easy in this age group, with coaches on the field, to take too active a role. The more we break the kids of bad habits (like listening to their parents!) now the better they will perform in U7.
I know Evan only has a few months of “Small soccer” left before moving up to the world of 5v5 on a bigger field, and I want to enjoy it. He’s a great kid, and takes joy in the game. The better I can prepare him now for the year ahead of him – the more successful he can be in it!