Although a beginner, intermediate, and advanced mindset will make the approach to soccer coaching easier and each group of players is different, in general there are certain skill sets that particular ages can likely be taught. Of course this doesn’t mean an advanced group of U-10 year old players shouldn’t be challenged with practices normally reserved for older players. It’s up to the coach to assess his or her own team’s abilities and progression. Here are some skills that can be taught to specific ages. You can use these as part of a practice or as a guideline for your own team.
At this age level, focus team play on small-sided games such as one-on-one through three-on-three. Place the emphasis on active, fun soccer and allow many touches on the ball while introducing and developing basic techniques such as dribbling, kicking, control, and heading. Once every four weeks expose each of the players to the goalkeeping position. This will help each player develop an overall, well-balanced perspective of the goalkeeper’s duties. Try not to let players run in straight lines or circles but instead encourage them to zigzag. Keep them moving and have them try to keep their head up. Emphasize close control and don’t allow toe-kicking.
At this age level, continue to concentrate team play on small-sided games. Place your emphasis on skill development while encouraging players to spread out. Specific pointers include keeping the ball on the farthest foot, not showing the ball, and try to make a barrier with the body between the defender and the ball. Specific skills new to this age include heading with the forehead and with the eyes watching the ball.
At this age level, small-sided games are still your primary focus for team play, but also concentrate on individual ball work such as juggling, running with the ball, tec. Instruct your players to work in twos and threes, stressing that the emphasis of the exercise is cooperation. Also stress accurate chipping and passing the ball off with one touch. Also players should look for through passes that split defenders and receivers must move to establish good passing angles. Communication is very important as well.
At this age level, your emphasis shifts from small-sided games to a concentration on small group practices such as five-on-five through seven-on-seven. The focus of these group practices converges on team formations and shape. Players should learn to be comfortable with ball possession and start to understand support of their teammates. U-15’s should also learn to spread the opposition, attack wide down the wings, and routinely switch the point of attack. Teammate support should be quickly given, chips should be accurate and passes to teammates must start to come quickly.