Typically the amount of time given for a soccer practice is what’s available after school or fit between other activities.
When it comes to the length of a soccer practice, it’s probably to break down the ages of the children as each age group has different attention spans and natural endurance capabilities. Keep in mind that each group of kids is different and some can and want to go longer than others. For very young players, it’s best to err on the side of keeping the practice short.
The suggestions listed in this article don’t have to be strictly adhered to. They are basically a starting point and what’s been observed as an “average” for a particular age group.
Players under eight years old should have a session that lasts about 50 minutes to an hour. Anything longer will likely be wasted time as the kids have usually had enough. The training session itself can be broken down into a short 10 minute warm-up, 10 minutes of technique introduction, 10 minutes of skill development, 10-15 minutes of a team game, and then 10-20 minutes of free play and fun activities that are either directed by the coach or whatever the players would like to do with themselves or each other.
Under-tens can go a little longer but not by much. Session lengths for this age should probably top out at 65 minutes. What’s accomplished in the sessions themselves is not too different from the under-8 age group. A warm-up can last about 10 minutes followed by 20 minutes of technique and skill development. Team games and free play can round out the remaining practice time.
Once players reach 11 or 12 years old, a practice of about an hour and a half will be fine. At this age athletes will begin to realize the necessity of practice and will understand that to be successful against their opponents work will need to be put in on days where there are no games. Feel free to structure the sessions any way that seems appropriate. A general guideline includes warm-ups for 10 minutes, followed by a longer period (half hour) of technique and skill development. The remaining time can be spent in team games or set plays.
Under-15 year old players can have a similar session breakdown as the under-12s. The total time spent in practice probably shouldn’t be less than 90 minutes and there’s nothing wrong with a 2 hour practice for this age group. Players will likely want to practice to get better although practices should be kept interesting and move along quickly.
In general, don’t keep players at a practice if there’s no need to. Children have a lot going on in their lives and soccer should be a fun outlet. If you continue to extend the practice time they will begin to dread going to practice. As long as it’s fun they’ll continue to grow as players and want even more training. Most players will naturally work on skills taught to them on their own anyway.
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