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Manchester South Junior Soccer

Manchester South Junior Soccer

U12 Coaching Resources

U12 Player Development Goals and Philosophy

The following are some basic resources available to the youth soccer coach.  As you read through and watch youth soccer coaching materials it is very important to keep in mind who they were written by, intended for and who your players are.   Many materials are directed at Academy or Travel soccer programs.  These can be useful to you so long as you keep your players in mind.  U10 travel team activities may be more appropriate to a U12 rec training session.  That doesn't mean that a U12 travel activities can't be performed by U12 rec players.  Evaluate the activity and your players and modify the activity as you like to better match the skill level of you players.  Also, a drill isn't necessarily an activity.  South's recommendation is to look for activities that are more game like, not a million cones to run between in only a single direction.  Encourage soccer problem solving skills though flow, player creativity, daring and intelligence.

Some key components to good youth coaching are:

  1. Little or no lines.  Soccer isn't played standing in lines and U12's hate standing in them.  Make your activities fairly well paced and engage as many players as possible at once. 

  2. Keep activities game like.  Use cones to define the playing area, not destinations (except as goals) in an activity.  Use conditions to emphasize the teaching point.  For example, use a rule that everyone must touch the ball before a goal can be scored in a 4v4 game to encourage heads up play, play off the ball, the various principles of attack and engagement of all the players.

  3. Lecture less.  Be brief in your introduction to an activity, ask guided questions of you players, allow them to answers and when possible use the players to provide example of play for the activity.  If you have a fairly high intensity activity, it's much easier to speak to them in the water break in between activities while they are catching their breath and hydrating.

  4. Be flexible, listen to and read your players.  An activity you think is perfect may be a dud with the kids.  They could find it boring or too complex.  Some complex activities may need a couple of reps before the players understand it.  If you don't see improvement in understanding after those few reps it may be time to move on to something else.  Don't be afraid to scrap or modify an activity in midstream if it isn't working.  Many coaches have a an alternative activity ready to go in these cases

  5. Challenge everyone.  This may be your most difficult task.  Kids have different levels of expectations of themselves and their teammates, much of which are driven by their parents. The extremes of this are players selfish with the ball or skilled players that won't pass to less skilled players and players who are intimidated by the game and run along with the play but seldom participate. 

    Game rules or playing with conditions can help address this, an example here is that in 4v4 or 5v5 game, player X (the player who doesn't want to be involved or other kids wont pass to) has to touch the ball before a shot can be taken by their team.  Another is a condition where player Y (the selfish player) cannot score but has to assist his or her teammates in scoring or he or she can only score on a combination.  To emphasize the point if player X does score without fulfilling the condition it counts as goal for the other team. 

  6. Encourage possession.  There is no dumping balls out or "clearing the yard."  These are short cuts to winning and a playing crutch that is not in the best interest of player development.  Kids have to learn how to make choices with the ball and off the ball to keep possession in order to score.  Players will make mistakes which will result in goals being given up.  This is normal, part of learning and the point of playing the game. 

  7. Engage the parents and set the ground rules.  Let them know early what your plans are and how are going to coach their kids.  Listen to their concerns and thoughts and put in place ground rules for interaction with you and the players.  I recommend: no parent coaching from sidelines during games, make it clear that everyone will play everywhere (not only striker) and implement a 24 hour rule where you won't discuss a match or player until 24 hours after the match has ended (allows emotions to cool).  Add whatever else you think is appropriate.

U12 Skill Development Goals
U12 Tactical Development


Manchester South Junior Soccer League
PO Box 4851 
Manchester, New Hampshire 03108

Email: [email protected]

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