Soccer is widely recognised as an extremely challenging sport, one that demands a combination of speed, precise footwork and significant endurance. Interestingly though, studies indicate that soccer players on average reach a maximum heart rate of 85%, which seems seemingly less then competitive swimming which saw an average 148%. Regardless, it is imperative for any dedicated soccer player to setup a serious training program, one that continuously pushes their skillset and physical stamina. Underage soccer players who establish a training program at such a young age can expect to go far.
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Building a soccer training program for kids.
Building an effective training program involves identifying key areas that require improvement. Post analysing video recorded matches is an excellent method used by soccer teams to communicate where their strong and weak points are and to also highlight aspects that may require consideration. Post analysis also provides an opportunity for players to review their performance from another perspective, providing valuable insight on the effectiveness of their choices and actions throughout the match.
There are five crucial steps involved when developing an effective training program for a soccer player (or soccer team). They are:
- Video record matches (if available).
- Communicate effectively and identify skills that require improvement.
- Implement soccer drills that focus on improving targeted areas.
- Consistently record results and games and analyse to determine progress.
- Take note if current actions are working and fine-tune soccer drills accordingly.
Soccer conditioning drills.
Soccer conditioning drills are designed to increase or maintain the level of fitness of a player. Fitness is the backbone of every soccer team and is essential for peak performance. Younger players often dislike doing fitness drills and it is a coach’s job to reverse this mentality and ensure that fitness drills are fun. Hence a coach should never use a conditioning drill as a punishment.
- Players run from point to point in the form of a figure 8.
- Sprints can easily be incorporated but should be done on the outside points so players do not collide with each other.
- Ensure players do not cut corners.
- Line up along the start line and sprint to the first line.
- Turn around and jog back to the start line.
- Sprint to the second line.
- Turn around and jog back to the start line.
- Repeat for as many lines as you setup
Soccer Passing Drills.
Effective and accurate passing is an essential skill for every soccer team. Even a single poorly passed ball that is intercepted by the opposition can cost a match. A player requires the awareness of how hard, slow, high or low they need to pass a ball to ensure their team mate receives it easily. Often players will kick the soccer ball into an open space where their team mate will have to cover ground to receive it and gain a positional advantage. Passing drills are very important to ensure players remain sharp with their accuracy. Here a few passing drills.
- The receiving drill aims to improve a players passing accuracy and receiving control.
- A square 2m x 2m is setup for each player using 4 markers (represented by X on the image)
- The kicker and receiver (black dots) then pass the ball back and forth to each other. Both have to ensure the ball is kicked accurately and trapped within their grid.
3 vs 1 Variation + Shot
- The aim of the game is for the three attackers (black dots to pass the ball amongst each other and take a shot at the centre marker given the opportunity.
- The defender (red dot) has to prevent this from happening so this works as a good defensive drill as well (choose goalies or fullbacks).
- No players are allowed inside the square.
Points to consider when preparing soccer drills for kids.
Working with young people can be very rewarding as well as challenging. Preparing youth soccer drills for example is easy but needs to be done carefully if the children are to get the most out of their practice session.
Perhaps the easiest way to think about youth football drills is to break it down into different a
ge groups. Younger the kids have different needs to older children.
Let’s start with u7 soccer drills
With children this young, it is perhaps a good idea to let them dictate how the practice goes. Obviously, there needs to be some structure and framework to control the overall parameters of the session. With this in mind, the actual length of the different drills can be varied and altered to accommodate the obvious enthusiasm of the kids for certain parts of the drills. Keep the session fun and open. The kids will still be learning the basics of the game such as ball control and working as a team. The important thing is to keep it enjoyable for them.
U10 soccer drills – A slightly older age group.
At this age, some of the kids will already have developed significant skills such as ball control and shooting. Some will even have perfected dribbling and defensive skills. In addition, some young football players in the u10 age group could be complete new comers to soccer. With this in mind, the group may need to be split into beginners and relative beginners in one group and more experienced players in another group. Football drills for kids are relatively easy to devise but it is important to ensure that such youth football drills are fun.
U12 soccer drills.
When preparing soccer drills for u12, you need to have a more structured approach. The session should be pre planned and discussed with the youth prior to the start. This is in stark contrast to soccer drills for u10, as they are generally happy just to have fun whilst learning the basics. With the u 12 youth player, it is important to ensure they have a good understanding of the basics if they are to have any hope of playing at a higher level later