T Nation

Soccer training for youths

My 6-year-old little guy is really into soccer. We signed him up in a club with an ex-pro coach and Friday night they concentrate on skill development, Saturday’s they play scrimmages (1 on 1, 2 on 2, 4 on 4, and 5 on 5). Like most North Americans, I know NOTHING about soccer. I hated watching it on T.V. and saw it in person when the World Cup was in Chicago (not by choice, I was a cop assigned to the German team). I got to say I love watching the little guy run around the indoor field and playing the scrimmages.

My question is how would you set up a long term training program for youths. I imagine at 6 Y.O. you would concentrate on skill development and agility with some body weight core training and may be an introduction to GPP? When should they start lifting, sprinting, etc.? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to start pushing him and I know at this point he should have fun, just curious.

Ian King has said many times that kids should just play. NO Nintendos, playstations, TVs. when i was young all i did was play all day. Im sure it had the biggest impact on my abilities.

Just let him PLAY the game. General activity is the best thing he can do. Encourage it, no matter the activity. Leave everything else until early high school or maybe jr high. Just think, he could be into Nintendo instead.

Soccer is mostly about technical skills and tactical understanding of the game. Physical conditioning (on youth level) is secondary and usually integrated in some drill/games with a ball (like the infamous 3 on 1).
That does not mean that the physically stronger kid won’t have an advantage at the same level of skill, but then physical advantage at young age often causes neglection of further development of skills, and in the long run (i.e. when the others catch up) they will have to pay for that.
In my opinion what kids should learn at young age are motoric skills, i.e. let them try all different kinds of sports. They will greatly benefit from that, even if they concentrate on one sport later in their teens. Otherwise all exercise they need comes natural for them if we just give them the environment to run, jump, climb, crawl etc. Strength and speed can easily be aquired later when needed.

Nothing, don’t make him do anything at all extra. Maybe in the offseason or weekends you could kick the ball around with him, such as playing catch would be. But that is it. No running, no GPP, no anything. I know you will make him do something, but seriously don’t. Does winning really matter that much when he is 6? And I don’t think he really cares how good he is. He just wants to have fun and run around with his friends.

As a kid, I lived and breathed soccer. I played it (indoor and outdoor), watched it, and coached younger kids (later). Eventually, I played four years of varsity in high school and was recruited by a lot of colleges. IMO, the three best things he can do are:

  1. Play up- Older players will always make him a better, tougher, more intelligent player. This is true of all sports. Pete Sampras used to wim about half his matches against 15 year olds when he was 8 instead of winning all the 8 and under tournaments

  2. Find a wall/backboard. No teammates or organization needed. Just let him go out and mess around with dribbling and shooting skills.

  3. Watch the pros. The World Cup will be on television this summer, and you can probably find quite a bit of European/Latin American league games on sports channels. This will teach him the importance of movement off the ball, teamwork, and quick decision making.

Thanks for all the replies! Great advise I will listen.

Well, go with all the advice that tells you to lay off and just let him PLAY! He’s 6 for heaven’s sake! At 6 they all run in a pack after the ball and it’s funny as anything to watch. At 6 they stop and pick flowers in the field when they feel like it. At 6 they have more fun playing in the playground and eating oranges when they are off the field. At 6 they need no training, sprints, or anything else, or they won’t want to go anymore!!! And if you feel you need to do something when you go and watch and feel yourself getting red in the face because you want to yell at them to go the right way, don’t go watch. Send your wife and let her enjoy an hour of social time with the other moms. Honestly, I have 3 kids who all played soccer when they were 6 (2 still do and they are teenagers now), and you really need to lighten up at this age and just enjoy the fact that they are moving. Laugh, cheer, joke around and hopefully they will stick with it long enough to be old enough to learn skills. If you want to practise kicking at home, great, but don’t make it a lesson in soccer. Just dad and son having fun. And by the way, if you have daughters–take them too!