Coaching Day 1: The U7s

So, just under 3 months after creating this blog and I’ve now completed my first coaching session! I spent an hour helping another guy/coach with his U7s side and it was a fascinating first experience. Oh, and by the way, when I say U7s what I really mean is 5-7 year olds.

There were a few interesting initial observations about the children who we were coaching. Firstly – their age range (as stated above), secondly – the mix of boys and girls, thirdly – the fact there were players from other villages and finally – there were quite a few there for the first time. This differed to my expectation whereby we’d be working with a fairly standard group of regular players who were all within the appropriate age group. Anyway, not that it mattered, but worth sharing my thoughts on that.

The session started with a warm up and the main coach used the game Sharks v Minnows to do this (or bull-dog, whatever you want to call it) which proved a fun and energetic way to start the session.

After that, we split the kids up in to two sections – he took one group and I took the other. This took some quick thinking because all the planning I had done before the session had assumed there I would have a football for each child, but I didn’t have this luxury. I’d also intended to start with a game of sharks v minnows but because we’d done this as a warm up (without footballs) I didn’t want to repeat it – time to think on my feet.

I tried a few games with the children, a group of around 10, over the course of the next 30 minutes. I tried Moves in Twos (from Level 1), a game of 5 v 5 scrimmage and I also did some basic passing. I learnt quite a lot in this 30 minute window and am quite happy to admit that at times I found it quite difficult. So, what did I learn?

  • It was very difficult, bordering on impossible, to get every child to listen to my instructions. Even when my instructions were very brief.
  • They were mainly interested in when they’d get to play a match
  • They quickly lost concentrating when they weren’t involved (I feared this upon realising we didn’t have enough footballs for one each)

On the games I used:

Basic passing
Worked ok and kept each child fairly involved but I could see they were getting bored of it fairly quickly.

5v5 scrimmage
Worked reasonably well because it forced them to have more awareness of the other goals (I used 4 goals) so you could see them thinking a bit more about where the space was. The only downfall was that they defaulted to wanting a goalkeeper for each goal (interesting) and therefore a couple of the ‘keepers got a bit bored. I think this proved useful though so I’ll do scrimmage again next time but I’ll probably make the teams even smaller and create two pitches so that the kids get more touches of the football.

Moves in twos
I believe is too complicated for 5 – 7 year old children so I’ll probably not use this again.

So in summary, an insightful hour:

  • It was useful because I now know what to expect next week
  • Which means I can be more prepared and take along games which I know will be useful to the children whilst ensuring they’re simple to understand and implement
  • One of the problems I knew I’d have is that I don’t know much about children of that age as I’m neither a parent, nor have I coached before
  • However, I did try to ensure anything I did focussed on developing the kids technique, rather than on anything competitive (i.e. just a match)
  • I introduced myself to as many parents as I could so that they knew who I was and why I was there

I’m really glad that I have now completed my first bit of coaching. I can build on this experience, get to know the kids better and understand more about coaching – learning as much from the other coach as possible in the process. Role on next week!

P.S Any tips on keeping their attention gratefully received!


About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

3 Responses to Coaching Day 1: The U7s

  1. John says:

    What I’ve noticed with U7s is that the instructions have to be incredibly short (like 2 sentences). I really don’t do much more with my U7s (mine are all 6) than put balls at their feet and play games that get them used to moving with a soccer ball at their feet.

  2. Xaz says:

    Hi Simon, really enjoying the blog! Its interesting because you took your level 1 about 2 months after I completed mine, and since then everything you’ve blogged about is roughly in the same timeline that I experienced it.

    I coach a group of Year 1s where I work so they’re all between 5-6, very similar to your group by the sounds of it. All the drills you’ve mentioned are good, tried and tested ones and will work well in general. Another one to add would be the numbers game – split into 2 teams and number each player (try to match equal ability players on each team) then call out a number and pass ball into middle and play until goal / out of play.

    On the communication front, theres a couple of nice tricks I learnt from coaches I work with. If you’ve got them in a group to talk to, get them to sit down (and sit down with them) it stops them from kicking any balls about. At the start of a session one of the coaches always does the following:

    “Hands on head!”
    *they put hands on head*
    “Hands on eyes”
    “Hands on shoulders”
    “Hands on ears! what are these used for?” – works very well with new/young kids.

    In your little scrimmage games I’m betting it sorta resembles a rugby scrum? I’ve been trying to get them to think about space. And thats the one word I’ve been using, every so often when the ball goes out of play I’ll stop them, and ask any surrounding attackers where they need to be. They’ll say “in space” (by the way, its taken about 5 weeks for them to learn thats what I want them to say) and then I’ll ask them if they’re in space and if no where they could go (and direct them to some space out wide generally).

    The last thing I’ll say, because this is rambling on a bit, is that it will take time for the kids to get to know you and respond to what you say. I’ve been working with them for about 2 months now and my message about space is only just starting to get through, so don’t get down if they don’t seem to listen right now, it’ll come.

    Good luck and keep us updated!

    • Simon says:

      Hi Xaz,

      Thanks, some really useful pointers there.

      Getting them to sit down seems a no brainer so I’ll certainly be using that one! Re: the numbers game, I’ve read about that one somewhere before so might give it a go next week – if I do I’ll let you know how it went!

      Appreciate the advice.


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