First observations

Our under 7s had a match tonight. It was only our second game but as I’d missed the first fixture due to being away I was very much looking forward to tonight to see how the players I’d been working with for the last 9 months would get on in a match environment.

We played a local side and had a squad of 16 for 3 x 20 minutes matches. Unfortunately, we felt defeat in all three games but there were certainly positives to take and the main reason for our defeats appeared to be that whilst our players aren’t used to playing matches, the opposition certainly were.

Anyway, I’m not here to write about the performance or the result but more to share my observations from watching an under 7s match for the first time!

So here they are:

  • Match experience and positional sense played a huge factor tonight
  • The opposition managers had clearly set their team up well, but they’d also had them doing stretches and passing DRILLS before the game so were taking it very seriously
  • Under 7 players will direct criticism at team mates when things are going against them
  • Under 7 players will cry, mainly through frustration, when they lose games by a few goals
  • Some players surprised me with how well they played tonight, others surprised me by how they didn’t (match awareness v skill/ability)
  • A LOT of goals came from goal-kicks (as someone said in the week, should players retreat to the halfway line to improve this?)
  • Refereeing under 7s was fairly simple, despite the huge crowd(!)

I think the biggest positive is that the ability to watch our players in a match environment gives us an opportunity to guide the training around the areas we’ve observed and that there’s clearly a lot the players will learn from the basic experience of playing matches.

Our players did get upset tonight, more so than I thought and that did take me by surprise. If anything I think it’s a good experience for them to learn to deal with defeat (if we coach it in the right way) and being 7 I’m sure they’ve already forgotten the game by the time I’m writing this!

Unfortunately that’s it for me now ahead of spending 6 weeks in India through work commitments but I’ll look forward to getting back and working with the players ahead of future games 🙂


About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

4 Responses to First observations

  1. Really agree with you on your fourth point – I’ve had much less time with my U7 team than you have, but so many of the players seem to miss out on the big picture of keeping possession and getting in front of the other team to play defense while you occasionally see a player know exactly where to be at the right moment!

    Of course on this side of the Atlantic I would guess most of my players have never watched a match that doesn’t involve their own team so that loses at least some of the contextual knowledge of how kids learn a sport.

    Goal kicks, and any dead ball situation are a difficult point for my team as well – I’m trying to get them to get the ball into play quickly at least as the success rate of a goal kick falls the longer it is delayed (more time for the other team to start swarming).

    Players are critical of each other, but can’t really explain why something is “Wrong” other than it is (at least in their mind). I have heard “He isn’t passing the ball” from our players but they can’t explain why the player in question should have passed the ball or what they were doing to help the situation. (We really haven’t spent much time on anything passing related in our limited practice times with so many new to the sport.)

    Good post, I’ve enjoyed learning what my age group equivalents are facing in a culture where the sport is much more well known!

  2. Olly says:

    What size team and pitch do your u7s play on? In Australia, it’s 4-a-side with no goalie and small goals on a tennis court sized pitch. This works really well with u7s who are still at a very egocentric stage of development and really struggle with off the ball positioning. With a squad of 16 are u7s in the UK still playing 11 a side?

    • Simon says:

      Hi Olly,

      Apologies for the delay in replying. U7s play 3 x 30 minute games here so ample opportunity to ensure all the kids get equal playing time. The pitch is bigger than what you play on in Australia, for mini soccer (U7-U8) the recommended pitch size is 50 yards by 30 yards.

      I think the pitches look a good size, although a lack of spacial awareness (as you’ll know) means large parts of the pitch aren’t really used!


  3. Pingback: Observations from an U7s tournament « A coach's journal

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