FA Level 2 and Under 8s

Last week was an interesting week from a coaching perspective as the two Under 8 sessions I had were the first I’d run following my participation on the first week of the FA’s Level 2 course. Of course, when I say “interesting” what I really mean is I felt there were some highs & lows.

The session I ran on Tuesday went pretty well I felt. I had 8 players which is a great number to work with and we did a game of tag to warm up (with footballs) before I worked with them on their dribbling (using L2 coaching points) before progressing in to an SSG with 4 goals and finishing with a game.

The smaller number of players makes it easier to gain everyone’s concentration for the 30 seconds I needed to get a point across or progress the session. I progressed the dribbling work we did in to a SSG with 4 goals (two at each end) as I felt that gave the dribblers more opportunity to succeed as there are multiple targets. This seemed to work well and also saw a couple of the players demonstrate a good awareness of space by taking up a un-marked wide position.

The session as a whole went pretty well but once you’re in to an SSG at U8 level I think it becomes quite difficult to stop the session (to praise/correct) because the kids just want to play and it’s one of the areas of the L2 syllabus which I think is quite difficult to apply to this age group. With that in mind, I only stopped the session once to positively praise something which I was really happy with.

The other part of the L2 syllabus which I think is hard to apply at U8 is that of recreation, e.g. getting a player to try or practice something before resuming the session. Having been on the Youth Award Module 1 I was very aware of the impact this may have on self-esteem so I avoided opportunities to help a player correct what they were doing wrong if I could see they were reluctant to do so in front of the group.

The second session I took last week was supposed to be the first Level 2 practice session I needed to run in between our course and our next catch up day. I planned a session around dribbling and had parts where I included the whole group (18 players) and parts where we split the group up (albeit doing the same exercise) and I don’t think this session worked particularly well.


  • Firstly, 18 (Under 8s) is far too big a group to do any kind of Q&A or guided introduction of coaching points.
  • Secondly, the area we had to work with (we’re on an astro pitch which is essentially 2 x tennis courts) wasn’t big enough to allow success in one of the exercises.

However, I did still feel there were benefits to the session. The warm up we did meant each player had LOTS of touches and they were constantly having to dribble in different directions and were frequently turning. The game I progressed to also had lots of decision making and dribbling but I think there are better ways of doing it in the future.

The week’s demonstrated to me that I need to work with a smaller group if I’m to effectively practice my Level 2 understanding and I also need to alter sessions & games so that a) the information is relevant to the age group and b) the practice is still fun and ultimately, a game.

Any coach will empathise with how you feel when you know a session hasn’t gone well but as per some of the great advice I had on Twitter last week, it’s given me an opportunity to learn & re-plan for this week with that experience behind me.

The Level 2 syllabus IS difficult to apply to an under 8s team but I’m confident that with some tweaking it can be applied to benefit the players (main priority) as well as my progression toward passing my Level 2.



About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

9 Responses to FA Level 2 and Under 8s

  1. I currently look after an U7 team with ten players. I also find it difficult to give feedback and stop the game as they are enjoying the game, there are varying ability levels and the space is a bit too small (we are currently indoors until the daylight hours change).

    I have used some of the Level 1 drills, that work one week and fail the next. I’ll keep tweaking.

    • Yep – I guess we’re on as much of a learning curve as those players who we are coaching and it’s all part of a process which helps us improve.

      Which Level 1 games work well for you?

  2. It’s really hard to effectively practice the Level 2 criteria with U8s.

    As you rightly state, you could intervene a lot more but it would be for your benefit not the children’s. And certain intervention styles (Q&A especially) aren’t suited to large groups and young kids.

    This is one of the difficulties the Youth Award has thrown up; the Future Game and most recent courses advocate 5-11yrs as the golden age of learning and that said learning should be done in variable, game-realistic practices with lots of decisions and lots of mistakes. However the L2 – as delivered by the majority of tutors I have watched – still insists on unopposed technical work and places a strong emphasis on correcting technique early.

    It depends on your philosophy but personally I prefer the YAM1 methodology and would try to stick to that with U8s. I’d bring a little bit about when, why and how to intervene from the L2 but my sessions wouldn’t look dramatically different.

    This leaves the issue of getting appropriate practice before your next L2 day. Perhaps to overcome this you could help an older team within your club for a few weeks (U10-U13 would be ideal)?

    • Hi Pavl,

      Hope you’re well?

      I’m going to work with our club U12s for the 8 x L2 syllabus-sessions I have to put on ahead of the final assessment and as suggested by you & others it should be an idea age to work with.

      As for the U8s, I believe you can take certain principles from L2 and apply to this age group without some of the sessions being as slow/technical as L2 proposes. I.e. you can use Gates to work with a small group on their dribbling (and get across the coaching points via Q&A). You can then progress that to something which is an opposed dribbling game before moving in to a SSG.

      Hopefully doing both should set me up well for my final L2 assessment.


  3. Gary says:

    Sounds like you are on the right track…keep the faith and with any session you see online, get from a coaching course the key is to tweak it to your players’ needs (and the environment – space consideration).

    Every course is an opportunity to improve your coaching and philosophy but coaching courses are always run with the ‘ideal’ state in mind. Reality means we must always adapt, adjust and tweak. Keep at it!

    Finally, i had to pause in the middle of your blog as i stumbled to read past ‘recreation’ here: ‘I think is hard to apply at U8 is that of recreation’ After a while i got that you meant re-creation not recreation 😉

    • Hi Gary,

      Thanks for taking the time to reply & good spot on the typo 🙂

      You’re absolutely right and that’s precisely what I’m trying to do at the moment (see reply to Pavl). In fact, I’m going to blog further about it over the weekend!


  4. Dan Barton says:

    Very interesting read. Can I ask have you done the youth award module 2, ‘developing the practice’ ? I feel that level 2 content is aimed at older players and working with u8’s is not going to help you practice level 2. I would argue that infact, attempting to employ level 2 principles on 7 year olds could actually disrupt their development. You would be better off practicing with u12’s or older. I also feel that unless you are actually going to be coaching 11 a side age groups now, you would be better off developing your youth award coaching principles for the next 2 or 3 years.

    • Hi Dan,

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m due to do Module 2 in April and I’m very excited about it (looks a great course).

      Re: Level 2, as I think I’ll post about soon, I’m going to apply some of what I’ve learnt to my U8 coaching but I think the sessions (from the syllabus) and coaching style are certainly aimed at older age groups. However, that’s not to say you can’t deliver good technical points and isolated re-creation of certain skills etc to U8s.


  5. In answer to the question on which Level 1 drills work for my U7s:

    1. Through the gates – easier to intervene and correct/praise passing technique.
    2. On guard (1v1 and 2v2) – can explain how to shut down, slow down, sit down and show down
    3. Alamo – They love shooting at goal, but getting them to try and hit a target (football on a cone on the inside of each post).


    P.S. Great content on your site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: