Coaching U9/U10's 
Long Term Player Development 

Ontario Soccer have developed a Long Term Player Development Plan. This plan sets out different stages of development to produce confident, talented soccer players who enjoy the game. The stages can been seen in the picture below with the age groups that each stage relates to. As you can see from the picture the U9/U10s fall into the Fundamentals stage which emphasis physical literacy.

What is Physical Literacy?
Physical Literacy is the mastering of fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills that permit a child to read their environment and make appropriate decisions, allowing them to move confidently and with control in a wide range of physical activity situations. It supports long-term participation and performance to the best of one’s ability.

The basic generic movements for sports could include running forwards/backwards/sideways, hopping,skipping, jumping and general agility,balance,co-ordination and speed movements (ABC'S). Sport specific movements could include kicking the ball, running with the ball, dribbling with the ball and changing directions with the ball. 

Why Implement the Fundamental Phase with Physical Literacy?
Sports can be classified as early or late specialization. Acrobatic and artistic sports such as figure skating, diving and gymnastics are early specialisation sports while other sports such as basketball and soccer are late specialization sports. 

Because soccer is a late specialization sport, we actively discourages early specialization (i.e. prior to the age of 10 years) since premature specialization contributes to imbalanced physical development, overuse injuries, early burn out and inadequate development of movement and sport skills. Sports that are classified as late specialisation should emphasis building of basic movement patterns that can be used for all late specialisation sports.

Physical Attributes to be Introduced Through Physical Literacy 

The physical attributes indicated below should be introduced and developed through FUN games and activities.

•Continue with development of physical skills introduced in the Active Start phase, i.e. running, jumping, hopping, skipping, throwing, catching etc.

•Agility, Balance and Coordination (ABC’s): can be developed during warm-ups, cool downs and games.

•Stamina (Endurance): Very low priority. Developed through FUN activities and small sided games.

•Strength: Very Low Priority but can be developed through FUN activities and games that work with the child’s body weight (as opposed to weights and formal exercises)

•Speed: 1st window of speed trainability. Coaches should stimulate and encourage fast cadence of movement, developing linear, lateral and multi- directional speed using FUN games and exercises.

•Suppleness/Flexibility: Introduce exercises that mimic movements that are required in sport e.g. dynamic stretching. Should include whole body movements, shoulders, trunk, hips, knees.

•Acceleration: Should be developed using FUN games that use acceleration as a part of the activity.

•Reaction: Can be introduced and developed in conjunction with Speed and Acceleration, in FUN games and activities.

•Basic Motor Skills: As per Agility, Balance and Coordination introduce in FUN games and activities.

•Perception and Awareness: Introduce and develop by playing small-sided games

Characteristics of U10 Players

• Attention span lengthens from U8—they start to show the ability to sequence thought and actions

• They start to think ahead and think “If this, then that”

• They are more inclined towards wanting to play soccer rather than being told to play

• Demonstrate increased self-responsibility – bringing a ball, water and all gear should now be their complete responsibility

• Children at this age begin to become aware of peer pressure

• Players greatly affiliate with their team or their coach—“I play for United” or “I play for Coach Frank’s team”

• There is a wide continuum of maturity evident on most teams. This is still a crucial age for technical skill development

How can we Develop effective practices?
Ontario Soccer advises using the four corner learning model when creating practices. The four corner learning model aims to develop players in four key areas: Technical ability, Physical Ability, Social Ability and Psychological Ability. Each practice can develop the player in all four of the area's. An example could be a dribbling drill which will develop:

-Technique for moving with the ball and dribbling.
-Physical aspects such as running, co-ordination,speed and agility 
-Social elements such as communication with the coach or confidence 
-Psychological elements such as deciding which direction to dribble in and confidence.  

Tips for Coaching Technical Elements 

• Use the coaching activity to challenge and develop players technically. Encourage players to try new skills.

• Appropriate challenges may be set for the whole group or for individuals within the group. For example in a passing practice some players may be challenged to play one-touch passes whenever they think it’s appropriate

• When appropriate, practice activity should replicate the demands of the game, encouraging players to think and make decisions just as they would in a game.

• Use mini competitions to encourage repetition of technique 

• Focus on one technique per practice.

• If they find it easy/are progressing make it harder by adding interference/defenders 

Tips for Coaching Physical Elements 
• Children are not mini adults and shouldn’t be subjected to running laps of the field and doing push ups. 

• Through well-designed practice all coaching activities can include physical outcomes- Our curriculum includes playground games each week to encourage physical literacy 

• Appropriate movement skills such as tag games and activities which develop agility, balance and coordination should be encouraged through enjoyable games. 

• Don’t expect too much from young players too soon

• Encourage using different movements in every practice.

Tips for Developing Psychological Aspects 
• Use different methods to communicate with different types of learners. 

• Visual (seeing): tactics boards, posters, diagrams, cue and prompt cards as well as arrangements of cones on the pitch are some ways in which coaches can communicate with players visually. USE DEMONSTRATIONS to aid these learners. 

• Auditory (hearing): As well as speaking with the players and asking questions, coaches can encourage players to discuss aspects of the game in pairs, small groups and also with the whole group. Through communication with others, players can help solve game-related problems and learn more about the game. 

• Kinaesthetic (doing): physically ‘walking through’ positional arrangements and freeze-framing parts of the game can help paint pictures in the mind of the players and contribute to the understanding of the game.

• Help players learn the game and develop their decision-making skills by setting game-related problems for players to solve. In our curriculum we have weekly challenges which we use to emphasise deciding when to use a specific skill.

We can promote decision making through questions such as:
-CAN YOU try to use this turn whenever possible?
-WHEN CAN WE use this turn?
-WHAT DO WE DO if there is a defender in front of us? 
-TRY TO dribble into space

Tips for Developing Social Aspects 

• Coaches should strive to create a positive environment which is welcoming for players both during games and training. How you treat your players is crucial to ensuring this is positive and fulfilling for the young player. 

• Players should be praised and recognised for effort and endeavour as well as ability. This will highlight the process of learning and striving to get better rather than just the final outcome.

 • As coaches are in a significant position of influence with their players it is important to give consideration to the type of role-model you are. What are your values and beliefs and how is this demonstrated in your behavior?

U10 Practice Recommendations
• Continue to develop ball mastery in a larger environment with more teammates and opponents

• Start to develop other surfaces to control the ball

• Develop the ability to control the ball and look, Introduce decision-making for the next play and apply the proper technique

• Develop the ability to run with the ball towards goal and away from goal to gain space and use width

• Develop dribbling 1v1 using different fakes and changes of direction, shielding at the older ages of the stage

• Develop passing the ball using different surfaces of both feet

• Introduce combination plays with 2 or 3 players

• Develop shooting skills, at longer distances. Introduce, volleys, bent shots and chips using different surfaces

• Introduce the use of width at u9 and u10 and depth at u11 and u12

• Develop the ability to look up and read GK position to make a good decision and apply proper technique.

• Use Small-sided games, allow the game to be the teacher  

• Demonstrate what you would like the players to do

• Keep information positive, brief and concise

• Set appropriate challenges

• Practices should have a theme e.g. passing or shooting

Coaching Methods

When planning a coaching session the coach should consider the most appropriate coaching method for the group of players that they are working with and the outcome they wish to achieve. The “coaching methods” table below outlines a range of approaches that can be used to meet players’ individual needs. The use of coaching methods will vary due to the ever-changing process of coaching.

Some of the key factors coaches should consider when planning their coaching methods are;

• The group of players/individual player the coach is working with

• The intended outcome of the practice

 • The technical content of the practice

Mastery of the different coaching methods and communication styles is the mark of a gifted coach and will be an essential requirement for a coach.

Session Plans

North Bay Youth Soccer Club has developed a curriculum in partnership with Jamie Smith our Technical Coach. The curriculum encompasses the theory outlined in the above sections, in games that are age appropriated and which he has found to be effective. 

CLICK HERE to access our U10 curriculum 

This curriculum is by no means extensive and Ontario Soccer do provide their own curriculum and guidance for the Learn to Train stage. We actively encourage all our coaches to use these resources to improve the standard to practices we are delivering. Jamie will use the North Bay Youth Soccer Club Curriculum when delivering sessions but you are more then welcome to plan your own sessions and deliver them.   

For more information on the coaching practices please visit the Learn to Train Grassroots Soccer- Provisional Curriculum on the Ontario Soccer website. 

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