Fundamental Youth Soccer

The Eight Year Old Player Profile

Introductory Years


  • Their background in soccer is insignificant
  • They need others to learn from
  • You are their role model
  • You must teach


  • Flexibility is great
  • Can learn to kick the ball on the run
  • Girls usually taller and more mature
  • Can jump, skip, hop, chase and dodge
  • Extremely active; sitting still is very difficult
  • Review such skills as running at various speeds in various directions
  • Explore new skills such as dodging, twisting and turning while running


  • Slight increase of attention span
  • Boys and girls play together readily
  • Expect sudden shifts in behavior from bad to good
  • Boys will fight and wrestle – demonstrating masculinity
  • Still not good at sitting still for even short periods of time
  • Self-centeredness and boastfulness beginning to decline
  • They enjoy group play – show preference for small groups
  • Group members are continuously changing because of quarrels
  • They still do not compete but contine to merely imitate competition


  • They like structure
  • They are interested in learning
  • Playing soccer is stimulating for them
  • They welcome opportunities to act on their own
  • They like structure nd are willing to apply rules
  • They are aware of some rules governing the game of soccer
  • They will make mental mistakes; you must handle them appropriately


  • They are not ready for playing positions – they will play bunch ball
  • Continue to introduce them – gradually – to play in larger groups
  • Contine to focus on the 1 vs 1 game
  • They will continue to ‘play at soccer’ by imitating rather than playing the actual game. Expect more bunch ball.
  • Avoid making the games too complex or too long in duration – they still lack skill and interest


  • Short attention span – continue to be Simple and Brief
  • You must provide full, physical participation for everyone
  • They enjoy moving about and making nose as they move
  • React fairly well to competition in which each competes against himself
  • Opportunity to experiment with technique is more important to them than success in the technique
  • Many eight year olds still do not understand the concept of winning, and they continue to believe everyone can win
  • Soccer demands that the players be constantly moving – activities that force them to wait their turn are not recommended


  • Play soccer. Focus on teaching the 1 vs 1 game
  • Be consistent in your practice session routine
  • Give positive points of refinement to help self improvement
  • They need excellent demonstrations and brief explanations (Show & Tell)
  • The game of soccer demands all players to be constantly moving – therefore, activities that force them to wait their turn are highly discouraged
  • Continue to give points f refinement to help self-improvement
  • Continue assigning homework on things that have been introduced
  • They are aware of rules governing cooperative play. Simple rules only.


  • Be tolerant of them breaking the rules including hand ball.
  • Allow them to make up rules which eventually lead toward the official rules. (Allowing kick-ins in the place of throw-ins.)
  • By the end of this stage they should know who can and can’t handle the ball and where!

(Team with the ball)

They will ‘bunch’ around the ball and continue to run in the direction the ball is traveling. However, to a lesser degree than in the previous years.

(Player with the ball)

  • Most will know which goal to attack – with an occasional reminder.
  • They will continue release the ball too early OR they will not release the ball at all.
  • Many will continue to think that the game ball is their own ‘toy’.
  • Most will want to get possession of the ball to simply ‘go for goal’ and score
  • They will shoot or run with the ball and attempt to score at almost every opportunity.

Defending Team
(Team without the ball)

  • Some may defend the appropriate goal because the coach has (wrongfully) placed and forced them to stay in front of the goal
  • Some may understand which goal to protect
  • However most children will continue to simply watch the ball or just chase after it

First Defender
(Player closest to the ball)

  • They will continue to kick ‘at the ball’ with all their might, OR
  • They will not kick at the ball at all
  • They continue think since the game ball is their own ‘toy’ they must get it back
  • They will, often, take the ball away from their own teammates
  • They have a difficult time taking the ball away from opposing players
  • Many continue to chase after the ball only because the adults are telling them to ‘get the ball’.

Transition Game
(Ball changing possession)

  • There will still be limited change in emphasis
  • They will still not be consciously defending – just happily chasing the ball

In the Attacking Game .. expect the following:

Reading the Game: Looking

  • They will continue to watch the ball
  • they will still react too quickly to the flight of the ball
  • They still cannot and will not look for space to run into
  • They will still not understand the concept of space so any encouragement to ‘spread out’ is absolutely pointless

Run To Attack: Proper Positioning

  • They will happily continue to chase after the ball while defending
  • They will continue to run and change direction in sort bursts until tired
  • Continue to review such skills as running at various speeds and directions
  • Continue to review running with the ball at various speeds and directions

Receiving the Ball: The First Touch

  • They have a difficult time judging flight and speed of the ball
  • Focus and Teach controlling a ground ball. (Don’t forget the ‘Magic Hop’.)
  • In practice – begin every action with ‘the Serve’

Retaining the Ball: Dribbling

  • They can run in a straight line with the ball
  • They can dribble with change of speed
  • Start expecting them to carry out Fakes/Feints and Turns with the ball

Release Ball Under Control

  • They are still unable to find teammates for a pass
  • They can shoot toward goal but may shoot at both goals

In the Defending Game … Expect the following:

Reading the Game: Looking

  • They will only watch the ball – which is very good
  • They start becoming aware of Blocking Their Goal and Pressuring the Ball
  • They can start to look for Direction of Play
  • They start to understand the concept of Defending so encouragement to ‘pressure the ball’ is useful

Run To Defend: Proper Positioning

  • They will happily chase after the ball while Defending
  • They will run and change direction in short bursts until tired
  • Review such skills as running at various speeds and directions
  • Explore such skills as Blocking the Goal, Pressing and Poking the Ball

Ready Stance: Proper Body Position

  • Some will begin to learn ‘how to’ get into a boxer’s stance
  • Most will still be upright and out of balance
  • In practice – encourage getting into Boxer’s stance
  • Teach – one foot forward poking the ball. Other foot maintains balance.

Reject Advancement: Stop the Dribbler

  • Will start becoming aware of blocking their goal
  • Will still usually just kick at the ball
  • They still will have no concept of delaying the opponent
  • Teach them to stay between their goal and the ball
  • Teach – Patience and delay

Regain Ball Possession: Take the ball from the opponent

  • Many will still take the ball from their own teammates
  • Some will go to the ground (slide tackle) you must discourage this action
  • Many will simply just kick at the ball
  • Some will actually take the ball away after a bad touch, block tackle, etc.