Learn About Your U-12+ Players
The First Priority of Successful Youth Coaches World-Wide
“We are ready! We told our parents that we want to play real soccer. Since most of us have ‘fallen in love with the game we are now able and willing to work hard on improving our playing abilities. However, we are very self-conscious when learning new skills, and your patience is very much appreciated.
“We are unsure of our relationship within the group and with those in authority, which sometimes results in our feeling insecure and frustrated. Because of this, we need continuous encouragement which drives us to continue to strive for improvement.
“We are now in need of seeing excellent demonstrations and need to be given brief explanations of what you want us to learn. We need you to review our old skills before introducing us to any new skills. Also be sure that, once we are active, you give us subtle ‘points of refinement’ but only when necessary.
“Please remember that we are still children; treat us accordingly. We are given only one childhood, and we would really like to enjoy it!”
Your U-12+ Player
To make sure that their continued exposure to this wonderful game is enjoyable, expect the following in game situations:
1. Read the game (Glance)
- A few will still continue to be ball watchers.
- Most will be able to predict the flight of the ball.
- Most will be able to look up for space to run into.
- Most will be able to find teammates to pass to.
- Some will begin to glance and realize that they are in their shooting range.
2. Run to Attack (Proper Positioning)
- A few will continue to be ball chasers.
- Some will have learned to pace themselves.
- All can accelerate, but some will still have difficulty decelerating.
- The concept of space is beginning, so encouragement to hold their position can and should begin.
3. Receive the Ball (1st Touch)
- All should have mastered ground ball control.
- Most should be confident in bringing flighted balls under control.
- They should now understand the “Right foot right side; Left foot left side” action beginning.
4. Retain the ball (Dribble)
- Some will be able to change pace and direction to adjust to the situation.
- Most will be able to beat an opponent with a fake or feint.
5. Release the ball (Shoot or Pass)
- Most will know when they are within their shooting range.
- Most will be able to pass accurately over short distances.
- Some will be able to pass accurately over longer distances.
At this age, interest in playing soccer has usually been developed, and most players are able to perform the basic skills with a fair degree of accuracy. Do not expect to see in the game anything that was not accomplished in practice.
They understand the concept of scoring, keeping score, winning, losing, and that the object of the game is to win. Adults at this stage must be very careful in keeping the results of the game in perspective!
The U-12 player will now attempt to win the game not only by attempting to score more goals than the opposition but also by attempting to deny the opposition the opportunity to score.
We must advance our coaching approach accordingly and begin to focus on more specific attacking themes, such as:
RUN TO ATTACK
- How to run intelligently across the length/width of the field
- Support runs when needed
- Stay away (dummy runs) when not needed
- Run without expecting to receive the ball in attacking third
- Supporting runs toward and away in the mid-field third
- Flaring runs to the outside in the defensive third
- Intelligent runs to help teammates and hinder the opponent
RETAINING THE BALL
Teach them to:
- take advantage of peripheral vision to see what is happening on the field
- keep eyes on the ball at the moment of touch/eyes off the ball after each touch
- make a personal judgment on what is or is not an appropriate action
- know when to Fake with the feet and Feint with the body
- know when and when not to dribble
It takes Time to Learn Everything
At this age, interest in playing soccer has in most cases been developed, and a more structured approach needs to be taken.
It is a fact that coaching U-12+ players are challenging because all techniques should have been mastered and the introduction of tactics must begin. Keeping in mind that the key to learning is repetition and repeating is often considered boring. Therefore, you must be able to disguise the repetitive actions. Don’t get frustrated. You can reach and teach all players with the proper approach.
The FUNdamental SOCCER Practice is a youth soccer coaching method that, when properly adjusted, has been proven to work with U-12+ players. No More: Drills, Eye-foot coordination games, Soccer related games, Lines, Laps, and Lectures. It is a methodology that is often at odds with the traditional methods but really works with U-12+ players.