The Perfect Youth Football Training Checklist
Youth Football Training: The path from the first touch of the ball to a professional football player
- Youth Football Training: The path from the first touch of the ball to a professional football player
- Youth Football training: 4-6 years (Kids Club, kindergarten football, play groups, etc.)
- Youth Football training: 6-9 years (G and F youth)
- Youth Football training: 9-12 years (E – and D – Youth) – The Golden Age of Learning
- Youth Football training: 13 – 18 years (C, B and A youth)
- A step up to the pros
What should you pay attention to when training kids at different ages?
What is the perfect training for children? When should endurance, strength and athleticism be introduced when training kids? What makes the perfect child and youth coach? Learn everything you need to know when working with young people in football.
Youth Football training: 4-6 years (Kids Club, kindergarten football, play groups, etc.)
The youngest kickers all have only one goal – and that’s about.
In the early years, the main focus should be on children enjoying the sport and exercise. The training focus should be in game forms. As a result, basics in the areas of muscle, concentration, flexibility, responsiveness, sense of balance and ball feeling are automatically trained.
Furthermore, you should make sure that the children are not exposed to long waiting times. This means that you should train with as many balls, goals and stations as possible and possibly divide the team into smaller groups. This keeps the motivation high and the children keep moving.
The role of the footy coach is of particular importance in this age group. He should rather be seen as a buddy and game uncle and not act as an authoritarian content mediator.
Ideal at this age are two training sessions per week, 60 minutes each.
League games and performance pressure have not lost in this age group yet. It makes the most sense, now and then to make friendlies with surrounding clubs. But make it clear to the children that you do not care about the result. It’s about having fun and gaining experience. In addition, each player should get the same time, regardless of the skill level. This promotes team spirit and prevents the exclusion of individual players.
Encourage fun with exercise and sport
- Mainly game forms
- No long waiting times (small groups, many stations)
- Do not act as an authoritarian coach
- Two units a 60 minutes a week
- No point games, now and then friendlies nearby
- Just mission times
Youth Football training: 6-9 years (G and F youth)
For kids between the ages of six and nine, coordination is the fundamental aspect of training. However, you should always make sure to always include the ball – so combine the exercise always with a shot on goal, a pass or a ball acceptance.
Successful dribbles want to be learned.
Otherwise, the training should include many forms of play. By provocation rules you can also promote certain aspects. For example, you can pretend that goals score twice if you previously used a specific move or trick. You should give the kids the chance to try each position once and rotate within the team.
The units can be a bit longer, ideally training twice a week, 90 minutes each.
As with the very little ones, the coach must be a role model and trusted person. Whether you should already report your team at the age for the point playing game is a difficult question. On the one hand, a certain sense of competition and ambition are of course indispensable, on the other hand, there is the danger of setting false priorities and goals and neglecting the development of the children.
The children should train without the pressure of a league play or table situation. The focus is on early education, fun, getting used to the ball and the social aspect.
The essentials in brief:
- First coordination units (playful)
- Mainly game forms
- No long waiting times (many balls, stations)
- Rotate positions
- Coach must be role model and confidant
- Two units a 90 minutes a week
- Balance decision: point games or friendlies
Youth Football training: 9-12 years (E – and D – Youth) – The Golden Age of Learning
The period between nine and twelve years is also referred to as the “golden age of learning”. In this phase, the children are very receptive and the physical development (musculature) progresses enormously. Coordination exercises are essential at this age. But even with the technology you can achieve tremendous progress. This time should be used and the children always train with ball. Technology should therefore be the focus. Tricks, playing with both legy, one-on-one situations, etc. – for everything a footballer needs on tools, can be excellent at this age the basis.
No technology without tactic !!! From this age on, it makes sense and is recommended to teach tactical basics – starting with the D-Youth, even more complex moves and systems. However, one can only pursue this path successfully, if one has created the technical bases for it. Without safe passing and error-free ball and take action, moves, openings and systems are difficult to implement.
If you introduce tactical elements, you also have to ensure that athletic and cognitive abilities are sufficiently available. Physical fitness, strength and motivation play an increasingly important role. Likewise, decisions must be made quickly and consistently, for example, to allow quick switch from defensive to offensive. Strengthening exercises can either be incorporated into the training or given to the players as a “homework assignment”.
The coach plays an enormously important role in this phase. He does not just have to be the buddy for his players, he also has to introduce rules and limits. Not only to do an orderly training but also to promote the team spirit and social aspect of the sport. It is important to convey to the children that in addition to the technical and footballing components, the social behavior in the group, the sense of togetherness and the team spirit – putting the team above themselves – are essential components of the sport.
As already mentioned, in addition to the regular training, one can and should ask the children to work on their own, provided they have the necessary motivation.
In order to be able to implement and train the technical and tactical aspects also in the game mode, one should usually not choose too strong opponents. However, in order to determine the level of performance and progress, now and then games against supposedly better opponents make sense. Even with the positions you do not have to commit yourself, but can “try” each player during the season in different positions and explain them in detail the specifics of each position.
The essentials in brief:
- Technology and coordination should be in the foreground
- “Golden Age of Learning”
- Always involve the ball
- First tactic and system training
- Exercises on athleticism and cognitive abilities
- Social aspects and team spirit
- Trainer as authority
- Two units a 90 minutes a week + promotion training
- Play against weaker opponents, “tests” against strong teams
- Rotate positions
Youth Football training: 13 – 18 years (C, B and A youth)
Ideally, in the preceding age groups, the technical basics were so well-developed that, starting with C-youth, strength, endurance, speed and athleticism can be brought into focus. This does not mean, of course, that one should leave out technique and coordination, but it is, for example, possible to combine the different areas in the exercises. As you get older, it becomes more and more important to strengthen the technique at high speed and under pressure, but still with precision.
Bounce, kicker, bounce: With these small hurdles can train the bounce.
Regular and detailed tactical training is essential from this age group. Depending on the club philosophy, the squad composition and the individual ideas of the coach, trainings, sequences and tactical subtleties should be trained in the training. This applies both to the team tactical area as well as to group and individual tactical measures. If the funds are available, video analysis of the past games or the upcoming opponent can also be helpful.
From the C youth, the positions should be firmly divided and also be specially trained in the course of tactics training. This is especially true for the position of goalkeeper. The goal is to determine who is suitable for which position and to train technical and tactical “specialists” for the respective position.
Especially in the C-youth, the role of the coach is of enormous importance. The adolescents are in a difficult phase and may not be easy to control. Here the human side of the trainer is in demand. Much understanding, patience and sensitivity are needed to train with the boys and girls on a reasonable basis.
For the B and A juniors, one should keep in mind that the social, private and professional or school environment is becoming more prominent and time-consuming. Football should therefore not be seen as an additional burden, but should be fun and serve as compensation. Finding the right balance is not always easy, but it is also part of the job of a coach to provide advice and support to players in these areas as well.
Depending on the environment and the ambitions of the club and the team, you should increase the training time and frequency significantly. Ideally, that means four units a week. As the requirement profile and scope of training content increases, longer sessions of up to two hours may be appropriate. By means of a sensible division of the units one has the possibility to cover the different areas (technique, coordination, tactics, stamina, strength etc.) and to train the time intensively position specific.
The essentials in brief:
- Focus: strength, endurance, athleticism and speed
- Consolidate technique and coordination (high speed, pressure, precision)
- Tactics and system training
- Fixed positions and position-specific training
- Team groups and individual tactics
- Authoritarian but understanding and patient trainer (puberty)
- Consider the private / professional / educational environment of the players
- Four units a 90-120 minutes per week
A step up to the pros
Most children start playing soccer at a small club in their area. For a large part of the sport is a pure pastime and hobby. Of course, every boy dreams of earning his living as a professional footballer, but only a few succeed. Even the players who do everything for it are often brought back to the bottom of the facts very quickly. There are just too many factors on which to depend – talent, luck, hard work, and the right decisions.
The calm before the match: the highest concentration is required in the cabin.
One of the most important decisions on the way to paid football is moving to a professional club. The central question is: When should a talent change to a major club? Unfortunately, there is no correct answer. The timing can well be too early and the failure is then for most children a bitter setback, which can be very motivating. With effective football training, a player can develop “leadership qualities” that are essential.
On the other hand, the content is always conveyed earlier and in a small club one has nowadays hardly the chance to keep up. Therefore, it is of course beneficial for the purely footballing development, if you are introduced as early as possible to the most important aspects. However, whether it is the right decision for human development remains unpredictable and needs to be evaluated from one situation to another. Moving to a professional club is always an opportunity and a risk.