Teaching attacking soccer concepts to young players is a lot of fun. Young players are like sponges, picking up skills and soccer concepts very quickly.
At the younger ages the players have a
harder time keeping possession of the soccer ball because of the skill
factor. The players will lose the soccer ball because they have not
developed any touch and chase the soccer ball everywhere. It is vital
that the young players get a lot of touches on
the ball to improve skill and decision making.
Skill development is obviously an on
for the kids as they move up the ranks. Once the players can perform
the basics very well, ball possession will be a lot easier and this
will lead to more attacking soccer opportunities.
The more the players can get
heads and eyes up, looking away from the soccer ball, the more they will see
space to dribble into, 1v1 chances, passing lanes and shooting
Young players should be encouraged to
learn attacking play at younger ages so these skills are developed and ingrained into their game.
These skills will be harder to develop at the older ages and tactics will be hard to teach. This
will help the young player as he or she is introduced to more advanced
So, lets move into how to teach attacking soccer concepts to young players...
What soccer skills must kid soccer players develop to become attacking players?
This should be the emphasis at the younger ages...so lets learn about possession soccer.
Possession soccer is teaching players how to pass, dribble, turn and shield the soccer ball to keep possession of the soccer ball while going forward and creating scoring chances.
Check out this quick video on possession!
At the younger ages U6 - U12 players must learn how to use their passing, dribbling and shielding skills to beat, take space or protect the soccer ball if they are under pressure.
While the players are learning passing, dribbling and shielding skills the coach can combine these skills with small sided games, that help young players learn to put it all together.
How do small sided games teach tactics?
Small sided games help players?
The players and the team that can keep the soccer
ball most likely have better team shape due to better passing angles, support and ball control.
Soccer shape is the next topic that
coaches should teach players.
In order to play in an attacking shape they must have the players that are skillful enough to pull it off or be given the time to learn how to develop the skills to play in the shape. Skill development should be the emphasis at the younger ages.
Not to be redundant but "no skill no tactics" at least not good ones...
Lets get into how we teach creating space and developing shape...
In order to have good attacking shape the...
Outside players or wide players must learn how to use the width of the soccer field when playing in a wide position especially when the team wins the soccer ball. This part of the game is probably more suited for players that can pass with proficiency i.e. U10 and above, maybe some U9's.
The forward or striker
should learn how to get higher up the field. The danger is young
players will want to come back and find the soccer ball, which will now
leave no outlet for a pass.The coach should encourage the forward
players to stay high especially when the team is defending in their own
This can be taught in small sided games formats like 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4...
Why is this important?
When or if the team wins possession of the soccer ball they must create
options going forward and wide, which I call left and right support or forward support to mount attacks.
This will not occur if the team chases the soccer ball all over the place, messing up the team shape.
Coaches complain about this all the time "why are my kids chasing the soccer ball all over the place?" Young players want the soccer ball and their spacial awareness is not developed unless they are experienced players.
Teaching young players how not to chase the soccer ball all over the place takes time and patience.
They want the soccer ball, so this is why the coach should focus on
soccer technique and help the players understand shape in small sided games.
The better the soccer skills the easier these concepts
are to teach because the players can lift their heads and look away
from the ball to pass to that player that has moved wide or become a
target up front.
The more skillful the less the players have to chase
because they trust their team mates will be able to keep the ball and
find passes or space to dribble into. Once again be patient while the kids are learning.
This part of soccer coaching is never ending and the coach has to
constantly find ways to teach the game.
The 4 v 4 game is a great way to teach these shape concepts.
So, the kids have developed skills, have a shape to play in so what is next? Shooting!!
Why is soccer shooting important? Only one way to score goals and that is to shoot!
What soccer shots must a player learn to hit?
All these soccer shots can be
developed when the coach teaches the players how to shoot and play
small sided games. Shooting with opponents in and around the player
with the soccer ball is the best way to perfect the different ways to
The main shot the young player should learn is the instep drive - strike with the laces. A good game that kids love to play is numbers game.
Once the players have learned how to keep the soccer ball with passes and receiving, dribbling and have a team shape. The next phase will be introducing the players how to transition faster...
The next aspect of attacking soccer
is teaching players how to transition - going from defending to
attack or attack to defending faster than the other team...
The team that can transition the
quickest will generally exploit situations or teams by having more
numbers in attack or defense.
The coach can also help the team play faster once they have learned how to possess the soccer ball. At the younger ages the coach can play 1v1, 2v1, 2v2 or 3v2 games...
So, how long does this all take?
Attacking soccer all depends on the skill level, age group, competition
level and how much soccer they have played?
All these small sided games can be used in training no matter what age group the coach is teaching. So as example if the players are 12 years old the coach can still play 3v3 or 4v4 in training.
There you have it everything you need to know about attacking soccer. Well, maybe not everything because this is an endless topic of conversation in youth soccer...