Taking the Under 10 side is a big responsibility. It is the last age group where the eleven a side game ceases to be an option, and as such (many would say) it is the final opportunity with youngsters to really develop their skills in a game situation where there is still plenty of space on the ball.
The last age, we might say, when skills are not negated by tactics. Many European leagues have much tougher rules when it comes to team sizes in junior soccer. Under the English Football Association, for example, Under 11 football is just seven a side, compared to the eight a side in the US for Under 10s.
Coaches at this age group need to design sessions that develop individual and team skills; physical fitness should not be a problem – kids run around all the time anyway, certainly if they are active enough to want to join a weekend soccer team.
The best sessions are fast paced, filled with varied and simple but directed drills. The focus should be on learning rather than competition (there’s enough time for that later). Talk is best kept to a minimum, with a focus on comments and coaching points to individuals; whole group speeches are fine (as long as they are brief) at the beginning and end of a session but take away pace if over-used. It is fine to finish with a match – soccer is about having fun, and to most kids who love to play, the game is the most fun part.
U10 Soccer Drill One – Last Man Standing
This is a great warm up drill which encourages players to keep their heads up and protect the ball. It also encourages players to find space.
The action takes place in the penalty area or centre circle. Equally a grid of similar size can be created. It is a whole squad drill, which helps to promote teamwork. Each player has a ball, except for two who are the tacklers.
The players with the ball must keep it inside the grid or area, while the other two attempt to get it out of the zone. Once a player has lost their ball out of the zone they join the tacklers, continuing until just one player is left. He or she becomes the winner.
U10 soccer Drill Two – Chase ‘Em Down
A soccer training drill that combines fun competition with close dribbling control. A ten metre by ten metre grid is set up with cones (it can be larger if this works best for the players involved). Four players each have a ball, and stand in opposite corners, one on each.
They dribble, in the same direction, around the outside of the grid. The aim is, with the ball under control, to pass an opponent. The coach helps skills to develop by shouting out instructions such as ‘change direction’, ‘stand on the ball’ ‘trick’ or ‘turn’ and so forth.
Encourage two footed, close control.
With large groups the children can be put into fives, with one acting as coach. As one overtakes another player, they become the new coach.
U10 Soccer Drill Three – One v One
This is a flexible soccer drill which develops speed of thought, decision making and both offensive and defensive one versus one plays.
There are two teams, it is best to keep this to a maximum of four per side to ensure plenty of action for all players. Number each player from one to four.
A ten by ten metre grid is used, with two small goals. The coach calls a number and knocks a ball into the grid. The two corresponding players rush into the grid, and attempt to score. When one succeeds, or the coach decides they have had long enough, he repeats the process with two new players.
The game can be developed into 2 v 2 or 3 v 3 practices.
U10 Soccer Drill Four – Super Shooting
Shooting skills are developed here, but also game awareness and defending. Three cones are placed as per the diagram below. Players stand at each cone, numbered one, two and three. The remaining players line up behind player one.
Player one passes to player two, then runs to go outside cone two. Player two passes to player three and then moved into an offensive support position. Player three decides whether to shoot or pass. Meanwhile player one has continued outside of cone two and now acts as a defender.
The aim is to score.
After each turn, the players move up a cone (that is, player one now goes to cone two, player two to cone three, and player three joins the line, with cone one now occupied by a new player).
The fast pace of this drill means decisions have to be made quickly; first touch is very important to success and the change in transition from attack to defense is also developed.
These make good soccer training drills to use regularly, with little adaptations to keep interest and develop specific skills for the group. For example, in Drill Four, one touch play can be introduced with particularly able players. By getting our players familiar with drills, less time is spent explaining them.
That means more time on the ball!
If you liked this post, you’ll like our book on Soccer Drills for Kids.
Your Soccer Coaching Home – Our Specials