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U8 Training Plan

Tri-City Youth Soccer League

U-8 Training Plan


CONGRATULATIONS! You are the coach of your child’s U-8 soccer team. RELAX and take a deep breath; you’re going to do just fine. We are here to assist you any way we can. The effort that you offer to the league in coaching this team will help us to continue to develop skilled and competitive soccer players. We want you to enjoy your experience as the one they call “Coach.” 

REMEMBER: We are teaching kids the simplest and most popular game in the world. To win the game, all you have to do is put a little ball into a gigantic goal. When the game is made too complicated, some players and coaches can become frustrated. This is especially true for younger players who are new to the game, so keep your training fun and simple. YOUR PRIMARY JOB as a recreational coach is to keep this simple game FUN while teaching your players the basic skills of soccer. By keeping your instructions short and simple, you lessen the chances that your players will become bored and increase the chances that your players will learn the skills that you are teaching.


The Game

Basics of the Game

 1. Games will consist of 4 equal 10 minute quarters with a 5 minute break between quarters and a 5 minute half time break. 2. The clock is not stopped during the game.

 3. We play 4v4 with no goalie. 



Substitutions should be made about every 4-6 minutes, or at the end of each period. Substitutions during play are made when the ball is naturally put out of play. Ball out of play is; i.e. throw-in, goal kick, after a goal is scored, or for an injury. Each coach should determine a system of substituting

(platoon style - 2-3 at a time, individually - one at a time, etc.).  



1.  U8 uses a size 3 soccer ball.

2.  All players must wear shin guards during practice and games. Shin Guards must be covered by socks.

3.  No earrings, watches, rings, necklaces, bracelets, wristbands or casts may be worn during game play or during practices. Hair bands, if used, must be elastic, with no balls on them. Any other articles, which in the opinion of the referee, may endanger the player or other players are also not allowed. Pierced earrings may not be worn, even if taped.

4. Splints, casts, or braces with hard components may not be worn. Soft, elastic bandages may be worn provided the ends are taped to cover metal clips




They are still very similar to the U-6 player. However, if they have played before, they are now “experienced” and will bring those experiences and memories to the team’s activities. 

1.      They have a longer attention span and better memory than the U-6 player.

2.      They still love to laugh and have fun. 

3.      They still want the ball a lot but are more receptive to passing the ball to a teammate.

4.      Like ALL soccer players, they still want to SHOOT at the goal and score. 

5.      They still run until they drop but will recover quickly and are ready to go again.

6.      They thrive on praise and celebration of success and are sensitive to mistakes. 

7.      Boys and girls are similar in general ability and should be trained equally. 

8.      Eye-to-hand and foot-to-hand is improved and is getting better. 

9.      Their idea of defense is still to gang attack the player with the ball.

10.    They are more apt to imitate what they see older players doing.



1. Dress like your vision of a soccer coach.

2 Tell your players to ALWAYS bring a size 3 ball and water to training and to wear shin guards for training and games.

3.  Have enough training aids to ensure successful training sessions.

4.  Learn the rules for U-8 games and ensure that your parents do the same.

5.  Be prepared to demonstrate the skills you are teaching.

6.  Make it fun while your players are learning these skills.

7.  Praise your players and celebrate their successes.

8.  Get your players’ parents involved as helpers in training sessions and team administration.

9.  Describe the basic concept of the game, the parts and boundaries of the field, how a game starts and the concept of “their” goal and “our” goal.

10. Accept and inform your players’ parents that these are children learning the skills needed to play the game and that they should always be encouraged in a positive manner.







Controlling the movement of the ball is the most important skill that a soccer player can possess and since soccer is a game primarily played with the feet, you are going to train each player how to DRIBBLE the ball with their left and right foot during each training session. As in U-6 training, show them the main parts of their feet: toe, inside, outside and instep (laces) and how to control the movement, direction and speed of the ball with those foot parts. Encourage your players to dribble with both left and right feet. This is called technical training and can be accomplished through the playing of dribbling games



PING PONG: Each player puts a ball between their feet so that their feet are not touching the ball. On a signal, they will pass the ball between their feet back and forth like a ping pong ball.

This is good for developing touch & control and is a great warm up exercise.

DRIBBLE SQUARE: Set up a 5 yd X 5 yd square or larger and position an equal number of players on all four sides with their soccer balls. On a signal, tell them to dribble their ball across the square while trying not to contact the other players or their balls. Do this three times for one minute each.

SLALOM DRIBBLE: Set up a widely spaced offset slalom course of single cones and have the players “follow the leader” (YOU) while dribbling their ball around each cone. Let each of them be leader once. This develops their touch on the ball and direction changes. Repeat this game several times

 CONE GATE DRIBBLING: Starting at one end of the field, set up several two-cone gates in a weaving pattern towards a goal. They must dribble the ball through the gates and then shoot on goal. This continues to develop their touch on the ball, direction changes and shooting.

CAN YOU DO THIS? This game allows you to show your players how to contact and move the ball with the different parts of each foot. You may use an existing cone course, set up a new design or not use one at all but the object is to get your players to copy what you are doing as you lead them around the field. Obviously, you must use various parts of your feet to contact and move the ball. After a few sessions of this game, let each of your players be the leader.



It is at this age that we will begin teaching and reinforcing the technique for passing and receiving the ball between players. Passing allows the ball to be moved farther with much less effort than just dribbling. Receiving and controlling the pass reinforces ball control technique and obviously allows the player to hold possession of the ball. That means the other team doesn’t have the ball and that is a good thing! 

            Let’s talk about the basic technique for passing and receiving a ball. The technique is to   use the inside of either foot as the contact point for both passing and receiving. When passing, the ball is struck with the middle and forward part of the inside of the foot. The passing leg action is a forward sweeping action angled in the direction of the receiver. When receiving, the ball is “caught” or slowed down using any of the surfaces of the inside of the foot. The leg action when receiving a pass is to match the speed of the incoming ball so that the ball is literally stopped for a moment and its movement controlled. This is called TRAPPING and it is a very important skill. Here are some games to teach the basic passing and receiving technique.



PAIRS PASSING: Pair up your players, position them 5 yds apart facing each other and have them pass to each other for at least 3-5 minutes. Urge them to alternate the passing and receiving foot, to take a step before passing and to call out the name of their partner before passing. Have at least two balls for each pair. The objective is to develop proper technique for passing and receiving. Make corrections as required and celebrate success.

TRIANGLE PASSING: Same action as above but they are grouped in threes in a triangle shape and the ball direction of travel is determined by the first pass. Reverse the direction occasionally so that the opposite foot is used. Use this game often as the triangle formation is one of the cornerstones of the game.

OFFSET LINE PASSING: Divide you players into two groups, form two lines with each line facing the other and 5 yds apart ( as in PAIRS PASSING). Now, offset the lines so that no two players are directly across from each other. Start the ball at the end of one line and instruct the player to pass at an angle to the first player in the opposite line. That player will then pass at an angle to the next player in the opposite line and so on; it looks like a zigzag pattern. To make it fun and exciting, start a ball at each end of the two lines and watch as the balls cross paths during the game.

CIRCLE PASSING: Form a large circle (10 yd diameter) with your players. Put three of these players in the approximate center of the circle with their backs to each other and each with a soccer ball at their feet. On a signal, all three players pass to the player in the outer circle directly facing them. That player receives and traps the pass then passes the ball back to the center player who passes it to the next outer circle player in the designated direction. This continues for at least three minutes and may be repeated as required. Switch out the three center players after the chosen time interval.



It’s a fact - they ALL want to score a goal! Let’s teach and reinforce proper technique for shooting at this young age and it will stay with them for a long time. Each player must have a ball at their feet when you demonstrate the following basic technique for shooting at the goal. Here are some terms you need to know and teach:


PLANT FOOT: The PLANT foot is the foot that is placed NEXT to the ball right before they kick it with their shooting foot. The toe should point in the general direction where you want the ball to go and the knee of this leg is usually bent slightly forward for power.

SHOOTING FOOT: You must identify which foot is their dominant foot because that foot will most likely be their SHOOTING foot. Encourage them to strike the ball with the laces near the toe of the shoe with the toe pointing toward the ground. Correct their technique if they are “toe poking” the ball. It’s a big bonus if a player can shoot left and right footed.

FOLLOW-THROUGH: Once the ball is contacted with the shooting foot, the shooting leg should swing through, up and across the front of their waist. This is called the FOLLOWTHROUGH. This action will result in the shooting foot becoming the first power step moving the player forward. Steer them away from using a “snap kick” follow through as it limits the power of the kick and can actually cause sore ankles.



SOCCER BOWLING: Have them practice the plant, shoot and follow through technique while standing one step behind their ball, taking the step with their plant foot, swinging the shooting foot to contact the ball and following through with the shooting leg. Use single cones as targets for their kicks. Celebrate success and correct technique.

MACHINE GUN SHOOTING: Set up two or more goals with cones and place several balls 5

yds out, 5 ft apart and parallel to the goal. On a signal, the player will start by shooting the ball at one end through the goal opening (mouth), run back around and shoot the next ball through the goal and so on until all of the balls in the line have been shot. 

GOAL-TO-GOAL SHOOTING: Set up a field 20 yds long X 10 yds wide with goals at each end. Put an equal number of players at each end of the field with a soccer ball at their feet. On a signal, all players are to dribble the length of the field while avoiding contact with the other players and shoot at the goal. They love this game!



Typically, U-8 players play defense by trying to kick the ball from their opponent’s feet and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If they gain possession of the ball from the opponent, well done! In the U-6 manual, we began teaching the players to delay the player with the ball by getting in his/her way. While continuing to teach that tactic, introduce the tactic commonly called SHEPHERDING, also known as DENY in the three ‘Ds” of defense.

TACTIC: You should teach your players another tactic of defense and that is to deny dribbling space for the opponent with the ball. This is done by constantly positioning themselves between the opponent and the goal which will usually force the opponent in a different direction, preferably to the sideline of the field. This is called SHEPHERDING and it is “DENY” of the three “Ds” of basic defending tactics.

TECHNIQUE: Proper defending technique is still important to teach at this age because, if learned correctly, it will serve the player well during their soccer playing years. Teach your players to stand in a staggered stance with one foot slightly ahead of the other, knees slightly bent, hands apart and slightly in front of them and eyes focused on the ball, not the opponent. It has been called the “crouching tiger” position in some circles and the kids love to hear this. Show them how to switch feet position when the opponent changes direction. The SHEPERDING is really noticeable when you teach your players to constantly adjust their location relative to the ball AND to press towards (put pressure on) the opponent with the ball.



SHARK AND MINNOWS: See description under DRIBBLING.

1 Vs 1: Set up an appropriate number of 5 yd X 10 yd fields with goals for 1 Vs 1 games. Put an attacker at one end with a ball and a defender at the other end. On a signal, the attacker tries to dribble through the goal at the opposite end while the defender tries to prevent him from scoring by delaying him and possibly stealing the ball. If the defender gets possession of the ball, he immediately becomes the attacker and tries to score while the other player assumes the defender role. If the ball goes outside the field or a goal is scored, the players witch roles and continue on signal. Occasionally switch a player from each field to another field for varied experience. 2 Vs 2 and 3 Vs 3: It’s the same as the 1 Vs 1 but with an enlarged field. These small sided games are great teachers because they ARE game situations. 




U-8 players need to learn the proper technique for putting the ball into play with the THROW-IN. They will be given second chances during games if their throw-in is improper but this is your opportunity to train them correctly. 



THE GRIP: Show them the hand grip they will be using to hold the ball prior to throwing it into the field. With your hands out in front of you, spread your fingers apart. Bring the hands together so that the thumb tips are touching; it looks like moose antlers. While keeping the thumbs touching, rotate your hands inward so that they are about 6-8 inches apart. At this point, have one of the players put a ball between your hands and show them what it looks like. The result is the proper way to hold the ball in preparation for throwing.

FOOT POSITION: Teach your players to stand OUTSIDE of the sideline (touchline) with BOTH feet on the ground during the ENTIRE throw-in. They will want to lift one or both of their feet (jump) and this is a fault in soccer that will result in the other team being awarded possession. Reinforce foot position! 

“LOADING” THE BALL: With the ball properly gripped, raise your arms above your head and rotate your elbows backwards so that the ball is now behind, but not touching your head. The ball is now “LOADED” and your arms are cocked for the throw. 

THE THROWING MOTION: Swing your arms forward from behind your head while straightening the elbows and release your grip on the ball at roughly a 45 degree angle. Make sure they are not leading with one arm more than the other as this result in a twisting motion. 

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! They will get better with practice. One of the

very best games to use for practicing throw-ins is to set up a field of cones or objects that can be knocked over easily (one liter/gallon plastic bottles work great!). These are targets that your players can throw at while you observe and correct technique



Allow some time in each training session for a brief (5-10 minute) even-sided scrimmage between the players on your team. This gives them the opportunity to use the skills you are teaching them and to experience what a real game will feel like. Observe and make mental notes for ideas for the next training session, but 

Texas Coast Youth Soccer League
PO Box 24 / Ingleside TX 78362