Characteristics of U10 Players

Gross and small motor skills becoming more refined and reliable. Boys and girls begin to develop separately.

         Ability to stay on task is lengthened. They have the ability to sequence thought and actions.

         Greater diversity in playing ability and physical maturity.

         Skills are emerging. Becoming more predictable and recognizable.

         Able to pace themselves, to plan ahead.

         Increased self-responsibility. They remember to bring their own equipment.

         Starting to recognize basic tactical concepts, but not exactly sure why certain decisions are better.

         Repetition of technique is very important, but it must be dynamic, not static.

         Continued positive reinforcement needed.

         Explanations must be brief, concise, and mention "why".

         Becoming more "serious". Openly, intensively competitive, without intention of fouling.

         Still mostly intrinsically motivated. Peer pressure starting to be a factor.

         Prefer identification with a team. Like to have good uniforms, equipment, balls.

More inclined towards wanting to play instead of being told to play. Will initiate play more.


Things You Can Expect:

Some coaches say that the 9 and 10 year-old players are beginning to "turn the corner" and starting to look like real soccer players. However, games are still frantically paced and unpredictable for the most part. These players are starting to find out how much fun it is to play the game skillfully, but they will still stop and laugh if the referee gets hit in the backside with the ball during a game. Some other things that we can expect when working with this aged player are:


They will really beat up on each other during practice... especially boy's teams.

         They have more leg strength which means more power.

         Passing starts to become a real part of the game.

         Repeating technique (kicking, receiving) is very important but must be done in a dynamic, interactive environment (no drills, no lines).

         During a game, the parents will scream out "HAND BALL" or "COME ON REF, CALL IT BOTH WAYS" at least fifteen times.

         They might cry after the game if they lose, but will forget it if you ask them if you want to go out for burgers and fries.

         You might actually catch them practicing on their own without you telling them to do so.

         Their parents are telling them to do one thing during the game, you are telling them another thing, but what they end up doing might be what their friend is telling them to do.

         You will see a pass that is deliberate. You might even see a "back pass".

         You will see your first $100 pair of cleats during practice. They will call the other team bad names... really bad names.








U10 Coaching Rationale

Some of the players that are playing have had two years of soccer experience and thus have already touched the ball a few thousand times in their lives. This, however, does not mean that these players are ready for the mental demands of tactical team soccer. True, they do have some idea of the game, but the emphasis still needs to be placed on the individual's ability to control the ball with his/her body. They are still there to have fun, and because some of the players may be brand new to the sport, it is imperative that activities are geared towards individual success and participation.

         Small-sided soccer is the best option for these players. Not only will they get more touches on the ball, but also, it is an easier game to understand.


         Because of rapid growth spurts during this age, players will go through times when they seem to have lost control of their body. What they could easily do 2 weeks ago now seems unattainable. Be patient.


         Passing is not an important part of their game, no matter how much anybody yells at them to do otherwise, it is much more fun to dribble and shoot. Let them.


         Stretching is becoming more important, along with a good warm-up. Since the game is faster, make sure that they also have good shinguards. Safety and preventive measures take on added significance.


         Training twice a week is plenty. Sessions need not go longer than one hour, fifteen minutes. Players should bring their own size #4 ball to training.


         Learning how to control it should be the main objective. They need to touch the ball as many times as possible during fun activities that will engage them. Challenge them to get better by practicing on their own. There is no rule which states that they can't learn by themselves, no matter how important we think we are.


         Incidental things are important. They are forming the habits that will impact their future participation. Ask them to take care of their equipment (water bottle included), cooperate, listen, behave, and try hard. Realize, however, that they often forget and will need to be reminded often.


         Ask them to work with others to solve a particular challenge. Start them with just one partner and work from there. Put them into competitive environments as much as possible. This will not only keep them focused, but, it will allow the game itself to teach them. It also will keep things fun for them, and allow you to deal with issues such as 'winning' and 'loosing' which is now a very big concern for them.


         Now it is possible to teach them positional play with the expectation that they will get it some of the time. However, it is absolutely necessary that you do not allow players to specialize in any one position. They need to learn basic principles of the game, first. Having them play all of the positions is best for their individual development. Remember, our first responsibility is to develop players and let them have fun.


         Whenever possible, allow them to solve their own puzzles. Don't immediately give them solutions on how they can play better.