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Children aged 6 to 8 are hugely varied in terms of their experiences in football, their perceptions of their football ability and enjoyment, their confidence to compete physically, their learning styles and their athleticism in terms of balance and co-ordination. The main challenge for the coach is to choose activities which are appropriate to the needs of the children and the group, and to identify those children within an activity which are excelling and need their learning extended, and also those who are struggling and require help. When planning sessions, coaches need to include ways of adapting each activity so that all children experience enjoyment, success and the opportunity to express themselves.
Children in this age range should be practising with a ball at home or in the school playground, and it is essential that coaches extend the learning of the session by giving children something technical to try for homework. This frees times up in the session itself for activities that include elements of game-related decision-making. The main themes at this age should be Agility, Balance and Co-ordination and Skill development.
All the activities on the 4 and 5 year old page would be appropriate to use at this age group also, depending on how they were adapted and progressed.
Children should understand directional play at this age. They should know the difference between being a defender and being an attacker. Therefore, 1v1 games can form a major part of their development, and can be progressed to include interesting challenge and variation.
In the 1v1 game below, there are six footballs involved in the game. The red team have two goals to defend and so do the white team. If you score, then you collect a cone and take it back to your side of the pitch. In the progression to the right, there are safe zone added, to help support children who may otherwise struggle to be in possession of the ball for any length of time.
Moving from 1v1s to 2v1s may seem a small change, but it introduces many new concepts: For the 2 it introduces the decision of whether to pass or dribble, and how to support the player with the ball. For the 1, it introduces a new problem - how to defend when outnumbered? When the 1 makes a tackle, it now creates another new problem which is often over-looked by coaches - can you take on 2 players and score?
At least half the session at this age and above should be spent in small-sided game play. This could include anything from 2v2 to 4v4, but most typcially 2v2, 2v3 and 3v3 games.
This activity uses two 3v3 games in the same space. This includes interference as well as opposition. If the group does not include even numbers, then use a 3v2 instead.
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