Coaching and Teaching the Early Years

Coaching and Teaching the Early Years

  April 27, 2020


Coaching children of the ages 4 – 6 years has become an increasing focus for both the FA and grass roots clubs. Many clubs are now in pursuit of a new approach & model to improve opportunities for children.

I have personally supported many clubs over the years as a consultant to help implement new infrastructure and development policy. As clubs have become more professionalised in line with FA expectations and growth of mini soccer within the UK, the framework and methodology of introducing children within foundation as evolved. It is common knowledge that a coach can have the most significant impact with a child’s development at the younger years, referred to as ‘the golden years’ by the FA.

We believe it is crucially important to implement a professionalised model at the early years entry level as these are the key ages and future life blood of clubs. The method of coaching, experience of working with young children, getting the environment appropriately designed, and the balance of activities are key.

I have set out some general recommendations about ‘how to approach’ professional training models for children aged 4 – years.

The 2nd part of my blog will consider some tips for coaches and parents when working with younger children.

Simplified method & objectives

  • Enthusiasm & Fun is key when working with early years. Coaches need be welcoming and to have lots of energy and provide engaging fun activities & games.
  • Don’t make activities too difficult. Simplicity is key.
  • Don’t be afraid of repetition with fun games & activities - especially if the children enjoy those games.
  • Allow newcomers to buddy up with a friend. Every child should be encouraged, but not pressured to join in. Join in with a parent or sibling should be allowed.
  • Offer free taster sessions where possible to allow parents and child to feel comfortable with environment coaching programme.
  • Sessions should focus on ball mastery, movement literacy and activities that help coordination
  • Encourage children to enjoy the football at their feet, be creative and master the ball.
  • Games for U6 children should be 2v2 or 3v3 with no goalkeepers. Keep games short and allow children to change teams.
  • Encourage children to make decisions and express technical ability
  • Encourage risk taking & problem solving. Be relaxed with some rules.
  • Improve children physically and develop ABC’s.
  • Develop children technically and socially
  • Improve technical competency, confidence and skill


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