304-626-0218 CentralWVSoccer@gmail.com PO Box 1681 Clarksburg, West Virginia 26302

This section is dedicated to all things coaching. We can help you become a coach, help you with practice plans, or individual drills for players. If there is a resource that you need and we do not have it, please let us know and we will work to get it added. 

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The rules 

Rules for youth soccer vary slightly from league to league and age group to age group. Leagues abide by IFAB’s laws of the game, but with flexibility to keep the game fun and flexible for players who are still learning. 

The five most important rules to understand? 

No hands — unless you are the goalie. 

When the ball goes out of bounds on a sideline, it is a throw-in — the ball goes overhead and both feet need to be on the ground. 

When the ball goes out of bounds on an Endline, it is either a corner kick (off the defense) or a goal kick (off the offense). 

The offside rule is so confounding that the youngest players are usually exempt. Thank goodness. 

When in doubt, the ref is always right (even when they are not). 

The skills 

Like any sport, technical skills are key to improving and, well, winning. That is why every great youth soccer coach has one thing in common: they teach the basics. 

Dribbling: Emphasize small touches and ball control. Players should tap the ball using the inside and outside of the foot, not the toes. 

Passing: Focus on passing accurately and quickly, whether on the ground, in the air, or on the go. And do not forget about trapping and receiving the pass, too.  

Shooting: First, get them to kick with their laces. Then expand their repertoire, like shooting with the inside of the foot when closer to the goal. 

Attacking: Emphasize spacing and how to maintain possession through passing. The ball moves faster on a pass versus dribbling. 

Defending: Teach them to apply pressure on defense by quickly coming in on an angle, closing the space, and always moving their feet. 

Goalkeeping: Goalies get to work on scooping, catching, and punching the ball, as well as footwork and punting.  

Practice 101 

Running an effective youth soccer practice is all about being prepared. Kids thrive in a structured, fun setting — and here is how you can provide just that. 

Start with an engaging warmup: Forget static stretching and get right into it. You can set the tone for practice with games like “Red Light, Green Light” or “Hospital Tag.” 

Mind your Ls: No laps, no lines, no lectures. 

Keep it fun: Here are some kid-tested, coach-approved drills to get you started. Remember: If they are smiling and laughing, you are doing it right. 

Let. Them. Play. Kids learn soccer by… you guessed it, playing soccer. That is at the heart of the play-practice-play method, used by USYS and many other leagues. 

And finally, keep it positive. Feedback is best when it is centered around player development — not results. It is easy to applaud a player’s goal. But it is more effective to recognize their efforts. 

  

Game Time!  

 Ball Sizes  

U4-U8 size 3  

U10-U12 size 4  

U14 and up size 5  

U4 Basics – Four 8–10-minute quarters depending on the attention on the players. This age is all about moving the ball around the field. Getting comfortable kicking the ball soft and hard. Also moving at different speeds and changing direction.  

U6 Basics – U8 Basics – Four 6 – 10-minute quarters. Mix between continuous play and stopping for thrown in/Goal kicks/corner kicks. Players should be comfortable with all of these by the end of the season. This age is all about getting comfortable using various parts of your feet to move the ball and keeping control of the ball. No Keepers or “goal tending,” please encourage players to not stand in front of the goal, instead teach players to stop the attack further down the field.  

U8 Basics – Four 10–12-minute quarters or two 20 min halves (coaches decide before game). Mix between continuous play and stopping for thrown in/Goal kicks/corner kicks. Players should be comfortable with all of these by the end of the season. Players should understand defense and offense but no keepers or “goal tending.”  

U10 Basics – Two 25 min halves. The keeper added, no heading, no punting. The opposing team must retreat behind the build out line when keeper has possession.   

U12 Basics – Two 30 min halves. Heading allowed; Punting allowed. 

Game time is go time — for your players. Experienced coaches do not actually coach much from the sidelines on game day. They use it as a chance to see what their players have mastered at practice and where they need to work. Strike that balance between under-coaching and over-coaching. 

It is good to think about pre- and post-game routines as well. Greet the refs and other coaches, show good sportsmanship, dish out all the high fives, and thank everyone for participating. Always leave on a good note — win or lose. 

Parents FTW 

Parents are wonderful cheerleaders… until they are not. And in those moments, coaching can be tough. 

Calm, confident, proactive communication is the key — even when dealing with that parent on the sideline (you know the one). Before the first practice, send a friendly welcome email, or hold a team meeting to let everyone know that while cheering and good sportsmanship is encouraged, critiquing and yelling is not. Recruit your A-team — assistant coaches, team parents and the like. Build a rapport by chatting with parents before or after the game, offering encouraging comments about their child’s progress. 

Lastly, act confident in your role as coach — understand the rules, be prepared, and, you know, know your players’ names. Building relationships is easier once you have earned their respect. 

The FUNdamentals of a great season 

Here is the secret of youth soccer: It is the experience that keeps them coming back, not the Xs and Os. Warm, positive feedback — the more specific, the better — is always welcome. Be sure to celebrate your team at the end of the season and remind them how much they have grown. 

Bottom line: Focus on growth — not your record — because that is what you will remember, too. 

10 drills help improve footwork. 

***drills provided by Mojo*** 

Rondo 5v2 

This activity helps players improve their passing, dribbling, and shielding while also teaching them to support each other in both attacking and defending situations. 

  

Knockout 

Players learn how to protect the ball and poke tackle their opponents’ balls in an epic game of knockout. 

  

Shield-Steal 

Behold, the almighty shield. This activity develops players’ shielding and ball control skills. 

  

4v2 Keep Away 

Shielding, passing and dribbling are developed while players learn how to support each other. 

  

1v1 to Endlines 

Get ready for a showdown. This activity helps players develop individual attacking and defending skills. 

  

2v2 to Endlines 

Focus on the forward attack. Players work on dribbling, passing and ball control to score in this activity. 

  

Team Shield-Steal 

Stronger together! This game helps players develop shielding and ball possession skills. 

  

3v3+1 Keep Away 

Enhance dribbling, passing and teamwork to this classic keep-away activity by adding an all-time offense player. 

  

5 Goal Game 

Two teams compete trying to score in either direction through five small goals. 

  

Gates Passing 

Send it on through! This activity helps players develop passing and receiving skills and improve their teamwork and communication.