AGE GROUP TRAINING PLANS

Having a set training plan for each age group ensures all topics are covered at developmentally appropriate times. Click on the links below for recommended training plans for players from ages 4 through 13 and older.

4 Years Old and Above

7 Years Old and Above

9 Years Old and Above

11 Years Old and Above

13 Years Old and Above

AGE GROUP TRAINING PLAN
AGE GROUP 4 Years Old and Above
BUILDING BLOCK PHASE Motor Skill Development
OVERVIEW What: Fun based soccer activities.
Why: Aid the development of basic motor skills and inspire players to love and grow in the game.
How: Short, fast-paced games that relate to a player’s understanding of the game.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS PHYSICAL FOCUS
Muscular-Skeletal System: Lack balance and coordination due to underdeveloped core muscles and strength. Motor movements: Soccer-related running, jumping, twisting, bending, and turning activities.
Cardiovascular System: Easily fatigued; quick recovery; play at two speeds, on and off. Manipulative movements: Movement of ball using varied parts of the foot.
Gender Differences: No differences.  
Physical Milestones: Steady increase in height and weight.  
COGNITIVE CHARACTERISTICS COGNITIVE FOCUS
Pre-operational stage (Piaget) One ball per player.
Play consists of a high degree of imagination and pretend activities. Single-task-oriented activities.
Beginning the use of symbols to represent objects in their environment. By using their imagination, it can become real, game-based learning.
Limited understanding of time and space. Introduce the concept of boundary lines, rules of the game.
TECHNICAL TRAINING TOPICS TACTICAL TRAINING TOPICS
Agility
Tactics are not an area that should be focused on with this age group as their cognitive development does not allow for them to understand tactical theories and strategies.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Balance
Coordination
Physical Awareness
Movement Patterns and Sequences
Spatial Awareness
Social Skills
Listening Skills
TRAINING AND MATCH DAY APPLICATION
Training Sessions per Week 1 Ball Size 3
Training Length (mins) 45-60 Travel Soccer No
Playing Seasons 1-2 Tournament Attendance No
ANNUAL TRAINING PLAN RECOMMENDATION
July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Off/Camp Week
8 Week Season
Off - No Training
8 Week Season

 

AGE GROUP TRAINING PLAN
AGE GROUP 7 Years Old and Above
BUILDING BLOCK PHASE Technique and Skill development
OVERVIEW
What: Technique-focused soccer activities
Why: Introduction of soccer-specific techniques builds upon established foundation to continue development
How: Activities that maximize soccer ball contact and repetition with decision-making
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS PHYSICAL FOCUS
Muscular-skeletal system: Small increase in strength, improved balance and coordination, gradual increase in agility. Agility: Combination of balance and coordination to execute a soccer skill at speed and accurately.
Cardiovascular system: Aerobic and anaerobic energy systems are very inefficient, temperature regulation is also poor.  
Gender differences: Minimal differences, boys tend to see a longer leg growth in relation to body compared to girls  
Physical Milestones: Continued steady growth (2.5 inch/8 lbs. a year), body lengthens and fills out.  
COGNITIVE CHARACTERISTICS COGNITIVE FOCUS
Concrete operational stage (Piaget) Keep activities to no more than two players per ball, if possible.
Limited ability to address more than one task at a time leaves little or no capacity for "tactical" decision making. Activities promote players working together to solve problems.
The concept of time and spatial relationship is just beginning to develop and will be limited by the incapacity to attend to multiple tasks. Introduce the basic laws of the game and the field.
Limited experience with personal evaluation; effort is synonymous with performance. "I work hard; therefore, I must be good."  
TECHNICAL TRAINING TOPICS TACTICAL TRAINING TOPICS
Dribbling - Individual Possession Attacking - Role of the 1st attacker
Dribbling - Hiding and Shielding the ball Defending - Role of the 1st defender
Dribbling - Scissors Restarts - Corners
Dribbling - Double scissors Restarts - Throw-ins
Dribbling - Shoulder drop Restarts - Goal kicks
Dribbling - Step over Restarts - Kick off
Running with the ball Restarts - Free kicks
Receiving - On the ground  
Receiving - Inside of foot  
Receiving - Outside of foot  
Turning - Inside cut  
Turning - Outside cut  
Turning - Stop turn  
Turning - Drag back  
Passing - Push pass inside  
Passing - Push pass outside  
Shooting - Driven shot  
Shooting - Inside of foot  
Defending - Poke tackle  
Defending - Block tackle  
TRAINING AND MATCH DAY APPLICATION
Training Sessions per Week 1-2 Ball Size 3
Training Length (mins) 60-90 Travel Soccer Locally
Playing Seasons 2 Tournament Attendance Festivals
ANNUAL TRAINING PLAN RECOMMENDATION
July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Off/Camp Week
8-10 Week Season
Off
Technical Training
8-10 Week Season

 

AGE GROUP TRAINING PLAN
AGE GROUP 9 Years Old and Above
BUILDING BLOCK PHASE Individual Tactics
OVERVIEW
What: Activities that focus on 1v1 attacking and defending situations
Why: Introduction of individual skills and tactics forms the foundation to develop group and team tactics
How: Introduction of activities against an opponent develop decision-making skills
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS PHYSICAL FOCUS
Muscular-skeletal system: Improved strength, power, and ABCs (agility, balance, coordination), players able to perform more complex skills. Motor-skills continue to be developed in game context.
Cardiovascular system: Continual improvement in general fitness. Aerobic & anaerobic systems are still under-developed.  Stretching: Introduction of dynamic movements.
Gender differences: Girls can enter puberty as early as 9 years old, while boys are typically much later, impacting height and weight gain.   
Physical Milestones: Moving into the early stages of adolescence, start to see increase in height and weight.  
COGNITIVE CHARACTERISTICS COGNITIVE FOCUS
Some children begin moving from concrete operational to formal operational stage. (Piaget) Starting to recognize fundamental tactical concepts such as changing the direction of the ball.
Lengthened attention span, ability to sequence thoughts and actions. Repetitive techniques continue to be important and should be applied in game-like context. 
Pace factor becoming developed, starting to think ahead. Develop a team culture including responsibility for belongings. 
Intrinsically motivated to play.  
TECHNICAL TRAINING TOPICS TACTICAL TRAINING TOPICS
Dribbling - Inside-Outside Combinations - Overlap runs
Dribbling - Roll Combinations - Takeover
Dribbling - Swivel hips Attacking - Role of 2nd attacker
Receiving - Aeriel (foot, thigh, chest, head) Attacking - Crossing
Turning - Cruyff Attacking - Finishing       
Turning - Step over Defending - Role of 2nd defender
Turning - Drag push  
Passing - Low driven pass  
Passing - Lofted pass  
Passing - Chip pass  
Shooting - Chip shot  
Crossing -  Lofted  
TRAINING AND MATCH DAY APPLICATION
Training Sessions per Week 2 Ball Size 4
Training Length (mins) 60-90 Travel Soccer Yes
Playing Seasons 2-3 Tournament Attendance 1 per season
ANNUAL TRAINING PLAN RECOMMENDATION
July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Off/Camp Week
8-10 Week Season
Off
Technical Training
8-10 Week Season

 

AGE GROUP TRAINING PLAN
AGE GROUP 11 Years Old and Above
BUILDING BLOCK PHASE Group Tactics
OVERVIEW
What: Focuses on groups of players working together in attacking and defending situations.
Why: Introduced so that players are comfortable in dealing with "outnumbered" game situations.
How: A range of numbers up (i.e. 2v1), numbers down (i.e. 2v3), and balanced numbers activities are used to teach group concepts.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS PHYSICAL FOCUS
Muscular-skeletal system: Coordination affected by growth resulting in a temporary setback in complex motor skills. Rapid bone growth can lead to painful joints which are more common in boys Flexibility for injury prevention.
Cardiovascular system: Players who enter PHV early may be able to sustain higher levels of physical activity due to improved energy systems. Technical speed training through structured soccer activities.
Gender differences: Females enter PHV at a mean of 11.5 years while Boys enter PHV at approximately 13.5 years. With this in mind, females can be up to 2 years ahead in their physical development.  Where possible, training should be separated by gender.
   
COGNITIVE CHARACTERISTICS COGNITIVE FOCUS
Formal operational stage of cognitive development (Piaget). Tactical issues may be presented.
Beginning to think in abstract terms and can address hypothetical situations. Groups of 4-5 are optimal for learning.
Changes in thought processes are the result of an increased ability to acquire and apply knowledge. Roles and responsibilities of the players may be introduced.
A systematic approach to problem solving appears at this stage; the game of soccer requires the ability to think creatively and solve problems while moving.  
TECHNICAL TRAINING TOPICS TACTICAL TRAINING TOPICS
Passing - Swerve pass inside Combinations - Blindside run
Passing - Swerve pass outside  Combinations - Crossovers
Passing - Cushion volley Combinations - Double wall pass
Shooting - Swerve inside Combinations - Fake wall pass
Shooting - Swerve outside Attacking - Switching play
Shooting - Side volley Attacking - Role of 3rd attacker
Shooting - Half volley Defending - Role of 3rd defender
Defending - Slide tackle  
Crossing - Low driven  
Crossing - High driven  
TRAINING AND MATCH DAY APPLICATION
Training Sessions per Week 2-3 Ball Size 4
Training Length (mins) 90 Travel Soccer Yes
Playing Seasons 2-3 Tournament Attendance 1 per season
ANNUAL TRAINING PLAN RECOMMENDATION
July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Off/Camp Week
10-12 Week Season
Off
Technical Training
10-12 Week Season

 

AGE GROUP TRAINING PLAN
AGE GROUP 13 Years Old and Above
BUILDING BLOCK PHASE Team Tactics
OVERVIEW What: Situations where multiple groups of players are working together to develop full team concepts.
Why: Players transition to the 11v11 game, functioning within an adult framework and standards.
How: Team tactics are typically taught using 7v7 to 11v11 scenarios that connect the three lines of team shape (defense, midfield, and attack)
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS PHYSICAL FOCUS
Muscular-skeletal system: Muscular and skeletal system at least 75% developed in players who are post PHV Introduction to pure speed training within structured soccer activities.
Cardiovascular system: Aerobic and anaerobic systems can be effectively trained for players who have progressed through PHV, as they will experience increased lung and heart capacity. Caution should be used for late-developers. Aerobic and anaerobic-specific training for players post PHV.
Gender differences: Females develop widening of the hips while males develop widening of the shoulders and thickening of the quads. Fitness periodization for players post PHV.
Physical Milestones: Females have typically passed through PHV and are in a slower growth period while males are likely to still be in PHV until approximately 14-15 years old.  
COGNITIVE CHARACTERISTICS COGNITIVE FOCUS
Fully into the formal operational phase. (Piaget) Problem solving; encourage them to have creative solutions.
Have a sense of belonging, status, and recognition. Personal accountability should be encouraged.
Ability to stay focused over a longer period of time. Team-building exercises may be incorporated.
More responsive to group activities and their role in being an individual.  
TECHNICAL TRAINING TOPICS TACTICAL TRAINING TOPICS
At this age, players should and will be well along on their technical training and capabilities. At this stage in their development, techniques should be reinforced and refined throughout training, however nothing specific should be focused on, unless required. Speed of play
Attacking - Final 3rd
Attacking - Playing out of the back
Attacking - Midfield combining with forwards
Attacking - From wide areas
Attacking - Counter attacks
Attacking - Offside tactics
Defending - Attacking 3rd
Defending - Midfield
Defending - Final 3rd
Defending - Wide areas
Defending - Counter attacks
Defending - Man-to-man marking
Defending - Zonal
Defending - High and low pressure
Defending - Offside tactics
Formations - 4-4-2
Formations - 4-3-3
Formations - 3-5-2
Formations - 4-5-1
Formations - 3-4-3
TRAINING AND MATCH DAY APPLICATION
Training Sessions per Week 2-3 Ball Size 5
Training Length (Mins) 90 Travel Soccer Yes
Playing Seasons 2-3 Tournament Attendance 1 per season
ANNUAL TRAINING PLAN RECOMMENDATION
July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Off 12-14 Week Season
Off
Tournaments
12-14 Week Season

 

Back to Top


ANNUAL TRAINING PLANS

ANNUAL PERIODIZATION OF TRAINING

Youth soccer organizations should have an annual soccer calendar that addresses seasonal training periods, weekly training sessions, rest periods, tournaments, and camps. All teams and coaches within the program should be required to work from this plan. It is often found that too much too soon can have a detrimental effect on a player’s long-term enjoyment of the game, often leading to overuse injuries and dropout. It is important to remember that soccer is a late-specializing sport; players must initially develop a passion for the game so that as training intensity increases they continue to have a focused desire to train. Maximizing potential takes time! 

TRAINING PLAN CYCLES

A well-structured training cycle should consist of an annual and seasonal training plan along with individual session plans that outline specific session objectives. All three areas should be consistently reviewed. The diagram below highlights the relationship between each element:

ANNUAL PLANS

The guidelines listed below provide suggested annual training seasons that are specific to the soccer calendar in the NY/NJ area.

  July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
U6
Off/Camp Week
8 Week Season
Off
8 Week Season
U8
Off/Camp Week
8 - 10 Week Season
Off
Technical Training
8 - 10 Week Season
U10
Off/Camp Week
8 - 10 Week Season
Off
Technical Training
8 - 10 Week Season
U12
Off/Camp Week
10 to 12 Week Season
Off
Technical Training
10 to 12 Week Season
U14-16
Off
12 - 14 Week Season
Off
Tournaments
12 - 14 Week Season

 

SEASONAL PLANNING

The content and methodology of a seasonal training plan should be driven by a player’s soccer age. Clubs should encourage all coaches to follow the age-appropriate plan that is detailed in the Red Bulls Building Blocks of Player Development. Partner clubs can also take advantage of the Red Bulls online database of age-appropriate seasonal development plans.

INDIVIDUAL SESSION PLANNING

Seasonal development plans need to be supported by individual session plans. Clubs should require all coaches to create a plan for every training session, ensuring each individual session supports the seasonal goals. Well-designed plans challenge a player technically and tactically and help coaches run a more effective training session. Coaches should combine their session plan with their own experience of the team; even players of the same biological age can have a “soccer age” variance of two to three years. Soccer age takes into consideration a combination of their physical, social, and psychological makeup. Even basically designed training plans give more value to the time that a coach spends with their players. Well-structured planning allows for minimal down-time and a well-organized session that flows from phase to phase. Coaches can learn more about how to structure a training session by reading the Red Bulls Approach to Development and working from the Red Bulls Session Plan Template.

Back to Top


PLAYER DEVELOPMENT AND WINNING

The following information details the New York Red Bulls Youth Programs’ philosophy on the topic of player development and winning. 

Player development and winning are often seen as two mutually exclusive concepts, with common perception being that one should be favored over the other. It is the Red Bulls’ position that if the former is approached correctly, then the latter will evolve naturally.

Negative issues arise when the importance of winning is emphasized over that of player development. Focus is taken away from the evolution of the player and placed solely on the pursuit of positive short-term results.

Clubs can foster an appropriate balance in this equation by employing a player-centered philosophy, as opposed to one which is solely results-orientated.

The following table highlights the difference between these two approaches and how they can impact key areas of consideration:

KEY CONSIDERATIONS
RESULTS - ORIENTED
PLAYER - CENTERED
TRAINING SESSIONS
  • Weekly training sessions focus solely on the tactical process of winning the next match, as opposed to developing a long term technical foundation
  • Weekly training sessions show no natural progression, and the overall seasonal training plan can become disjointed and confusing
  • Coach creates a season-long training plan where training sessions build upon each other
  • Coach does not feel pressured to try and fix each and every issue as they emerge. Progression of training sessions is logical, systematic, and easily replicated on a club-wide scale
PLAYER ROTATION
 
  • Coach puts each player exclusively in their strongest position, thus creating one-dimensional players
  • Players lose the opportunity to experiment and learn the techniques and functions associated with each position
  • Coach periodically rotates positions without worrying about game results
  • In the long term, players develop a deep understanding of each position so that they can adapt to various systems and formations in the future
RISK VS REWARD
  • Coach discourages players from taking risks on the ball, to avoid relinquishing possession
  • Creativity is stifled, and the opportunity to learn through trial and error is lost
  • Coach encourages players to be creative, try new techniques, and take risks without fear of failure or of losing possession
  • Ultimately, the transfer of learning from the training field to the game is enhanced
 PLAYING TIME
  • Stronger players are given the most playing time, with the less-developed players given comparatively little
  • The opportunities to learn vary as a function of playing time, meaning the disparity between the two extremes becomes greater over time
  • Playing time is relatively balanced, allowing all players the same opportunities to learn
  • With all other variables being equal, such as application and dedication, players are given the fairest chance to develop at the same rate
 FLIGHT SELECTION
  • Teams are flighted artificially high, for the enhanced status of playing at an advanced level, or artificially low, for the self-esteem benefits of winning on a weekly basis
  • Neither option appropriately challenges players, who need to be tested at, or just above, their competencies
  • Teams are appropriately flighted to ensure they are challenged sufficiently without being out of their depth
  • Players experience sufficient success to ensure retention, while still encountering the consistent challenges necessary to improve
 REFEREE INTERACTINONS
  • Coach contests the officials’ calls, and looks to influence their decisions to positively impact the scoreline
  • A poor example is set for players, who consequently do not learn the social values of honesty, integrity, and respect
  • Coach shows respect for both the officials and the integrity of the game
  • Players are given a positive role model and ultimately learn key core values that will benefit them in the wider world outside the realm of sport
 COMPETITION
  • Coach focuses solely on normalized competition within training sessions, focusing exclusively on the outright winners in activities
  • A select few individuals experience success on a frequent basis, thus establishing hierarchies and creating further disparity in self-efficacy and self-esteem
  • Players are encouraged to measure success by self-referenced measures; they should set and surpass their own individual targets
  • A healthy sense of competition ensures all players experience both challenges and successes and have the same opportunity to maximize potential
 PARENTS
  • Parents look only at short term game results, rather than appreciating the gradual process of implementing a long term plan
  • Parents are solely focused on the result of the game in question, sacrificing the processes that have been put in place to achieve sustained success
  • Parents allow the coaches to coach and the players to play, conveying one consistent message in a supportive, encouraging environment 
  • The main focus is on adhering to an established long-term plan, regardless of short-term outcomes

 

Back to Top


POSITION-SPECIFIC ATTRIBUTES

INDIVIDUAL PLAYER ATTRIBUTES

The following information outlines the attributes required to perform certain roles and responsibilities within a team environment, and how the youth coach can effectively utilize this dynamic to create well-rounded, complete players.  

KEY CONSIDERATIONS:

Each playing position on the field places a different demand on players, which, in turn, requires them to develop a different skill set in order to excel.

The precise combination of desired attributes varies greatly as a function of the formation, playing style, and philosophy a team employs.

For example, a team playing a 1-4-4-2 may require their central striker to have markedly different attributes to that of a team employing a 1-4-5-1.

However, there are a certain number of constants that remain true, irrespective of team shape and tactics.

For example, a defensively-minded player typically needs to be a more efficient tackler, while an attack-minded player may need to be more competent at dribbling.

PLAYER ATTRIBUTES:

The following technical, physical, and mental attributes have been selected to illustrate the varying demands of each playing position:

TECHNICAL PHYSICAL MENTAL
Short Passing Speed Concentration
Long Passing / Crossing Acceleration Discipline
First Touch Strength Aggression
Dribbling Balance Confidence
Shooting Jumping Composure
Heading (U13 & Above) Agility Anticipation
Tackling Endurance Creativity

CREATING BALANCED PLAYERS:

To develop well-rounded players, every attribute is important for every player on the field.

Some attributes are more valuable than others in certain positions, so the youth coach must rotate playing positions.

Rotation helps players see how the game looks from different areas of the field while simultaneously developing the attributes required to effectively cope with the full spectrum of positional demands.

A VISUAL GUIDE:

Click on the positions specified below to view graphics which break down the fundamental player attributes into their technical, physical, and mental components. Each peak and valley illustrates how important a specific attribute is to each playing position.

The following positions are outlined:

Center Back (CB)

CENTER BACK (CB) - TECHNICAL
Skill Passing (Short) Passing (Long) First Touch Dribbling Tackling Heading Shooting
Rating 8 6 6 4 10 10 2

CENTER BACK (CB) - PHYSICAL
Skill Speed Jumping Acceleration Strength Agility Balance Endurance
Rating 6 10 8 10 6 4 2

Full Back (FB)

FULL BACK (FB) - TECHNICAL
Skill Passing (Short) Passing (Long) First Touch Dribbling Tackling Heading Shooting
Rating 8 6 6 10 10 4 2

 

FULL BACK (FB) - PHYSICAL
Skill Speed Jumping Acceleration Strength Agility Balance Endurance
Rating 10 2 8 4 6 6 10

FULL BACK (FB) - MENTAL
Skill Concentration Discipline Aggression Confidence Composure Anticipation Creativity
Rating 10 10 4 6 8 6 2

Defensive Midfielder (DM)

 

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER (DM) - TECHNICAL
Skill Passing (Short) Passing (Long) First Touch Dribbling Tackling Heading Shooting
Rating 8 10 6 4 10 6 2

 

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER (DM) - PHYSICAL
Skill Speed Jumping Acceleration Strength Agility Balance Endurance
Rating 2 6 10 8 6 4 10

 

DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER (DM) - MENTAL
Skill Concentration Discipline Aggression Confidence Composure Anticipation Creativity
Rating 6 10 8 4 6 10 2

Attacking Midfielder (AM)

ATTACKING MIDFIELDER (AM) - TECHNICAL
Skill Passing (Short) Passing (Long) First Touch Dribbling Tackling Heading Shooting
Rating 10 6 10 8 2 4 6

ATTACKING MIDFIELDER (AM) - PHYSICAL
Skill Speed Jumping Acceleration Strength Agility Balance Endurance
Rating 6 2 10 4 8 10 6

 

ATTACKING MIDFIELDER (AM) - MENTAL
Skill Concentration Discipline Aggression Confidence Composure Anticipation Creativity
Rating 6 4 2 8 10 6 10

Winger (W)

WINGER (W) - TECHNICAL
Skill Passing (Short) Passing (Long) First Touch Dribbling Tackling Heading Shooting
Rating 6 10 6 10 2 4 8

WINGER (W) - PHYSICAL
Skill Speed Jumping Acceleration Strength Agility Balance Endurance
Rating 10 2 8 4 10 6 6

WINGER (W) - MENTAL
Skill Concentration Discipline Aggression Confidence Composure Anticipation Creativity
Rating 4 2 6 10 8 6 10

Forward (FW)

 

FORWARD (FW) - TECHNICAL
Skill Passing (Short) Passing (Long) First Touch Dribbling Tackling Heading Shooting
Rating 6 6 10 8 2 4 10

FORWARD (FW)  - PHYSICAL
Skill Speed Jumping Acceleration Strength Agility Balance Endurance
Rating 6 6 10 4 8 10 2

FORWARD (FW)  - MENTAL
Skill Concentration Discipline Aggression Confidence Composure Anticipation Creativity
Rating 4 2 6 10 10 6 8

IMPORTANT: These visuals are provided as guidelines only, and should not be used as justification to pigeonhole players into certain positions at an early age based on the attributes they already demonstrate. Rather, they should be used as incentive to rotate roles, enhance skill sets, and ultimately develop complete players.

 

Back to Top


TRAINING TOPICS - BUILDING BLOCKS MATRIX

Below you will find our Training Topics by age in our Building Block Matrix. A Shaded gray box indicates at what age each of a topic is appropriate to be taught. While this is a guideline, as always, a player's development is fluid and a younger player may be able to learn topics above his or her age group, and conversely, some older players may need to review topics that were previously taught.

 

BUILDING BLOCK PHASE TOPIC 4+ 7+ 9+ 11+ 13+
Motor Skills Development Agility

 

       
Balance           
Coordination           
Physical Awareness          
Movement patterns and sequences          
Spatial awareness          
Social skills          
Listening skills          
BUILDING BLOCK PHASE TOPIC 4+ 7+ 9+ 11+ 13+
Technique and Skill Development Dribbling - Possession           
Dribbling - Shielding           
Dribbling - Scissors          
Dribbling  - Step Over          
Dribbling - Shoulder Drop          
Dribbling - Double Scissors           
Dribbling - Inside – Outside          
Dribbling - Roll          
Dribbling - Swivel Hips          
Running with the ball           
Receiving - On the ground           
Receiving - Inside of foot          
Receiving - Outside of foot          
Receiving - Aerial (foot, thigh, chest, head)           
Turning - Inside Cut          
Turning - Outside Cut          
Turning - Stop Turn          
Turning - Drag Back          
Turning - Cruyff          
Turning - Step Over          
Turning - Drag Push          
Passing - Push Pass  Inside          
Passing - Push Pass  Outside           
Passing - Low Driven Pass           
Passing - Lofted Pass          
Passing - Chip Pass          
Passing - Swerve Pass Inside          
Passing - Swerve Pass Outside          
Passing - Cushion Volley          
Shooting - Driven Shot          
Shooting - Inside of foot           
Shooting - Chip Shot          
Shooting - Swerve Inside           
Shooting - Swerve Outside           
Shooting - Side Volley          
Shooting - Half Volley          
Defending - Poke Tackle           
Defending - Block Tackle           
Defending - Slide Tackle           
Crossing - Low Driven          
Crossing - High Driven          
Crossing -  Lofted          
Heading - Attacking           
Heading Defending           
BUILDING BLOCK PHASE TOPIC 4+ 7+ 9+ 11+ 13+
Individual Tactics Attacking -  Role of the 1st attacker          
Defending -  Role of the 1st defender          
BUILDING BLOCK PHASE TOPIC  4+ 7+ 9+ 11+ 13+
Group Tactics Combination - Overlap Runs          
Combinations- Takeover          
Combinations - Blind Side Run          
Combinations - Crossovers          
Combinations - Double wall pass          
Combinations - Fake Wall Pass          
Attacking - Switching play          
Attacking - Role of 2nd attacker           
Attacking - Role of 3rd attacker           
Attacking - Crossing           
Attacking - Finishing           
Defending - Role of 2nd defender          
Defending - Role of 3rd defender           
Restarts - Corners          
Restarts - Throw-ins          
Restarts - Goal kicks          
Restarts - Kick off          
Restarts - Free Kicks          
BUILDING BLOCK PHASE TOPIC  4+ 7+ 9+ 11+ 13+
Team Tactics Speed of play          
Attacking - Final 3rd          
Attacking - Playing out of the back           
Attacking - Midfield combining with Forwards          
Attacking - Wider areas          
Attacking - Counter Attacks           
Attacking - Off-side tactics           
Defending - Attacking 3rd           
Defending - Midfield           
Defending - Final 3rd          
Defending - Wide areas           
Defending - Counter attacks           
Defending - Man to man marking           
Defending - Zonal           
Defending - High and low pressure          
Defending - Offside tactics           
Formations: 4-4-2          
Formations: 4-3-3          
Formations: 3-5-2          
Formations: 4-5-1          
Formations: 3-4-3          

 

Back to Top


PLAYING FORMATIONS

The following information details the New York Red Bulls Youth Programs philosophy to selecting formations for youth players on game day.

Game day coaching should be educational for a youth player. It is an extension of the training session where transfer of learning should occur. The use of formations should help enhance the learning process of the topics covered throughout the week in training.

IMPORTANT FORMATION CONSIDERATIONS

When choosing a formation, clubs must encourage players, coaches, and parents to honor the game and understand a selection of formation is for player development. This is a player-centered philosophy.

While the formation selection puts players in a role, they must then make their own technical and tactical decisions.

Formation selection on match day should help bring out the learning outcomes the coach focused on in the sessions that week.

Clubs must encourage players, coaches, and parents to rotate their players in all positions. Player rotation will allow the player to learn from all perspectives and gain a deeper understanding of the game.

Once the player crosses the white line, it is their game. The position or positions they play should begin developing the player to move to the next level of the game, including moving up to age appropriate numbers: 4v4, 7v7, 9v9, to 11v11.

FORMATION SELECTION

The following information provides formations which will help a youth player develop their game. Each formation provides a different strategy for the coach to help maximize the development of the players. Click on the links below for age specific formations information:

4 v 4 - 8 Years Old and Younger

MAIN AREA OF BUILDING BLOCKS FOCUS: TECHNIQUE/SKILL DEVELOPMENT

FORMATION 2-2
WHY USE IT? The box shape allows for two straight passes, which can help younger players who may struggle to pass from angles. The shape, with only two lines of attack, is also much simpler for younger players to understand. The use of two forward players allows more players to start higher up on the field.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE?
Passing
Receiving
Shielding
Shooting
2-2_Formation 2-2_in_a_1-2-2-2
2 - 2 Formation   2 - 2 Formation integrated into a 1-2-2-2 Formation
TRANSITIONS INTO 7 v 7 – 1-2-2-2

 

FORMATION 1-2-1
WHY USE IT? Having players naturally in a diamond gives simplified angles of support but also creates three lines of attack. Only one forward player creates space wider and allows for more 1 v 1 situations in these areas.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE? Passing
Receiving
Dribbling
Crossing
1-2-1_Formation 1-2-1_in_a_1-3-2-1
1-2-1 Formation   1-2-1 Formation integrated into a 1-3-2-1 Formation
TRANSITIONS INTO 7 v 7 – 1-3-2-1

 

FORMATION 2-1-1
WHY USE IT? Playing two players deep with a midfielder and forward creates three lines of attack but changes the size of space in the wide areas (creating more).
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE? Passing
Receiving
Running with the ball
Turning
2-1-1_Formation 2-1-1_in_a_1-2-3-1
2-1-1 Formation   2-1-1 Formation integrated into a 1-2-3-1 Formation
TRANSITIONS INTO 7 v 7 – 1-2-3-1

7 v 7 - 10 Years Old and Younger

MAIN AREAS OF BUILDING BLOCKS FOCUS: TECHNIQUE/SKILLS DEVELOPMENT, INDIVIDUAL / GROUP TACTICS

FORMATION 1-2-2-2
WHY USE IT? Simplified shape for more beginner players. With two players in each line players now have to start to work in pairs, two players in the forward line gives us players starting high on the field. The lack of naturally dedicated width could also improve player mobility as they now have to start to figure out who needs to create this and when to do so.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE? Passing and Receiving
Shooting
Defending
Combination Play
1-2-2-2_Formation 1-2-2-2_in_1-2-3-3_Formation
Formation 1-2-2-2   Formation 1-2-2-2 integrated into Formation 1-2-3-3
TRANSITIONS INTO 9 v 9 – 1-2-3-3
FORMATION 1-3-2-1
WHY USE IT? Three defenders provides a solid backline. Two Central Midfield players without higher wide players mean that the Central Midfielder’s have to work on going beyond the ball as well as under it. Lots of space in wide areas due to the wide player’s deeper starting position.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE? Passing and Receiving
Running with the ball
Defending
Combination Play
1-3-2-1_Formation 1-3-2-1_in_1-3-2-3_Formation
Formation 1-3-2-1 Formation 1-3-2-1 integrated into Formation 1-3-2-3
TRANSITIONS INTO

9 v 9 – 1-3-2-3

 

FORMATION 1-2-3-1
WHY USE IT? Well-structured shape to help teach the principles of the game with the naturally created triangles.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE? Passing
Receiving
Dribbling
Attacking/Defending 1 v 1
Possession
1-2-3-1_Formation 1-2-3-1_in_1-2-4-2_Formation
Formation 1-2-3-1 Formation 1-2-3-1 integrated into Formation 1-2-4-2
TRANSITIONS INTO 9 v 9 – 1-2-4-2

9 v 9 - 12 Years Old and Younger

MAIN AREAS OF BUILDING BLOCKS: INDIVIDUAL / GROUP TACTICS

FORMATION 1-2-3-3
WHY USE IT? Three forwards and three midfield players higher on the field can help when working on pressing the ball high on the field but also on attacking topics as well.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE?

Crossing and Finishing
Attacking 1 v 1
Combination Play
Group Defending

1-2-3-3_Formation
Formation 1-2-3-3
TRANSITIONS INTO 11 v 11 – 1-4-3-3

 

FORMATION 1-3-2-3
WHY USE IT? Players working in pairs in the wide areas allows for multiple topics to be conducted in relation to this area of the field. This formation also allows for lots of natural triangles.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE? Possession
Attacking 2 vs 1
Combination play
1-3-2-3_Formation
Formation 1-3-2-3
TRANSITIONS INTO 11 v 11 – 1-4-2-3-1

 

FORMATION 1-2-4-2
WHY USE IT? Lots of natural triangles which create a structure that helps to bring out the principles of the game, two forwards as well.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE? Passing and Receiving
Shooting
Possession
Combination play
1-2-4-2_Formation
Formation 1-2-4-2
TRANSITIONS INTO 11 v 11 – 1-4-4-2

11 v 11 - 13 Years old and Older

MAIN AREAS OF BUILDING BLOCK FOCUS: GROUP TEAM / TEAM TACTICS

FORMATION 1-4-3-3
WHY USE IT? Isolation of wide players, numbers in the center of the field and lots of players starting higher on the field. Four defenders provide solidity at the back.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE? Defending/Attacking wide areas
Defending – Attacking 3rd
Attacking – final 3rd
1-4-3-3_Formation
Formation 1-4-3-3

 

FORMATION 1-4-2-3-1
WHY USE IT? Multiple lines of attack and lots of numbers in the midfield. Solid back line with four players with the use of two controlling midfield players.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE? Building out from the back
Midfield Combining with forwards
Playing through the lines
1-4-2-3-1_Formation

Formation 1-4-2-3-1

 

FORMATION 1-4-4-2 (Diamond)
WHY USE IT? Lots of players centrally with four players, this also allows you to specialize with the four central players. Four defenders at the back allows for a solid backline. Two forward players.
WHICH TOPICS DOES IT HELP TO ENHANCE? Building out from the back
Midfield Combining with forwards
Playing through the lines
1-4-4-2_Formation
Formation 1-4-4-2

 

Back to Top


TRAINING AND MATCH RECOMMENDATIONS

Youth soccer organizations should pay close attention to creating a training and game day environment which is suitable to players’ age, ability, and commitment level. A well-structured long-term development plan will create a scenario where players will have better success in mastering the environment that has been created for them.

Over-training, playing too many games per season, and competing year-round can have a detrimental effect on a players’ long-term development.

The table below provides clubs with recommendations in three training and game areas that will help create an optimal training environment. Some clubs may have external factors, such as field space, that may affect the full implementation of each element.

1.    Training recommendations

2.    Competition recommendations

3.    Game Day recommendations

VARIABLES

The following factors impact each of the areas:

•    Is the team recreation or travel?

•    What is the commitment level of the team?

•    What is the overall team ability level?

(1) TRAINING RECOMMENDATIONS

The following table provides suggestions on training length, number of sessions per week, number of playing seasons, ball size, and if the group should be co-ed.

AREA U6 U8 U10 U12 U14 U16
TRAINING DURATIONS (MINUTES) 45-60 60-90 60-90 90 90 90
SESSIONS PER WEEK 1 1-2 2 2-3 2-3 2-3
PLAYING SEASONS 1-2 2 2-3 2-3 2-3 2-3
SOCCER BALLS SIZE 3 4 4 4 5 5
CO-ED Yes Yes/No No No No No

Additional considerations:

Ball Size: For travel soccer, ball size should default to the same size used during game play

Coed: For travel soccer, U8 is often the age group where gender is separated. For in-house and clinic style programs, coed groups can be used as needed for older ages.

Playing season: The youth soccer calendar has two main playing seasons, spring and fall. Summer and winter are considered supplemental seasons. The overall goals and commitment levels of the team will impact the number of seasons that a team commits to. It is important that all teams, regardless of ability and commitment level, take a break for at least one of the four main seasons. 

(2) COMPETITION RECOMMENDATIONS

The following table provides recommendations as to when a club should start travel soccer and enter tournaments.

AREA U6 U8 U10 U12 U14 U16
TRAVEL SOCCER No Locally Yes Yes Yes Yes
TOURNAMENT ATTENDANCE No Festivals 1 per season 1 per season 1 per season 1 per season

Additional considerations:

Travel Soccer: At the younger ages, it is more beneficial to keep players within an in-house development program so that they can master the technical aspects of the game without the pressures of travel soccer. Even at U8 and above, travel soccer should be done with a fun, player-centered approach in line with the Red Bulls’ philosophy prioritizing long-term player development over short-term results.

(3) GAME DAY RECOMMENDATIONS

For travel programs, game day logistical decisions are driven by the governing league. For this reason, Red Bulls recommends that clubs should follow the guidelines provided by US Soccer and US Youth Soccer. These two organizations provide a number of great resources that cover the following topics:

Field Size

Match Duration

Number of players on the field

Roster size

Goalkeepers

Playing time

Restarts

US SOCCER LINKS:

U.S. Soccer Coaching Curriculum - Planning and Training

U.S. Soccer Coaching Curriculum - Age Group Organization

 

Back to Top


GAME DAY COACHING

The following information details the New York Red Bulls Youth Programs’ match philosophy and expectations as it relates to the role of the player, coach, and parent.

IMPORTANT MATCH DAY CONSIDERATIONS

Clubs must encourage players, coaches and parents to honor the game collectively by adopting a player-centered philosophy.

Youth soccer games should be viewed in a different context to professional games. The main focus in a professional soccer game is to win. In youth soccer, the main focus needs to be fun and development; winning will be a byproduct.

Unlike many American sports, soccer is not a coach-centered sport; the game is free flowing with limited stoppages in play. Once a player crosses the white line, it is their game and they must make their own technical and tactical decisions. The coach’s decisions are more strategic.

Match day is a players’ chance to put into action what they have learned from practice. It is purely an extension of the training session where transfer of learning should occur. 

Players who are over-coached during practice and matches will become robotic and will not be able to make critical game decisions on their own. If the coaches are doing all the talking, the players won’t communicate. 

CREATING A GAME DAY CULTURE

On game days, the interaction between the following groups should be considered:

Team Coaches

Opponents

Parents

Officials

The following tables provide suggested interaction guidelines between each party. If followed, a player-centered culture of respect should be created.

(1) TEAM COACHES (Includes Parent Coaches and Trainers)

INTERACTION AREA COACH EXPECTATIONS
PLAYERS • Verbal instructions should be carefully measured to provide players with the necessary information they need to improve without over-coaching or joy-sticking players.
OFFICIALS • The officials’ decisions should be respected and unchallenged. No attempt should be made to influence their decisions or the outcome of the game.
PARENTS • Parents should be engaged in the educational process. If possible, parents should be debriefed to ensure they understand post game goals and areas for discussion with their children.
OPPOSITION • Sportsmanship and fair play should be of the utmost importance. Respect for the opposition’s coaches, their players and parents ensures a supportive environment for both sets of players.

(2) PARENTS

INTERACTION AREA PARENT CONDUCT
TEAM COACH • Parents and team coaches should be on the same page with regards to the team’s seasonal objectives, which should be communicated during preseason.
• Parents should avoid questioning or confronting the team coach during or immediately after a game. Where appropriate parents should call or email the team coach to discuss the issue.
PLAYERS • Be supportive but don’t coach from the sidelines. Let the coaches communicate important information to avoid confusing players. A parent’s role should be to provide support and encouragement. If parents are over communicating, it takes away the opportunity for players to communicate with each other. 
• Avoid defining success and failure in terms of winning and losing. For each game, the coach will have defined skill acquisition goals for the team. These are the objectives that should be used to measure success. This will teach players to have a better perspective on the game experience. 
REFEREE • Parents should not question or try to influence a referee’s decision for any reason. Mistakes will happen; parents should be a role model for their players. Any communication to the referee should be via the team coach.
OPPOSITION • Parent’s interaction with players from the opposite team should only ever be positive and sportsmanlike in nature. Parents should never get involved in any type of verbal confrontation or dispute with parents and players of the opposing team, whatever the reason.

(3) PLAYERS

INTERACTION AREA PLAYER EXPECTATIONS
COACHES • Respect the decisions of the team coach with regards to playing time and position as well as substitutions.
• Players should have an open and inquisitive mind when receiving feedback from the coach. Players should be encouraged to implement feedback where applicable.
TEAMMATES • Encourage other players on your team and support decisions of teammates regardless of the outcome.
OFFICIALS • Players should not question or argue with a referee’s decision for any reason. Mistakes will happen; players should respect the decision and continue with the game. 
OPPOSITION • Fair play and good sportsmanship should be an integral part of all interactions with opposition players. Shake hands and congratulate all players on a good game upon completion of the match.
PARENTS • Players should not look to their parents during the game for feedback or information on their self-performance. Players should focus on the game and their own performance with no distraction.
• Players should keep their parents informed of important information that the coach has relayed after the game. This may include logistical information for future training session or games and player development information that relates to focused areas of improvement.