Soccer Milestones for this age group are crucial. Creating the foundation is key for further development after 8 y/o. Soccer will be more difficult without technical foundation at this age.
Dribbling - Children at this age should begin to master controlling the ball with the body. They should know the answer to these key questions to develop a solid foundation.
What controls the ball in soccer? - answer - The Body
When I don't have control of the ball I am? - answer - REACHING
Reaching is a soccer players worst enemy. When he/she is reaching the foot is doing the work and not the body.
First step in soccer to everything is? - Control
They should know and be able to touch the inside feet, instep, outside, heel , and sole. They should be touching the ball 80-100 times in a 20-35 minutes of technical practice. Keeping the ball under body and in control should be comfortable in non-pressure training.
TURNS - They should be introduced to three basic turns (terminology may differ with coaches). They should be able to execute these turns in non-pressure training.
Walk-Over turn, step over turn , Pull back turn, Cutting ball in and out
Defending- Getting goal side is understood and practiced during game as the first step of defense. Correct defensive posture and movement is introduced and practiced.
Passing- Kids at this age should understand and apply correct passing. Although may not fully grasp the power of passing during game. working on "Touch" will help them develop passing mastery. Three steps to passing
CONTROL - PUSH - PASS
Real Soccer- At this age playing the game is important. This is the best teacher and the environment is equally important. Pressure free play with verbal cues is the best way to develop milestones. They should not be taking the ball away from each other but some may still chase their team and ball.
Shooting- Correct shooting technique is introduced and part of this is instep dribbling practice. If they can get comfortable with dribbling with the instep, shooting will be easier to teach. No Toe at this age in non pressure training. verbal cues should be stressed to point toe down and use laces (instep). They should know the three steps to shooting:
Control - Place - Shoot
EXTRA- If you can get them to communicate and use phrases like- "I am open" and "my ball" your doing a great job!
Learning how to play soccer needs to be FUN and still technical... a good practice is a perfect balance between the two. Remember exposure to soccer will be the key difference in the ability to understand and apply the milestones.