Soccer Milestones 9-12 y/o

Soccer Milestones at this age are getting more into basic skill mastery. Technical foundation is already there or can be quickly learned. The learning curve is fast and although you may have kids who may not have played before this age group should pick up the fundamentals pretty quick.

9-12 y/o

Ball Control- Children at this age should be touching the ball as much as possible. Inside, outside, instep, linear, and multi-directional. use fun and challenging skill drills to distract them from keeping all the attention at their feet. forcing them to look up and be aware of their surroundings is a milestone and encouraged.

They all should know that in soccer: Body does all the work

first step in soccer is CONTROL!

NO REACHING - Body posture should be refined and developed. A soccer players worst enemy is reaching. Reaching happens when the player lacks the biomechanics (mobility/agility) to get to the correct space. More steps are better than less! This leads them to have heavy movements and thus bad technical touch. 


They should all be able to perform a cut-in, Walk over, Pull back, step-over, and cut-out turn. They may not use all of them during a game situation but in a non-pressure environment these are a definite milestone. Soccer is a simple sport. There are only five turns and the rest are variations to these turns. The biggest thing is making sure they understand that the body does the work. I explain it like them always in a race with the ball. To do a proper and effective turn the ball must be under them. Thus winning the race. If the ball is in front of them the ball won the race and they will reach.

Terminology helps them understand why something happened. As a coach it is so much easier to say..You reached that is why... versus DON'T do this..

At this age a routine is important to develop and master ball control and turns. Get a routine and have them know and repeat it at every practice. This group love to know what going to happen versus new drills and and not knowing. Confidence is a huge factor at this age. Build it...don't break it down.


Getting goal side is practiced and executed during game as the first step of defense. Correct defensive posture and movement is practiced and executed . They understand what pressure is and how to apply it appropriately. NO CHOPPING at this age. Small sided games are key to understanding space and breaking offensive links. talking is a requirement at this age.


Kids at this age should comprehend a wall pass and be able to execute it during non pressure training. Communication is key and required at this age. They should know how to signal pass back and pass to space (through ball). Using Control - Push - Pass to practice passing is a must and now at this age change the environment to a push - pass or one straight pass.

Match Play

At this age playing the game is key and everything should be based on playing with ball effectively maximizing practice time to better ball control. Communication will clear a lot of mistakes and misunderstandings so encourage it. Verbal cues are key in letting play run without stopping. Scrimmage small sided to better apply milestones. A lot of coaches under estimate the need for encouragement at this age. Just because they hit double digit 10 doesn't mean they don't need your attention and confidence building!


Correct shooting technique is practiced and part of this is instep dribbling practice. C+P+S steps in shooting is introduced and practiced every week. (the ball will hardly be still during a game so practicing shooting with a a ball that is dead is not helping. Shooting should be practiced with a moving ball..)

CONTROL PLACE SHOOT is Critical at this age...have them understand the concept confidently!

EXTRA- Leadership becomes evident at this age...encourage it and create opportunities to develop leadership and group speaking opportunities. This will translate on field. Kids at this age like to be challenged and motivation is a little more necessary. You must be engaging and personify energy!

Exposure to soccer is key at this age. Have them play!

Learning how to play soccer needs to be FUN but still technical... a good practice is a perfect balance between the two.


Attention is so important in soccer. There is a Priority of attention. #1 is the ball. Where is it and who has it. #2 is people. Are they on my team and should I be here in relation to who they are? #3 is the goals. This gives players direction and a compass to where they are on the field. Is my back to my goal? Is the goal open for a shot? Attention to these three will allow players to learn the game on their own. Many coaches try to extrinsically teach the things that happen when they put attention to these three. Yes, it is coaching but not profound because the player has not yet valued the attention they need to place on the ball, people, and goals. Work on this and magic will begin to happen.