Oregon Youth Soccer Association
- Statewide Curriculum for U-6
U6 Age Group Skill Priorities
- Dribble with all sides of both feet
- Dribble out of trouble
- Dribble past someone
- Soft first touch
Although sometimes we may mistake 5-6 year-olds for little adults, they are clearly not little adults. They have many years of childhood and development to enjoy before they are able to look at life in a similar fashion to adults. The reason for this is that they need time to develop intellectually, emotionally and physically.
Although we do live in the same world, when seen through our own eyes, the world both adults and children experience is quite different. In order to fully understand these wonderful children and to make practices run as smoothly and happily as possible, it is extremely important for us to understand the following characteristics about U6 children.
Typical Characteristics of U6 Players
- Focused on themselves - reality to them is solely based on what they see and feel
- Unable to see the world from another's perspective - it is "the world according to me" time. Asking them to understand how someone else is seeing something or feels is unrealistic
- Everything is in the here and now - forget about the past and future, they live in the moment.
- Heating and cooling systems are less efficient than adults - we need to give frequent water breaks (every 8-10 minutes) or they may just run until they cannot run anymore
- Enjoying playing, not watching - they feel no enjoyment from watching others play when they could be playing,too. Make sure every player has a ball in practice so every player is always playing
- Limited attention span (on average 15 seconds for listening, 10-15 minutes when engaged in a task) - keep your directions concise and to the point. When in an open environment, such as a park, their attention span will dwindle towards 10 seconds
- Effort is synonymous with performance - if they have tried hard, they believe they have done well. This is a wonderful quality and we should be supportive of their enthusiasm
- Active imaginations - if we utilize their imaginations in practice activities, they will love practice!
- Look for adult approval - watch how often players look to you for approval or to see if you are looking. Also be encouraging when they say, "Coach, look what I can do!"
- Unable to think abstractly - asking them to think about spatial relations or runs off the ball is unrealistic
- Typically have two speeds - extremely fast and stopped (100 miles per hour or sleeping!)
- Usually unaware of game scores - we should keep it that way
- Often like to fall down just because it is fun - they are just children having fun
- Often cannot identify left foot vs. right foot - they know which foot they use most and if they point to their feet you can help teach them left and right
Some Recommended Games for U6 Players
- Tag - Every child dribbles a soccer ball in the space defined while trying to tag other players with their hand. Players cannot leave their own ball. Have them keep count of how many people they have tagged and, if playing twice in a row, see if players can tag more people than they did in the first game. Version 2: Players must tag other players on their knees.
- Hospital Tag - Same as tag in that each player dribbles a soccer ball and that they try to tag each other with their hands. In this game, each time a player is tagged, he/she must place their hand on the spot on their body at which they were tagged. Obviously, if tagged a third time, players have no more hands to cover those spots, so they most go to the hospital to see the doctor. The coach acts as the doctor and performs a magical task (pretend) to heal all the little soccer players so they can continue playing the game.
- Red light/Green light - All players have a ball and dribble in a limited space (or towards the coach). When coach says "red light," players must stop the ball and put their foot on top of the ball. When coach says "yellow light," players must dribble very slowly. When coach says "green light," players dribble fast. Coach controls this game with the frequency of light changes and variety of changes. Once players catch on to this game, add light of other colors and affix different actions to them (i.e., purple light = hop back and forth over ball, orange light = run around the ball, black light = dance, blue light = hide behind the ball, etc., etc.)
- Freeze Tag - Break up the group into two teams. Everyone must dribble their soccer ball, but one team tries to tag (freeze) the other team. If they do tag a player on the other team, that player must freeze, place their ball above their head and spread their legs. Another player on their team must kick his/her ball through the frozen player's legs to unfreeze the teammate. If all players are frozen, game ends and the frozen team become the taggers. Otherwise, stop the game after a few minutes and have team reverse roles. Version 2: Coach can be the freeze monster and try to tag all the players with players unfreezing each other in same fashion.
- Planets - Set up cones into multiple squares or triangles that serve as planets (or cities). All players must follow coach's order and dribble into the planet he calls out. Coach can have all players follow the same directions or break up team so they start at different planets and then have them dribble through the solar system in clockwise or counterclockwise fashion. Coach can have groups dribble in opposite directions through the solar system.
- Kangaroo Jack - All players except two or three begin with a ball. Players without balls are kangaroo jacks and must hop like a kangaroo and try to tag players. If a player is tagged, he/she becomes a kangaroo as well until all players are turned into kangaroos.
- Snake - In an appropriate space for the numbers you have, start with all players except 2-3 dribbling soccer balls. The players without balls hold hands and work together as one snake to tag the other players; players with balls try to avoid being tagged by the snake. If they are tagged, they join hands with players making up the snake. The snake grows until all players are part of the snake. The snake must stay together as one animal and not break off into little parts. Encourage fun by having the snake hiss.
- Ball Tag - Similar to other tag games, except players try to tag others with their soccer ball instead of their hand. Have them keep count of how many times they kick their soccer ball and tag another person. Have the tag count if their ball hits another player or that player's ball. Can have the players tag the coach for 10 or 20 points. Then can have players tag other selected players for 50 or 100 points, etc., etc. Version 2: Rather than having players tag each other, have them tag the coach by kicking their soccer ball. The coach moves around without a ball to avoid being tagged. Have players count up how many tags they made. You may also do the same variations as in the other game by affixing points to players.
- Capture the Balls - Set up three or four "home bases" (squares) with cones roughly 2-3 yards wide. Break up the players into teams and have each team get together in their home base. Place all the balls in the center of the space between the home bases. On the coaches' command, the teams are free to gather as many soccer balls as they can into their home base. Players cannot use hands and there is no pushing each other or sitting/laying on the balls. Teams try to gather as many balls as possible into their home bases. Teams can steal balls from each others' home bases. Coach calls time and counts up how many balls are in each space to determine a winner. Coach allows team 1 minute to make up a new team strategy before playing again.
- Moving Goal - Two coaches hold a pinnie (scrimmage vest) at arm's length to form a movable goal, with each coach serving as a post and the shirt serving as the crossbar. Players each have a ball and try to score by kicking their ball through the goal. However, the coaches constantly move and turn to force the players to keep their heads up and to change direction as they dribble.
Every practice should include a scrimmage!
US YOUTH SOCCER & OREGON YOUTH SOCCER GAME RECOMMENDATIONS
Under 6s play 3 vs 3 (without a goalkeeper)
Field Size: 25-30 yards long by 15-20 yards wide
Ball size: No. 3
Please see the new OYSA website for more coaching resources. Also look for a new OYSA Statewide Curriculum for all age groups coming soon!