FSL Small Sided Development Program

Travel Teams ages U8, U9, & U10

 Freehold Soccer League Small Sided Development Program

Mission: Create the appropriate environment for our players’ to achieve a solid foundation of skill, confidence and creativity playing the game. FSL encourages and emphasizes individual player development within all of its small-sided teams, leading up to the full-sided 11 vs. 11 game. Winning is important, and remains an objective, but the most significant objective remains to develop skilled, intelligent, and confident players that play attractive soccer.

 General Small-Sided Program Objectives

·       Provide a fun, organized and competitive soccer environment

·       Develop each individual player’s technique, insight and personality within the game

·       Utilize skill, intelligence and teamwork in order to achieve success

·       Encourage players to be creative and confident while in possession of the ball

·       Display principles of teamwork and good sportsmanship at all times

·       Represent FSL with pride and dignity, regardless of game results

Accomplishing this mission, and the objectives identified above, requires all of us to strengthen and develop our small-sided program and cultivate a culture, which fosters age appropriate development in the game, and increase fun, learning, and player retention in the Freehold Soccer League.

Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA): As part of our investment in and partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance, each small sided team is required to indentify a parent “culture keeper” as a part of their team management structure.   All new Small Sided Parents (1 per family) and Coaches entering the program must attend the appropriate PCA workshops.

Collaborative Culture: The program recommends that coaches work collaboratively with each other to develop a portion of their training as a joint session together at least one time per week during the season.

·       U8 Training Session: 60-75 minutes

·       U9 & U10 Training Session: 75-90 minutes

The objective is to improve the cohesive development of the entire pool of players for the age group and reinforce the “club” atmosphere.

Small Sided Coaches (Responsibilities & Resources): Player development requires that coaches continue their own development in the game, as well.

1.   The “BLUE” team coach will serve as the point of contact for the age group and will share information periodically with the Small Sided and Training & Development coordinators on issues such as:

·       PCA Progress and Updates (Culture Keeper)

·       Status of Training Sessions

·       Issues or Concerns

2.   Coaches should evaluate each team member based on the FSL Player Assessment form (attached). This will be used as part of a players overall evaluation at try-outs.

3.   All coaches must possess their USSF “F” Coaching License prior to coaching. In addition, all small-sided coaches should obtain their USSF “E” Coaching License prior to the completion of their first full-sided (U11) season.

 U8 Developmental Objectives & Characteristics


TRAINING FOCUS: Individual Skill Development/Introduce concept of teamwork



o   Passionate about children and the game of soccer.

o   Knows the rules of the game.

o   Encourages sportsmanship and fair play within the game over results.

o   Willing to play on the field with the children and demonstrate ability in the game.

o    Must be sensitive to the variety of interests and abilities of the children.

o   Wins or losses are not discussed.



o   Encourage dribbling skills using all surfaces of the foot.

o   Receiving and controlling the ball is demonstrated.

o   Introduce how and why passes are used.

o   Players are shown how to strike the ball correctly.

o   Encourage players to “hold” the ball while under pressure of an opponent and not kick it away.

o   Players should spend 75% of training time with their own ball.

o   Use of the left and right foot should be encouraged.



o   Emphasis should heavily favor individual technique over group tactics.

o   Players begin to understand the contribution of teammates.

o   Attacking principles of “penetration” and “width” can be introduced.

o   Defensive principle of “pressure” can be explained.

o   Play lots of 1 v 1, 2 v 1, 2 v 2, 3 v 1, 3 v 2, 3 v 3.



o   Eye, hand, foot coordination is improving, but not completely mature.

o   There is tremendous variety in children’s size (early developers vs. late bloomers).

o   No separate running should be done, especially as punishment! (sit them out of activity/games – take away something they want to do!)



o   Make the games fun so that they will enjoy it.

o   Things they enjoy they will want to return to, and that will increase their involvement and repetitions.


U9 Developmental Objectives & Characteristics

TRAINING FOCUS: Individual Skill Development/ Introduce Positional Responsibilities


  • Coach must be enthusiastic and have the ability to demonstrate.
  • The coach must be willing to seek further soccer education.
  • Must respect the principles of PCA.
  • Focus during games must continue to place emphasis on player development rather than the result. 


  • Continued development on individual technique.
  • Introduce ball juggling as soccer “homework”.
  • Control and receiving, as well as passing skills should be heavily emphasized.
  • Reinforce correct technique for “striking” the ball.
  • Activities and games must include lots of repetitions for individual players.
  • Goalkeeping skills should be addressed with all players.
  • Encourage players to experiment with a variety of ways to control/move the ball.
  • Use of both the left and right foot should be emphasized.


  • Build on small group activities up to 3 v 3, both offensively and defensively.
  • Positional responsibilities can be introduced, but should not consume the focus of training sessions.
  • Move players in and out of positions - just outside their comfort zones (don’t lock players into the same positions game after game).
  • Build on the attacking principles of “penetration” and “width”.
  • Introduce the principles of “support” and “mobility”.


  • Players are becoming stronger and faster.
  • Coordination is improving, but control of their bodies and movements is still difficult.
  • Full rest periods should be given between activities as over heating is more prevalent at this age group.
  • Introduce warming up and cooling down activities.


  • Need continual reinforcement.
  • Easily bruised ego’s.
  • They are continually looking for approval and have a fear of failure.

U10 Development Objectives & Characteristics



U10 TRAINING FOCUS: Development of Individual Skill/Small Group Tactics



  • Possesses soccer awareness.
  • A sensitive teacher with the ability to demonstrate.
  • Knowledge about the key factors contributing to basic skills.
  • Keen to praise and criticize player performance while giving encouragement.
  • Continues to further their own education in the game.


  • Further development on individual technique.
  • Greater emphasis on speed of play and insight.
  • 1st touch play should be addressed with all passing and receiving games/activities.
  • Recognition of proper weight and timing of passes.
  • Encourage the use of creativity and disguise.
  • Proper surface of the foot used for striking of the ball when passing/shooting.
  • Expose players to a variety of angles, pressure, and player combinations.


  • Continue to build on small group activities up to 3 v 3, both offensively and defensively.
  • Introduce more players in games/activities.
  • Continue to address attacking principles of “penetration”, “width”, “support” and “mobility”.
  • Encourage keeping possession of the ball and combining with teammates to maintain possession.


  • Players have greater control of their bodies and movement.
  • Speed, agility and coordination can be developed through specific training.
  • Stretching and cooling down important components for reducing potential muscular injuries at this age.


  • Significant feelings of belonging/acceptance are evident.
  • Focus is still on ”self”.
  • Positive reinforcement will encourage desired behaviors/actions.
  • They can become more serious, but sensitive about playing the game.
  • Emotions can be fragile.