Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Should under 8s play competitive games?

The move by the English FA to ban competitive soccer for under 8s will be a disappointment to coaches up and down the country who have been preparing for league soccer for a couple of seasons. I think it is a good idea but coaches need advice and guidance over how to play what would amount to friendlies.

 Here at Better Soccer Coaching we have constantly been telling coaches to put the fun back into soccer and the skills will follow.  I would like my under 8s to be playing competitive matches but then I have prepared them for it.

 I am also blessed with strong supportive parents who do not chastise and shout at matches. But I am one of the lucky ones. There are also matches I attend where the opposition are hostile and the parents shout, so something has to be done to control it.

 Will this be enough? Will parents and coaches stop shouting at players and at each other? I hope over the summer the FA adds to its blueprint and gives coaches something to aim for with a skills charter.

 My head says it’s a good thing, but my heart wants to see under 8s with a winner’s medal.

David Clarke, editor, Better Soccer Coaching


3 Comments so far
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In our region in Australia this age group has been non-competitive for many years. I personally think this has been great for youth player development, as it allows the coaches of children in this age group to focus on individual development rather than engineering a result, probably using adult style tactics rather than simply letting children play the game. Make no mistake – the children still keep score, will know if they won or lost against their opponents last time they played, and will play each game as if it were a cup final. League tables at this age simply aren’t necessary, unless the coach makes them so. Remember they are only seven years old.

Comment by Jonathon Newman

IT IS A GAME! It is called the BEAUTIFUL GAME! It is the sport of multitudes! it is therapy for many. it is joy, bliss, passion all wrapped up in a SOCCER BALL.!! Why is it then that there are those that “THINK” THAT BEIGN DESTRUCTIVE ARE CONTRIBUTING TO THE FUN OF THE GAME?.Grown ups have to start behaving like grown ups and enjoying the BEAUTIFUL GAME FOR REAL!!! I see the need to RE-EDUCATE those PARENTS THAT THINK THEY FEEL SINCERELY FOT THE GAME. If thay actually wish to see Soccer growing in the right direction they need to be constructive and if they do not know much about the game but want to ‘make believe others that they do know the BEAUTIFUL GAME. then ASK, READ, ANALIZE GAMES, LET THE COACHES DO THEIR JOBS. STOP THE INFLATED EGO and allow those children to enjoy and learn to COMPETE IN A HEALTHY WAY! Are parents turning HOOLIGANS? JUST TO MAKE A POINT, tHAT MIGHT BE wrong or loaded with venemum!? I suggest, that parents LEARN to behave at games and to remember that children at age 8 are NOT GOING TO BE STARS the following game. If parents really played the BEAUTIFUL GAME They should know that it is necessary to kick the ball at least 3,000,000 time to STAR GETTING THE FEEL FOT IT…It is important to STRUCTURE children at 8 so they grow up without so many BAD HABITS leraned from those who believe are coaches or those that instead or building a great soccer future, find A THOUSAND AND ONE errors in other people that in fact might had played the game. Learn to respect the game, learn the rules, love sincerely your children and allow them to HAVE FUN. it will eventually turn out great-estructured-happy soccer players. If it is not DONE SOON what is going to happen is that GROWN UPS ARE GOING TO DESTROY OUR CHILDREN’S DREAM TO BE SOCCER PLAYERS. An d I said SOCCER PLAYERS. (little people who play soccer) I did not say that they will not turn out to be professional. MAYBE ONE DAY if the circumstances are ideal.COMPETITIVE SOCCER FOR u8? OF COURSE… whoever oppose to it, does not understand to be competitive. at age 7-8 children KNOW AHAT IS TO WIN AND TO LOSE. To that I will say: Teach children and parents alike to; wIN WITH DIGNITY AND TO LOSE WITH HUMILITY. Stop the ego trip for the benefit of our children. Let them learn from the ONES WHO ARE PREPARED TO TEACH ans in the PROCESS PLEASE PARENTS: LEARN. it is never learn. Some do not “CUT OR LEND THE OX FOR OTHERS TO CUT.” iT MEANS: iF YOU PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT OPPOSE UNDER 8 COMPETITION OR DO NOT CONTRIBUTE TO THE GROW OF THE SPORT. rather KEEP THAIR MOUTH SHUT AND let others do thair jobs!!! At each practice, parents can collect balls, help the coach placing cones here and there, passing pinnies to children, BUT REMEMBERING THAT COACH IS ONE. Please re-educate yourselves, behave in a civilized manner and remember soccer-foot-ball is a BEAUTIFUL GAME. allow children to be children, allow them to be happy, allow coaches to be coaches, allow yourselves parents to be that; PARENTS WHO LOVE SINCERELY THE SPORT. Good luck to all of you. julien. (soccer coach, without and inflated ego)

Comment by Julien Vergara

I coach U/8s,U/10s,U/12s and U/14s teams, and the attention span between U/8s and U/14s is huge.The U/8s are all about fun, learning to play in a team structure,and not be me oriented.The U/10s and on are all about compeditive outcomes, improving your game and the team game at every outing.
The parents are somthing else again, some have never played sport before,some are so fixated on their child, you would think it was a one child team, so your coaching role extends to them as well. The parent attitude must be fixed quickly, get them on board with your coaching principles asap, as they have a large influence on their kids, not only at the game but at home as well.
I see myself more as a teacher than a coach, its all good fun, and the outcomes are character building for everyone.

Comment by Ian Marler

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