If you’re new to coaching young soccer players, then you might be uncertain about when to introduce the concept of playing in set positions. As a broad guideline, U8s really don’t need to be constrained by having to play in fixed positions. At that age they should be practising their ball skills, dribbling, shooting and tackling all over the field and they will not learn very quickly if they are waiting for the ball to come to their own little patch of grass.
Don’t worry too much about coaching set positions at this stage. Sure, you might get some flack from parents and some amused looks from other coaches who have managed to plant their players in specific parts of the pitch but hey….your kids are having fun! And that is surely the most important thing. There’s plenty of time for positional play and tactics when the players get older.
A spin off from letting your players have the freedom of the pitch is finding that one or both of your defenders have the potential to be star attackers and vice versa.
Just make sure your players know that when the other team has the ball, they are all defending and when you have the ball they are all attacking.
And don’t forget the goalkeeper. Make sure she gets her chance to play outfield. Rotate all your players through the position of goalkeeper and you will reap the benefits:
1. The outfield players will appreciate how hard it is being in goal
2. You will have a pool of reserve goalkeepers for you to draw upon when your regular one is absent.
My advice? Let your players run around and enjoy themselves while they can.