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Training Philosophy

Updated Tuesday July 19, 2016. 


The primary focus of our training sessions is to improve the player’s individual technical ability and help them get a better grasp of the tactical aspect of the game.



We will accomplish this by using the appropriate functional, technical activities based on the age and skill level of the players. Skill introduction, repetitive drill motions to instill muscle memory and reaction quickness along with small side games that reinforce development at game like speed and competition.

• Ask players meaningful questions and allow them to come up with their own answers.

• Coaches must provide clear, concise, and correct information to the players from simple to complex; they need to be positive and find ways to motivate players to give their best every practice and game.




• Most activities should involve a soccer ball, including some of the warm up procedures.

• Use small sided games as part of most practices.

• Work on technique and foot skills; spend more time on this topic with the youngest group (especially from 6 to 12 year old); and less with the oldest (16 and up).

• Style of Play: Ball possession, taking good care and maintaining control of the ball as a team. Always looking to move the ball forward and to be offensively dangerous.


  • U6 to U8 60 min
  • U9 to U10 75 min
  • U11 to U12 90 min
  • U13 and up 90 min



(Advantages of playing small sided games)

  • Energetic workouts due to playing both the offense and defense.
  • More efficient use of space.
  • Matches can be played simultaneously across a full size field.
  • Players are physically more efficient in smaller space.
  • Players are actively involved for longer periods of time.
  • Takes less time to score or advance a goal.
  • Greater success rate per players.

U6 TO U8 use 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 on the small side games (no goalies) 

U9 to U11 use 2v2, 3v3, 4v4

U12 and up use 2v2, 3v3, 4v4, 5v5




• Use line of four on teams that will be playing 11 v 11, as much as possible.

• Shape, pressure, cover, balance, 50/50 balls, anticipation to the ball.

• Work with everyone on defensive and offensive concepts of your back four-line, including the Goalkeepers.

• Clearing the ball out of the back; high and low balls, always trying to play and not just kicking it; using the keeper to relieve pressure.

• Playing out of the back; encourage them to go forward.



• Any shape you want.

• Shape, pressure, cover, balance; 50/50 balls.

• How to contain the opposite team or delay the play if help is not there.

• Moving off the ball; making runs; change the point of the attack; building up, finding the forwards, shooting, crosses, finishing, etc.



• Use two strikers, for the teams that will play 11 v 11, as much as possible.

• Moving off the ball, shooting, finishing (High and Low balls).

• Work on the 1 v 1, 2 v 1 and more, if working with two on top, one high one low.

• Show for the ball or make a run into space.

• How to drop when the team loose the ball, how to help the defense.


General Play

• Work on dead balls away from the penalty box.

• Push them to play quickly, to always have good options to go forward and be dangerous.

• Absolutely no high balls straight up to the penalty box to see if they will get lucky; force the players to think and be creative.

• Corners and direct Kicks; make sure we execute those right; ether through set plays (especially for the older groups) or direct shot on goal.



60 minutes Practice


• 20-25 minutes skills work.

• 20 minutes on small side games (up to 3 v 3).

• 20 minutes of just playing, game, small numbers, no Gk’s for the U6 to U8.


75 minutes Practice


• 30 minutes skill work.

• 25 minutes on small side games (up to 4 v 4).

• 20 minutes of just playing, game, small numbers


90 minutes Practice


• 20 minutes Technical work based on the topic of the day.

• 45 minutes-small side games (3 v 3, 4 v 4, 5 v 5); Increase the numbers as players show some progress.

• 20 minutes-Game; Finish every training session with an 11 v 11 games, if you have the numbers; especially from U14 - U18; for the U11 – U13, play 5 v 5 games, rotating the groups if the numbers are large.




Spring/Fall season, teams will have roughly 30 sessions; 8 to 10 games and about 20 to 22 practices; Coaches should divide them through the season as follows:

• Defenders (including Goalkeepers most of the time), 6 practices.

• Midfielders, 6 practices.

• Forwards, 6 practices.

• Leave unless 5 to work with the whole team and correct problems form the previous game.

The goal is to be able to cover and work with the different lines as much as possible, depending on the skills and level of the players you are coaching; and to help them to understand the different positions on the field.


St. Johns Soccer Club expects a good behavior from all the coaches, on and off the field; young players always look up to their coaches as a role model; how we dress, how we behave on and off the pitch, knowledge of the game, etc; it will impact the way our players develop.

  • Must complete Risk Management and provide a copy to Randy Padgett.
  • Must make concerted effort to adhere to  the SJSC Player Development Curriculum, i.e. the way practices should be run depending upon the age group and skill level of players.


Always have someone with you when you are meeting with a player or when you have to stay with a player to wait for a parent to pick them up.

We have transitioned away from the “parent coach”. Everyone coaching a team must have a USSF license (level based on age group) and fulfill the requirements of the Club – Please refer to the SJSC Coaching Requirements link on the website.



Players are committed to their assigned team for a full year (Fall and Spring seasons).  Movement between teams is prohibited without approval from the Director of Soccer.  Academy program players are evaluated throughout the year and may be assigned to another team based on level of play and commitment.  



• Before the beginning of the season, have a parents meeting.

• Establish teams rules; players and parents code of conduct.

• Playing time; up to U11, all the players should have 50% of playing time, or close to it; the development of the players should take priority.

• U12 and up, they should start competing for playing time; play time and position at your discretion.


Tournaments shall be scheduled by each individual team/coach.  Prior to registering for any tournaments, participation should be reviewed by the Director of Soccer.




• Let the player go through all the stages of development without rushing, pressuring, or forcing them to become something they are not yet.

• Make sure all the activities will be developmentally appropriate for his/her age.

• Make sure the instructions will be clear, concise, and correct.

• Remember the three L’s (no Lectures, no Laps, no Lines).

• Make sure your activities will go from simple to complex, depending on the age and skills level of the players; never assume that they know, what we believe to be a simple or basic drill, exercise, or tactical move.


• Always allow them to be creative, to have imagination, and use the Guide Discovery Methodology to help them to develop the process to be able to problem solve on the field.