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Coaches & Managers

Coaching Guidelines

Iowa County Youth Soccer is a recreational soccer program. Recreational means it’s about having fun playing soccer. The goal of this information is to:

  • ensure consistency among U6 coaches so we’re all teaching the same way and using the same vocabulary
  • establish goals so coaches have a common understanding of which skills players should have under their belts when they move up to U8’s
  • offer suggestions on drills and sportsmanship to create a fun learning environment
  • create confident coaches that are prepared and more willing to move up through the ranks

Games should last 40 minutes played in two 20 minute halves.

Safety first. Shin guards are mandatory and should be worn under socks. No jewelry, watches or barretts are allowed. Frequent breaks as needed and lots of water breaks when it’s hot.

Every player should play equal time.

We DON’T keep score at the U6 level.

No goalies, you should not have a player permanently stationed in goal.

Avoid blowouts. While we strive to create competitively balanced teams, inevitably you will find yourself running over the opposing team or have a player or two that run wild scoring goal after goal. Look out for these situations, anticipate them, be prepared to change your lineups so your players are challenged without running up the score. No one likes losing 20 to zip… Some ways to deal with this:

  • After your Allstar has scored 2 or 3 goals, make them your fullback and don’t let them cross the midfield line.
  • Make him/her the captain and have them pass up front to the players who have yet to score. 
  • If your whole team is dominating, play pass-pass-shoot. Kids can’t shoot on net until they pass twice… 

Maximize touch time

  • The more time kids spend touching the ball the faster they will develop.
  • To maximize player development coaches should schedule a 45 minute practice.
  • During drills, no lines or keep them short, every player should have a ball during practice to maximize touches… (and fun)
  • Keep them moving.
  • During games try to play 3v3 rather than 4v4, keeps the swarm smaller. Rotate the players frequently to keep their attention focused on the game.


  • Forwards (Left wing, Right wing, Center), and Fullbacks.
  • Not offense and defense. Every player is on offense when their team has the ball and every player is on defense when the other team has it.

Start play

To begin the game or 2nd half, and to restart play after a goal is scored, the ball is placed at center of midfield line. The ball should be kicked by a player to another player on his/her team. Opposing team lines up on the circle.


  • Both feet on the ground, feet on or behind the line, two hands, over the head.
  • Throwin from the sidelines, not next to the goal.

Out of bounds

Enforce out of bounds. Loosely perhaps at the beginning of the season. But this enforces the concept of ball control and prepares them for U8’s when it is strictly enforced.

Team Name 

Team names are fun for the kids and they will have lots of ideas. 

Ball Control

  • This is the primary goal of U6 coaches/players, improve their ball control skills.
  • Teach them to use both feet when dribbling. Also, teach them where their inside and outside of the foot is and how to use it.
  • Remind them to keep their head up when they dribble, don’t stare at the ball. This way they can see their teammates to pass to and defenders to stay away from.


  • Dribble along the white lines using both feet. Again with just the left. Then just the right. Remind them to keep their head up.
  • Sprints, dribbling from one side of the field to the other, again alternate both feet, left only, right only.
  • Keep the ball close in crowds, longer dribbles when sprinting distances…
  • Set up discs/cones and have them dribble around them, again using both/left only/right only…
  • The best way to teach 4 and 5 year olds and generate enthusiasm is through games. Red Light Green Light, Freeze Tag, Sharks and Minnows, Coconuts…… To the kids they’re playing a game and having fun. However, it’s important as coaches that you recognize what soccer skills these games emphasize as these games are a teaching tool.
    • Red Light Green Light – teaches them to start moving with the ball-dribble-and stop, which happens continuously throughout a game. To them they are just having fun. (The stop-move is simply placing their foot on top of the ball when you blow the whistle.)
    • Freeze Tag – in one half the field have the kids dribble around while you chase them. Again, they’re practicing ball control without knowing it. (dribbling away from you, staying within the lines, and not bumping into other players)
    • Sharks and Minnows – line the players up at one end of the field, they’re the minnows and you’re the shark in the middle of the field. Blow the whistle and have them dribble past you to the other side of the field. The shark tries to kick a player’s ball out of the field of play. These players then become sharks and join you in the middle of the field. Regroup and run it again till all the minnows are caught. (hand out pennies to identify those minnows turned shark)
    • Coconuts – place a ball on top of a disk in the middle of 2 players spread 15 feet apart. Players kick the ball and try to knock the coconut out of the tree. If the player misses, the other player is there to stop the ball and kick it back. First team to 5 wins. Teaches accuracy, the stop move, introduce the shovel pass (kicking the ball with inside of the foot instead of the toe).
  • Scrimmages – always wrap up your practices with a scrimmage. The game of soccer is the best teacher!
  • Encourage them to practice at home.


Optional for the more advanced players.


  • Explain what aggressiveness means – go after the ball. Many young players either run away from the ball or don’t engage. The exception is taking the ball away from a teammate.
  • Remind them that pushing, shoving, and hitting are not allowed.


  • Sportsmanship is paramount and begins at this young level!
  • “Good game” only when shaking hands after the game. 
  • Respect for teammates, opponents, and coaches.

One of the essential functions of coaches and team managers is to manage team communications with players and their families.  If you are a coach or team manager, SportsEngine has created a Team Management Guide for Coaches and Team Managers to help you use our website and mobile app to efficiently and effectively communicate and manage your teams. 

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