Football Age Categories: All You Need to Know
Children should play football in moderation until they reach a certain age. The field dimensions and ball size vary depending on the football age category to match the physical and technical abilities of the players.
So, how are different arrangements made for different football age groups? What characteristics distinguish one age group from another? This article will shed some light on all of that.
why age categories are important in youth soccer:
This age group division is followed by all of the world’s elite football academies. Youth soccer players are still in their growing years. When it comes to pressure and workload, a very responsible approach is required. A child under the age of six, for example, should not be expected to play with children over the age of twelve. That would be too harsh on them.
It also applies in the opposite direction: a 12-year-old should not play with a 6-year-old because it will not help him improve in any way. It would be too easy, and the element of challenge and growth would be overlooked. This is the primary reason for the division of youth football into age groups.
Let’s go over each age group in youth soccer one by one.
Ages 6 & Under
Children in this age group are the most recent crop of footballers. For the first time in their lives, they are introduced to football. The coaching goal for these kids would be different from that of other groups.
Coaches should keep things simple and stick to the fundamentals rather than subject them to rigorous drills. The goal is to foster a long-term love of the sport rather than immediate skill development.
Most of these kids aren’t concerned with their skills as a player. They have not yet reached the level of emotional maturity required to comprehend the gravity of the situation. As a result, the bosses should let them have fun. Teach them the fundamentals and lay the groundwork for them to become football players.
Ages 7 to 9
At this point, children become more interested in learning the game’s crafts. They take their first steps toward practicality, realizing the importance of playing football with more organization. This age group can be viewed as a stepping stone to more advanced football age categories. Yes, there is a level below it, but at that age, socialization is more important than football proficiency.
Children become more aware of the coach’s point of view and attempt to improve their flaws. They also start to notice their teammate’s progress and make a concerted effort not to fall behind. So, this is the age when footballers begin to develop their own abilities. They learn how to approach the game with more meaning and zeal.
Ages 10 to 12
Children should have a strong interest in football at this point in their lives. Coaches must provide new impetus to these players’ development by familiarizing them with new skills and tricks.
Mentoring children of this age group is more difficult than mentoring children of other football age groups. This is more of a transitional stage, where children move from the fun aspects of the game to the more serious aspects.
As a result, coaches must adapt their practice sessions to accommodate this transformation. They must be demanding of their players while also keeping things entertaining.
When the players successfully complete the tasks assigned to them by the coach, they feel a great sense of accomplishment. As a result, keeping the players motivated and confident is critical.
Ages 13 to 14
When the children reach adolescence, they will need to capitalize on their previous categories’ learnings and broaden their skill sets. They should have the fundamental skills; now is the time to hone them. Adolescence is a difficult stage in the human life cycle. Children are psychologically vulnerable during these times because they are exploring their own identities.
To get the most out of a group of early adolescent footballers, you must connect with them on an emotional level. Coaches must communicate with them on a regular basis to keep them focused and to encourage them to speak up about their problems.
Ages 15 & Above
Football age groups for players aged 15 and up are essentially trials for a professional move-up. Doing well in these situations could lead to a big break and tickets to senior football. However, children in this stage are still developing mentally and physically.
Because it is a stepping stone to the next level, the role of supervision is even more important in these football age groups than in others. Children in these football age groups must realize how close they are to winning. In their seventeens, Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas made their professional senior debuts.
Football Sizes According to Different Football Age Categories
For matches and training, junior football age groups use a variety of ball sizes. A large adult-sized ball may be difficult for a young player to control, so the ball size must be appropriate.
Children would never be able to learn the sport if they did not use properly sized balls. It would be more difficult to shoot, control, and pass if the ball was disproportionately larger.
Footballs are available in four sizes: 2, 3, 4, and 5. Number 2 is recommended for the youngest age groups in football, while number 5 is the ball size on the senior professional level.
These balls are available in a variety of sizes and weights to accommodate a wide range of football age groups. Continue reading to learn which ball size is appropriate for which age group.
According to official regulations, the smallest size of football is size 2. It is only 56 centimetres in circumference. A size 2 ball weighs 280 grams, which is in keeping with its miniature appearance. This is the ideal size for U-6 teams.
However, it is used by older football age groups and even senior teams. The ball’s small size and lightweight nature make it ideal for ball control training drills.
Size 3 is the next size up from size 2. It is a little heavier and larger in size. It has a circumference of 60 centimeters and a weight of 340 grams. Despite the fact that size 2 is the smallest ball available, the minimum match size ball is size 3. These footballs are intended for players aged seven and up.
Size 4 footballs are commonly used in football age groups ranging from U-9 to U-13. Size 4 is the first choice for both competitive matches and practice at those levels. It is the last ball size that children will use before moving on to full-size football. The ball has a circumference of 66 centimeters. It weighs 390 g or 50 g more than a size 3 ball.
Senior football balls are officially sized at size 5. Size 5 balls are used in all competitive clubs and international football. Kids in U-15 and above are permitted to use these balls. A size 5 football has a circumference of 70 centimeters. It is also the heaviest football available. A fully pumped size 5 football weighs 450 grams on a scale.
Pitch and Goal Dimensions for Different Football Age Categories
Nick Levitt, current Head of Talent and Performance for UK Coaching and former English FA talent identification manager, had this to say about the situation:
As soon as you put kids on massive pitches, adults want to win and pick bigger, stronger and faster kids. They’ll get kids just to whack it over the top and when they get through to a huge goal and a tiny little kid, there’s no challenge for them and it’s very easy for them to score.
“So in theory, with the changes to smaller pitches and smaller goals, you can have much more of a focus on technique and skill development for the future generations.”
U-8 Pitch & Goal Size
The FA recommends that children under the age of eight play 5-a-side games.
- Goalpost Size: 12 x 6 feet.
- Pitch Area: 40 x 30 yards.
- Penalty Area: 16 x 9 yards.
U-10 Pitch & Goal Size
The FA policy for children over the age of eight but under the age of ten is to play 7-a-side games.
- Goalpost Size: 12 x 6 feet.
- Pitch Area: 60 x 40 yards.
- Penalty Area: 18 x 10 yards.
U-12 Pitch & Goal Size
According to FA rules, children aged 10 to 12 should participate in 9v9 matches.
- Goalpost Size: 7 x 16 feet.
- Pitch Area: 80 x 50 yards.
- Penalty Area: 32 x 13 yards.
U-14 Pitch & Goal Size
The FA allows this age group to compete in traditional 11-a-side matches.
- Goalpost Size: 21 x 7 feet.
- Pitch Area: 90 x 55 yards.
- Penalty Area: 35 x 14 yards.
U-16 Pitch & Goal Size
- Goalpost Size: 21 x 7 feet.
- Pitch Area: 100 x 60 yards.
- Penalty Area: 44 x 18 yards.
Full-size dimensions are appropriate for more mature football age categories.
Football age groups are critical for developing young players into full-fledged senior professionals. To develop into high-level players, youth footballers should take a systematic approach.
If you read this article completely, you will have gained valuable knowledge about youth football. From age group division and concept to ball, pitch, and post sizes assigned to each group in question. Thank you for taking the time to read this! See you later!
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