Planning a football training session differs from one age group to another. Children have different needs and attributes as they grow up, so training drills should be created according to their requirements. Sessions should be organized in a manner that targets areas that need to be improved and will assist their physical and mental development.
When a child starts to train football, he starts with the development of elementary techniques. This includes a process from simple to complex and from easy to difficult. Elementary technique is performed without opponents, without a certain time and space. Additionally, attention should be focused on the correct execution of the elements of football technique. The polygons used at the beginning should serve for some easier exercises so that the child can master the basic elementary techniques. As the child progresses, the polygons should be more and more complex.
Some Factors to Consider
In order to successfully plan training drills and schedules, you should first consider several factors as every one of them has an influence on your plan:
What is the Age Group of your players?
Every age group has different capabilities and needs. Your training plan must take into account the age of your players, because every single one has a unique requirement. They have different physical and mental predispositions, and different levels of tactical and technical knowledge. Therefore, each group must have a football training session carefully crafted to meet the needs of players of that age.
What is the Number of players available?
This is a factor that always needs to be addressed. Training drills that are available to you are depending on the number of players present at the session. After establishing the number of players, you should look for a way to include all the players in attendance.
What are the Working Conditions?
How your training session will be massively depends on the conditions regarding playing field and the weather. Drills will differ whether you have the entire football field at your conveyance or a part of it. If it is a sunny day, you will definitely have a session outside. However, what will happen if it is raining? You must adapt, and take your sessions indoors, at the gym, or have a meeting in the locker room to discuss tactics and formation ideas. You must be creative and use the best of the conditions that are imposed on you.
What is the goal?
Training sessions are not the same if you want to improve your players’ agility, stamina, or if you want to improve their passing game. Each objective requires training drills that focus on the development of that particular attribute. Put on the paper the skill you wish to work on and then plan accordingly.
How long should it take?
The amount of time spent on every training session is not the same. It depends on multiple factors. For example, if a training session is scheduled a day after a game, then this should be a recovery section with light drills in order to loosen up the players a little and not to tire them too much. Also, these sessions should not be too long. How long each session will take, depends also on the age group. Younger players will have shorter sessions, 45-60 minutes, while older players age 16, or 18 will have sessions that last around 90 minutes.
Football Training Sessions for Different Age Groups
When working with children from 5 to 7 years of age, training should be planned in a way that children are interested in playing football through games and fun, so that coming to the training session is a pleasure to them and not an obligation. Emphasis is to be placed on the development of techniques and coordination of their movements. In this age category, training is based on various types of fun games: without a ball, with a ball, and with different props where our primary goal is to get children interested in playing sports. Exercises are mandatory for the development of motor and functional abilities of children of that age, namely:
- Reaction speed and frequency of movement
- The development of flexibility and coordination of movements
- The development of correct movement (walking, running, turns, jumps, etc.)
Additionally, exercises should be based on basic elements of technique such as guiding and controlling the ball and receiving and passing. Ball mastery is especially important for the development of the awareness of the ball of young football players. Will Kerver, the famous Dutch coach, designed specific exercises necessary for the development of technique. For children who appear on the football pitch for the first time, it is necessary to do exercises that develop a sense for the ball. One part of each football training session is dedicated to the work of children with the ball, which always ends with a short football game until two goals scored.
|Goal of the football training session||Get kids interested in football and start to develop their basic football skills|
|Training Drills||Dribbling around the cones
Dribbling in pairs of two
Sided games with smaller goals
Passing the ball in pairs of two players
Basic shooting skills with emphasize on right shooting technique
|Session Duration||45 minutes|
At the ages of 8 and 9, maximum attention at this age range is paid to the development and improvement of technical training of children as well as the development of basic motor skills. In order for a child to start successfully playing football, it is necessary to master the basic skills and elements of basic techniques. At this age, we work on improving individual abilities, on proper ball control and the development of creativity. We also pay attention to improving motor skills and developing communication with teammates.
The work consists of exercises with the ball and without the ball, in which children develop and increase the speed of reaction, acceleration and maximum speed, which is important for changing direction, stopping, moving, dribbling, etc. Children begin to work on individual play in the numerical ratio of players 1 vs 1 and 2 vs 1, with an improvement of their socializing and competitive spirit at the same time. Bear in mind that children should always have fun. Allow them to play together and do not let the result be the primary goal. The most important goal is that the children are happy and able to express themselves in a positive atmosphere and play with their friends. As a result of that, they will develop a desire to play football and will go to football training sessions with enthusiasm.
Training Plan Summary for Age Group 8 – 9
|Goal of the football training session||Master the basic skill and improve motor skills and basic level of communication with teammates|
|Training Drills||1 vs 1 turn and shot exercise
2 vs 2 on one goal
4 vs 4 on 4 goals
Dribbling around opponent and shoot
|Session Duration||60 minutes|
Football Training Session for Age Group 10 – 12
In the age group of 10-12 years, work continues on improving the techniques, improving the ability of players to understand the game and insisting on performing technical elements at an excellent pace, as well as the application of these elements in the game. In addition, movement coordination is significantly improved with precise and faster execution of movements and this period is the best for training the elements of technique and motor skills of the football game. We work with this category of players using the method of continuous repetition process and the method of play. Although the dominant role in working with football players aged 10 to 12 is around their technical preparation, it is very important to pay enough attention to the development of their motor skills in this period. In working with football players aged 10 to 12, the basis of work should be:
It is necessary to pay a lot of attention to the development of coordination skills, because this age period is considered the most optimal for establishing coordination between the nervous system and leg work, which is essential for football players. This can be achieved through two methodological directions:
- Systematic adoption of new movements
- Practicing of already adopted movements, albeit in changing conditions.
Monitoring and assistance in performing certain movements, in which the child makes mistakes, will allow correction of potential problems in coordination and ensure development in the right direction.
When working with football players aged 10 to 12, it is necessary to pay special attention to the development of speed characteristics. During this period, there is a large natural increase in their speed. In this age range, you should use short football training sections that do not require great muscular effort.
The development of explosive strength in football players should begin in their initial stages of training with the application of exercises adequate for that age. Exercises for the development of explosive strength should be applied at the beginning or in the middle of the main part of the training, when the players are not tired.
Flexibility and Agility
Overall flexibility and agility should be emphasized when working with children aged 10 to 12. Flexibility exercises must be an integral part of every training, which means that this ability is processed continuously over a long period of time. Introduction part and final part of the football training session should focus on exercises improving their versatility and movements’ coordination.
Training Plan Summary for Age Group 10 – 12
|Goal of the football training session||Improving speed, agility and coordination|
|Training Drills||3 vs 1 rondo
Quick pass and shot
Passing in tight space
2 vs 1 situations
2 vs 2 blocking the shot
|Session Duration||75 minutes|
Football Training Session for Age Group 12 – 14
At the age of 12-14, children decide whether they are for football or not. Emphasis is placed on the game, on playing as many games as possible. This way they will improve the teamwork and communication between players and develop their creative abilities. They should play intra-squad football games 11 vs 11 as often as possible at training sessions. Also, being involved in tournaments is crucial at this age group. Furthermore, this will increase their competitiveness and establish a bond between teammates as they are focused on mutual goals.
Training Plan Summary for Age Group 12 – 14
|Goal of the football training session||Developing team communication and competitiveness|
|Training Drills||Intra-squad friendlies
4 vs 4 with one goalie
5 vs 5 tournaments
11 vs 11 games
One touch passing
|Session Duration||75-90 minutes|
Football Training Session for Age Group 15 – 17
The age of 15-17 is characterized with a large increase in strength. Maximum strength, speed, jumping, dynamic movement are some important features of this biological development period. Hence training should be more intense and complex. The result at this age becomes even more important. Exercises are chosen in a way to include:
- performance of certain techniques where they are under pressure by the opponents and with limited time
- situations in the game 11:11 where they will be able to express the necessary knowledge for their age
- further development of technical and tactical versatility through situational task in the game containing aggravating elements with the same number players, with a lesser number of players or with a surplus of players
- game with a limited number of allowed touches, which improves coordination and technical skills.
Training Plan Summary for Age Group 15 – 17
|Goal of the football training session||Further improvement of skills|
|Training Drills||Limited number of allowed touches game
5 vs 3 situations
3 vs 3 transitions game
Circle speed passing
Instep shot with pressure
7 VS 6 one goal with counters
|Session Duration||90 minutes|
Football Training Session for Age Group 17 – 18
At the age of 17 to 18, young football players need to prepare for the competition and therefore for the appropriate training. The structure and the characteristics of football training sessions are similar to the training of adult, professional players. Since it’s about the players who have already reached a certain level of training and abilities, the aim is preparation for tournaments that are considered as competitive games.
It is set in the form of a ratio of 6 vs 6, 5 vs 5, 4 vs 4, with different requirements (limited number of contacts with the ball, pressure by the opponents, etc.). The main focus of these drills is to increase their tactical knowledge and understanding of different tactics and strategies. In these games, in addition to solving technical and tactical tasks, fitness training tasks are usually solved. At this age group, attention should be on the development of primary muscle groups (it is assumed that work on strengthening other muscle groups continues). Heavy endurance training with young football players aged 15 to 16 should be conducted only once a week, while with football players aged 17 to 18 that routine should be at least twice per week. Physical endurance is essential at this age group.
Training Plan Summary for Age Group 17 – 18
|Goal of the football training session||Enhancing tactical knowledge and preparation for physically demanding games|
|Training Drills||Passing under pressure
Limited number of ball contact games
6 vs 6 , 5 vs 5 , 4 vs 4 situations
Practicing right moment to shot
Shot under pressure 1 vs 2 defenders situation
Gym fitness sessions
|Session Duration||90-120 minutes|
Do you need an Assistant Coach?
The short answer is yes. An assistant coach is an essential ta all age groups. At a younger age group the kids are at the peak of their learning absorption, so you need to exploit it as best as possible. The issue is the energy they’ve got when their young. An assistant coach would help regulate and organise the sessions, while the coach would focus on the tactical and intricacies of the training session. Its a learning experience for all, any coach should start as an assistant with kids and proceeding to taking responsibility in the future. Coaching kids is extremely demanding, its crucial on their development that you’d give them the best possible platform. So yes, an assistant coach is needed at all age groups (with different roles as age groups advance).
At older age groups, drills become much more detailed and complex. Around the age of 15, youths’ development comes to a crucial moment, with sessions that aim to pave the way to their professional career. Here, an assistant may help with providing the necessary support to ensure the drills quality and goal fulfilment, and to plan the training himself according to agreed philosophy.
With players at the age of 18 years, football training sessions are at a high level of intensity and complexity, with a lot of research time invested in their creation and implementation.
In conclusion, planning football training sessions is a complicated task. It takes a lot of time and energy to plan drills that are in accordance with each age group’s requirements, needs and capabilities. You have to take into account all the factors that affect the design of training sessions, and after you carefully analyse all of them, you should plan a training schedule.
Also, keep in mind to always review your training sessions and change them if needed. If conditions change, you must adapt with different training drills and tailor them accordingly. Planning football training sessions is a mission that includes a vast amount of research done before, and if done properly, it will ensure high quality training sessions which will ensure that players reach their full potential.