The Method to Our Game Structure Madness

League Game Timeline

5 – 8  minutes
: We spend the first 5 - 8 minutes of every league session encouraging each player to introduce themselves to the two teams that they will be sharing the field with. We like to take the time to do this well because we want the players to feel comfortable with their teammates, their coach, and the other team. We also want each player to gain the social experience of introducing themselves to a group of their peers, and we want to set the tone for a non-competitive field environment between the two teams.

17 – 20 minutes: The next 17 – 20 minutes are spent teaching/learning a real soccer skill in the most fun way possible- with songs, and imaginative activities, and enthusiasm. Every child gets to think creatively AND have a ball at their feet for a generous portion of the league session. Why? Because the ability to control a soccer ball with your feet is the ultimate objective of our sport. It’s also the hardest to perfect-- that’s why we start teaching them now! We believe that the ability to successfully perform the most difficult technical skills will naturally transfer to the ability to perform the least difficult skills, without spending hours of practice time focused on the least difficult skills.

We would rather spend our time teaching them how to dribble and shoot the ball than pass the ball. Outside the fact that young players don’t quite grasp the idea of losing the ball or giving it away, logic tells us that, later in their careers, if players can successfully manipulate the ball with their feet and aim a nice firm shot at the goal, they’ll easily be able to pass the ball to their teammate 20 yards away and that teammate will easily be able to receive and keep that pass with a nice controlled first touch.  

30 minutes: Then we’ll spend a whole half hour playing a goal-to-goal, non-competitive game. Since we start our players out so young, we want to introduce the concept as gently as we can, so we start our 30 minutes of game time off with more than one ball on the field. Our young players can sometimes struggle with the idea of being able to take the ball away from another player. Or, sometimes even more difficult, is the idea that another player can take the ball away from them.

Before we introduce either of those concepts, we want our players to experience as much success with the ball as possible. First because we believe in the transfer of training as mentioned above, but also because we want our players to have a high self-concept and the confidence to try anything, we start our games out with more than ball at each goal. Instead of starting in the middle of the field with a traditional kickoff, we set each team up to dribble the ball down the field and score goals without too much interference. Once the players on the field have all gotten a chance to dribble and score, the coaches will start to pull balls off the field and make the game more challenging.

5 minutes: We like to spend the last five minutes of league just having fun. Sometimes the coaches will jump on the field and play against the kids. Sometimes we will get moms and dads and siblings out on the field to show our players that their parents and brothers and sisters think soccer is fun and exciting too. But we always like to end with a cheer and a tunnel! We want the players to leave the field on a high note and running through a tunnel of adults is such a wonderful experience for them. It shows them that they are supported and that everyone cheering for them in the tunnel thinks that they did an excellent job. It also reminds them that soccer is a lot of fun, and hopefully they’ll forget that maybe they didn’t score as many goals as they wanted or that someone took the ball away from them and that made them sad. The last five minutes are dedicated to each player leaving the field with a smile on their face! 

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