Over the last couple of weeks I have covered a practice curriculum for nine & ten year olds as well as a plan for elevens & twelves, along with a few reminders to keep in mind during your practice time. Now it’s on to the thirteen and fourteen year olds. What I can’t stress enough is that the curriculum below may be too advanced or it may not push your team as much as you’d like. What I think is important is that you have a plan of attack for where you would like to bring the group along.
- Passes – on the ground and in the air – are accurate over 20 to 30 yards, delivered with the correct weight and to the proper side of the receiver.
- Some “position specific” or functional technical training.
- Heading with a jump: accurate headers at the goal, effective defensive heading.
- Volleys and half volleys, shooting from crosses.
- Lots of shooting under pressure: always hitting the frame of the goal with hard shots, aggressive attitude about trying to hit the sides of the net.
- Fluid turns under pressure.
- Slide tackles.
- Beginning to swerve the ball.
- Receiving air balls as well as ground balls effectively.
- Developing good verbal and non-verbal communication.
- Making good choices about when to pass, dribble, or shoot.
- Looking for the third attacker when in possession of the ball; solid grasp of playing in triangles.
- Exposure to various systems: 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 3-4-3, etc.
- Ways to create space for a teammate.
- Understanding offside.
- Appreciating variables: weather, size and condition of the field, etc.
- Awareness of the situation during a game: ahead, behind, tied, time left.
- Asking for the ball from the ball possessor at the right moment.
- Roles of the players on the field in the three “blocks”: forwards, midfielders, and backs.
- Some “position specific” or functional tactical training.
- Takeovers and blind side runs (to go with wall passes and overlaps) : ways for two attackers to outplay one defender.
- Secure tactical sense about shooting: generally to the far post as opposed to the near post, low rather than high, etc.
- A really aggressive, dynamic attitude about shooting.
- Using deception: looking one way, passing another, for example.
- Understanding defenders’ priorities: intercept the ball, tackle at the moment your opponent receives the ball, etc.
- Defenders understanding how to “shepherd” attackers, how to push them wide.
- Roles of the first and second attackers and defenders in 2 v 2 situations: ideas for combination play, pressing, cover.
- Understanding defensive pressure, cover, and balance.
- Always thinking ahead!
- Nothing without the ball.
- No strength or endurance work for its own sake.
The Practice Environment
- A learning environment.
- Vigorous, pressured activities and intense, competitive games are the core of practice.
- Tactical problems to solve at every practice.
- Lots of 2 v 1 and 2 v 2 duels.
- 3 v 3 or 4 v 4 games at every practice.
- Practicing situations and restarts: corners, free kicks, penalty kicks, throw-ins.
- Lots of refined, incisive technical and tactical advice and suggestions from the coach.
- # 5 ball, regular goals.
- The week’s practice is 90 minutes long.
- Beginning to specialize by position.
- Equal playing time. Allow everyone to start at some time during the season, hopefully several times. This allows them to experience both tasks… starting strong, and coming off the bench. Both VITAL for their development!
- Stress on fair play, following the spirit of the game.
- Understanding the importance of good pre-game warm-up and post-game warmdown.
- Ability to adjust during game.