Understanding the U5-U6 Player

Characteristics of U5/U6 Players

  • Minimal differences between boys and girls
  • No sense of pace; easy fatigue and rapid recovery
  • Primitive motor skills and eye-hand/eye-foot coordination
  • Throwing, catching, and kicking a ball present real challenges
  • Still learning to control their body; love to run, jump, and roll around
  • Very short attention span; need simple instructions
  • No understanding of time and space relationships
  • Tend toward illogical thinking; fantasy and reality frequently intermingle in playtime
  • Highly egocentric; play in parallel to (and not with) each other
  • No sense of “team” or group dynamics
  • Focus is on the ball; they do not like to “share the toy”
  • Psychologically fragile (very vulnerable to criticism from adults

Age-appropriate Implications for U5/U6 Players

  • Movement education is very important; balance, skipping, hopping, jumping, running (forward and backward), getting down and back up, and changing directions are all essential skills to rehearse often
  • Ball control (trapping), running with the ball (dribbling), ball-striking (shooting and passing), and ball-winning are the main priorities for skill development
  • “Kicking” (or “booting”) is NOT SOCCER!  We must teach players that we always control the ball first, and then decide to dribble, pass, or shoot.
  • Give generous praise and provide a pressure-free environment
  • Practices = 45 minutes in length
  • Coed soccer is the preferred format, as it exposes all players to the widest-possible range of personality types.  Boys tend to be naturally more competitive in nature, whereas girls tend to be more cooperative.  Soccer at the higher levels of play requires players to have BOTH these attributes.
  • Players have issues with throw-ins and kick-ins, so postpone these concepts to later age groups (U7+)