Gahanna Soccer Association

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GSA U-4 Soccer

What is the format?

Sessions will consist of 20 minutes of practice and 20-30 minutes of playing. Games will be 3v3 on a small field with no goalkeeper. Teams will be formed at the site at the time of each session. The goal is to make this fun and to build self-confidence in the players.


Who is the coach?

Parents run the sessions, both practice and game time. We will teach parents how to do this at the parent meeting before the season starts. At the first session, an experienced coach will be present to help get organized and monitor the session.


When and where will the sessions be held?

Sessions will be at Headley Park on Saturdays starting at 2:00 PM. There are 8 sessions in total.


What equipment do players need?

Parents must buy shin guards, which are absolutely required. A size 3 soccer ball is required. It is recommended, but not required, that each player wear the official GSA uniform. This makes it easier for players to understand who their teammates are. Uniforms consist of two shirts, one pair of shorts and two pairs of socks. These are the same uniforms players wear for U5 and all older divisions in GSA. Soccer cleats are optional (any athletic shoes are fine) but baseball style cleats (cleat at the toe) are illegal.


What happens if the weather is bad?

We will not play in wet or cold weather. Call GSA at 855-0506 or check the GSA website for rain-out information. If a session is in progress and lightning is seen or thunder heard, immediately end the session and go home.

How to Run U-4 Training and Games

As players arrive, they will be assigned to a field (6 players to a field). As soon as a field is complete, they can start with the practice drills and games. If parents want certain players to play together, that can be arranged as long as they check in together. Each week, come back to the same field so the same group of kids stays together.


Every player should bring both blue and yellow shirts, so that teams can be formed for the games. Every player should bring a ball, because for most of the practice every player will be working with their own ball at their feet. This maximizes the learning of foot skills, which is the first route to enjoying soccer. Take frequent breaks during the practice for water. Each drill should be done for no more than 5 minutes, and the whole practice should be around 20 minutes. Then move on to the games.


Practice Set-up

Take the kids to the center circle on the field. This circular area is used for the warm-up and the first two drills.


Warm-up

Kids this age don’t take long to warm up, but I like to begin with some fun exercises. I have them run around the outside of the circle, spaced about 2 seconds behind each other. This gets everyone running at once, without it really being a race. Then dribble the ball around the outside of the circle. This is very hard for the players, because it requires them to change direction, keep control of the ball, etc. However, dribbling is just about the only thing that players of this age do, so it is the best skill to practice. Go round twice in each direction, keeping the ball close. Encourage them to use the inside of the foot to touch the ball.


Drill 1: Red Light, Green Light

Everyone takes a ball into the circle. Coach says “Green Light” and the players must dribble the ball around, staying inside the circle. This makes them change direction frequently. Coach says “Red Light” and each player must stop with a foot on the ball.


The kids enjoy the sudden instructions, and learn to keep the ball close to them. Once they have stopped with a foot on the ball, have them roll the ball back and forth with the sole of the foot, then side to side and around in circles – then repeat with the other foot.


Drill 2: Ball Tag

Every player has a ball, and must dribble around inside the circle. One player is “it”. Make sure all the players know who it is! All the other players try to hit that player’s ball with their own ball. If they do, then they become “it”. The coach calls out who is “it”, and can make sure that everyone gets a turn (if one player is it for too long, just announce another name). A variation on this is for the coach to be the target rather than a ball.


Drill 3: Dribble and Shoot

This is simply to prepare for the game. Each player takes a turn at dribbling the ball the length of the field and into the goal. Discourage a long shot with the toe, and have them tap the inside of the foot, so they feel where the ball should touch the foot. This drill gives them the confidence that they can do it during the game, so make sure they eventually get the ball into the goal, even if it takes several tries.


U-4 Games

Games are played 3 v 3. There are no goalkeepers. Begin by making sure the players know who their teammates are, and which direction they are trying to go. Roll the ball into the middle and play begins. If the ball goes out of bounds, an adult (parent or coach) rolls it back onto the field and play continues. Other soccer rules are loosely applied, with the aim being to keep the kids playing rather than enforcing rules that they do not understand. The games consist of four 5-minute quarters. Score is not kept in these games – remember, the only purpose is to have fun.


One parent coach should be on the field with the players, to encourage and coach both teams. Learn the names of the players and help them to get involved. It’s really not a competition at this age. Keep the game moving, and feel free to throw the ball to a player who is not very active. If every player in the game scores a goal at some point, then everyone will go home happy. Keep track of time and take plenty of breaks, especially on a hot day. There will be times when a player wants a break, or is just not interested in playing. Keep the other players playing and try to get the non-participant back after a minute or two. Important: if the game is a mismatch, then change the teams.


After 45 minutes (including practice time), it is time to wrap up. Try to make sure each child goes home feeling good about the experience. Remember, they are only 3 or 4 and they will not always want to participate fully!

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