Game Management

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Zone 1 | U-6 to U-12


  • Coaches arrive 30 minutes prior to kickoff
  • Set responsibilities with staff
  • Consider the environmental conditions
  • 10-20 minutes of actual warm-up [10 minutes for U5/U6, 15 minutes for U7/U8, 20 minutes for U9/U10]
    • individual warm-up [U5/U6, U7/U8, U9/U10]
    • pairs [U7/U8, U9/U10]
    • small group [U9/U10] (possession activities, directional games)
  • U9/U10 to U11/U12
    • Introduce goalkeeper into game/warm-up
    • introduce dynamic stretching to promote good habits
  • Starting line-up
    • Do not over-emphasize position and tactics – avoid specific positions
  • Team huddle
    • Final instruction/reminders – cheer!


  • Start game, sit down and enjoy the game
  • Finding a balance between the puppet master, cheerleader and silent “non-existent” coach
    • Limit coaching!
  • Be sure all players get equal playing time
  • Be sure players get to play in different positions
  • In the event of an unbalanced game/blow-out, look for different ideas to even out the game:
    • Communicate with league officials prior to start of season – comply with league rules
    • Subtract a player from the team that is up
    • Make adjustments to teams (borrow a player, re-align two teams)
    • Sit key players
    • Play key players in different positions
    • Subtract a player from the team that is winning


  • Relax and hydrate
  • Get on their level; be sure all players are looking at the coach (no distractions behind the coach – including the sun). Get away from the parents/sidelines!
  • Be sure that information is positive, emotions are under control and voice is at a controlled level.
  • Sandwich approach of information (+ – +)
    • U5/U6 to U7/U8 – simple information, if anything at all
    • U9/U10 to U11/U12 – simple to complex (general to specific) with information, address basic principles rather than specific mistakes
  • Communicate with staff prior to speaking with players
  • Limit the amount of time speaking to your team (think about age of players and how long they can listen to the information)
  • Substitutions
  • Quick warm-up prior to starting second half


  • Shake hands (Coach must be a good role model by shaking the hands of referees, opposing coach and players)
  • Check for injuries
  • Brief cool-down stretch
  • Stay positive regardless of the match outcome
  • Snacks/drinks
  • Reminder about next training session
  • Be very brief after game and save discussions for the next training session
  • Occasionally address the parents in a post-game discussion


Modified Excerpt from US Youth Soccer Player Development Model for more information you can access the full Development Model on the ASC website.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]