Style of Play: The Rush Way to Play is based upon movement and activity by both player and ball. Possession-oriented does not fully describe how we play; attack-oriented does. Whether in possession or in defense, we are attacking. Rush Players play with freedom yet understand the importance of responsibility and the balance between the two. Rush teams are flexible and adapt to varying circumstances. The Rush Way to Play represents both passion and purpose. Stating this style of play is very important as it affects our coaching curriculum at all ages.
Core Values: There are 11 players on the field and so Rush Soccer has 11 core values as well.
Playing Time: Playing time for any individual is completely at the coach’s discretion. Rush encourages that playing time at all levels should be equal throughout the season. At the younger developmental ages, players should be exposed to as much of the game as possible. Limiting team roster size will aid in increased playing time for all players.
Substitutions: Regardless of the state of the game, all players should come off the field at the center line and exchange courtesy with their replacement. This will promote team spirit and give confidence to the players entering the field.
Pre-game / Warm Up Routines: For this age group, the Rush Way suggestion is to take the warm up opportunity to review a concept trained during the week on a quick activity. End this period with a fun, engaging activity. Normally this is achieved by simply shooting at goal. Promote the excitement of playing, and remember that kids at this age don’t need any type of warm up from a biological point of view, so routines like stretching are not needed.
During the Match: Game are a great coaching opportunity, but caution, don’t over do it, always respect the 4:1 coaching approach, and make most of your comments when off the ball and preferably in natural stoppages.
Half Time: Rush encourages players to analyze problems and discuss solutions on their own before coach intervention. Players should be given a couple of minutes away from the coaching staff to voice opinions and discuss solutions. The coach should then bring their views and knowledge to the group. The Rush Way expects our comments to apply the 4:1 positive to instructional coaching method. Don’t over-coach in this period, remember that kids’ span of attention is limited and they don’t understand abstract concepts at this age, so focus on the motivational aspects and the enjoyment of playing.
Post Game: Once again: the Rush Way expects our comments to apply the 4:1 comments. In this age group, stay very positive independently of results and always highlighting the enjoyment of playing the sport.
Greeting: Players are expected to greet the staff with a handshake for all staff local, national and international. The Rush staff across the country expect their players to shake their coaches hand each time they meet. Why?...respect, build social skills, break down barriers, learn culturally accepted behavior, the list goes on.
Coaches' Sideline Behavior: From the outside, the conduct of the coach on the sideline can be perceived as a reflection of the conduct of all coaches within Rush Soccer. Coaches are a reflection of their players and should conduct themselves with respect for the officials, the opponents and the game of soccer. Remain positive when at all possible but motivational throughout. Education and being a first class role model are the paramount reasons that a coach has been given the honor to coach for Rush. It is always important to remember this.
Parents' Sideline Behavior: Rush parents are expected to be positive, motivational and supportive to all players and officials, period. Parents are expected not to coach from the sidelines but enjoy the experience of the game.
Players' Sideline Behavior: Players are encouraged to support other Rush teams and give their full-hearted support. Learn the Rush song; be as loud but respectful as possible and help educate the rest of the country in the way soccer should be supported, as it is in the rest of the world.
Risk Management: Accepting a coaching position means accepting responsibilities. Exercise reasonable care, have a first aid kit, take a CPR course, as well as make sure every kid departs with their parents or designated individuals, never leave a player alone after practice, among others.
OBJECTIVE: Develop Healthy Players With A Strong Passion For Soccer
Age Group Coaching Approach: At this age group our role as a coach is to introduce the game of soccer to these young players. Our main focus is to provide players with an understanding of the game and the rules of the game. Many coaches take it upon themselves to physically do everything for their players (chase balls that go out of bounds, set balls for kick-ins, goal-kicks, and kick-offs). It is the job of the coach to show or demonstrate to the players how to execute these functions and then allow the player on their own to implement these rules of the game. Allow these young players to learn by trial and error, use the game as the teacher.
All training should be structured around the technical side of the game, emphasizing fun (U5/U6 – footwork and dribbling; U7 - footwork, dribbling, running with ball, passing, and receiving; U8 - footwork, dribbling, running with ball, passing, receiving, challenging, heading, finishing, attacking, and defending). Encourage players to be creative, take chances, to dribble, and to go at opposing players. Too often coaches emphasize passing and clearing the ball. We want our players to be comfortable with the ball not clear it away every time they get the ball. Encourage players to control, dribble, and score goals.
During practice each player should have a ball. This will allow them to get much needed repetitions. Guard against having lines. Rule of thumb, no more than 2 players should be waiting to participate in an activity. When possible have everyone participate. Keep exercises and activities short; do not spend more than 90 seconds on an exercise that is working on a technique. Do not spend more than 10 minutes on an activity. This will prevent the players from becoming bored and disinterested. Keep your coaching short and to the point, at this age players struggle to comprehend. Have players participate in activities and play the game.
It is extremely important to stay 4:1 on the positive (“Good job”, “well done”, “outstanding”, etc.) to instructional comments (“Dribble with the inside and outside of the foot”) through out the session. Encourage players to enjoy the game and have fun! It is each coach’s job to create this environment.
Psycho-Social Fundamentals: When you coach a team or a player, the most important thing is always to understand who you are coaching. This age group has a very short span of attention, so make your points very brief and very concrete. Their brains don’t understand abstractions. “SHOW ME” are two very powerful words. Also, they don’t have the capacity to collaborate with many elements: the kids are going through a very egocentric stage. It is “me and my ball” so don’t demand too many passes because they’re not ready for it yet.
Safety is of utmost importance here, understanding it from a holistic point of view. Kids needs to feel safe in their environment to open up and experiment. Pay attention to signs like kids with their arms behind their back that show disengagement or fear. Sometimes the kids are misplaced in environments that are too challenging for them. Remember, if the kid doesn’t feel safe, he doesn’t open up to experience, and if he doesn’t experience he doesn’t learn.
Preferred Training Methodologies: Focus on game based methodologies that integrate long free play periods, like Play Practice Play, and/or Analytical to Global.
Highlight The Core Values Passion, Respect, Safety, and mostly Enjoyment!
So here is a Psycho-social Cheat Sheet.
- Motivation: 4:1 Coaching Method
- Self Confidence: Remember that praising by the effort rather than the skill helps children develop a growth mindset.
- Small Numbers Collaboration Capacity
- Competitive: Use competition in a developmental way, players can and should compete against themselves as well as others, they should display humility in victory and also accept that losing can teach us valuable lessons.
- Concrete Thinking: Avoid abstractions. Short and concrete. Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic through demonstation.
- Respect & Discipline
- Enjoyment: Always, always, always keep it FUN! We want these age groups to develop a passion for the game, and that results from future association of these experiences with positive feelings.
Physical Fundamentals: Kids at this stage don’t possess anaerobic lactic capacity, that is the body’s capacity to produce energy for long high intense efforts. Aerobic capacity, at the same time, increases as a result of metabolic changes that derive from growth rather than from training. On the other hand, the kids anaerobic alactic capacity is good, which is the capacity to make short, high intense efforts and recover quickly.
All of this is telling us that we should avoid demanding our kids to run laps or similar approaches towards developing aerobic capacity until they are past puberty, as this increase will purely result from growth. On the contrary, if demanded, this would create a lot of stress in the kids body, which could result in a negative association with the activity for the future. Repetitions of long distance high speed runs are also not recommended. Short sprints are good, and the kids recover quickly from them.
Based on these facts, science recommends that we focus on the development of basic motor skills, reaction, coordination, and balance through games. If you can do it through soccer, it’s always better. Think of it as: Throwing and Catching are BMS’s that could be developed through goalkeeping games.
Physical Cheat Sheet:
- Acyclic Speed & Acceleration
- Spatial Orientation
- BMS’s: Running, Jumping, Throwing, Catching, Rolling Over
- Coordination & Balance
- NO Pure Aerobic Activities
- NO Pure Anaerobic Lactic Activities
Technical Fundamentals: Technical development is the primary component for this age group proportionally compared to the physical or tactical. Focus on some the basic technical skills of running with the ball, dribbling, and shooting. Give increasing relevance to Passing and Receiving by the upper end of the age group.
Heading starts at U12 in the USA. However, correct technique can be introduced with a balloon or volleyball at younger ages so players can experiment.
Technical Cheat Sheet
- Ball Skills
- Passing (U7 - U8)
- Receiving (U7 - U8)
Tactical Fundamentals: The fact that children at this stage can’t interpret abstractions limits the tactical scope vastly. That’s ok, there will be other stages to focus on this. Remember that Tactics has a foundation and dependency on psychological, physical, and technical development, and that this last area (technique) is the main priority of the stage.
Therefore, only focus on basic principles of game phases and individual and group tactics. Examples are:
- Defending: Positioning. Standing between the ball and our goal when defending. Chase the ball down!
- Attacking: Spread Out!
Obviously, when you explain these things, do it in the most simple possible way.
Recommended activities: Build the game progressively through numbers, focus here on 1v1, 2v1, 1v2, 2v2, 3v2, 2v3, 3v3. Don't go past 4v4.
Fun Games (See Annex I): Crab soccer, crazy box dribble, marbles, moving goals, among others, and a lot of Scrimmages!
A. Ball Control: Expectations
Juggling & Tricks: The players should be able to do the juggling expectations up to and for the U8 age group. Players are expected to begin developing comfort with the ball. Encouraging players to have fun and enjoy juggling this will influence them to work on this at home.
- Kick Right High: Kick the ball with your right foot as high as you can.
- Kick Left High: Kick the ball with your left foot as high as you can.
- Punt Right Distance: Punt the ball with your right foot as far as you can to a partner up the field.
- Punt Left Distance: Punt the ball with your left foot as far as you can to a partner up the field.
- Punt Right Off Bounce: Kick the ball with your right foot off the bounce as high as you can.
- Punt Left Off Bounce: Kick the ball with your left foot off the bounce as high as you can.
- Kick Catch: Kick the ball with your foot 3-4 feet in the air and catch. Alternate your right and left foot.
- Thigh Catch: Play the ball with your thigh 1-2 feet in the air and catch. Alternate your right and left foot.
- Scoop Ball for Height: See how high you can scoop the ball up in the air.
- Scoop Ball for Distance: Scoop the ball to a partner.
- 5 Kick Catches, Right: Kick the ball with your right foot 3-4 feet in the air and catch. Do this five times in a row.
- 5 Thigh Catches, Left: Kick the ball with your right foot 3-4 feet in the air and catch. Do this five times in a row.
- Head Catch: Head the ball straight up and catch.
- Feet Twice: Juggle the ball with your feet twice in a row and catch.
- Thigh Twice: Juggle the ball with your thigh twice in a row and catch.
- Head Twice: Juggle the ball with your head twice in a row and catch.
- Thigh Foot Catch: Juggle with your thigh then to your foot and catch.
- Head Thigh Catch: Throw the ball up in the air and juggle from your head to your thigh to your foot, catch.
- 3 Juggles: Juggle the ball three times in a row.
- Inside of Foot: Kick the ball with the inside of your foot and catch.
- Feet 3 Times: Juggle the ball with your feet 3 times in a row.
- Thighs 3 Times: Juggle the ball with your thighs 3 times in a row.
- Head 3 Times: Juggle the ball with your head 3 times in a row.
- Punt High, Catch: Punt the ball in the air with your right foot and catch it. Do the same only with your left foot.
- 2 Thighs – 2 Feet: Juggle the ball twice with the thigh then twice with your feet.
- Foot, Thigh, Foot: Juggle the ball from your foot to your thigh and back down to your foot.
- Bounce Kick 5 Times: On a bouncing surface juggle the ball and let it bounce in between each juggle. Do this 5 times in a row.
- 10 Feet Catches: Juggle with your foot and catch. Do this 10 times in a row.
- 10 Head Catches: Juggle with your head and catch. Do this 10 times in a row.
- 10 Thigh Catches: Juggle with your thigh and catch. Do this 10 times in a row.
Footwork: The player should be able to do the footwork program up to and for the U8 age group. Footwork. Encourage players to be creative.
- Dribbling: Using any part of the foot to move the ball around.
- Foundation: Tapping the ball between your feet. Legs are bent, body is relaxed.
- Left Foot: Dribbling the ball using the left foot only.
- Right Foot: Dribbling the ball using the right foot only.
- Foundation 2: Same as foundation only add a job, ie. “freeze”, or “switch balls”, etc.
- Top Touches: Alternating (gently) touching on top of a stationary ball with the “ball of the foot” in a hopping motion. Must have a rhythm.
- Top Touches 2: Same as top touches only add forward movement to the ball.
- Top Touches 3: Same as top touches only pull the ball backwards.
- Top Touches 4: Same as top touches but first use the left only for a while then the right for a while. Hopping backwards while performing this move.
- Rolling: Rolling the ball with the sole of the foot in a sweeping motion across the body. Using first the bottom of the right then the left foot.
- 360 Inside: Dribble the ball in a full circle using the inside of your right foot than your left foot.
- 360 Outside: Same as 360 inside only use your outsides.
B. Dribbling: Expectations
Shielding: The players should be shown how to protect the ball using shielding techniques. Body should be sideways on, between ball and defender with arm feeling for contact. Players at this age are taught the decision whether to shield, pass or dribble. Be patient, this skill is going to take many years of trial and error.
Avoiding: Players begin to avoid oncoming defenders. Players are shown how to turn away from pressure. Players are taught the difference between turning away from pressure and deciding to beat a player 1v1.
Carrying: Players start learning how to carry the ball quickly into space. Players are shown the way to penetrate via passing, shooting or carrying the ball. Players work on running with the ball under control using their laces to push the ball straight ahead. They should be encouraged to build up confidence and speed and look to finish their run with either a shot or pass.
Attacking: The players are instructed on and shown 1v1s. The attacker works on changing speed, changing direction, and deception (move). It is important to be positive with your coaching, encourage players who get stopped to go again and again. Explain that the best players in the world get stopped 7-8 times out of 10 times; it is the one time they beat the player that they are great.
C. Finishing: Expectations
Instep: Players should begin to be able to drive low balls on goal with both feet. Plant foot is level with ball but slightly to the side, ankle is locked with toes pointing outside of ball, chest should be over the ball. Contact is made with the middle of the ball and the kicking foot should follow through across the body. Focus is on power and accuracy
Side Foot: Players should begin to be able to pass the ball into corners with the inside and outside of both feet. Focus should be on accuracy not power.
D. Passing: Expectations
Inside Foot: Players are shown and instructed on the side foot pass: toe is up, ankle is locked, plant foot is pointed at target, and the rest of the body is relaxed. The main focus is on accuracy, but timing and the weight of the pass are shown and taught. Players begin running with the ball and passing.
Outside foot. Players are shown and instructed on the outside foot pass: toe is down, ankle is firm, knee is over the ball and bent, contact with ball is made with outside of foot in a pushing motion towards the target. The main focus is on accuracy, but timing and the weight of the pass are shown and taught. Emphasis is also put on speed of play.
Instep: Players are shown and instructed on how to drive the ball low and high. It is explained that driving the ball creates power. Plant foot is level with the ball but slightly to the side, ankle is locked with toes pointing outside of the ball. Contact is made just below the middle of the ball and the kicking foot should follow through across the body.
E. Receiving: Expectations
First Touch: Players are instructed on the importance of their first touch. Players can control the ball on the ground with the inside and outside of both feet. Players have the basic ability to control bouncing balls with the thigh and chest. Players are introduced to receiving the ball with their back foot to allow them to play forward and see the entire field. Players begin to receive the ball away from pressure.
F. Challenging: Expectations
Block & Poke Tackles: Players are shown and taught how to block tackle and poke tackle and when to use the appropriate tackle. Encourage players to be fearless, explain the importance of tackling, blocking passes, and blocking shots.
G. Heading: Expectations
Very important: remember to use light balls appropriate for the age group (rubber, volley, or even balloons) and limit this training to 10 or less repetitions.
The player is in the beginning stages of heading. Players should be able to head the ball out of their own hands (self serve) and head a ball a partner serves from 5 yards away. Coaches should encourage players to become comfortable with the ball touching their head before showing basic technique. Use your forehead, eyes open, neck strong, bend at waist.
H. Attacking: Expectations
General: All players should be encouraged to join in and support attacks, and not simply stay back in front of their own goal. Players should understand the concepts of width, depth, space and pressure. Teams only win if they score a goal, so everybody needs to be able to help create one.
Individual Tactics: Players should begin to understand when to shoot, dribble, or pass and why.
Principles of Attacking: Players should begin to know width, depth, penetration, and improvisation.
I. Defending: Expectations
General: Players should be introduced to the concept of “goal-side” and all players should be encouraged to get behind the ball when defending. Players should have an understanding of when they lose the ball they must win it back and when they win it they must attack. Every player must defend, just as every player must attack.
Individual Tactics: Pressure, or first defender, on the ball is immediate and under control. Begin to understand marking and specifically goal side marking. Players are able to block shots and passes. Players have an introduction to 1v1 defending, and have an understanding of jockeying and challenging. They are tenacious and patient.
Small Group Tactics: All players must defend. Players begin to understand goal side and marking concepts.
Principles of Defending: Players know how to pressure the ball.
Nutrition: Players should be encouraged to bring water to each practice or game and was introduced to the importance of hydration.
Enjoyment: Players find the game fun and enjoyable, they are not concerned with winning or losing, and enjoy playing with friends.
Sociological: The player has a healthy approach to the game. He/she is competitive, but enjoys the game. He/she is intense, but smiles. He/she plays to win but honors sportsmanship above all else.
Respect: Players acknowledge when a coach has addressed them.
Passion: The player must begin to develop a passion for the game. He/she attends training and games. The coach should be able to ignite this passion
Sportsmanship: The player plays for enjoyment and understands that winning or losing is not as important as that enjoyment.
Fear: The player is not afraid of playing soccer. Players enjoy training and games.
General Game Knowledge and Rush Philosophies
- Which direction team is going.
- Quiet at half time while the coach is talking.
- An understanding of the rules of the game.
- Participation in training and games.
- Players shake coaches' hands upon arrival and exit of any Rush event (training, game, ect.)
- Equipment: Players and parents should be informed of the proper training attire and, as best they can, try only to wear soccer related equipment.