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Format  4 v 4 - dual field
Referees  A junior referee will be assigned as Center Ref. Coaches are NOT   permitted on the field unless invited by the referee for an injury or   other concern.
Min Referee Certification  Grade 9

Game Length 
 Four 12 min quarters.
 Game times are generally between 9am and 3pm on Saturday.

 2 min between quarters. 5 min half

# of players 
 No more than 4v4, no less than 3v3.
Required Equipment  Shin pads worn under soccer socks. Athletic shoes. Visible uniform   shirt. No jewelry of any kind. No exposed zippers or hoods. Sweats   are permitted in inclement weather.
Ball  Size #3. Each team required to provide one properly inflated ball.

 At any stoppage of play and at breaks.

 No Goalies. Players should be discouraged from playing "no hands"   goalie. 
 Goal Kicks/Corner Kicks  GKs will be taken from anywhere inside the marked Goal Box. CKs   will be taken from the corner nearest where the ball left the field. All   opposing players must be at least 5 yards away.

 GKs that cross midfield before touching the ground or another player   will result in a free kick for the opposing team from the center spot.
Thrown-ins  Yes. Foul throw will result in a re-throw with instruction.

Free Kicks
 All direct. No Penalty Kicks. No restarts may take place in the Goal   Box.
 A goal may not be scored directly from a kick-off. A re-kick will   be given.

Required Distance
 5 yds

 No. Goal hanging should be discouraged.

 The Referee will call all fouls. No slide tackles are permitted.
Misconduct  No cautions or ejections (yellow or red cards). Players may be given   a "timeout" by the referee for repeated or dangerous fouls or   behavior concerns.
Mass Youth Soccer Statewide U8 Curriculum

Age Group: U-7/U-8

Games:   Games are played on Saturdays; typically, U7 Girls play on Saturday mornings and U7 Boys on Saturday afternoons

Training Expectations:   Teams are expected to hold a training (practice) session once a week; typically between 5:00 - 7:30pm

Skill Priorities: 

  • Dribble with all sides of both feet
  • Dribble out of trouble
  • Dribble past someone
  • Shielding
  • Soft first touch
  • Introduce proper shooting technique
  • Introduce passing
Although U8 children may begin to be far more physically and maturationally advanced than U6 children, we must remain patient and not try to force them to develop too quickly. Dribbling still needs to be the primary focus of our efforts, though passing and shooting should be introduced at this age as well. U8 players tend to work best when in pairs and we should allow them to work in pairs (coach selected) often. Similar to the U6 children, we need to make sure that fun is a central theme in practice. Player development will occur most appropriately and expeditiously if all players are enjoying themselves.
Typical Characteristics of U8 Players

  • tend to play well in pairs – unlike 6 year-olds, these children enjoy playing in pairs. Try to set up the pairs yourself to control the games and manage the personalities
  • are now able to take another’s perspective – they now have a sense of how other’s are feeling
  • still unable to think abstractly – still do not have this capability, be patient
  • heating and cooling system still less efficient than adults – still make sure to give frequent water breaks
  • still much prefer playing to watching – keep everyone active during practice and remember, no lines
  • limited attention span (on average 15-20 seconds for listening, up to 20 minutes when engaged in a task) – this may vary greatly on any given day depending on school, diet, etc. Try to get a gauge each day and do not fight crankiness
  • have an understanding of time and sequence – they now understand “if I do this, then that happens”
  • many have incorporated a third or fourth speed into play – not all players, but many players now have incorporated a speed or two between stopped and as fast as possible
  • extremely aware of adult reactions – be very aware of your verbal and nonverbal reactions, as they look for your reaction frequently
  • seek out adult approval – be supportive when they ask about their performance or try to show you skills. They very much need reassurance and you need to help build their confidence to try new things at this age
  • begin to become aware of peer perception – a social order is beginning to develop. Be sensitive to this
  • wide range of abilities between children at this age – children all develop at varying paces. You may have an 8 year-old who seems more like a 10 year-old and one that seems more like a 6 year-old on the same team. Your challenge to is to manage this range in your practice in a way that challenges each player at a level that is reasonable for that player
  • some will keep score – the competitive motors churn faster in some than others. Surely some parents are fueling the motors with their own. Regardless, we do not need to stress winning and losing at this age. Results should not be important at this age
  • beginning to develop motor memories – by attempting fundamental technical skills they are training their bodies to remember certain movements
  • less active imaginations than U6 players – still have active imaginations by adult standards, but some of the silliness that 6 year-olds allowed will not be appreciated by this group. Still use their imaginations, just watch their reactions to games to read how far you can go with things.

The U8 Age Group

This is the age where players can begin to understand the concept of working with a teammate.  The notion, or willingness, to intentionally pass the ball to someone is just beginning to take hold.  Coaches and parents will have more success encouraging players to pass the ball in the seven to eight year old age group.  In this age group, the player begins to think beyond their personal needs and actively begins to cooperate with a teammate.  However, players in this age group must continue individual ball work.   
Role of Coach
The role of the coach in the U8 age group is to be a sensitive and patient teacher with an enthusiastic and imaginative approach.  It is helpful if they have the ability to demonstrate and very important that they understand technique.
License Recommendation
US Soccer 4v4 Grassroots License


The U8 Player Characteristics

Mental/Psychological (cognitive)
Short attention span, but better than U6
Love to use their imagination…pretend
Limited ability to attend to more than one task at a time
Beginning to solve simple soccer problems (i.e. pass to a teammate)
Some understanding of time and space relations
Physical (psychomotor)
Beginning to develop physical coordination
Improvement in pace regulation
Skeletal system is growing; growth plates near joints
Cardiovascular system is less efficient than an adult’s; heart rate peaks sooner and takes longer to recover
Catching skills are still not developed
Improvement in dribbling and kicking
Love to run, jump, fall and roll
Socially (psychosocial)
Self-concept and body image are beginning to develop
Sensitive…dislike personal failure in front of peers
Negative comments from peers and adults carry great weight
Limited experience with personal evaluation…effort is synonymous with successful performance
Inclined more toward cooperative activities (small groups)
Inclined to establish and cooperate with friends
Desire social acceptance; want everyone to like them
Influential person in their life is their father or significant parent
Like to play soccer because it is FUN; intrinsically motivated; play for enjoyment


What to Teach U8 Players (Game Components) 

Techniques (skills):
  • Dribbling: inside/outside of the foot. Change of speed and direction
  • Receiving: Ground balls with inside, outside, and sole of foot. Bouncing balls with various body parts. Ball lifting and juggling
  • Passing: With top of the toe, inside of foot and laces
  • Throw-ins: Two hands over the head, feet need to stay on the ground
  • Shooting: With toe, inside of foot and laces
  • Tackling: Poke Tackle
  • Catching/Throwing (GK): Self-catch and toss from a partner. Rolling, bouncing, and air balls.
Psychology (mental and social)

  • Working in pairs
  • Sportsmanship
  • Dealing with parental involvement
  • “How to play” (social cooperation)
  • Emotional management
Fitness (movement education):

  • Introduce the idea of warm-up
  • Agility
  • Leaping
  • Tumbling
  • Eye/foot & eye/hand coordination
Tactics (decisions):

  • Being exposed to all positions
  • 1v1 attacking
  • 1v1 defending
  • 2v1 attacking
  • Introduce the names of positions
  • Shape (triangles)

  • Review the kick off
  • Review the goal kick
  • Review hand ball
  • Review physical fouls (pushing, holding, striking, tripping)
  • The corner kick
  • Direct kicks
  • Throw-ins
US Youth Soccer Modifications to the game
Playing numbers:         4v4
Field Dimensions:      
            Length            25-35 yards
            Width             20-30 yards
Goal Dimensions:       
            Height             6 feet
            Width              18 feet
Duration:                    four 12-minute quarters
Ball:                           Size 3


The Training Session

General Information

  • The training session should involve fun and imaginative game like activities.
  • Light coaching on simple technique is appropriate (dribbling, passing and receiving)
  • Small-sided directional games such as 1v1, 2v1, 2v2, 3v2, and 3v3 should be included as well.
  • Training should always conclude with a 4v4 game without goalkeepers.
  • The duration of the training session should be 60-75 minutes.
Some Recommended Games for U8 Players:

  1. Free Dribble---Everyone with a ball, use inside, outside, and sole of the foot. Have players dribble with speed (outside of foot), change direction, and perform moves. Coach calls out moves or changes in direction and sets the pace as the manipulator of the session, kids carry the ball towards someone and try a move. Version 2: As players get comfortable, coach can walk around and put pressure on players as they are performing dribbling tasks. This adds fun and interaction.
  1. Knock Out---In same space as previous activity, have players dribble balls while trying to knock other player’s balls outside of the grid. Players can never leave their own ball. If their ball gets knocked out have them retrieve it quickly and get back into the game. (You may wish to have them perform a skills task before re-entering such as 10 toe touches or juggling 5 times).
  1. Shield-Steal---Half of players in the group have a ball and half do not. If you do not have a ball you need to steal one from someone who does. If ball goes out of bounds, person who touched it last does not get possession. You can teach players the technical points of shielding as a group at start of activity. Show technique with body sideways, arm providing protection, ball on outside foot, knees bent, turning as defender attacks, using feel to understand where defender is going. Fix technical shielding errors throughout this activity and make sure entire group knows how to properly shield.
  1. Marbles---Players are in pairs, each with a ball. This time instead of chasing each other, one player plays out his ball and the partner passes his own ball in an attempt to strike the ball his partner played out. Players should keep track of how many times they hit their partner’s ball. Version 2: Once players understand this game, make it fast paced by having the players take turns at trying to hit each other’s ball without ever stopping. If player 2 misses player 1’s ball, then player 1 immediately runs to his own ball and tries to hit player 2’s ball (player 2 does not get to touch his ball after missing player 1’s ball). After player 1 has a chance, then player 2 immediately tries to hit player 1’s ball right back. etc. etc. This game is continuous and players should keep score. Hint: If 2 balls are very close to each other a player should kick their ball hard at the other ball so when they hit it, it is more difficult for the other to hit their ball back.
  1. Gates Passing---Players are paired up and must successfully pass the ball through the cones to their teammate to earn a point. Players try to accumulate as many points as possible in the time allotted. Have players pass only with their left foot or right foot, or the outside of their foot.
  1. Triangle Tag---Set up cones in a triangle formation with each side of the triangle being roughly 1 yard long. Every triangle has a pair of players, each with a ball. Similar to the tag game, one player is being chased and one is “it”. However this time the player who is “it” tags the player by kicking her ball and hitting the other player’s ball or hitting the player below the knee. Players can dribble in either direction around the triangle and must stay close to their own triangle. Neither play can go through the triangle. Version 2: Allow the player being chased to go through the triangle. When in the triangle she is safe. However, after going through triangle, player must go completely around triangle before she can go through triangle again. She cannot stop inside the triangle. Version 3: Allow pairs to move from triangle to triangle (incorporates speed dribbling and traffic). If two pairs are at the same triangle at the same time that is fine, but players still only compete with their partner. Note: To increase difficulty, do not count hitting a player below the knee as a tag.
  1. Get Outta Here---Place two small (2 yard) goals at the end of a field 15 x 10 yards. Place half of team behind each goal and coach stands at halfway line with all balls. When coach plays out a ball the first two players run out and try to score on each other’s goal. If the ball goes in the goal or out of bounds, the coach yells “get outta here” and plays in a new ball immediately for the next two players. Version 2: Coach can stop yelling “get outta here” after a while and see if players recognize when balls go out and are attentive. Version 3: Coach can vary service of ball. Sometimes play it to one player, sometimes toss the ball up in the air. Version 4: Have the first two or three players from each group come out each time a new ball is played and  play 2 vs. 2 or 3 vs. 3.
  1. Clean Your Backyard--- Break group into two teams and have each team stay only on their half of the field. Place a 6 yard buffer zone between halves that no one can enter or cross. Each player needs a ball. Place three small (2-3yd) goals at the far end of each side of the field. Have both teams shoot balls at other team’s goals in an attempt to score through anyone of the small goals (below knee height). Players cannot cross the buffer zone or go into the other half. Balls get recycled naturally in the game. This is a competition and teams need to keep score. Play 2 or 3 games and have teams re-strategize between each game. Teams can play defense though no hands. Only shots with laces count as goals.
  1. 2 vs.1 keepaway---In a grid 10x15 yds, three players play 2 vs. 1 continuous keepaway.  Two attackers combine to keep the ball away from one defender.  When the defender wins the ball, he or she immediately combines with the attacker he or she did not win the ball from and the attacker who lost the ball becomes the defender. Balls out of play are dribbled in or passed in.
  1.  1 vs.1 to Endlines---In a space that is wider than long (15 x 20 yds) each player defends one endline and attacks the other. Players score by dribbling the ball in control over the opposing player’s endline. Version 2: You can make this 2 vs. 2, 3 vs. 3 or 4 vs. 4.
******************* Every practice should include a scrimmage***********************