Coaching 101

How To Structure U9-U12 Training Sessions

This article is focused mainly on session structure and touches briefly on training topics, activities and youth player psychology.

PACE - The most valuable session plans mean nothing without this principle.

If you can not transition through your activities and get through to your players in short time frames your players will not benefit to the maximum.

Animated trainers experience quicker response time from their teams in terms of attention spans, order, effort and level of play.

Using voice projection, changing volume levels, body language and demonstrating skills with the ball are immediate tools to keeping players focused on your commands.

It also serves as a tool for qualified players who are very confident and need to be challenged constantly in order to elevate their level of play.

Activities should be organized in order to meet quick transition which includes removal of equipment by players (i.e. cones, goals, etc) within 20 seconds.

Quick transitions such as these also elicit an exciting atmosphere as teams become accustomed to new challenges.

Study the two diagrams below to understand the concept of transition effectively.

Activities 1-3

The diagram above demonstrates three separate activities. Each activity is relevant to the topic of the session and follows a sequence that allows a balance of variables to keep youth players engaged.

The first activity is a one-touch passing drill using the yellow channel which is 5 yards wide.

Second activity uses the two central areas which are divided by an orange boundary.

The topic is one touch passing and decision making using possession with players distributed amongst the two areas (i.e. 4v2s).

The third activity is a one-touch passing drill using the red channel which is 10 yards wide.


The transition is simple and efficient. Instruct players to collect all orange and outside cones within 20 seconds or the team must sprint 3 laps.

Have all players stack the cones color coordinated, this helps you as the coach re-align fields accordingly while teaching players the value of structure.

Believe me when I tell you, youth players pay very close attention to your every move as their coach and teacher.

They are very good at assessing value and will collectively decide on the value of their coach or trainer EACH session. The more on point you are during and in between activities the harder players will work for you.


Once players return from their water break it's back to work. Set up teams evenly and begin scrimmaging using restrictions as necessary.


Structure sends a strong message to your team and your parents as well. One model I always rely on is the military, they must be efficient since lives are on the line.

For some this comparison may seem extreme but when you are on the field giving your teams 1000% and winning games no one will question your philosophy.

Teach your players the value of strength, discipline, creativity, communication, team work and the utmost passion for the game.

Town teams are the best to train because you can mold them to beat academy level teams!

For questions or concerns email and I will gladly help you.

Drew Brand
Elite Soccer Development