Training at the U9 age group means training the variety of movements, mobility and general coordination with and without the ball (running, jumping, climbing, playing with different balls / equipment, etc.). The German Football Association writes for U9 training: "Many exercises, many ball contacts, many games!"
Players should have a variety of movement experiences (even without the ball), especially since children don't play and romp outside as often as they used to. Key elements in U9 training include: Kicks, stops, turns and dodges, jumping on one and both legs, falling down, standing up.
All of this can also be integrated very well into exercises with the ball and games. Initial technique exercises to get to know soccer techniques can also be incorporated. But: this is about simple basics, so don't overdo it.
Under 9 training means variety of movement
This includes many elements from other sports to master basic movements. And thus to improve coordination, i.e. body control. In children's gymnastics, for example, movement courses are often set up. In addition, there are of course countless tasks with a ball, whereby other play equipment can also be used (tennis balls and handballs, football/rugby balls, Frisbees, etc.).
Small games of catch that promote agility and mobility (with and without the ball) pay attention to the training goals at the Under 9s, e.g. reaction games with the ball such as simple color games for orientation. Preparatory technique exercises complement the program, and it helps to use both feet right from the start, even if the children find this funny at first.
Station training for more overview with large groups
For a station training in the Under 9s, it is a good idea to divide the players into 2-3 groups (depending on how many coaches you have at the start). For example, two exercises can take place in parallel or one exercise and a small game.
Example (for 12 players): One group practices passing (3 pairs of two players each), the other group plays 3 vs. 3 mini football. After about 10-15 minutes, the groups and tasks are switched.
Various competitions for fun and motivation
Many of the above-mentioned exercises can (and should) be run as a playful competition in U9 training. It helps if you combine all the relay and technique exercises with a goal shot or a goal finish. This could be a pass to a cone or through a pole goal, or a throw to a basket or a ring. Speed competitions with coordination exercises are also fun and promote movement skills.
Keep changing the goalkeeper
This is also part of the varied movement experiences: every player should play goalkeeper once in a while. In this way, the children learn to use their hands and perhaps lose their fear of the ball. In the Under 9s, it does not make much sense to decide on one goalkeeper or one position. According to the pure teachings of the German Football Association, goalkeepers should only be assigned to their position after the Under 11s. However, this is not very close to reality, because in Germany (unlike in all other countries in the world) children want to be goalkeepers.
It is also important to teach the children that they should not stick to the goal line. In this way, they learn to offer themselves and to play one or two shifts in the game. These are good basics for the later build-up of the game from the back.
In addition, the game should ideally always be opened up briefly to make the ball controllable. I always tell my goalkeepers to put the ball on the ground. Then they should dribble the ball to the next opponent and pass it at the right moment. This is where mistakes and ball losses often occur. But only in this way can the children learn to make the right decision: Passing or dribbling and when the right moment is (timing).
Small game forms provide variety
Small games are clear for the children and the coach and promote certain basic skills that are important for tactical patterns later on. For example, free running, dribbling, taking the ball in a certain direction. In addition, there are small group tactical requirements, such as 2 vs. 1 situations that have to be solved.
In these small drills, you can already go into coaching very well by briefly explaining to the children and then, in any case, also demonstrating what you want from them. And these small game forms also guarantee that every player has enough ball contacts and can thus improve well.
Under 9s training at a glance:
-Enable a variety of movement experiences
-Constantly change positions (including the goalkeeper)
-Coach in a way that is appropriate for the children (and not too much)
-Train in small groups (station training)
-Let the children play a lot in small games
Competitions promote fun and motivation
A training session for Under 9s should include enough breaks for drinking and last a maximum of 90 minutes.
A classic structure with warm-up, main part and final part is not necessary in this clear categorization. Rather, the alternation between exercises and games should be sensibly designed. One or two training sessions a week with the Under 9s should be enough, but more is always possible. For comparison: talented little gymnasts (5 years) already train 2 times 2 hours per week to master the basics of their sport as quickly and well as possible.