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Ohio Premier Futbol Club

Coaching Philosophy


OPFC is dedicated to developing creative, fundamentally sound youth boys and girls soccer players and teams in a supportive, family-friendly environment. OPFC’s qualified, professional coaches will enhance the technical, tactical, physical and social skills of your sons and daughters.

OPFC players will play at the highest competitive youth level, preparing them to excel in high school, college, and even professionally.

The United States Soccer Federation published player development guidelines. OPFC training incorporates concepts developed and published by the USSF. In particular, OPFC recognizes that “At the younger ages (6-10) is a time for children to develop their individual relationship with the ball...encourage the dribbler at the younger ages; your team of 6-10 year olds should be full of them.” - (USSF Best Practices, p8).

Areas of Technical and Tactical Emphasis and Implementation

5 Years Old and Below

Development of individual ability and foot skills is critical for soccer players at this age. The boy or girl must become one with the ball.

Emphasis is placed on encouraging the child to dribble with reckless abandon. Specific dribbling skills are taught and proper technique is encouraged. Small sided games are the norm with 1v1 the game of choice. Training drills include quick footwork, ball feeling, and basic moves.

Recognizing that at this age most children lack spatial awareness or desire to share the ball, tactical concepts and teamwork are introduced and discussed at a very minimal level. Successful “guidance” at this age group should result in a team of dribblers all going for the goal displaying an abundance of joy.

6-8 Years Old

At this age, players need to continue to develop their technical ability. In addition to dribbling, emphasis is now placed on shooting and passing. Emphasizing passing should not, however, reduce the emphasis on dribbling and going to goal.

Rene Meulensteen, Dutch Manager and former coach at Manchester United, studied the qualities of the best defenders, midfielders, and forwards of all time and concluded “All these players possess the ability to dominate the 1v1 situation either from a defensive or attacking position.

Players at this age should be introduced to Ball Mastery Drills as published by Meulensteen. See the attachment for specific drills.

Players also begin to learn and master individual moves such as the Matthews, the Scissor, the inside foot chop, the outside foot chop, the step-over and the flick behind. Proper shooting technique for the instep drive or the side footed placement should be taught. Proper passing and receiving technique should be taught with emphasis on the side of the foot pass and improving first touch.

At this age small sided games should be played 1v1, 2v2 and 3v3.

9-12 Years Old

At these ages, players continue to work on ball mastery skills. In addition, attacking principles and defending principles are emphasized.

Players learn the role and function of individuals within the game as well as positioning. Players are introduced to the basic defending principles of pressure, cover, balance, and depth. Players learn the basic attacking principles of penetration, support, mobility, width, and improvisation. Players learn how to utilize the goalkeeper as an additional field player and how to build and attack from the back.

From a technical standpoint emphasis is placed on passing and receiving, first touch, turning, shooting, ball control, and 1v1 attacking. From a physical standpoint, speed, particularly acceleration, is emphasized and players work on coordination & balance, agility, and perception & awareness. Training aids such as hurdles and ladder are introduced.

From a psychological perspective coaches continue to instill passion. Players are motivated to excel while maintaining a high degree of self- confidence. As with all ages, players at these ages are taught to respect the game, teammates, referees, and opponents. Training drills can include basic possession exercises such as 5v2, 6v3, 4v4+2 etc.

Players ages 9-10 will play 7v7 competitively. Players ages 11-12 will play 9v9 competitively. Players at these ages will develop the technical ability, vision, and tactical awareness necessary to transition to playing 11v11.

12-14 Years Old

Emphasis at these ages continues to be placed on individual development; however, the main focus will be on team concepts. From a technical standpoint, players continue to develop passing & receiving skills, turning, shooting, ball control, receiving to turn, 1v1 attacking, and defending.

Tactically, players work on positioning, playing out from the back, off the ball runs, set pieces, finishing in the final third, man marking, zonal defending, and transitioning between offense and defense.

At these ages it is expected that players show a serious level of commitment. Training drills may include small-sided games (5v2, 4v4v, 6v6 etc) and simulation of in-game situations. Players at these ages will play 11v11 competitively.

Download the OPFC Philosophy and Curriculum (pdf) to learn more about OPFC's approach to coaching.

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