These ages are the skill hungry years. Motivationally, children are geared to learn skill at this time, providing ideal opportunity for building football specific skills into fundamental movement ability.

These golden years of player development require coaches to work on cementing individual technical excellence so that well rounded and technically proficient players are ready to make the step to youth football and the 11v11 game. Pitch sizes and player numbers increase with the progression in the small sided games concept from 7v7 to 9v9 Mini Football.

Players are cognitively more capable of understanding how to play more effectively with their teammates to either score or prevent goals. At this stage basic positions within simple team structures are introduced to develop a basic tactical understanding of the game.

Pre-selection or initial talent identification of gifted and committed players is conducted as players are teamed up with others of similar ability.


  • Focus during this period should still be around deliberate play with key opportunities to refine technical skills and develop further game intelligence with increased number of teammates (5v5, 7v7 to 9v9).
  • Develop confidence as a vital ingredient for future participation and performance by fostering and reinforcing the achievement of basic goals for each player.
  • The recommended number of hours in a formal environment is 3-4 per week across a 20-25 week season. For the most talented and willing players it is recommended that 4-6 hours per week are accumulated across a 40 week season.
  • Football activities outside the formal environment and other sporting activities are encouraged to reinforce physical literacy and game intelligence.
  • Leagues are introduced at this stage, however emphasis is on learning opportunities and fun.
  • Speed and agility are the key physical qualities to develop in every training session.