U8 Players and Below

This is the FUNdamental Stage, meaning making training fun for the players to encourage them to practice more at these young ages, and relaxing their minds.

Training must be initially in a non-competitive environment so the players get a chance to learn to do the technique correctly; and without pressure. Build pressure in when the time is right.

Short term learning practice, high in repetition, specific to the technique required, involving few decisions.

This is the COGNITIVE PHASE of learning theory (planning)

The learner thinks about the task. Movements will not yet be fluid as the player is concentrating on what to do next; and how to do it; so the thinking process is a major part of this.

Awareness training: The Emphasis is on Individual Awareness with lots of touches to teach the players to play with their heads up; particularly during technical development training such as dribbling and turning.

The coach must observe: the player may be slow to learn, compare the player with a skillful one where movement is fluid, effortless requiring no deep thought, it’s almost instinctive.

The coach must be patient and continue to reinforce the relevant techniques until they start to become second nature in a non-competitive situation, and the players then move to the next stage of development.

Some may reach the next stage earlier than others.

In the training sessions emphasis is given to repeating the quality of football movements. These are corrected and repeated until they become a regular part of the player’s package of techniques.


Technical Program Needs to Cover:


Ball Mastery – Coerver work – Ball feeling and familiarity

Ability to use both feet – weak foot work

Passing, control – ability to take/cushion the ball with all parts (With movements prior to)

3v1, 4v1, 4v2 for support and making angles

Dribbling, running with the ball

1v1 activities for fun and enjoyment

Shooting two footed

Games in small groups: 3 v 3; 4 v 4, they want to play; not be Coached – rotate players

Speed – Quickness

Fast footwork with and without the ball

Tag games to develop fast feet and leg strength

Play games for ENJOYMENT, encourage them to produce a skill

Get everyone back behind the ball

U6-U13 Boys and Girls

The Core Composite Development Program is to ensure player development at the early stages of your player’s soccer experience. It’s very important that players are offered every opportunity to grow and learn the game without the stress of adults forcing children to win and lose at U-6 etc.

We think the eventual success of children doesn’t exist at the U/6-U/13 age level but rather at the U/15-U/20 age range. So we are focused heavily on the technical training at the Core Composite development age range and less worried about the record of each team.

Your child’s coach will receive training. Each week coaches will be required to participate in coaching modules to help develop their strengths and weaknesses. The St. Louis Steamers are committed to providing the best development program to your child.

To help the coaches we have staff coaches that offer support and advice to your child’s coach. No coach is left on an island to run a practice. Staff coaches have the responsibility to offer support in the technical area of development as well as team management aspect of being the coach/manager/parent.

The Core Composite Development Program is designed to position players to play on teams that compete in our own league. This league is structured so that players participate on a weekly basis in games that are 3v3, 4v4 and 5v5 with no goalies. Each game is 40 minutes length and teams are mixed with boys and girls. The focus is game experiences rather than game results. Small teams, small fields with maximum touches on the ball is the focus for the league. Individual soccer learning is important because this is how creativity and personalities are expressed on the field.
The ages are:

U/6 and U/7 boys and girls practice 2 times a week
U/8 and U/9 boys and girls practice 2 times a week or 3 times a week
U/10 to U/13 boys and girls practice 3 or 4 times a week

Within these age groups each division will have sub-divisions where we match like players with “like” players.

The Core Composite Development Program is 400 field sessions before your child plays a real game (9v9, 11v11). Each field session includes trainings along with small sided games. Here’s what is important to understand when evaluating the Core Composite Development Program:

  1. Coaches
    We know that a players experience is determined by the coach and the parent. Many times a coach is overwhelmed and doesn’t know where to begin. They know what soccer looks like on T.V. so a coach will line up U/6 players and work on crossing the ball. Our program removes the stress on the coach and we provide the curriculum for each age group.
  2. The right start to soccer leads to a lifelong enjoyment of the game. The philosophy behind our program is that soccer requires the development of a wide variety of highly technical skills and abilities. For example, it’s not easy to dribble the ball without looking down. But it’s essential if you want to avoid collisions with other players. When players learn these skills from the start, the game becomes more enjoyable and pays off in the end.
  3. Develop skills which develops confidence
    We know there’s a bonus to learning the right skills early; it not only gives each player a creative style but also provides enjoyment for the game and breeds confidence for each player. When players realize they are getting better it makes them enjoy the game.
  4. Kids play to learn rather than win the game
    There is no doubt that some parents will feel that 400 field sessions is wrong for their child to experience before they see a real game. Unfortunately, the rest of the world disagrees with that idea. The United States is one of the only countries in the world that emphasizes results at the youth level which is why we struggle to compete later in the professional leagues. The Core Composite Development Program is structured to support your player as a youth and develop them into elite athletes at the appropriate age level.


The St. Louis Steamers are committed to building an athlete with each of their players. Based on critical knowledge gained by European clubs our model of success is built on these critical priorities for player development:

  • Improve players physical training
  • Improve players ability in 1v1 situations
  • Improve players speed and skills
  • Improve players ability to compete

Two results happen with this long term approach:

  1. On the soccer side the most athletic and skilled players will make the elite level with a reduced risk of overuse injuries.
  2. On the player development side this approach leads to more balanced players that keep playing soccer longer.

When we set out to build athletes rather than just soccer players we clearly state that our intention is to help players develop more than just soccer skills. We are committed to help them improve a series of traits such as overall athletic abilities, nutrition, mental game and physical conditioning.

Our goal is to put the efforts in the long term success of players rather than short term U-8 championship winners. “No college coach has ever asked a recruit what their record was at U-8”- Mike Lagow.

The Core Composite Development Program is a 3 stage development program designed to teach the game in 3 stages:

  1. Basic Development ages U/6 and U/7
  2. Talent Development ages U/8 and U/9
  3. Elite Development age U/10 to U/13