Soccer Dad’s Playbook: Fun, Tactical, and Confidence-Building Tips for U10 Teams

Let’s be clear: I’m not a professional coach with a long list of credentials (although I have some, and I’m really good at FIFA/EA FC). I’m just a soccer dad who’s passionate about the game and wants to share some tips and strategies that have worked for me and my team. If you’re a coaching parent looking for some practical, easy-to-implement tactics that will help your child and your team succeed on the field, then this post is for you.

As a fellow soccer parent who’s been coaching my son’s AYSO teams for many years now, I’ve learned a lot about how to teach basic tactics while keeping things fun and engaging for the players. Recently, my son has moved up to a travel team, and I’ve had the opportunity to observe some far more experienced coaches in action, while also studying various coaching philosophies and approaches (recommendations to some great YouTube channels, and some guides from the Chicago Fire FC coaching team will be included).

Of course, you can take the extra steps to plow through books like Inverting the Pyramid, watch countless hours of soccer games (which I’m sure my wife loves), or go play pickup somewhere to relive the glory days, just to make sure you have a good foundation of knowing what you are talking about too. Let’s kick things off!

The Basics

As a coach for a youth soccer team, your goal is to create an engaging and fun environment that also emphasizes the basics of the game. Here are some strategies that may help your team understand the fundamentals of 7v7 soccer:

  1. Emphasize the importance of spacing: One of the most important aspects of 7v7 soccer is spacing. Encourage your players to spread out across the field to create more passing options and to give themselves more room to move the ball.
  2. Teach the basics of passing: Instruct your players on how to properly pass the ball. Explain the importance of passing to open teammates and avoiding passing to opponents. Encourage your players to communicate with each other when they are open or when they want the ball.
  3. Practice off-the-ball movement: Many young players tend to bunch up around the ball, which can make it difficult to advance the ball. Encourage your players to move off the ball and create space for themselves and their teammates. Teach them to look for open areas on the field where they can receive a pass.
  4. Develop basic dribbling skills: Encourage your players to practice dribbling the ball and avoiding opponents. Teach them to keep the ball close to their feet and to use different parts of their feet to control the ball.
  5. Play small-sided games: To help your players understand the basics of 7v7 soccer, play small-sided games during practice. This will allow your players to get more touches on the ball and to practice their passing, dribbling, and off-the-ball movement in a game-like setting.

From Timid to Tenacious

Building confidence on the soccer field is important for players of all ages and skill levels. Here are some tips to help children overcome being timid and build confidence:

  • Practice regularly. Consistent practice can help children develop the necessary skills and build confidence in their abilities. Encourage them to practice on their own, with friends, or at team practices.
  • Set achievable goals. Setting realistic and achievable goals can help build confidence as children see themselves making progress. Encourage them to set goals such as improving their speed, dribbling skills, or passing accuracy.
  • Focus on the process, not just the outcome. Encourage children to focus on the process of playing and improving their skills, rather than just the outcome of the game. Help them understand that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process.
  • Emphasize the positive. Praise children’s efforts and accomplishments, no matter how small. Encourage them to focus on the positive aspects of their game, such as their speed, passing ability, or creativity.
  • Visualize success. Encourage children to visualize themselves succeeding on the field. Help them imagine themselves making a great pass, scoring a goal, or making a crucial defensive play.
  • Encourage them to take risks. Encourage children to take risks on the field and not be afraid to make mistakes. Emphasize that trying new things and taking risks is an important part of learning and growing as a player.

Remember, building confidence takes time and practice. Encourage children to enjoy the game, have fun, and focus on the process of improving their skills and abilities.


Special note on goalkeeping (and defending, too). Here are some tips to help your child build confidence and feel more comfortable playing goalkeeper during games:

  • Practice regularly. Regular practice can help your child develop the necessary skills and build confidence in their ability to play goalkeeper. Encourage them to practice with the team and on their own.
  • Start small. Begin by having your child play goalkeeper during small-sided games or scrimmage drills during practice. This will help them get a feel for the position and build confidence in their abilities.
  • Focus on technique. Emphasize the importance of proper technique when playing goalkeeper. Teach your child the correct way to position themselves, how to handle the ball, and how to communicate with their teammates.
  • Emphasize the positive. Encourage your child to focus on the positive aspects of playing goalkeeper, such as the opportunity to make great saves and help their team win games.
  • Build trust with their teammates. Help your child build trust with their teammates by encouraging them to communicate with them on the field. This will help them feel more comfortable and confident in their role as goalkeeper.
  • Take the pressure off. Remind your child that mistakes are a natural part of the game, and that even the best goalkeepers make errors. Encourage them to have fun and enjoy the experience of playing goalkeeper, rather than focusing solely on the outcome of the game.

Playing keeper can be a challenging and high-pressure position, but it can also be rewarding & enjoyable.

Pretending you are your favorite player on the field:

Visualization is a powerful tool for building confidence and envisioning success. One way to use visualization to your advantage is to imagine yourself as your favorite player on the field. Whether it’s Messi, Ronaldo, or someone else, envisioning their play style and approach to the game can help you adopt a positive mindset and play with more confidence and skill. Try to emulate their moves, their attitude, and their strategy, and see how it affects your game.

Playing lots of EA FC:

While nothing can replace real-life practice and game experience, playing EA FC can be a fun and effective way to learn basic tactics and formations. Whether they are playing alone or with friends, videogames can help them understand the importance of positioning, support, and communication on the field. It can also help you learn about the consequences of different choices and actions, such as passing versus shooting, or staying back versus pushing forward. So next time you’re looking for a fun way to hone your skills and knowledge of the game, fire up EA FC and see what you can learn.

Watching short videos:

Let’s face it, at the U10 age, kids are more interested in seeing cool skill moves and amazing goals than they are in learning dry tactical concepts. So why not embrace that and use short videos to help your players improve their technique and gain confidence on the ball? There are plenty of resources available online that offer bite-sized videos showcasing different skills, moves, and tricks that players can learn and practice on their own time. Encourage your players to watch these videos and try out new moves on the field during practice and games. Not only will it help them improve their technique, but it can also boost their confidence and make them more comfortable in one-on-one situations. Just make sure to emphasize the importance of teamwork and passing as well – after all, soccer is a team sport!


Using AI to gameplan for your team

Using generative AI like ChatGPT and Bard, you can have an excellent starting point for your gameplan with just a little background on your team’s needs in your prompt. For example, I entered this as my team’s prompt:

“help me come up with a gameplan for a u10 7 versus 7 soccer team, who need help to stop giving up so many goals. They specifically have very talented players who are physically gifted, are fast, can score on their own, but need help working out of a press by good opposition. They are predictable in their build out, always playing up the sideline and often getting the ball stolen when trying to make the pass from the defense to the midfield.”




With very little background, I have all I need to gameplan for the week ahead and adjust as needed.

Gameplan for U10 7v7 Soccer Team to Stop Giving Up Goals

Here is a gameplan for a U10 7v7 soccer team that needs help to stop giving up so many goals. If your team is too predictable in their build-out, and often get the ball stolen when trying to make the pass from the defense to the midfield, these tips will help!


  • Be unpredictable in the build-up. Instead of always playing the ball up the line, try to play through the middle of the park or to wide players who are dropping deep. This will make it more difficult for the opposition to predict your movements and press you.
  • Use a combination of short and long passes. Short passes will help you to keep possession, while long passes can be used to create space and get behind the opposition defense.
  • Make quick decisions. Don’t dwell on the ball when you have it. Be aware of your surroundings and identify your passing options. As soon as you have a good option, make the pass.

By following this gameplan, the team should be able to stop giving up so many goals. The team should also be able to develop their skills and become a more competitive team.

Here are some additional tips for the team:

  • Be aware of your surroundings when you have the ball.
  • Don’t be afraid to dribble the ball past an opponent.
  • Use your teammates to create space for yourself.
  • Make quick and decisive decisions.
  • Don’t be afraid to shoot.
  • Most importantly, have fun! (See if they like videos like the ones posted here)

Here are some additional ideas for helping your U10 7v7 soccer team keep possession, get into dangerous scoring positions quickly, and reduce the risk of getting hit on the counter:

  • Position your wide defenders higher up the pitch. This will give them more time and space to receive the ball from the goalkeeper and make a pass forward.
  • Instruct your wide defenders to look for overlapping runs from your midfielders. This will create another option for them to pass the ball and create space.
  • Tell your midfielders to drop deeper to receive the ball from the goalkeeper and wide defenders. This will give them more time and space to make a pass forward without being under pressure from the opposition.
  • Instruct your midfielders to play through the middle of the park whenever possible. This will make it more difficult for the opposition to press them and win the ball back.
  • Encourage your midfielders to make forward runs when they have the ball. This will put them in a position to score a goal or create a chance for a teammate.
  • Tell your attackers to stay high up the pitch and stretch the opposition defense. This will create more space for your midfielders to operate in.

Here are some specific passing patterns that you can teach your players to help them keep possession and get into dangerous scoring positions quickly:

  • Triangle passing

    Triangle passing: This is a simple but effective passing pattern that can be used to create space and progress the ball forward. To perform a triangle passing drill, have three players stand in a triangle shape. The player with the ball plays a pass to one of the other players, who then plays a pass to the third player. The third player then plays a pass back to the original player, who can then dribble forward or play a pass to another player.

  • Switch of play

    Switch of play: This is a passing pattern that can be used to quickly move the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. To perform a switch of play, have one player on one side of the pitch play a pass to a player on the other side of the pitch. The player who receives the pass can then dribble forward or play a pass to another player.

  • Pivot

    Pivot: A pivot player is responsible for dictating the tempo of the game and linking the defense and attack. A good pivot player should be able to receive the ball under pressure, pass accurately and intelligently, dribble effectively, make decisions to keep possession or take risks, and position themselves well.

  • Through ball

    Through ball or Lead Pass: Long pass played through the opposition’s defense to a teammate into space. We often tell our team to “send him!” to let them know a through ball is on, and to get the timing in sync for both the passer and the teammate making a run through the opposition’s defensive line.

  • Make sure that your players are aware of their surroundings at all times. They should be looking for the opposition players who are making runs forward.
  • Instruct your players to close down the opposition players who are making runs forward. They should try to make it difficult for the opposition players to receive the ball and play it forward.
  • Tell your players to drop back and defend if they lose the ball in midfield. They should try to prevent the opposition players from getting a clear shot on goal.
@covelliproductions 3 games today, two hat tricks, some assists and another goal in the final game. Hard work leading to an explosion of confidence today for the kid. Love to see it come together after so much training. #JaHbatFC #soccer ♬ original sound - Coco Covelli

By the way, this was all written with the assistance of Chat GPT and Bard. I asked the program a series of questions to test the ability of AI to understand and assist with generating intelligent content on a variety of topics. This is the future. Get busy adapting. – Coco & his robots

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