Help! My U9 players can’t find space

“I am coaching a boys U9 recreational team. The whole team is great and very willing to try any drill I ask of them. My problem is trying to teach them not to “Bumblebee” to the ball. I have figured out that the problem is mental with them. The boys feel as if they are not contributing if they are not near the ball or fighting for it. So, with this knowledge I have been working hard on emphasising the support players. I would love to have them really shine as a team this spring season.”

– U9s Coach


This is a common problem at this age group and not one you should worry too much about because you can coach them to stay in areas that are more appropriate for supporting play. It can be a steep learning curve for your players but don’t give up on them because eventually they will have that lightbulb moment and you will be surprised at the way they suddenly start reacting to the ball in matches.

Often, the issue is getting them to understand that space on the pitch is important and if they are in space there is more chance the ball will come to them.

Try the session below from my EasiCoach Under 9-10 Curriculum, it will show them how important it is to be in other parts of the pitch so the ball can be passed to them. What you’re doing in this game is locking them to space away from the ball so they realize they will have more of an effect on the game than they imagined.

Young minds are very receptive to information – it is the way you give them the information that makes a difference.

You can get more sessions like this that solve coaching problems with my EasiCoach manuals which cover age groups from U7 through U14.

Good luck in your coaching!

Centre Circle Game

Improve players’ understanding of moving into a space to receive the ball with this game – it’s particularly good for your U9s and U10s!

Centre Circle Game

  1. Use the centre circle of a full size pitch or mark out an 18 yard circle with cones. Put a target goal on each side of the circle.
  2. You need two teams of four players with two players on the pitch and two players on the outside of the circle in the half they are attacking. The players on the outside can move between the opposition goal and the halfway line and look to receive a pass.
  3. Play a game without keepers. The ball has to be passed to one of the players on the outside of the circle before the team can shoot at goal. This represents wide players passing into the attackers during a match and is something all strikers must practice.
  4. The players on the outside of the pitch can only play one-touch – if they are finding this difficult you can give them two touches, one to control and one to pass.
  5. Play the game for four periods of 2 minutes – after each period the players on the pitch swap roles with their team mates on the outside.