“How do I get my U9s to understand the need to pass the ball around more? They are so direct and simply want to hammer it up field.”
Most likely this comes down to two things – confidence and teamwork. They are both issues that frequently need addressing in young players, though implement them now and you will see positive results very quickly. Players of the age you describe don’t have the vision or the skill to search out 25-yard passes, so you can rule out the idea that they are playing a tactical long-ball game.
More likely, the player on the ball is treating it like a hot potato and is keen to get rid of it as quickly as possible. The fear is the longer he holds onto it the more chance he’ll get tackled, and that could mean looking stupid. Combine this with the idea that the player in possession may be lacking team-mates making themselves available for a pass, and you can see why hammering the ball up field becomes an attractive option.
The solution is to construct possession passing games in training. As an example, play 5v5 in a 15×15-yard square, with each team scoring a point for making five consecutive passes. The player in possession will quickly learn to keep his head up in searching out team-mates, while the other players will stay on the move looking for a pass.
Practice this in each training session and even before a match, and you’ll soon see an improvement in your team’s ability to construct a slick passing game.
Try this Receive and Control the Ball session from my EasiCoach Under 9s to Under 10s Curriculum. The curriculum will help you use the right sessions for the age of your players so their development is going in the right direction at the right pace and the right time.