Maroons U11/U12


(USSF “Basic Stage”, US Youth Soccer “Learning to Train Stage”)


“How we play the game, especially at youth level is much more important than winning. Having said that, you will discover that the more you strive to play well, the more success your team will eventually experience.”


Exert from, Soccer: How to Play the Game


Learning Objective:


Deepen player enjoyment, passion, and commitment for soccer; broaden game intelligence, expand confidence, advance ball mastery skills, strengthen individual tactical abilities, and introduce group tactics; Build team concept.


Program Description:


The Maroons U11 and Maroons U12 are year-long programs that feature competitive league matches of 8 players vs. 8 players on a small field. League play is in the fall and spring and players have 2 formal training sessions each week.


Core focus is on expanding player abilities, skills, and game intelligence; advancing the player closer toward ball mastery as s/he is constantly improving ability to manipulate the ball and gain proficiency of first touch. Strong technical foundation allows for increased possession, combination play, and speed of tactical decision-making. High-touch training and teaching in small-sided games improves tactical development as players are more consistently demonstrating their ability and understanding of the Maroons Style of Play.


Program Participants:


See Player Age Chart to confirm appropriate player placement on Maroons U11 or Maroons U12 for players turning 11 or 12 years old after August 1st, typically 5th & 6th graders. Players must tryout, based on age, and be selected to a team. Players can “play up” based on grade and ability, if they are selected to those teams through tryouts. Players are selected based on a high level of technical and physical ability as well as a demonstrated level of game intelligence and tactical ability. There will be a high level of players cut at tryouts.


Program Details:


A year-long program where, following a tryout, players are added to a specific team. Teams typically train 2-3x week and play 10 competitive league games in the fall and 10 games in the spring. League matches are evolving to play 8 vs. 8 around the metroplex. In the fall, league games for boys are mostly played on Saturdays and girls on Sundays; in the spring, games are mostly played on Sundays. Each team’s activities will vary during the winter.


Players will need an official Maroons Uniform, shin guards, and proper soccer boots (cleats).


Teams are split based on gender, ability, and specific birth date.


Program Instructors:

Each team is lead by a properly qualified Professional Coach Trainer and/or Parent Coach. These teachers must meet a minimum level of qualification, holding at least a NSCAA Level IV Diploma or equivalent. The teachers, or trainers, are usually Professional Coach Trainers who are selected by the Maroons Director of Player Development & Coaching to run the weekly training sessions. Maroons recommends that professional credential coaches increasingly manage match day– 3-5 matches at U11, and 5-10 matches at U12. The match-day coach might be an appropriately selected Parent Coach who understands the game, is a sensitive and enthusiastic teacher, has a demonstrated ability to teach technique, understands the principles of play and how they are applied, and who is able to regularly attend training sessions. Each teacher is guided by the Player Development Pathway including the Maroons Style of Teaching, Maroons Style of Play, Guiding Curriculum, and Club Expectations for Coaches.


Program Cost:


Total estimated annual cost for U11 and U12 is $835 to $1085.  Fees include registration payment to Club ($450), uniform (if previous uniform needs replacing, estimated at $85), and team fees (estimated $300-$550).  Fees cover professional training, games, referees, one tournament (for U8-U12 teams this is the Maroons Father’s Day tournament), insurance, fields, lights, and other Club expenses.  Fees paid to the team will vary based on varying factors, including if a team has a paid professional trainer coach for game day, winter activities, team camps, additional tournaments, etc.  A team budget should be prepared at the start of the season by the coaching team and the team manager. This budget should be shared with the team for agreement and understanding. Each family would then contribute the necessary amount at the start of the year.


To Register:


Tryouts are required and players must register and be accepted to an appropriate team, based on performance. Go to, Log In, Select “Maroons Soccer Club” then select specific year. Available programs will be confirmed based on player’s age, see Player Age Chart to confirm appropriate age group.


General Characteristics of the U12 Age Group, from US Youth Soccer Player Development Model:


  • Known as the golden age of learning (U10-U12), this continues to be the most important age for skill development
  • Transition from self-centered to self-critical
  • Hero worship, identification with successful teams/players and a hunger for imaginative skills
  • Better able to deal with flighted balls
  • Can sequence thoughts and actions to perform more complex tasks
  • Can use abstract thought to meet the demands of the game
  • Should be able to simultaneously run, strike the ball and think
  • Fertile period to learn – full of eagerness
  • Important psychosocial implications for a child entering puberty
  • Popularity influences self-esteem
  • Improved coordination
  • Significant physical differences exist between the genders
  • Strength and power becoming factors in their performance
  • Increasingly competitive with ‘wining’ and losing’ becoming of bigger concern

Training Session Focus:


The individual player continues to be the primary focus of teaching, and groups and team become increasingly important: U11 Individual 60%, Group 40%; U12 Individual 50%, Group 40%, Team 10%. High repetition of technical skills and dominance of 1v1, 2v1, and 2v2 tactical scenarios; Lots of small-sided games and teaching within the 4v4 model. Teaching now includes all player roles and positional play, with the expectation that they will get it some of the time. Playing all positions is an important component of individual development and learning. Quality demonstrations are very important to the learning process. Whenever possible, allow players to solve their own puzzles; guiding the players to discover how they can play better. Demand that team plays from the back and through the midfield; high focus on possession with a purpose, penetrating when appropriate.


End of Training Scrimmage: 4v4 no goal keepers; 5v5 including goal keepers; limited use of 6v6 and 7v7 including goal keepers.


Technical Focus:


Dribbling to penetrate and to beat an opponent 1v1 and finishing; encourage risk taking and creativity in proper areas. Strong focus on dribbling for possession, dribbling to create space, skill moves, and turning as players continue to develop ball mastery and ability to operate in tight spaces; teach when to dribble, when to pass Receiving 1st touch under varied conditions, receiving balls from air using all body parts, and receiving to turn; Passing short game and increased focus on serving lofted ball and driven pass; Goal keepers fully integrated into training and expand technical skill set. Advance tackling and heading. Continue to increase technical speed.


Tactical Focus:


Consistent application of Diamond shape and reading visual cues, and advance understanding of double diamond; Initiate teaching Group Tactics and heavy use of target games; Penetration – Shot, dribble, pass with encouragement for players to go 1v1 in right areas/right visual cues; Width, Depth, Support;  Introduce 3rd Attacker and 3rd Defender; Possession; Strengthen combo play and introduce switching field of play; Improve team defensive performance and shape; Pressure; Cover; Compactness; Lots of repetition of 1v1, 2v1, 2v2, 1v2, 2v2, 2v3, 3v3; Transition introduced; Turning awareness into perception; increase Speed of Play. Maroons Style of Play is commonplace.


Systems of Play:  Frequent use of 2-3-2 formation to apply diamond shape foundation learnings; use of 3-2-2 to replicate full sided 4-3-3; and use of 3-3-1 to best allow for teaching positional roles; Coaches should expose players and teach basic approach to at least 2 systems of play during the season.


Physical Focus:


Endurance, speed, quickness. Increase training demands and work rate. Dynamic warm-up and introduce cool down and static stretching.


Psychological Focus:


Motivation & praise to encourage decision-making and risk-taking/creativity. Maroons Motivation; increasing levels of training mentality, responsibility, teamwork, cooperation, discipline, and competitiveness. Increased level of understanding and decision making based on thirds of field and based on visual cues.


Team Building:

Attending high school and professional matches, engaging with older players as role models and sources of inspiration. Come Out & Plays; team training shirts. Post session team traditions (e.g. slurpees at 7-Eleven).


Club Expectations for Coaches specific to U12:


  • Allow players to play all positions (backs, midfield, forwards).  Playing all positions aids the player in learning and understanding the game.  Encourage, but don’t require, that each player play a half in goal.
  • Allow playing time to equal, on average, half a game.  Players should earn more game time based on commitment, effort, attitude, skill level, and training mentality.
  • Allow every player the opportunity to start multiple games.
  • Allow every player to be team captain during each season


Supplemental U11-U12 Programs:


  • Ball Manipulation to Mastery
  • Free-Play Football Fridays, Fall
  • Functional Goalie Training
  • Functional Striker Training
  • Futsal
  • Juggling Elite
  • Speed, Agility, Quickness (SAQ)
  • Summer Come Out & Play

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s