SSD Step Training Programme

STEP 1: (Age 4 to 5) Class "A" Exercises

There is very little or no developed eye-foot co-ordination, and therefore, concentration should be directed solely towards "balance and basic striking technique".

A1    Technique:                    Learn to strike the ball with the laces - and not the toe-poke method

A2    Balance /Control:          Running and turning with the ball in and out of cones (both feet)

A3    Balance / Judgement:   Running and stopping the ball

A4    Balance / Technique:    Learning to strike the ball with both feet

A5    Fitness / Agility:            Exercises which incorporate running, jumping, and turning

A6    Basic Team Skills:         Play lots of small sided games with continuous help

Children of this age have a very low attention span, and as such, "injecting enthusiasm" is the most important key factor - ahead of any skill development plans

A difficult group to coach and an area where enthusiastic parents make better trainers than professional coaches.


Fitness -                   5%

Individual Skills -       25%

Team Skills -             5%

Free Play Game -     65%

STEP 2: (Age 6) Class "B" Exercises

In most cases, there is still no developed eye-foot co-ordination, but still progress to;

B - A gradual enhancement of all Class A Exercises (above)

For example, in the case of balance and control, by positioning the cones closer together you increase the difficulty level and by introducing team races this injects the "importance of working as a team" - both also improve concentration levels.

It is at this stage that you will visibly notice the "early developers" - their natural ability stands out and they demonstrate advanced co-ordination skills for their age. To prevent the intimidation of others within the group and avoid the "domination syndrome", these players should move up to an older age group.


Fitness -                   5%

Individual Skills -       30%

Team Skills -             10%

Free Play Game -     55%

STEP 3: (Age 7 and 8) Class "C" Exercises

Players now start to develop eye-foot co-ordination and can therefore move into the first stages of a full training programme.

C1   Eye-Foot Co-ordination:
Ball juggling and aerial control (chest, thigh, foot)

C2   Balance / Technique:
Dedicated work on the weak foot

C3    Balance / Control:
Running and turning (at speed) with the ball in enclosed areas - shorter distance between the cones

C4   Individual Skills:
Passing, shooting, etc

C5   Team Skills:
Fully understand the basic team concept and individual roles within defence and attack. All players must swap roles on a regular basis - each takes a turn in goal, as a striker, and as a defender

** Work also starts on the Key SSD Individual Skills

Because most children develop full co-ordination skills around the age of 7, their development rate enhances dramatically - hence the sudden interest from professional club academies. This stage is generally known as the "Golden Stage".


Fitness -                   5%

Individual Skills -       35%

Team Skills -             15%

Free Play Game -     45%

STEP 4: (Age 9 to 10) Class "D" Exercises

Coaches should now be in a position to identify the 'strengths and weaknesses' of each individual player (all kids develop at different rates) and 'adjust their training needs accordingly'.

B - Further development of all Class C Exercises based on individual needs

** Dedicated work on the 'Key' SSD Individual Skills

Some players can become extremely competitive at this age, so it is important that coaches curb (and control) this over-enthusiasm and aggressive play. Self-discipline is the key to future success.


Fitness -                   5%

Individual Skills -       40%

Team Skills -             20%

Free Play Game -     35%

Plus emphasis on self-practice at home

STEP 5: (Age 11) Class "E" Exercises

All players should now be demonstrating their levels of natural ability and development potential

E - A gradual programme to develop the more advanced skills of the game . . .

Tackling, Ball Swerving, Crossing, Heading, and Tactical Team Skills.

**All players should now have mastered the Key SSD Individual Skills

By age 12 a player should be fully competent across the full range of skills


Fitness -                   5%

Individual Skills -       30%

Team Skills -             30%

Free Play Game -     35%

Plus emphasis on self-practice at home

STEP 6: (Age 12 to 16)

Players Move Onto The SSD Youth Development Programme

With all the key basic 'individual skills' in place, talented and enthusiastic players should now be concentrating more on 'team skills' and improving the weak areas of their game.

This is also the 'Growth Spurt' stage where serious injuries can occur through over-training - so reduce programmes accordingly based on the individual needs/development rate of each player.