Our expert says:
I think that given their age, the best thing you can do is to let them play. You could do a lot worse than this, and I think that if you impose too much structured training on them, you'll lose their attention and enthusiasm pretty quickly.
There is very little fitness requirement for an 8-year old to play soccer, other than to just let them play. one drill you might consider is to split your team of say 16 children into 4 teams of 4, and then let them play 4-a-side (two matches, with two teams of 4, in other words). That way, they might have to run a little more in practice and that alone will bring their fitness levels up for their matches. My memory of 8year olds playing soccer is really that they charge after the ball and do fatigue in the second half and if you can do this kind of practice, where you teach them to "own" their space (rather than just running after the ball), then you'll see benefits, both skilla nd fitness wise.
But other than this, just let them play and have fun. Obviously, you can't just be the referee who throws out a ball - so you need to come up with drills like passing and dribbling and tackling and corners etc., but don't try too hard to come up with specific fitness exercises. Everything should involve the ball, at least until they are 12 years old.
Good luck and have fun!
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