KINS Program Objective

KINS stands for Kicking Is Not Soccer. It is a program for U-6. These are the youngest, introductory ages of the Recreational Program. The Recreational Program is essentially the players’ first experience with the game of soccer. It is this experience that can either hook the players for life, or turn them away. Players will continue playing soccer if they are having fun and are experiencing personal success. The Recreational Program’s main philosophy is to create a fun filled, active environment, in which the players can improve and succeed.

The KINS Program’s main objective is to promote and emphasize the skill of dribbling at the U6 age groups and discourage the aimless booting of the ball that is all too prevalent at these young ages. When young players are conditioned to just kick the ball forward as far as possible, their skill development is stunted, making it harder for them to reach their true potential. Dribbling is the foundation and preparation for all the other fundamental skills of soccer, such as controlling, passing, and shooting. Laying the proper dribbling foundation at the youngest years will enhance the players’ ability to improve all the soccer skills. No matter what level the players will end up playing, recreational or select, they will derive increased pleasure from the game if they can control the ball better and become more adept at manipulating it. The spectators will also enjoy the game more if they can watch players who exhibit skill and creativity. The program’s second objective is to promote decision making by the players on the field and reduce their dependence on the adults for problem solving. 

Benefits of the KINS Program

  • Improves the skill and enjoyment of the players, regardless of ability level.
  • Raises the skill level at the Recreational Program.

New Ball Method for games and scrimmages

In this format, there should be 2 parent volunteers, one on each end of the field.  The parent volunteers keep a bunch of balls with them during the game.  Every time the ball goes out of bounds, one of the parent volunteers shouts “New Ball!!” and throws a new ball into the field. The players respond by chasing the new ball and the game never stops. Actual playing time is almost 100% of game time. This method eliminates the endless stoppages for taking throw-ins, goal kicks, and corner kicks and increases dramatically the number of touches each player gets in a game.  This method is also great for getting the less assertive players into the action, by throwing the new ball towards them.

There are four 6 minute quarters in the games.  There is a short 2-3 minute break between quarters.  Players should be changed on the fly and all players should receive equal playing time in the game.  Players who say they do not want to play should be encourged to participate by letting them know another player needs a water break and they need to help out by playing while their teammate gets a drink.

The learning stages for dribbling

  • Develop the mindset for dribbling by replacing the instinct to boot the ball with an inclination and a fascination for a soft touch
  • Learn to dribble in a straight line by propelling the ball forward with the ‘laces’ within the natural running motion and keeping the ball close to the body
  • Learn to change direction by chopping the ball (cutting turn) with the inside of the foot and using either feet to accelerate away
  • Become multi-directional by chopping the ball with the inside or outside of either foot, accelerating in any direction, using body to shield the ball, and adding fakes to repertoire. The coaches should be made aware that although some players will improve rapidly, most of the players will progress very slowly through the stages, especially since there is only one practice session per week and the seasons are short. Only a handful will reach the fourth stage by the time they graduate to U-9, provided they started the program at U-6. But everyone will improve over time if the KINS foundation is ingrained in the players from the outset.

The relationship between dribbling and passing - There is s strong correlation between the ability to dribble and the ability to pass. The coaches will notice that the best dribblers in their team are also the best passers. This is because both of these skills require the ability to shift body weight quickly from one foot to the other and balance on one foot while propelling the ball with the other foot. Also, once a player becomes a good dribbler, he/she automatically starts to look up and survey the field in between touches. This validates the sequence of learning to dribble before learning to pass.

Skill Priorities for U-6 players

By far the most important skill for beginners is the skill of dribbling. Young players need to learn to dribble within a variety of playing situations, such as dribbling forward unopposed, changing speed and direction, shielding the ball from opponents, dribbling past an opponent, and using dribbling to get away from pressure. The ability to dribble is absolutely critical since dribbling is the foundation and preparation for the other fundamental skills of soccer, such as controlling, passing and shooting. When players are receiving the ball and making the preparation touches prior to passing or shooting, they are essentially engaged in a mini-dribble. A limited ability to dribble leads to a limited range of passing or shooting. The ability to dribble also helps maintain possession of the ball. It’s not unusual for players to find themselves in a game situation where dribbling is the only viable option to get out of tight pressure and maintain possession. Aside from the fact that dribbling forms the foundation for all the other skills, there are many other reasons why we need to focus on dribbling. First of all, it takes years to become a comfortable and confident dribbler. Players have to learn to combine body control, agility, coordination and balance with the mechanics of dribbling and the sooner they start, the better. Secondly, the process of learning to dribble involves trial and error. At first, the players’ rudimentary attempts at dribbling will often result in failure as they discover the contrast between a soft touch and a hard touch on the ball. The players will slowly develop a ‘feel’ for the ball as they experiment at controlling and propelling it. Young players don’t get easily discouraged if they fail. Players of this age do not possess the analytical thought process to look back or think ahead. They live for the moment, in the here and now, and the fact that the last time they tried to dribble it didn’t work will not even enter their minds. But if we wait for the players to mature before we emphasize dribbling, many of them will lose their confidence if they do not succeed and will become reluctant to dribble. Thirdly, In 3v3 play, the fields are so small that dribbling is always an option since the ball is always just a few yards away from shooting range. Once the game moves to the larger-sized fields, dribbling becomes less effective on it’s own and must be combined with passing to get the ball from point A to point B. And lastly, it’s better to go through the process of trial and error when game results are not important and standings are not kept. At the U-10 and older ages, game results assume more importance, making it hard for the parents and coaches to show patience and tolerance for mistakes, and putting added pressure on players to ‘get rid of the ball’ rather than risk losing it. Once games become competitive, the resultant environment is not ideal to start learning how to dribble. Most parent coaches reading this section will probably agree that dribbling should be a priority. The challenge is to find a way to implement this priority into the real life dynamics of your typical U-6 program.

How can the clubs do it?

Most coaches and parents of beginner players unknowingly emphasize the wrong skills. In typical U-6 play, the players are encouraged by both the parents on the sidelines and the coaches to ‘boot’ the ball up the field.

What the coaches must do is encourage the players to dribble, dribble and dribble. Their first touch must be a soft one. There should be very little coaching done by the coaches, just the occasional reminder to “dribble” and, when close enough to goal, to “shoot”. The shout to “kick it” should never be hollered by the adults. Dribbling out of pressure should be the emphasis for these age groups. Results don’t count and ‘booting it’ should not be an option. The players must be allowed to be creative, and to solve the problems of pressure and space by themselves, using dribbling techniques. Passing is an impossible technique to master for players who cannot dribble. The better players, once they learn to dribble out of tight areas, will be able to create space for themselves with the dribble and will then start to look up and pass the ball. But that will come by it self. Success at the U-6 ages is measured by how many times a player can dribble past opponents since game results are not important.

To summarize, if we want our players to fully master the art of dribbling, the following conditions must exist:

  • They must start learning to dribble early
  • We must provide ample opportunities for dribbling in practices and games
  • We must create the right game environment where players are not afraid to dribble.

The following guidelines are recommended for the skill priorities at the U-6 ages:

  • Dribble out of trouble
  • Soft first touch
  • No kicking allowed except when shooting on goal

Parents Role

The parents must understand the skill priorities and embrace the program structure, if it is to succeed.  One of the main problems with parents at games is that they sit too close to the field. Their proximity to the players gives them too much of a presence which, in turn, impacts the players’ behavior, response and performance. It’s very hard for parents to resist shouting instructions to the players because beginner players are visibly unsure of themselves and naturally make a lot of mistakes. Children aged 4 to 8 are naturally dependent on their parents for many of their daily needs. This dependency spills over into youth sports, manifesting as parental coaching from the sidelines. The players themselves will tend to look to their parents for help since they are conditioned to be dependent on them.

Therefore, another important objective of the U-6 programs should be to wean the players out of their dependency on their parents’ help during games.  We all know that soccer is a players’ game, meaning that it’s the players who must make the decisions on the field. In soccer, coaches have a lot less influence and power during games than in some of the other traditional American sports. Soccer players must learn to think for themselves, and the sooner they learn to stand on their own feet, the better. Since results do not matter at these age groups, no one should be overly concerned if players make mistakes that lead to goals. Parents and coaches must resist the urge to tell their players what to do. The following guidelines are recommended for U-6 game set-up:

The parents should not coach the players. All they should be allowed to do is cheer good plays by their team but they should also be encouraged to politely applaud good play by the other team.

Parents must never tell the players to “kick” or “boot” the ball. Kicking the ball needs to be discouraged. The parents will need to be prepared to accept that a lot of the dribbling attempts will be unsuccessful and that, nevertheless, they will have to bite their tongues and let the players try again and again.

The coaches should also keep their instruction to a minimum and let the players understand that they must make their own decisions on the field and that it’s OK to make mistakes. The coaches should stand on the sideline and only enter the field if absolutely necessary. It must be remembered that we are trying to help the players grow out of their dependency on the adults. The coaches should encourage dribbling out of trouble and discourage kicking.

KINS Program (U-6)