7U & 8U Academy Overview

7U & 8U Academy Objective

Chatham United has developed a program that is intended to appropriately introduce our youngest players to the game.   The Academy training curriculum is designed to maximize individual skill development at the U7 and U8 level, focusing on all aspects of movement, technique and execution. These objectives will be achieved by adopting a true "academy" format where all players train together and are then "scrambled" (according to ability) in game play each week (this format is the recommended format by US Youth Soccer at this age). While most games will be played among Chatham Academy players, we will also be providing opportunities for our players to compete in small-sided games with another town soccer club in the fall and spring seasons.

7U & 8U Academy Overview

The 7U & 8U Academy will have many of the same characteristics of our other Chatham United travel programs including:
  • There will be a Fall (Sep-Nov) and Spring (April-Jun) season (10 weeks each).
  • Practices – Practices run by a professional trainer will be 60 minutes long and held twice per week in the Fall (with a third session for games) and once per week in the Spring (with a second session for games)
  • Games – Hour long small-sided games against other Chatham United 8U Academy players
  • Sessions will run Wednesday/Friday/Saturday in the Fall and Wednesday/Friday in the Spring
  • All practices and games will be held on Chatham fields (with possible exception of scrimmages/festivals as noted below)
  • Additional scrimmage or festival opportunities against other towns
  • 8U Cost – $690 for the year which covers ~50 scheduled sessions for Fall and Spring seasons, uniforms, etc.
  • 7U Cost (including required Fall 2024 Chatham Recreation soccer program registration) – $650 for the year which covers scheduled sessions for Fall and Spring seasons, uniforms, etc.
  • Optional indoor Winter (Jan-Mar) session (additional fee and not required)
  • Participating in the 8U Academy is not a pre-requisite for CU 9U Travel soccer; nor does playing the full year with the 8U Academy guarantee placement on a 9U Travel soccer team
  • 7U & 8U Academy trainers will evaluate their respectively assigned players on a skills and peer basis; these evaluations will figure in to an overall 9U composite score, inclusive of 9U tryout raw score
  • All girls/boys interested in playing CU 9U Travel will participate in scheduled tryout sessions in the Spring prior to the 9U season - tryouts are open to all rising 9U's
We believe that this approach will develop players with a strong skills foundation that will ultimately be better positioned for success at the 9U level and beyond. Our 7U & 8U programs follow the recommendations of US Youth Soccer. The following is an excerpt from the US Youth Soccer Player Development Model:

"For the U-6 to U-10 player environment, many clubs and some State Associations have replaced the outcome-based approach with a process-based approach via an academy-based setup. The academy approach is the same as saying scrambled. This is the terminology sometimes used in the national coaching schools. The main idea is no organized league play. Players are not assigned to a specific team, but are scrambled on each game day, allowing them to play with and against different players, using a non-results oriented philosophy. This best practice is prefaced with research from sports and child psychologists and pediatricians. They assert that sport should be organized, if it is to be organized at all for children under the age of 10, to allow the children to play because they love to win, not have to win. The goal is to compete to do their best rather than compete to be the best.

The academy format, or pool play, is recommended with multiple game options, movement within a group of players and all players having an equal opportunity to play. An academy is a part of a progressive club curriculum. The focus of soccer programs at a young age should be on unhurried and diverse play in an environment that promotes positive developmental settings."

7U & 8U Academy Phases

1. 10 Week Training Curriculum

The training curriculum covers all aspects of fundamental technical components, delivered in a way that progressively challenges the players through added pressure situations. The use of game-like conditions turns the technique into a skill that can be reproduced in different situations. All curriculum activities allow for differentiation in order to make them more or less challenging, depending on the ability level of the player.

2. End of Season Technical Challenges

At the end of the season, each player “competes” in a series of fun, technical skill challenges designed to test their technique in various aspects in which they have received training during the season.

7U & 8U Academy Curriculum

Week 1: Dribbling; Changing Direction & Speed

Dribbling with close control in straight lines and multi direction using both feet, Introduction to ’cutting’ the ball, inside hook and outside hook turns.

Week 2: Dribbling; Moves to beat a Defender

Progression of cutting the ball. Development of Fake / Dummy, Scissors, and Squeezy Push moves to beat a defender.

Week 3: Dribbling; Keeping Possession

Recap of Cutting, Moves to beat a defender at game speed Introduction and development of turning with the ball, specific turns are Drag Back, Step Over and Cruyff. Use of body to Shield the ball.

Week 4: Dribbling; 1v1 Situations

Players cover all of the turns and moves covered in the previous 3 weeks all at game speed. Players learn specifically when and where to use the skills.

Week 5: Passing; Sharing the Ball

Passing using the inside of both feet and to both static and moving targets.

Week 6: Passing for Possession

Development of passing in order for the team to keep the ball. Players will develop the skill of passing against live defenders. Helps develop players’ spatial awareness of when to pass and when to dribble.

Week 7: Passing – First Touch to Maintain Possession

Use of inside and outside of the foot to get a quality of first touch in an intended direction.

Week 8: Control – Use of Wedge and Cushion Control using the foot only

Players use 4 of the 6 surfaces (inside/outside/sole and laces) of the foot to both wedge and cushion the ball both on the ground and out of the air.

Week 9: Attacking Play; Striking and Finishing

Use of laces to drive the ball. Development of 4 A’s of shooting (Accuracy, Awareness, Attitude, and Aggression).

Week 10: Attacking Play; Attacking Situations

Players using the technical skills of passing, shooting and dribbling in and around the goal area. Development of decision making at the variety of angles around the goal. Technical Challenges.


The advantages of small sided training, especially at the 7U & 8U Level, are numerous:

  • Fewer players per team = More touches/involvement
  • Repetition = Improved player development
  • More dribbling, passing, shooting, receiving
  • Player involvement and quality improved
  • Physically appropriate for player age
  • Players remain more focused – No Hiding
  • Principles of game are easier for coaches to observe
  • More player involvement = MORE FUN!!!
  • Improved player development = MORE FUN!!!

Small Sided Facts

  • Player possession in a 40 minute game
    • 11 v 11 = 1 min. 58 seconds per player avg.
    • 3 v 3 = 6 min. 40 seconds per player avg.
  • Passes increased = 135%
  • Goals scored = 500%
  • 1 vs 1 encounters = 225%
  • Dribbling skills used = 280%


Questions related to the 7U & 8U Academy should be directed to chathamunitedacademy@gmail.com

8U TDP at a Fall Festival
8U TDP at a Fall Festival
TDP Girls
2023 Spring TDP