Little Hatters

      it's a girl thing . . .  

Hello Coaches: here is where you will find fun games/drills.  Click on the blue links below for practice drills.

Scroll down to learn the game rules and Principles of Play for this age group.

*Remember Try-outs are at the end of May

Tophat Fundamental Principles of Play

There are certain fundamental principles that all soccer players should learn as soon as possible.

1. Dribbling – This one is easy. The players need to be encouraged to dribble as much as possible. Keep the ball close to the feet and under control. Do not let them pick up the ball unless specifically told to do so. Dribble, dribble, dribble wherever they go and with lots of games.

2. Number one tactical principle – do not pass (kick) the ball across the front of your own goal. This tactic needs to be second nature in all soccer players. Our opportunity to teach this tactic at the 4v4 level is with the goal kick. Players should be instructed to always kick to the side of the field and never into the center (across the goal). The best way to encourage this is to teach the receiving players to go to the side so that the player taking the goal kick will have proper targets. There will always be exceptions, but a player must have the awareness that breaking this rule is likely to be trouble. Coaches must remember that this is not a skill that you can explain to a young player. It must be emphasized in every game with encouragement and positive reinforcement. In time, the receiving players will know where they need to be on goal kicks and the kicker will not be tempted to pass across the goal.

3. Number two tactical principle - quick restarts, specifically with the throw in. There is a huge tactical advantage when you restart quickly before your opponent is ready. We practice this by letting the first player to the ball take the throw-in (except the player who kicked it out). Coaches should emphasize the race to get the ball and get it quickly back into play. The optimum throw-in is down the line over everyone’s head. Again, there will be exceptions, but the player should realize that there may be a loss of momentum if the ball is not thrown down the line. The players must learn that most throw-ins are not made to another player, but to an open space where a teammate can run onto the ball. In time, the coordination between the runner and thrower will become a secret weapon.

PS: All coaches need to remember that these girls were not born with a soccer vocabulary. If you want to use soccer terms like mark up, get wide or goal side, you must insure that they fully understand the meaning of the terms. Best results come when you instruct a player that is not actively on the ball. Encouraging individual creativity is much preferred to teaching them to only do what the coach says.

Deep Defenders

There is a natural coaching instinct to have players stay back for defensive protection during a game. This tactic emanates from the desire to prevent the opponent from scoring which could mean the unthinkable possibility of losing the game. To avoid this tragedy at Tophat, we do not keep score, and that allows us to concentrate on the more important issue of player development. Our training policies are focused on what will produce a better player, and how to help it happen. Several factors are involved.

1. Players who stay back on defense are not involved in the game, and are not being challenged to maintain their focus (a key ingredient to excellence). Team shape is a term that applies here and it refers to the need to keep players properly positioned relative to each other.

2. A deep defender is mainly working on one skill, clearing the ball out of the defensive end. At young ages, this is fairly effective because young players normally dribble the ball too far in front giving the deep defender an opportunity to win the ball. As dribbling skills increase with age, the advantage will change, and the static defender will be easily beaten. Add in a few passing skills and supporting runs, and the stay back defenders are toast. Bottom line – clearing the ball out of the defensive end is an ability that is nice to have, but it is not a position to be played. Too much time staying back will produce bad habits that are hard to change.

3. Pushing defenders up field has several advantages. It gives you more players around the ball allowing a better opportunity to keep the ball in the opponents end, it keeps the players thinking (focused) because they are consistently in a position to be involved, it puts extra pressure on your opponents because it takes away any advantage of numbers and it will help prepare them for the offside rule when they move to 7v7. However, pushing up increases the opportunity for the counterattack or breakaway by the opponent, and this is what coaches must begin to realize is the best part. Learning to win the ball from an opponent on the run is a vital skill in soccer, far outweighing the big kick from the back. Pushing the defenders up forces them to work on this skill which is called charging. Charging (shoulder to shoulder) is legal in soccer; use of the arms is not. All players need to be ready to transition from offense to defense at any time to regain possession of the ball. On a breakaway, players need to either outrun the dribbler to get the ball, or run shoulder to shoulder with the dribbler to win the ball or at least force her away from the front of the goal.

Throw-Ins Rule

This year the girls are throwing in the ball.  The refs are not going to be strict if they lift their feet but please make sure they learn to throw the ball from over their head.

Quick reminder of the Little Hatter throw-in rule.  The first player to the ball, except for the player who kicked it out, may throw in the ball. The player that kicked the ball out may not retrieve the soccer ball for her teammates.

Corner Kick

Bring a teammate in close during corner kicks for a pass.  Just like on goal kicks.  This way you have a better chance of keeping possession of the ball on the other teams half. 

Please go over this so the girls can do it on their own during the game.  REMEMBER: no coaches allowed on the field or behind the goal during the game.

Goal Kicks

To the right is a video of how to set up the goal kicks.  

We are adding a “Build Out Line” (dotted line). On goal kicks, all opponents must retreat beyond the build out line. Once goal kick is taken, game is on.

*Remember it is always dangerous to pass the ball across the front of your goal.  Help the girls set up correctly so it become second nature. This is one of the Principles of Play. 




Quick reminder to never say "Kick It" or "Boot It".  Please use soccer terms with the girls, like "dribble down the line" or "dribble to the goal".

Everyday your team should work on dribbling!

Throw-Ins Rule

The refs are not going to be strict if they lift their feet but please make sure they learn to throw the ball from over their head.

Quick reminder of the Little Hatter throw-in rule.  The first player to the ball, except for the player who kicked it out, may throw in the ball. The player that kicked the ball out may not retrieve the soccer ball for her teammates.


Divide the girls into groups of three or four.

Place two of the girls on the base line and the other girl 10-15ft out.

The groups with two girls start with the ball. Have the first girl pass the ball to her teammate 10-15ft away and follow her pass to that line.

Please have the girl’s practice passing and trapping with the inside of their foot.  Start off using right foot only and then switch to the left foot.