24 groundbreaking soccer drills to try with kids

There was a time when Americans didn’t fully appreciate the game of football, but those days are over. It is no coincidence that football is the most popular sport in the world. One of the best things about soccer is that all you really need to get better is a ball! To succeed, players need good footwork, passing, dribbling and shooting. Teams also need to communicate well. Join our favorite football drills to improve your young athletes’ game!

1. Pass and move

This exercise encourages the all-important skill of moving after you pass. It also includes variations so kids can try wall passes and then one-touch passes once they’ve mastered the simple pass and run.

2. Triangle fit

Set up four red cones about 10 yards apart, then place a single blue cone in the center. The central player’s job is over once they have completed four triangle passes. We especially love that this drill works to get off the ball and into a supportive position.

3. Possession

Designate an area of ​​the field as the playing area using cones or pre-existing lines on the field. Divide the players into two teams and give one of them a vest so that you can easily distinguish the two teams. During the game, teams score points by stringing together a predetermined number of passes. Be sure to encourage players to find open space so they don’t all chase the ball and form a group. For a variation, add a player who will play with the team that has the ball, so that the team with possession always has more players.

4. Passing with two balls

This drill encourages players to think quickly with the ball at their feet as three players work to keep two balls away from a single defender.

5. Finishing a cross

Football drills that mimic real game scenarios are very effective. This drill allows players to practice making good crosses while teaching attackers to time their runs and get a piece of the ball. Encourage players to use different parts of their body to get the ball into the back of the net, but keep in mind that heading is not allowed for younger players.

6. Shooting with four pins

This drill works on passing as well as shooting, as pattern passes are required before a shot is taken. There are several different variations featured in this video.

7. Shooting Technique

It is so important to go over the correct shooting technique. This video covers the basics like leaning over the ball and shooting with your laces.

8. Lightning Shooting

Football drills that promote a healthy sense of competition while being fun are always a hit with players. In this quick shooting practice, players line up outside the penalty area while one player starts in the net. The first player in line shoots, and when they make their shot, they get to move to the back of the line. If they miss their shot, they become the goalkeeper. Whether they save the shot determines whether they are out or allowed to rejoin the line. The last player in line is the winner!

9. Technical Cone Maze

We love that this dribbling drill gives the player lots of touches on the ball as they work on changing direction and keeping the ball close. Make sure you have lots of cones on hand so the maze can be challenging.

10. Sharks and minnows

Sharks and minnows is one of those soccer drills that should be a staple of any good youth soccer practice. Set up cones so that there is a start line and an end line, and have the players line up along the start line. The players (the minnows) must get from one side of the ocean to the other without their ball being kicked away by the coach (the shark). Once a player’s ball is knocked away, they become a shark too!

11. Dribbling gates

Before playing, line up your cones in pairs to create gates around a designated area of ​​the field. Then challenge players to see how many gates they can dribble through in a predetermined amount of time. Be sure to stress to the players to keep the ball close so they don’t shoot the ball through the pins.

12. Pinnie Snag tag

This exercise is definitely a crowd pleaser. While it can be played as a warm-up without a ball, as shown here, you can easily adapt it for soccer by adding a ball to each player’s feet. Designate a playing area using cones, then have each player hang a pinnie from their shorts. Players are out when either their ball is kicked out of the area or their pinnie is pulled out. The last remaining player is declared the winner.

13. 1v1 with even and odd

Before you start, you must assign a number to each player. Have odd-numbered players to the left of the target and even-numbered players to the right. Then have the players sit on the floor with their backs facing away from the field. The coach stands around midfield with a large pile of balls.

Once ready to begin, the coach randomly calls an odd number and an even number and throws a ball at them. The players fight to gain possession and score a goal for their team. Remind the players that no one is assigned as attacker or defense as younger players will tend to clear the ball once they have won. Instead, encourage them to go straight to the goal. We especially love that this exercise teaches players a no-quit attitude while also working on their listening skills.

14. Juggling Horse

Divide the players into small groups, then challenge them to keep the ball in the air using their feet, thighs, or chest. If the ball hits the ground, the team gets a letter. Once a team has spelled HORSE, they are out of the round.

15. Drill with two cones

It’s amazing how many different variations of foot skills can be done with just two cones as a base. We especially love that it forces players to use both their non-dominant foot and different parts of their foot.

16. Touches, touches and more touches

This video covers a number of different types of touches, including formations, rolling toe taps, L-turns, etc. Each different skill identifies a set number of touches to aim for so kids can quickly improve their footwork.

17. Soccer coach

A football trainer like this is perfect for solo training because it keeps the ball close, even when practicing kicks. It also encourages a good first touch as the ball comes flying back to you.

18. Clean up your backyard

Before play, divide the players into two even teams and give them an equal number of balls. Then create a moat in the middle of the field between the two teams. The teams are challenged to “clean up” their backyard by kicking the balls into the opposing team’s yard. All balls that end up in the moat must be removed by the coach. This drill is especially effective for teaching defenders how to clear the ball by leaning back and getting under the ball.

19. Defense Techniques

A good defensive stance is crucial to becoming an effective defender, as lunges and other missteps increase the chance of being defeated.

20. 2v2 with four goals

Place four small targets on the field with a target in each corner of the field. Designate one of the teams as the defenders and then have the attacking team try to score in one of the four goals. This drill works on good defensive techniques, such as getting low, making the field small and stealing.

21. Walk through target side, ball side

One of the most valuable skills to have as a defender (in soccer but also in many sports) is understanding the concept of goal side, ball side. While going through real-game scenarios isn’t always fun for players, it’s often necessary. Line up your players as shown in this video, then let the attack move to different spots on the pitch as the defenders line up between the player and the goal.

22. Goalkeeper practice with two cones

First, place two cones to the right and left of the two goalposts about 10 yards from the goal. Then shout “left” or “right” to the goalie, who must race to that cone before he can save a rolling ball coming his way.

23. Diving

Diving is a necessary part of goalkeeping, but it can be intimidating for new goalkeepers. Try some of the basic exercises in this video to introduce the safest and most effective ways to dive for the ball.

24. Catch and release

Football drills should work on the reaction time of players, including goalkeepers. Set up one large goal for the keeper to stand in, then set up two smaller goals further down the field on the left and right flanks. Finally, throw the keeper several balls to practice catching and throwing quickly to one of the smaller nets.

What are your favorite football drills to play with your team? Come and share in our HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Also check out 24 fun basketball drills for kids.

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