U12 soccer practice skills, tips
and exercises for youth

The coach should take into account when running a U12 soccer practice that the players at this level are still growing in skill level, tactical understanding, mentality and socially.

So how does the coach set up a U12 soccer practice? And, what is the coach trying to teach?

This will depend on the level of the team. The coach will need to judge to see if the players are at a more advanced level or are just learning the game in order to decide where to start his or her soccer practices.

The topic for this soccer practice will be a possession soccer - how to keep the soccer ball by passing or dribbling.

Check out the soccer skills needed for possession soccer practices below...

Soccer Skills

Good passes: Inside of the foot pass.

Good first touch: Controlling the ball with the inside of the foot, outside foot, sole of the foot, thigh chest and head.

Angles of support: Learning how to create angles to support the soccer ball and players - sharpening the angle.

Open body shape: Facing play so player can receive the soccer ball and see team mates positioning on the soccer field.

Communication: How players talk to teammates such as "you have time", "turn" or "man on".

The players must learn how to use all these techniques in order to support the player with the soccer ball. The player with the ball must have a good first touch in order to keep the soccer ball.

Shielding is another skill that comes in handy when keeping possession of the game.

This creates time and space...

Coaching point: A good first touch does not just mean going forward but taking the touch into a space to keep the ball - this could mean going backwards, sideways or forwards.

Lets get to our U12 soccer practice...

Warm up exercises

Fun game: A great way to get the players ready for a U12 soccer practice is to start with a fun game. Fun concentration games prepare the mind and helps get the kids to concentrate in the session. The coach can use games like master of the ball or the clapping game.

Grid: 2 cones, 3-5 yards apart to form a gate. The coach spreads the gates all over the field.

Equipment: Cones, pennies and soccer balls

The players stand on either side of the gate and pass the soccer ball back and forth through the gate.

Coaching point: Improving a players first touch is paramount if the coach is going to teach passing in a U12 soccer practice.

The mantra for good passing - Toe up, heel down, ankle locked - play through the middle of soccer ball.

Game #1:  The players must complete a pass through the gate to get a point. If the players miss the gate they go back to zero or lose a point - coach's choice. The players begin with two touch game and then move to a one touch game.

Rules: The coach has the players see how many passes they can connect through the gates in an allotted amount of time - 1 minute game or a two minute game.

Game #2: The coach has the players take a touch with the inside of the foot. The ball must go wide of the cones and be played back into the other player.

The coach has the players take a touch with the outside of the foot. The ball must go wide of the cones and be played back to their partner.

Coaching Points: Outside of the foot - The player brings the foot across the body, toe up, heel down and ankle locked. The player sweeps the foot across the body and makes contact with the soccer ball.

Inside of the foot: Prepare the foot early - toe up and ankle locked - bring the foot across the side of the soccer ball.

Variation: The first player passes the soccer ball through the gate and the second player takes touch with the outside or inside of the foot, wide of the gate, and plays it back across the other side.

Great for teaching players to take touch away from pressure... the warm up phase of our U12 soccer practice is complete - lets play some games.

5v2 in a U12 Soccer Practice

Game of 5v2

5v2 is not the most dynamic exercise in the world but it gets the players into the habit of receiving, passing, using split passes and basic decision making.

Players get into groups of 7 and form a circle of 5 with two players (defenders) in the middle. The object is to play keep away from the two in the middle. If the coach does not have the numbers the game can be 3v1 or 4vs1.

Grid: 10x10 or no cones just make sure the game does not get spread out if the players are not in a grid.

Rules: In the game of 5v2 defenders in the middle (holding a vest or pennies) must win the soccer ball from the players on the outside.

The defender drops the vest or pennies if they win the ball. The player on the outside picks up the pennie and comes into the middle to defend.

The defender becomes the attacker.

Variations: All the defender has to do is touch the soccer ball to get out of the middle.

One minute game: The defender wins possession of the soccer ball they dribble out of the circle. If the outside players wins the soccer ball back the game keeps going.

The game resumes until the time is up, 3-5 passes equals a point, defender dribbles out of the circle they get a point.

The coach can manipulate the numbers and play 3v1, 4v2, 5v2 or 8v3.

Left/right split

4vs2 - This is a great exercise to teach left/right and split support

Equipment: Cones, pennies and balls

Grid - Players are in two grids 10 x 10 - defenders can play in both grids to make the game easier. If the coach wants to make the game tougher have the defenders each play in one grid.

The target players play in each box with the support players moving up and down on the sides to support the target players.

Coaching points: The players make good, sharp angles to create space.

The closer the pressure is to the soccer ball the better the support angles need to be so the target players can play out of trouble.

The target player and support players should keep an open body shape so they can play into the next grid.

Possession exercise

Possession exercise: The coach divides the players into groups of two, three or four players - 3 groups of 2. Each group is a different color - blue - yellow - white.

Equipment: Cones, pennies and balls

Grid: 20x30

The players play 2v2v2 or 3v3v3 - if blue has the soccer ball white can support blue - yellow defends - the team that loses the ball (blue as an example) becomes the defending team and now yellow joins the white team in playing possession.

Coaching points: The coach can give points by number of passes completed. If the players are struggling make the space bigger.
There are many possession exercises that coaches can employ to teach the kids how to possess the soccer ball.

Second Possession exercise:

Grid: 30x30

The coach divides the team into two teams 5v5 - he or she places target players around the grid. The players play possession in the grid using the target players when needed.

Coaching point: When the ball travels into target the players inside the grid should look to create left and right support. Check out a few more examples of possession exercises. These are great games to add to your soccer practice plans.

Scrimmage: Play 4v4 or 6v6 depending on the numbers of players the coach has at his or her disposal. Let the kids take what they have learned and see if they can apply it to the game. If they need a bit of encouragement or reminder step in - but let them try and work it out.

Enjoy your coaching!!

Return to Coaching Kids Soccer from U12 soccer practice

Return to U12 soccer from U12 soccer practice

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