Shielding skills are important to be able to protect the soccer ball when under pressure from an opponent. A big part of shielding the soccer ball is being able to use the body to shield the soccer ball using soccer turns like the sole, Cruyff turn and cut moves to get away from the opponent.
If the young player is successful in keeping possession by holding the player off he or she now has options to pass or dribble his or her way out of pressure.
The rules allow a player to protect his or her space if they have the ball...open to interpretation from some refs. :) A good ref will allow play to go on as long as elbows are not being thrown or a player trying to get the ball is not kicking the player in possession.
Part of getting the players comfortable on the ball is teaching them basic shielding skills.
Each player grabs a scrimmage vest from the coach and tucks it into the back of their shorts and lets it hang out like a tail.
Game: No ball, just free play, 1-2 minute game in a 15x20
Game: 1-3 minute game in a 15 by 15 grid!
Game: Add a ball and the players now have to dribble and protect the scrimmage vest. The players don't realize they are now shielding the soccer ball.
Variation: Tuck the scrimmage vest into the sock...maybe even more realistic than the tail.
The players dribble around the grid the coach has set out.
The players have to use turns to get out of pressure. Shielding the soccer ball is a tough skill to learn and the players have to have very good soccer skills.
There are more advanced shielding skills that come into play when the kids get older, and there is less space on the field, better defending and more pressure.