How to use soccer practice
drills in soccer practice

Coaches, welcome to soccer practice drills! Before we get going I want to share with you a philosophy and a mantra that I have adopted over time for working with younger players - No Laps, no lines, no lectures - especially for the beginners!

Sticking to this philosophy and keeping it fun for the players that attend your soccer practices will see these players come back time and again which will develop a love for the game.

I am not a big fan of the word "drill", frankly it conjures up visions of a drill sergeant putting his troops through their paces for me, but for the sake of this page and key words "drill " is the word we are using today. I have had drill sergeant coaches and been one myself at times - so I have found a different approach that seems to get better results.

Young players are still developing their motor skills, balance, technique and sense of the game. These "drills" will help them develop these qualities and move to the next stage.

Use these fun soccer practice drills below, which will inspire young players to want to learn.

The questions you should ask before setting up practice?

  • Are the soccer practice drills age appropriate?
  • What do these soccer practice drills teach?
  • Are the players learning a skill inside the drills?

If kids are playing, having fun and learning at the same time the coach has probably run a good soccer practice.

Once you have a few drills you like it is time to take them out to soccer practice and see if the kids respond? I have some of my favorite games like dribbling games or some of the tag games below.

Coaching point: The coach might have varying levels of players so he or she must adjust to help all the players in the soccer practice drills. The better players need challenges and the new players need help, which is the art of coaching youth players.

Let's see how do we set these soccer practice drills up?

Age groups

This site is geared towards 6-12 year old players, so we will focus on drills for the kids in these age ranges.

Once the coach has determined what age group he or she will be working with, he or she has to decide what the level of the players is, and what drills will be appropriate for that age group.

Coaching point: If players are becoming bored with certain basic soccer practice drills it means they are ready for the next challenge in their soccer experience.

So, lets start looking at the various soccer practice drills that coaches can use...

Tag Games

Tag games help players with soccer specific movements and are also great for soccer game warm ups. Lets start with the basic tag games below.

I have also included some recommendations when players start to master these drills so players can progress to the next level.

Pennie tag:
Equipment: Pennies and cones
Grid: 20 x 30 or bigger depending on the age group...

These soccer practice drills can be played with any age group, beginners especially love pennie tag and can be a hit with more advanced players.

Game: The coach hands 3 - 4 players a pennie. The coach will need to judge if this is too easy or difficult and add or subtract taggers.

  • The players carry a pennie in their hand and try to tag the rest of the players, but they can only use an empty hand not pennie to tag.
  • The coach can time the game - generally 1-2 minutes is good.
  • Once a tagger tags a player they hand the player a pennie and are now free to run.
  • If a player has a pennie at the end of the allotted time they have to perform a forfeit.

Variation: This is soccer practice drill is a great warm up at games because it mimics soccer movements. Once the players have played a couple of rounds add soccer balls. Each player must now dribble a soccer ball, keeping control of their ball, while trying to escape the taggers.

Worm tag
Equipment: Cones and pennies
Grid: Circle
Game: Two players link arms trying to tag the players that are free with free hands.

  • If the players get tagged they join the group so as the players get tagged the worm becomes bigger.
  • The last player standing wins the game.

Variation: Make two groups and have them compete to see who can get the most players in their group of worms.

Stuck in the mud
Equipment: Cones and pennies
Grid: 20 x 30
Game: The coach has 3 - 4 players as taggers with the rest of the players in the grid. Again adjust the taggers if it is to easy or hard.

  • The taggers try to tag players with their hands.
  • Once players get tagged they stand with feet apart, frozen. To get free the free players have to crawl between the stuck players legs (stuck in the mud).
  • The taggers are trying to get all the players tagged in an allotted time 1-2 minutes.
  • The tagees are trying to avoid being tagged. 
  • If they are successful and everyone is standing with their feet apart taggers win, if not tagees win and a forfeit for losing players.

Variation: Each player now dribbles a soccer ball except for the taggers. If the players are tagged they stand with the soccer ball above their head. To become free again their teammates must pass the ball between their feet and get it on the other side, aka as a nutmeg!

To make the practice soccer drill even more challenging have the players who are taggers dribble a soccer ball as well.

Coaching point: The coach can design a session with the tag games and add dribbling drills to the tag games or use one of the drills or themes below to work on a different topics. LETS CHECK IT OUT...

Dribbling drills

Dribbling in my opinion should be encouraged and taught before passing the soccer ball to develop creative players. Here are a few good 1 vs 1 dribbling soccer practice drills.

Body part dribble ages 6-10
Equipment: Cones and pennies
Grid: 20 x 30
Game: The coach has each player with a soccer ball dribbling around the grid.

  • The coach has each player with a soccer ball dribbling.
  • The coach will call out a body part and the players will have to stop the soccer ball with that body part - Coach says right elbow - the kids will try and stop the ball with the right elbow or stop it with the right foot - player stops the ball with the right foot.
  • Players are not allowed to use their hands!!

This game can become very creative and fun...

Red light - green light
Equipment: Cones and pennies
Grid: 20x30

Game: This is a favorite soccer practice drill for little kids. The players are dribbling around the grid and coach calls out either red light, green light or yellow light.

  • The kids will put their foot on the soccer ball and stop it if the coach says "red light."
  • Dribble the soccer ball faster when coach says "green light."
  • Dribble and slow the soccer ball down on "yellow light."

Great game for teaching young kids to stop, change directions and accelerate with the soccer ball...

Shark pool
Equipment: Cones and pennies
Grid: Circle
Game: The coach divides the soccer balls up so half the players have soccer balls and half do not.

  • The sharks sit on the ground with no balls. The object is for the sharks try to grab or kick the soccer balls from the players dribbling.
  • The sharks must scoot along on their backsides trying to snag a ball or kick it out.
  • If they are successful in grabbing a soccer ball they become a dribbler and the player that lost the soccer ball becomes a shark.
  • The players dribbling try to avoid the sharks - if the player is standing and dribbling with the soccer ball in the allotted time he or she wins.

Great game for teaching players how to weave in and out of traffic, changing direction and exploding into spaces...

Crabs and fishes
Equipment: Cones and pennies
Grid: 20x30

Game: The coach divides the team into two groups, one with soccer ball and one without. The coach has half the players start with their soccer balls on one side of the grid (fishes) and the other group is sitting down on their backsides (crabs) in the middle of the grid.

  • The fishes have to dribble the soccer ball across the grid and get passed the crabs who are sitting on their butts and trying to grab the soccer ball or kick the soccer ball out of the grid.
  • If the players gets the soccer ball taken or kicked out they become crabs.
  • The player who is standing last wins the game. This is a great drill to teach players to identify where the space or openings are so they can accelerate into space.

Check out Soccer practice plans for more advanced soccer coaching drills for kids that are ready for more advanced drills...

Passing drills

Battle ships or Bowling
Equipment: Cones and pennies
Grid: Cone - 10 yards - gate 5-8 apart - 10 yards - 5-7 standing cones.
Game: Battle ships is a passing drill but involves a little dribbling as well. The kids dribble up and try to knock over a row of cones.

  • The players start with the ball on the cone.
  • Dribble to gate - stop the ball on the line.
  • Pass the ball and knock over as many cones as possible.

First group to knock over all the cones wins the game...

Peg the ball or Hunters and rabbits
Cones and vests

Grid: circle

The coach has the players dribble around in the circle with a soccer ball. The object is to try and to peg the other players soccer balls with a pass.

  • If the players can peg another player with the soccer ball they get a point.
  • Players must retrieve their own ball if they miss.
  • The players with the most points win.
  • Play a 1-2 minute games.

If the players pass and hit the soccer ball at the same time - no point or they both get a point - coaches choice.

Variations: Use the non dominant foot, must be 5 yards or closer to pass.

Equipment: Cones and vests
Grid: 20x30

Game: The coach sets up some standing cones all over the grid.

  • Half the players dribble around with their soccer balls and try to knock the cones down with a pass - if successful they scream "Bingo".
  • The rest of the players try to pick up the cones that have been knocked down.
  • The coach counts to see who had the most cones knocked down or  number of cones standing in the allotted time to see who wins.

Here are some more advanced practice soccer drills for passing the soccer ball  if the players are progressing. If you have a favorite soccer practice drill and would like to share check out soccer fun games!

Shooting drills

Clean up your field
Equipment: Cones and pennies
Grid: 20x30
Game: The players are separated into two groups by the coach.

  • One group occupy s a half and the other groups takes the other half.  Each player in their group has a soccer ball and gets ready to shoot the soccer ball.
  • The players try to strike the soccer ball out of their half and get the soccer ball into the other teams half.
  • The team that gets all their soccer balls into the other teams half or has more soccer balls in the allotted time wins the game.

Between rounds, coach the kids on their shooting technique  so they can make improvements for the next round.

Small sided games

Small sided games: The coach should to look to finish the soccer practice with some sort of small sided soccer practice drill. This could be 2v2, 3v3 or 4v4 - does not really matter but the kids need to play as much as possible.

2v2 non stop soccer
Equipment: Cones and pennies
Grid: 5 - 8 yard gates

The coach puts down cone gates 5-8 yards apart (depending on the level beginners should have bigger gates) splitting the team into 2 teams of 2v2.

The kids must dribble through the gate to get a point - but they can continue to play on the other side, so if they use a soccer turn and dribble back through the gate = another point. Non stop soccer!!

Variation: The coach can run a mini soccer tournament so there are several teams competing (1-2 minute games).

3V3 Games

Equipment: Cones and vests
Grid: 20 x 30

The coach sets up a field or grids 20x30 with cone goals 5-8 yards apart on each side of the grid.

The kids play a 3v3 game inside the grid for the last 15 minutes of training. This is a good start for getting some good soccer practice drills that are soccer specific and entertaining, but if your kids have out grown these exercises check out possession soccer here!

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