Monday, August 17, 2009

U6-U7-U8-U9-U10 Soccer Drills



U6-U7-U8 Individual & 1v1 Soccer Drill:

This soccer drill will be run at center field around the outside of the circle. If you do not have access to the center of a field then create a large circle with cones. If your team consists of 10 players or less then have them do the following. Dribble around the outside of the circle in the same direction. When you blow the whistle have each player dribble directly across the circle to the other side. The purpose of this soccer drill is to avoid hitting another player or their soccer ball. In order to do this the players are going to need to learn to dribble the soccer ball with their head up, looking at where they are going. I like to run this soccer drill several time, alternating how the players dribble. For example, the first time have them use only their right food, second time their left foot, third time the outside of their foot, or on and so on. Alter as you see fit, but emphasize keeping their head up and the ball close to them. They should also be moving at a pace, not walking, not running but somewhere in between. If your group is larger that 10 players then number them 1 & 2 and then call out the number and only that group dribbles across the circle. Learning to dribble with their head up will play a big role in the future development of the player. It provides field vision for passing, dribbling, putting moves and much more.

U6-U7-U8 Individual & 1v1 Soccer Drill:

This soccer drill is designed to have the players dribble the ball while looking up. They should also focus on keeping the ball close to them while moving quickly. Have the players line up on a side line, each with a ball and facing towards the other side line. They should have at least 7 yards between them so they do not run into each other. As the coach you will be about 30 yards in front of them and will be required to run backwards towards the other sideline. Have the players begin dribbling at a good pace while keeping the ball close. You will raise your hand and the players will need to repeat the number of fingers you are holding up. If you see players dribbling and the ball getting too far in front of them then yell "FREEZE" and the ball will roll away from them. They should be able to stop the ball when you say freeze. If they can not stop the ball, simply point out that if the ball is getting away from you then you do not have control which increases the chances of it being taken from you. Continue all the way to the other side line and have them turn around, where your assistant will be waiting to do the same thing the other way. I like to run this soccer drill several times. Once they get the concept of control and freeze, tell them you are going to call out a particular type of move, like a dip or cut (see other drills for examples), at which time you will want them to do the move, but also that they need to keep their head up to call out the number of fingers you are holding up. Point out that the reason you want them to have control is because without control of the ball it would be impossible to attempt a move.

U9-U10 Individual & 1v1 Soccer Drill:

This is a 1v1 soccer drill designed to work on both offense and defense, while promoting aggressiveness. Set up a goal with cones. The goal should be about 5 yards wide. Players should form two lines about 30 or 40 yards from the goal. The lines should be facing the goal and roughly 5 yards from each other. Please note, as a coach you are going to want evaluate your players by skill level and have them match up against a player of similar skill. If you have a large group then create two sets of goals so you can have more players going at one time. One player will start with the ball (designate right or left) and they will be the offensive player, the second player will be the defensive player. The goal of this soccer drill is to have the player dribble and score, while the other player tries to take the ball. If the defensive player does get the ball then he/she then becomes the offensive player and tries to score, while the other player becomes defensive. This soccer drill could play out over an extended time, but I encourage you to let it go until they score or it goes out of bounce. Have the players switch lines when they return. Emphasize to the players that this is practice and they should be working on individual moves, shielding the ball with their body (see other drills) and defensive pressure. They have nothing to is practice.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Juggling Soccer Drills - Fun Soccer




U7-U8-U9 Soccer Juggling Drill:

Juggling is an under-rated soccer skill in my opinion. It something the kids can do at practice, on their own at home or school and even in groups. Juggling a soccer ball will add soccer touch, soccer coordination, ball control and awareness of the soccer ball in relation to a players body. As a coach, introducing this early to a player is fun because you will be the first to see a difference on the feel in terms touch and control.

To teach the basics there are a few key points to communicate to the group.

1. The goal of control and touch, which means we are not trying to kick or hit the ball high into the air because this is the opposite of control. We want the soccer ball to not touch the ground while the player continues to hit in the air in a controlled manner.

2. Any part of the players body can be used except the hands. Feet, thighs, head and even the chest can be used.

3. Let the players know it is not easy and takes time. Set a base number at first (2, 3 or 4). Each player will be different.

4. Let the players know there is going to be a challenge as the year goes on. Rewards for achievements. These goals will need to be set by you as the coach and will vary based on the age and skill of the kids. For example, demonstrating 5 juggles the player gets a sticker on their bag, 10 a pin, 15 a red marble and so on. I have seen coaches use different colored beads tied to the players bag to indicate how many juggles have been achieved. The players will start to take pride in this and practice on their own. You can also break this up into number of juggles by feet only, head or thigh only. You will be surprised how quickly the number will start to increase, and you will also quickly be able to tell which players that are practicing on their own. Keep pushing them and challenging them. Have an ultimate reward of a metal or trophy. You will see a difference on the field.


Spread the team out and have them start using their thigh. Help them and show them that they do not want the ball to go above their eyes. How many can they do. Maybe write it down and see if they beat it next practice. Move to feet only. This will be a little tougher. They should try to keep the ball below their belly button, but explain if for some reason it does go higher then use the upper thigh to regain control to drop it back down to their feet. Again, how many, challenge them to get to five or higher. After you this, explain why juggling is important and that you will be implementing a rewards program. This soccer drill will teach valuable basics that will serve the player well throughout their soccer playing days. Professional players still juggle today. Touch and control are a huge part of the game so practice as much as you can.


U9-U10-U11 Soccer Juggling Drill:

Pair players up and have them juggle as a team. They should be using their head in this drill, as well as feet, thighs and chest. Make a competition of it. A single player should try to get it back to the other player in one touch, but realistically this sometimes can not happen so allow each player touch it twice before passing, but only one time. If a 2nd time occurs then the count stops. This soccer drill will really start to teach control because they are not just trying to place the ball with touch to themselves, but place it another player. Point out good spots to set your partner up, like the the thigh or head. If the two touch rule is too much, then remove it. This should be fun.


U11-U12-U13 PLUS Soccer Juggling Drill:

This is a tough one. Find a tennis court you can use and tell the player to bring their turf shoes because they are going to play soccer volleyball. This drill is good on a hot day when you want to limit running and have some fun. Split the team up into two teams, equally. Note: I have seen this played with as little as one person on each team, so the number really should not matter, but remember to adjust the size of the court based on the number of players.

This is just like volleyball. Serve by dropping the ball to a players foot and kicking it over the net. Each player can only touch the ball one time and the goal is to get it back over to the other side without it hitting the ground. Players can use anything but their hands. I also run a variation of this soccer drill where the ball can bounce one time.

Let the players know they should try to score by setting up their team mates in a way they can drive the ball down to the ground. A good example might be a header (see heading drills) driving the ball down. They should also look to place the ball with touch to an open space.

Saturday, July 18, 2009




U7-U8-U9 Soccer Heading Drill:

Heading drills can be a challenge for young soccer players, so before going into an actual soccer heading drill I would recommend discussing some basics.

1. Getting in position to head the soccer ball. Discuss moving so the player is facing the ball and their body is directly in front of the soccer ball.

2. Keeping your eye on the soccer ball all the way to the forehead - it will be tough, but they should really try to keep their eyes open all the way in to the point of contact.

3. Contact should occur at the upper front part of the forehead, not on top or the side.

4. If possible, they should be trying to strike the soccer ball with their head by moving the head back and then forward. It is a soccer timing skill. The point here is as they gain confidence they should not just be standing and waiting for the ball to hit their head. The below soccer drill will help emphasize this.

A good soccer heading drill to get the basics down is to split players up into partners with each two person team having a single ball. Have one player sit on the ground with their legs straight out. The other player should then stand in front of them (about 2-3 yards). The player standing should lightly throw the soccer ball under handed towards the player sitting. The throw should be a little short so the player has to move towards the ball to hit with their head, rather than waiting for the soccer ball to hit their head. This is a good starting soccer drill for headers.

Once you feel the players have the basics then do the same drill except this time instead of sitting have the player rest on their knees. Again, throw the soccer ball short so the player must lunge or lean into hit. They can cushion themselves from hitting the ground by extending their hands to the ground (almost like a push up). For the players you feel are advanced, challenge them to direct the ball to the left or right of the thrower. Again, this soccer drill will teach them to move forward to the ball and keep their eyes open.


U9-U10-U11 Soccer Heading Drill:

This soccer heading drill will teach directional heading. Split the players up into groups of three with each group having one soccer ball. They should form a triangle with each player being about 5-7 yards apart. One player is going to be the heading person and facing the other two, one player will be tossing the ball towards that player. When the soccer ball is tossed towards the heading player they should lean back and head the ball at the third player. They should be striking the ball with their head, redirecting it towards the receiving player. Repeat the process 10 times and then switch players so that everyone gets a chance to head the soccer ball. This is a good soccer heading drill and should move quickly. Once the header is received by the player they should be throwing it back to be headed again. Emphasize putting some power into it and on target. You can even tell players to mix it up by heading some to the ground at the players feet, and then others up high. Challenge them. Also, have the receiving player trap the ball. It is good practice.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Trapping & Receiving Soccer Drills


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U6-U7 Soccer Trapping & Receiving Drill:

Have the players form 2-3 lines, depending on the number of players and coaches. You want to keep the lines small (3-4 players). A coach is going to stand about 7-10 yards from the players in line, facing them. Have the coach roll the soccer ball at the player, and the player should then trap the ball with their foot. They can either trap it by using the bottom of their foot or receive it with the inside of their foot. In either case the goal of this soccer drill is to gain control of the soccer ball so it rests on the ground in front of them. The key to this soccer drill is to start by rolling the ball at the player. Once they understand the basic concept explain that you are now going to roll the ball not just right at them but possibly to either side, at which point they will need to move into position to trap or receive the soccer ball. This soccer drill will teach the basics of moving into position to properly trap and receive a ball on the ground. Once received the player can pass the ball back to the coach and go to the rear of the line.

The 2nd phase to this drill is to move closer (5 yards) and now throw the ball lightly at the players feet (do not bounce but loft it gently so it heads toward their foot in a arcing manner). They should be able to trap the soccer ball to the ground by watching it closely and then placing their foot on top of the soccer ball right as it hits the ground, trapping it between their foot and the ground. Use your best judgment to determine if your players are ready for this. At this age it can be tough to trap to the ground from the air but it is good to at least introduce it to them. It is a timing issue to trap the ball from the air to the ground, so try practicing this for 10 minutes a session and you will start to see a difference.

U8, U9 & U10 Soccer Trapping & Receiving Drill:

This is one of my favorite soccer drills for this age because you can do it as a team practice or individually. I still take my sons and daughter out and do this with them. Split the players up into two groups if you have a lot of them. You will need to have a Goal/Net for each group. Also, you have a choice to use an actual goal keeper (good practice for them) or you as a coach can be in goal. Have the players line up about half way between midfield and the goal, facing the goal. They can be further from the goal if you want, depending on how far you want to send the ball to them. The coach will be in goal, or by the keeper with a stack all of the soccer balls. As the coach you are either going to roll the ball hard at the player, or send the ball in a high arcing manner at the player (simulating a kick). The player will then trap the ball by using either their chest, bottom of the foot or inside of his foot, maybe even their thigh or knee depending on how quickly they can get to it.

The key to this soccer drill is to direct the players to be aggressive and not wait for the ball to come to them on the 2nd or 3rd bounce, but attack the soccer ball and gain control. Move at the ball, trap or receive it to the ground in front of you and then once control is gained dribble forward and shoot on goal (this is where it can be good practice for a keeper also). Point out that typically the person that can control the ball where they want it is going to win the initial battle, so they should be trapping or receiving the ball so it is in front of them and on the ground.

You can also choose to have the keeper send the ball out instead of you. If you have a keeper that can kick it consistently then I recommend doing it, otherwise have them or yourself throw ball out high and hard. Remember, the real goal of this drill is to help players aggressively trap and receive the soccer ball in a controlled manner so they can move forward. Don't just throw it at them, make the player run and adjust to the ball, teaching them to move themselves into position to properly receive or trap the ball. It is okay if it bounces 1 time or even 2 (depending on the kick/throw), but if it starts to bounce 3 or 4 times then the player needs to understand to move towards the ball quicker

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dribbling Soccer Drills Newsletter Vol. 1.1


U6-U7 (maybe U8) Soccer Dribbling Drill:

Depending on the size of the group, mark off an area with cones. It needs to be large enough for everyone to fit into but not too much space that they are far from each other. Put a sock in the back of all the players shorts, hanging out in a manner it can be grabbed. Shirts must be tucked in for this soccer drill to work. All players start within the designated area (cones) and are not allowed to leave. To start the drill blow the whistle. Each player must dribble the ball in a controlled manner, if a player goes out of the designed area then they must sit out until the next game. Each player must dribble and try to pull the other players tail off, but again - stay in control. If a player's tail is pulled then they must sit out. When a tail is pulled just have them drop it on the turf. When you get down to two players then call the game because it just becomes too difficult to grab the tail. The goal of this soccer drill is to teach them to use their body as a shield and control the ball. Most important, it will make them aware of what is happening around them while dribbling. I have found good to talk to them between each game and point out what is occurring. Dribble with you head up so you can see what to avoid.

U9-U10 Soccer Dribbling Drill:

Place 10 cones in a line. You may want to have two or three lines depending on the number of players. Spacing should be 1 yard apart, and in a straight line. The players will then dribble through the cones, each time using a different technique. First time, player can use any part of either foot to go through the cones. Please discuss with them that soccer speed and control are both important here. Second time through use only the right food, third time only the left foot. Fourth time, back to either foot but they can only use the inside of their foot, next either foot using only the outside. This soccer drill is an excellent way to improve control and foot speed in combination. The coordination involved to master this soccer drill takes time but can be extremely valuable as the player grows older. I would repeat this drill at least once a week until you start to see a difference and encourage players to do it at home on their own. Dribbling is a soccer skill that will always be used at all levels and this drill will improve the players skill at their own pace.

U9-U10 Soccer Dribbling Drill w/Purpose:

Create a 20x30 yard grid, larger if you have more players. Break the soccer team up into pairs. Try to do this randomly to avoid players creating clicks within the team. Each pair will need a single soccer ball. One pair of players will enter the grid with one player starting with the ball. His goal is to dribble and shield the ball from the other player for as long as possible. If the other player gets the ball he then tries to do the same from the other player. You should time this for roughly 30 seconds and then switch to the next pair of players. Have them switch partners. Point out to the players that using your body as a shield is an great soccer tactic. Also, after one round, point out that the player with the ball also has the option to dribble to space and move away from the pressure. I like this drill because it also helps teach aggressiveness. Depending on the number of players you may want to have multiple grids going at the same time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Soccer Formation Adjustment

It was cold and wet in Oregon all weekend. My daughter is on a U12 team and they played both days. The girls were miserable but they played through it. Both were great matches for spring soccer. I saw a great adjustment by the coach of my daughter's team. They usually play a 4-3-3 with the four being a flat back trying to catch players offside. This particular game they were getting beat with long balls and great speed. At the end of the first half they were down 1-0. Keep in mind these girls really have not played any other formation. The coach was able to communicate to them what was happening on the field and switched the formation to a 4-1-3-2 which filled in a gap that was occurring at midfield and allowing the long ball to take place. The defensive midfielder was able to slow down any counter attacks. It worked pretty good. They tied the game in what otherwise would have surely been a loss due to speed in on the defense. I notice as the girls and boys get older there really is a strategic part of the game. Skill and speed still rule on the field but a coach can make a difference to help the players out. was a fun weekend despite the weather. I would be curios to see some input on other formations to help with opposing players speed.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Youth Soccer and Spacing

As we all know spacing is so very important in soccer but one of the most difficult aspects of the game to teach to youth players. I personally feel it is never to early to at least start discussing the topic. For example, when I watch matches on TV with my kids we discuss spacing at every given chance. However, discussing and coaching are entirely different. We need to be realistic in that there is no way you will get 5 and 6 year old players to spread out consistently. I personally think a good age to start practicing spacing is at U8/U9, depending on the level of the players, but again it should be discussed at all ages to gain an understanding.

I have always discussed spacing in two aspects. An offensive player wants spacing and needs spacing to operate on the field. It is their job to create their space by moving away from opposing players when they do not have the ball, as well as move away from players on your team when they have the ball. Offensive moves practiced and used in games are done so to create additional space, where they can either shoot, pass or advance the ball.

Defensive players do not want to a large amount of space between them and the offensive players, so they are continuously trying to take away space from opposing players. In many cases they are even layering and backing each other up in the event an offensive player creates space on their own, they can then close that space to limit the damage.

This discussion combined with watching professional soccer matches will at least give a base concept to begin teaching space. I have always started teaching it on the practice field by putting players on a full field in their respective positions. Field only one team facing the other half of the field, which is empty of players (this works for all sizes fields and ages). I then take a ball and kick it to the other side of the field and ask the players to sprint to where they feel they should be on the field with respect to where the ball is being played. This also will help teach your philosophy on positioning. By doing the "shadow" drill over the entire field, back and forth, while correcting and explaining why the positioning and spacing is important; it will tie your above discussion together with the physical part of the game. I like to try to implement a triangle on the field, so midfielders should be backing up offensive players for drop passes. By using this shadow technique the players will begin to understand the importance of spacing. You can do the same to discuss weak side spacing on crosses so a player does not get sucked into the middle, or how mid fielders can advance to a scoring position. Again, incorporate you philosophy and positioning.

Once you feel they have a base understanding it is time to scrimmage and apply spacing in a game situation. You should play with them, showing them how to move with and without the ball. I also recommended yelling out "Freeze" so the players stop and you can reinforce position and spacing. Always explain why it is important.

A couple of tips I have also used along the way to help teach players to not crowd their own team-mates when they have the ball is to explain to them that is good to be aggressive, but when your team has the ball you should really be running away from them to open up a passing lane and create space for him and yourself. The player with the ball should then start to look for the pass when his space closes on him. Defensive players should be shown how to close the space without diving in, as well marking players in space.

I hope this helps. If you have feedback for me or want to let me know how it worked for you then please email me at