If you’re hitting the field as a soccer coach for the first time, you might feel like you’re in over your head. Kids are running around, balls are flying through the air, and you’ve only just learned all the rules to the sport. Don’t worry! Whether you’re a seasoned coach or a volunteer parent, there are plenty of simple drills you can use to start off a practice and get the players practicing some valuable fundamental skills. All you have to know is a few basic warm ups and from there, you can come up with your own spins on classic games to make your team the best it can be.
One thing every soccer player needs is good ball control. This means they have to be comfortable having the ball on their foot without it going all over the field. One game you can play to work these skills is like the soccer version of musical chairs. Put on KLOVE or a fun CD to pump up your team while they play this warm up game. Every player will be in a rectangle you create with four cones; they will each have their own ball and you’ll give them each a number. While the music plays, everyone will dribble around in the square without running into each other until you stop the music and call out a number. Whoever’s number you called must dribble as fast as they can to and around the nearest cone. The rest of the team has to follow that person, and the last one around is the loser for the round. You can make them wear a penny or hand them something to carry to mark their loss. Whoever reaches three losses first loses the drill.
Passing the ball is perhaps the most important skill in soccer because it keeps your team moving forward. This is why it’s important to give your players plenty of practice with both passing to each other and intercepting passing. One great drill to practice both of these skills is a simple game of keep away. Put your team in a square with two or three people in the middle, depending on the size of your team and space. The players around the edges of the square will pass to each other, and the people in the middle will try to intercept the ball. When one of the players in the middle gets the ball, they will switch out with whoever passed it and the game continues. There are plenty of variations you can make to this game as well. For example, if two people are in the middle, you can make each passer call out the name of who they’re passing to, and if intercepted, both they and the intended teammate are sent into the middle. You could also limit passes to a single touch instead of settling the ball then moving it on to someone else.
Finally, the skill that wins games: shooting. No practice is complete without some type of shooting drill to help your players get used to shooting on the target against a goalkeeper. A simple shooting drill is to set up all of you players in a line, each with their own ball, about ten yards ahead of half field. You can stand at the top of the eighteen box. Have your players pass the ball to you and then take off running forward. You’ll pass the ball off to one side and they have to take a shot from your pass. No dribbling or extra touches. This helps them to become comfortable shooting at a fast pace and from far away. It also gives your goalkeeper great practice with power shots. You can alternate which side you pass to or let your players tell you where they want it to go.
These simple drills will make any soccer practice a success!