There was a time when Americans didn’t fully appreciate the game of soccer, but those days are over. Soccer is the world’s most popular sport for a reason. One of the best things about soccer is that all you really need to get better is a ball! In order to succeed, players need good footwork, passing, dribbling, and shooting skills. Teams also need to have good communication. Get your touches in with our favorite soccer drills to improve your young athletes’ game!
1. Pass and Move
This drill encourages the oh-so important skill of moving after you pass. It also includes variations so kids can try wall passes and then one-touch passes once they’ve mastered the simple pass and run.
2. Triangle Passing
Set up four red cones about 10 yards apart and then place a single blue cone in the center. The central player’s job is done once they’ve completed four triangle passes. We especially love that this drill works on moving off the ball and getting into a support position.
Designate an area of the field as the playing area using either cones or preexisting lines on the field. Divide the players into two teams and give one of them pinnies so you can easily distinguish the two teams. During play, teams score points by stringing together a predetermined number of passes. Be sure to encourage players to find open space so they aren’t all chasing the ball and forming a clump. For a variation, add a player that will play with whatever team has the ball so the team with possession always has more players.
4. Two-Ball Passing
This drill encourages players to think quickly with the ball at their feet since three players work to keep two balls away from a single defender.
5. Finishing Off a Cross
Soccer drills that mimic real-game scenarios are very effective. This drill allows players to practice making good crosses while teaching strikers to time their runs and get a piece of the ball. Encourage players to use different parts of their body to get the ball in the back of the net, but be mindful that heading isn’t allowed for younger players.
6. Four-Cone Shooting
This drill works on passing as well as shooting since it requires patterned passes to occur before a shot is taken. There are multiple different variations shown in this video.
7. Shooting Technique
Going over proper shooting technique is so important. This video covers the basics like leaning over the ball and shooting with your laces.
8. Lightning Shooting
Soccer drills that promote a healthy sense of competition while also being fun are always a hit with players. In this fast-paced shooting drill, players line up outside the penalty area while one player starts in net. The first player in line shoots, and if they make their shot, they get to head to the back of the line. If they miss their shot, they become the goalkeeper. Whether they save the shot will determine if they are out or get to rejoin the line. The last player in line is the winner!
9. Technical Cone Maze
We love that this dribbling drill gets the player a lot of touches on the ball while working on changing directions and keeping the ball close. You’ll want to make sure you have a lot of cones on hand so the maze can be challenging.
10. Sharks and Minnows
Sharks and minnows is one of those soccer drills that should be a staple of any good youth soccer practice. Set up cones so there is a starting line and an ending line, then have players line up along the starting line. The players (the minnows) must get from one side of the ocean to the other without having their ball kicked away by the coach (the shark). Once a player’s ball is knocked away, they become a shark too!
11. Gates Dribbling
Before playing, set up cones in pairs to create gates all around a designated area of the field. Then, challenge players to see how many gates they can dribble through in a predetermined amount of time. Be sure to stress to players that they need to keep the ball close so they don’t shoot the ball through the cones.
12. Pinnie Snag Tag
This drill is definitely a crowd-pleaser. While it can be played as a warmup without a ball as shown here, you can easily amend it for soccer by adding a ball at each player’s feet. Designate a playing area using cones, then have each player place a pinnie hanging out of their shorts. Players are out when either their ball is kicked out of the area or their pinnie is pulled out. The last player standing is declared the winner.
13. 1v1 With Odds and Evens
Before getting started, you will need to assign every player a number. Have odd-numbered players stand to the left of the goal while even-numbered players stand to the right. Then, have players sit on the ground with their backs facing away from the field. The coach stands around midfield with a large pile of balls.
Once ready to begin, the coach calls out an odd number and an even number at random and throws a ball out to them. The players fight to win possession and score a goal for their team. Remind the players that no one is designated as either offense or defense since there will be a tendency of younger players to want to clear the ball once they win it. Instead, encourage them to immediately head to goal. We especially love that this drill instills a no-quit attitude in players while also working on their listening skills.
14. Juggling Horse
Divide players into small groups, then challenge them to keep the ball in the air using their feet, thighs, or chest. If the ball hits the ground, the team receives a letter. Once a team has spelled H-O-R-S-E, they are out of the round.
15. Two-Cone Drill
It’s amazing how many different variations of foot skills can be done using just two cones as your base. We especially love that it forces players to use their non-dominant foot as well as different parts of their foot.
16. Touches, Touches, and More Touches
This video goes through a number of different types of touches including formations, rolling toe taps, L-turns, etc. For each different skill, it designates a set number of touches to aim for so kids can improve their footwork quickly.
17. Soccer Trainer
A soccer trainer like this one is perfect for solo training since it keeps the ball close even when practicing kicks. It also encourages a good first touch as the ball comes flying back at you.
18. Clean Your Backyard
Before playing, divide the players into two even teams and give them an equal number of balls. Then, create a moat in the middle of the field between the two teams. The teams are challenged with “cleaning” their backyard by kicking the balls into the other team’s yard. Any balls that land in the moat must be removed by the coach. This drill is especially effective at teaching defenders how to clear the ball by leaning back and getting underneath the ball.
19. Defending Techniques
A good defensive stance is crucial to becoming an effective defender since lunging and other missteps increase the likelihood of getting beat.
20. 2v2 With Four Goals
Set up four small goals on the field with a goal in each of the field’s corners. Designate one of the teams as the defenders, then have the offensive team attempt to score in any one of the four goals. This drill works on good defensive techniques like getting low, making the field small, and making the steal.
21. Walk Through Goal Side, Ball Side
One of the most valuable skills to have as a defender (in soccer but also in many sports) is understanding the concept of goal side, ball side. While walking through real-game scenarios is not always fun for players, it is often necessary. Set your players up as shown in this video, then have the offense move to various spots on the field while the defenders position themselves between the the player and the goal.
22. Two-Cone Goalie Drill
First, set up two cones just to the right and left of the two goal posts about 10 yards out from the goal. Then, yell “left” or “right” to the goalkeeper, who must race to that cone before saving a rolling ball coming at them.
Diving is a necessary part of goalkeeping, but it can be intimidating for new goalkeepers. Try some of the basic drills in this video to introduce the safest and most effective ways to dive for the ball.
24. Catch and Release
Soccer drills should work on players’, including goalkeepers, reaction time. Set up one large goal for the keeper to stand in, then set up two smaller goals farther down the field on the left and right flanks. Finally, throw the keeper a variety of balls to practice catching and quickly throwing toward one of the smaller nets.