Soccer drills for children need to be fun. Since their attention span is short, drills work best because they’re specific, quick, and hyper-focused activities.
The following guidelines will help you design training drills for youth soccer:
Emphasize Control and Coordination
Control and coordination will serve as the foundation and building blocks for learning advanced soccer skills.
You want the players to learn how to do fundamentals correctly. This will help them focus on evolving as athletes in the long term.
Youth Soccer Drills
Set up two cones about two feet apart. Work with short distances at about 5-10 yards and longer distances at about 15-20 yards. The objective is to pass the ball through the two cones.
Change the angles too. You can create a little competition by having the second player match the shot with the first player. If the first player misses, then the second player chooses where they want to take their shot.
You can also do this drill using the goal. Set up a cone with enough space for the ball to pass through the cone and the goal post.
Split the kids into four teams using both goals. Have two at one goal and another two at the other, so you can play more and stand around less.
To start, have one player place the ball anywhere inside the 20-yard line. They have to pass the ball between the post and cone. The next player has to match the shot with the first player.
Stop and Go
To start, have each player dribble a ball. Emphasize keeping the ball close with control on the move. Blow the whistle for the players to stop in a controlled way.
Randomly blow the whistle to work on the players’ reactions and preparedness.
Emphasize multilateral movements to develop lateral movement skills.
Create a space 10 by 10 yards. Put three players in the middle. The players in the middle are the aliens. Place one shooter on each side. The three aliens will move laterally back and forth. Ensure their pace will be challenging for the shooters to pass the ball through to the other side. This is a great drill to train lateral motion and passing skills.
Another variation can be where you have two shooters on each side at about five yards apart from the middle. Place one or two players in the middle. The objective of the drill is for the players in the middle to move laterally only. As the ball passes through to the other side to the other shooters, the players in the middle have to turn quickly. The objective is for the shooters to hit the players moving laterally with the ball. This is a drill for agility, quickness, and preparedness.
Have kids run laterally to the cones. Set the cones up at about five yards apart in a zig-zag motion 30 yards up the field.
Set up about eight players in a zig-zag position up the field. Have the players pass the ball in sequence through the zig-zag position without stopping. Once the kids do the drill correctly, you can set up two teams of eight for a friendly competition. You can also zig-zag forward than back without stopping the ball. The purpose is to keep the ball moving without stopping.
Drill Building Tips
- Give the drill a fun name. You can use video games as a means of creating a drill.
- Set up many different drills at once. Have some drills where 2 or 3 players are training and others where more players are participating, so no one is sitting around. Switch the players around every 15 minutes. Just make sure there is not a lot of time being wasted sitting around and frequent participation.
- Reinforce skill development, not winning.
- Please make sure the players perform each technique in the drill correctly, so their skills become perfect.
- Simplify or modify rules, so children understand the drill.
- Make sure the drills are fun.
- Be patient.
- Keep your explanations about the drill short, and don’t make the drills complicated. The kids will lose interest and wander off mentally.
When drills are fun, children will make faster and greater gains to enhance their skills and ability.
Fun Functional Movement Drills
Here is a drill you can do without using a ball.
Jungle Gym Drill
Put six kids on one team with three kids on one side and the other three being 10 yards apart.
First, have them roll on the ground towards their partner. The partner will rollback.
After completing rolling, the next exercise is broad jumping.
And, thereafter, you can incorporate lateral shuttles, and bear crawls. This is a great drill to develop basic functional movement skills.
Again, this keeps the drills fun, and the kids will stay focused.
When kids get older, you can focus more on advancing their skills. But youth players need to know the basics first. The basics serve as the foundation for reflexes, speed, and other skills.
Understand the age group you are coaching to provide the best learning environment for them to develop.