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Four U-12 Soccer Drills for Kids to Get To the Next Level

Under Twelves – Still Learning the Game

The traditionalists love eleven a side football, even with kids as young as eleven themselves; those into improving their players recognise the vital role of small sided games.  Under twelves might be able to play the full game, with all the tactical significance this implies, but they are still learning to be soccer players.

Skills remain to be acquired, team work developed.  Soccer Tactics are for the short term, skills for the entirety of a playing career.  Therefore, the soccer drills here are designed to help our players develop their technique more than anything else.

u-12 Soccer Drills 1 – Warm Up

This is a good warm up activity with lots of action.  Use two ten metre by ten metre grids and group the players into threes or more.  The groups are then split to either side of the grids opposite each other.  The first player dribbles to the half way point then lays off a firm side footed pass, to the next player.  He then continues to run on.  The recipient of the ball repeats the activity coming the other way.

This is a great base drill on which other skills can be layered.  For example, players can be told to put in a piece of skill of their own, such as a step over, while dribbling.  The recipient can do a couple of juggles before returning across the grids.  As they warm up, the players can be told to sprint when they have passed the ball.

u-12 Soccer Drills 2 – Arriving Late

This soccer drill encourages players to time their runs into the box effectively.  It demonstrates the importance of bending the run to make it hard to track.  The player providing the assist has practice of getting to the by line and pulling the ball back.  The soccer drill helps players to keep the ball on the floor, making it easier to keep possession.

The soccer drill uses half a pitch and involves two attackers, a defender and a goalkeeper.  A third attacker can be added as a development.  Attacker one starts with the ball and plays a one two, unopposed, with attacker two.  Attacker one then drives to the by line and pulls the ball back into the danger zone in the box.

The coach encourages attacker one to make his cross away from the keeper, taking him out of the defensive equation.

Attacker two makes a run towards the far post after laying off the ball in the one-two.  At the last minute, he or she changes the direction of their run to get away from the defender and hits the near post at pace, aiming to side foot the cross into the far corner.

In order to provide some opposition, Defender One tracks Attacker Two after the one-two.  If there is an Attacker three, this player makes a run to the far post picking up a deeper cross or where the near post player has missed the ball.  Attacker three is also there for rebounds.

The children are still young enough at Under 12 level to need little chat and lots of action.  This drill, and others, should be carried out at pace.  The next group follow on as soon as the first group have run through the action.  The coach can then speak individually to players as and when needed.

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u-12 Soccer Drills 3 – One V One

Kids love this simple activity, which is both realistic to the game situation while being weighted sufficiently in favor of the attacker to make success regular.  The soccer drill has to develop shooting skills under pressure, and also first touch and dribbling skills.

It involves four players, although one can be the coach.  The ball starts on the edge of the center circle with Attacker A.  He or she feeds a firm pass into the Pivot (who can be the coach).  This player lays the ball off first time.  Attacker A runs on and must beat the keeper with a shot or dribble.  Meanwhile, as soon as the Pivot has touched the ball, the Defender (who starts level with the attacker) moves to try to close down the striker.  This attacker needs to make a decision whether to shoot early, while there is less pressure, or advance towards the goal where the shot is easier, but the pressure greater.

The coach should encourage the attacker to indicate where he wants the lay off.  Also, he can be discussing decision making with the striker.

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u-12 Soccer Drills 4 – A Fine Finisher – Get Your Knees Dirty

This is a short drill, but very popular with this age group.  The players line up on the edge of the area.  There are alternate keepers to keep the pace going.  The coach stands at the side with plenty of balls.

The skill being developed is run timing, but the end product is what the children enjoy.  The attacker begins their run and the coach feeds an underarm lob towards the penalty spot (no closer to goal, for the safety of the keeper).  The attacker then either commits to a diving header, or positions for a scissor kick or side foot volley.

The drill is fairly short and action packed.  Perhaps three rotations before moving on.

There are also some great drills to be found online.  We particularly liked this clip which offers some fast paced, challenging passing drills:


Sessions may finish with a full sided game, which the children enjoy.  However, we encourage coaches to play lots of small sided games as well – these can full rules, one or two touch, rondo style (where numbers are weighted towards one team) depending on the needs of the players and team.  As coaches, we need to remember that the more players in a game, the less touches each child has.  And the fewer touches, the less opportunity to develop skills and technique.


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