We watch Lionel Messi ghost into the box, ball at his feet, and drive his shot home. We see David De Gea dive full length to tip a long range effort around the post. Then we gasp as Mesut Ozil splits a defense with an inch perfect pass. None of that happened overnight. Rather, the top soccer players in the world began, like so many others, as youngsters with dreams and little co-ordination,with enthusiasm and a love of the game – but with the need to learn the skills of the ‘beautiful game’; through soccer drills for beginners.
That is where so many coaches can do good. Not only in creating the stars of tomorrow – that rarely happens, and when a skilled gem does appears, he or she is often raced off up the coaching ladder and away from the enthusiastic amateurs who are the lifeblood of the game. But good is done in helping young players develop the discipline of playing in a team, a commitment to physical well-being, the responsibility of seeing the whole above the individual. These are skills for life, not just the soccer pitch. But, often, it is on the playing field that they are engendered.
Yet coaching children is very different to working with adults. There are elements to a good drill that, often, differ to that of an adult practice.
- The focus is on the development of key soccer skills – first touch, passing, shooting and so on – rather than tactics;
- Soccer Drills for beginners must be simple to understand and quick to demonstrate or explain
- Youngsters find concentration harder than (most) adults, and therefore activities need to be energetic and changed often;
- Praise and reward are essential to promote confidence. That doesn’t mean that criticism cannot be made, but it must be positive and creative, and phrased in a way that does not damage the belief and enjoyment of the player;
- A culture needs to be established where winning is secondary to player development.
Here are some great starter drills for beginners with which young children will engage, which will develop their skills and, importantly, their understanding of the importance of a training session including more than just a game.
Soccer Drills for Beginners 1 – Corner Dribbles
This is a simple, fast drill which develops three separate skills in a fun environment. The skills of dribbling under control, passing and a good first touch are worked on, while the business of the activity helps to develop concentration on the ball. When it goes wrong, the result can be funny and that also maintains the players’ interest.
This soccer drill for kids needs at least twelve players, but far more can take part. Players are split evenly into the outside corners of a grid approximately 15 meters by 15 meters – a penalty area works almost as well. Players work diagonally across the grid to the opposite corner. Two players from adjacent corners dribble under control to the middle of the grid, concentrating on keeping the ball under tight control using the laces or the outside of the boot. In the center, they make a pass to the first player in the opposite corner, taking care to avoid the other ball and players in the grid. The recipients control the ball with a good first touch and continue the drill as before. The original player runs on to the corner to which they have passed the ball, and join the back of the line there.
Juggling – Individual Soccer Skill
Children love this drill – it buys into their love of showing off and demonstrating their skills. At the same time, it develops their co-ordination and creativity.
The drill works very much in the same way as ‘Square’ above. This is useful, as it means the transition between the two drills can be quick, and concentration is maintained.
The drill works with players working from corners as above. However, this time, they dribble the entire way. The fun part is that players are encouraged to demonstrate an individual skill – turn, step over, juggle etc – at some point in their crossing of the grid.
Multi Goals – Soccer Drill for Beginners
This drill is a little more complicated and is therefore perhaps not suitable for the youngest children. However it develops movement, passing and first touch.
The drill involves ten players on half a pitch (5 v 5). Four small goals made of cones are placed in the central part of the pitch, as below. Goals are scored by passing the ball through any of the goals, although only count it the ball is perfectly controlled the other side of the posts. Goals can be scored only in the direction stated by the coach (e.g., towards the center, or towards the touch lines). The game can be made one or two touch, and players need to be encouraged to keep the ball on the floor.
Soccer Assault Course Drill for Kids
Mention those two magic words, and children are immediately captured. This is a multi-skills drill. It uses half a pitch (slightly more with older children) and the individual soccer drills can be changed as required. It is important to keep the drill moving and therefore the next child begins once the previous one has completed the first drill – if he catches up with his team mate, he or she must practice an individual drill – e.g., juggling – until there is space to continue.
The soccer drill requires two goalkeepers
(who alternate for each player) and at least six outfield players.
An example of an assault course can be:
- 10 juggles
- Dribble through cones
- Wall pass (the coach can be the‘wall’)
- Shot (players collect the ball themselves unless they score, in which case a goalkeeper returns it).
- Run at speed back to the start.
Juggling – Individual Soccer Drill for Kids
Children love to work on their juggling. It is a good drill, great fora warm up. It develops individual skills, anticipation, teamwork and communication.
The soccer drill is simple. Start with an underarm throw. Each team attempts to keep the ball in the air for as many juggles as possible. They can use any part of the body legal in soccer. Make the drill fun by adding competition between groups. Each juggle counts as one point; however, while players can make more than one consecutive juggle,only one counts towards their score (to stop the superstar hogging the ball!).
Players should work out that when the ball is under control, they move slightly further apart. However, they close in when the ball starts to run out of control. Communication is required so that players do not compete for the same pass or header.
These are some examples of tried and tested drills that really work well with young children. Always change activity often – five to ten minutes is ideal – and do not be afraid of using the soccer drills regularly;children love routine and knowing what they have to do.
However, there are many more drills that can be used well with young players. The following clip shows some excellent but simple dribbling drills:
Soccer Drills for Kids
Coaches of young players have one of the best – but most important – roles in sport. They are the unsung heroes of soccer, and indeed any other sport.
If you liked this blog, you’ll love our blog post on under 6 Soccer Drills for kids.
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