A lot of coaches will say that Under Twelves are the best age to teach. Still young enough to be enthusiastic and ready to listen and learn, but able to concentrate and sufficiently co-ordinated to tackle some quite complex drills and tactics. Boys and girls of this age can also understand the importance of possession. After all, a team cannot score if they do not have the ball, and the only way to keep the ball for a long period is to work as a team.
Using that premise, let us start with a particularly effective, if complicated, drill.
u12 Soccer Drills to Keep Possession: Four Plus Three v Four
This is a rondo style drill – one where the sides are weighted towards those practising the main purpose of the drill. However, it includes transition from attack to defense on change of possession. Also, by not having a goal at which to shoot, players can concentrate on their primary objective –working together to ensure possession is retained.
The drill requires eleven players, and is suitable for Under Twelves of middling ability and upwards. Players will need a reasonable first touch, and an understanding of the importance of movement and communication.
- Rectangular grid 25m x 20m (can be larger or smaller depending on ability levels).
- Offensive team (four players), defensive team (four players), neutral team (three players, although this can be four if it makes organisation easier.)
- One ball.
Two of the neutral players begin at either end of the narrow side, and the other neutral goes inside the grid. (If using four neutral players, two work inside the grid.) The offensive side then split two and two along the larger side of the grid. The four defensive players operate inside the grid. None of the outside offensive players may enter the grid.
- The ball begins with one of the offensive players
- These simply pass and move to retain possession.
- Passes can be to any team mate, including the player working inside the grid.
- However, two consecutive passes along a single side of the grid is not permitted.
- If possession is lost, the defense pass the ball to one of the neutral players at one end of the grid, and then swap with the offensive team.
- Restart the drill as quickly as possible.
- Allow each drill to run for two to three minutes.
- Hold a quick review of what is good and what can be improved, then swap teams around.
- Encourage effective communication.
- Reward good first touch.
- Encourage movement to always offer at least two options to the player in possession.
- Encourage players to think ahead. That is, where to position in order to receive the second pass.
- Limit the number of touches in possession.
- Make the grid smaller.
u12 Soccer Drills for Defensive Possession: Defenders’ Glory
This is perhaps a more ‘fun’ drill, as it does include the opportunity to score goals. But only for the defense! It is simple to set up and operate.
- Half a pitch, goal at either end.
- Four teams of three.
- Three balls.
- A goalkeeper for each goal can be used if desired.
The drill is simple.
- One team is the defense.
- The other three teams have a ball each and must keep possession.
- The defense attempt to steal possession by winning the ball or forcing an attacking team to send it out of play.
- The defense can choose to spread their pressure between each of the attacking teams, or work collectively to win possession from one team.
- Once in possession the defence has ten seconds in which to score in either goal. They do so unopposed (other than the goalkeepers).
- Run the drill four times, each for three minutes. Change the defense each time.
- The defense which scores most goals is the winner.
The drill is about possession, not scoring goals.
- Encourage good body position to receive the pass, side on (half turn) with arms out for balance and protection.
- Encourage players to scan for the next pass as the ball is played to them.
Make the pitch smaller to increase pressure.
These are a couple of simple to create but effective drills to help your side develop the skills necessary to retain possession in a match.
u12 Soccer Passing Drills Key
(Diagrams created by Abiprod, using ‘Soccer Drive’)