fun soccer game to improve ball shielding skills for younger players

Objective: This is a fun game called "Keepaway-in-a-Box" that helps younger players of all skill levels improve their ball shielding skills and understand the principles of individual defending.

Age range: U6s to U9s.

Difficulty: Easy.

Set-up: Pair your players up in a relatively small playing area. For ten U7s, 10 yards square is ideal.

The playing area should not be so big that the game turns into running and chasing. The objective to protect the ball in a confined space. One ball between two.

How to play: The game starts with both players in each pair placing one foot on the ball.
  • When you say "GO", they both try to take possession of the ball.
  • The player who gets the ball must try to keep it away from her partner.
  • The ball must not leave the playing area. If it does, that pair is out of the game.
  • The winners are the pair of players who can keep the ball in the playing area the longest.
  • Switch partners after every round or two to build confidence in newer players and to challenge the more experienced players.

Coaching note: An alternative to eliminating players who let the ball go out of bounds is to make them wait for a few seconds before returning to the game. But that means that no one "wins" and, as Steve says, the game is so fast and over so quickly that no pair of players is out for more than a minute anyway.

For more soccer coaching tips and products visit Soccer Coaching Club.