games to stop young players from ball watching

All these activities are written for an 'average' age of U9s upwards. Games one and two can easily be adjusted for younger and/or older players by changing the size of the playing area. Game three uses the whole field.

Soccer coaching tip

The younger or more inexperienced your players are, the larger the playing area should be. This gives the players more time to react to the demands of the game and conceals passing errors.

Older players, or more experienced players, should play the games in a smaller area. These players have to react more rapidly to what's going on around them and be more accurate with their passes.

Game 1

Have four players pass the ball to each other in a 20 yards by 20 yards grid. As soon as the ball is passed, every player except the receiver must move to a different space. This is hard (and tiring) so I suggest you only play the game for a few minutes.

The constant movement, combined with short stoppages as the receiver controls the ball, takes some time to get used to. So be patient. It helps if you tell the receiver to take two or three touches before passing to the next player.

Progression: Add a defender. This always seems to stop the players who don't have the ball from moving. Encourage these players to make runs behind the defender.

Game 2

Play netball in a 30 yards by 40 yards playing area. Players score by throwing the ball to a team mate who is waiting on the end line. Ensure the ball carrier does not run with the ball and the ball is released within four seconds. No waiting!

Progression: Put the ball on the ground. Now the players have to pass to the player on the end line. If they control it, the passer joins the player on the end line.

This results in a series of numbers-up situations and forces movement off the ball. The team that gets all players on the end line is the winner.

Game 3

This game is called Moving Triangles. Divide your players into groups of three with one ball per group.

Player A passes to player B and runs through the gap between the other two players - players B and C. Player B passes to player C and runs through the gap between players A and C. And so on. It sounds complicated, but it's easier to play than describe!

Progression: Limit to one, two or three touches. Have all the groups line up at one end of the field and see who can get to the other end first by passing and moving in triangles. The clever ones will work out that long passes are best! Make sure all the groups maintain the correct pass and move pattern.