Multi purpose games for very young players

Run and shoot

Have the players in two lines by the centre circle. Have a player from one line start moving towards the net and feed him/her a football from beside the net. They have to dribble toward the net and shoot. Normally avoid any drills with line-ups, however this one works because the kids move quickly through the line. You should have lots of parents to help collect balls and keep kids moving through the lines.

Cone soccer

Play 1v1 with one player against one player, each has a cone as a goal. This is every player; nobody stands and watches. The object is to hit the cone; there are no boundary lines, etc. This is nothing but 1v1 dribbling with a little bit of long passing/shooting, etc. They figure out very quickly that they have to beat their man and nothing else will do. After about five minutes, everybody switches to somebody they haven’t played yet. This way nobody is hopelessly outmatched against the same player for very long. They hate to stop doing this until about forty minutes or so when their tongues are hanging to the ground (it’s also a good conditioner). This also teaches individual initiative – nobody else is going to stop the opponent; nobody else is going to score the goal.

Strong sides

The team concept is best taught with unbalanced drills (i.e., 2 v. 1, and 3 v. 2, etc.)– this is true for players of all ages, but especially with younger players. This will make the benefit of team play obvious and it will “let the game be the teacher”. Start with 2 v. 1 drills, then when the players clearly recognize the value of combining to beat one player– either to beat and score or to maintain possession– consider a move to 3 v. 2 (vary the amount of space the drills are carried out in– space is almost another subject).

Striker!

Divide players into two teams. Station each team at a corner post of the goal, standing off, but facing the field. Place a keeper in goal facing the field. Coach/assistant stands behind the centre of the goal with a supply of balls. Coach tosses a ball over the crossbar to about the penalty spot. A player from each team both sprint to the ball and attempt to control it, turn, and get a shot off. The second to the ball defends (if he then wins the ball, then he tries to shoot). When there is a score, save, or ball goes out of play, restart the same way with a different pair of players. May want to limit amount of time each pair has to attempt to score as some kids will dribble all over the field if you let them and everyone else gets bored. Limit the area that the combatants can “fight” in to the penalty area.

Possession

Picture a square about 20 yards to a side. Coach is at one corner. Two teams are at each of two corners to immediate right and left of coach. Coach serves balls between the two teams first players in line from each team attempt to receive ball and turn and pass to their own team. Second player to the ball attempts to defend, prevent turn, or gain possession and turn and pass to his team. Score one point for turning and passing and successful reception. This keeps the two players in line and the second players in line who are the receivers into the game. Receivers cannot enter field but can adjust position along a line to receive pass. Coach can vary the service to handicap one player or another, serve hard, soft, air balls, or into the space beyond the two lines, etc. Coach controls time and with cones lays out the space for play (if no one can turn and pass within a few seconds, no points and the next players are up; dribble out of bounds and the same thing– get back in line and coach serves another ball).

Line Drills

Although you should limit the number of line drills, the following drills are very helpful in teaching younger players important fundamental aspects of the game (all these are on a field stepped off to regulation size, preferably with a regulation goal).

Players rotate positions:

  • Simple cut back move: 1 line. Have players start at midfield and dribble half way down sideline with coach providing minimal pressure. When coach says ‘cut’ the player cuts the ball toward the middle and then finishes with a shot. As season progresses, coach adds more pressure.
  • Reverse move (U6s can begin to do this; U7s ought to be able to do it): 1 line. Players and coach stand on endline next to goal. Coach passes ball ahead. Player has to run and reverse ball, then turn and shoot (or dribble back and shoot).
  • Pass to partner: 2 lines: one along sideline and another toward the centre of the field.
  • Same as above, but this time, when coach says pass, the player passes to the wide-open team-mate. The team-mate must be yelling ‘pass it to me.’ The play finishes with a shot. As season progresses, coach adds more pressure. Also, this is the foundation for 2 v 1 or 3 v 1…As season progresses, a defender is added and is coached on how to intercept/steal a pass.
  • Throw-in play: 2 lines: one along sideline and another toward the centre of the field. The coach (standing on the field 4-5 feet in front of players on the sidelines) has a ball and rolls it out of bounds. He tells the first player in line along the sideline to ‘go get it and throw it in.’ The coach points to where it went out of bounds and tells the player to throw it in from there, encouraging the player to hurry and watching for proper technique. The throw in goes to the team-mate who is yelling ‘pass it to me.’ The throw in made in front of the waiting team-mate. After the throw is made, both players run to the goal. The play finishes with a shot. As season progresses, coach adds more pressure. This can be done with 3 v 1. As season progresses, a defender is added and is coached on how to intercept/steal a throw-in.
  • Goal kick play: 3 lines: one taking goal kick and 2 lines 10 yards ahead of kicker. Kicker kicks to one of the players who, with other team-mate, runs and takes a shot. Coach is lightly covering one of the targets. As season progresses, a defender is added and is coached on how to intercept/steal the kick and score an easy goal. This might be done with a dad kicking to another dad. The players are shown how to run and intercept for an easy shot.
  • Kick Off – Offence and Defence -Position the players the way they will be in the game. Defenders touch finger tips, offensive players positioned around their half of centre circle. Teach centre forward to pass at 45 degree angle to partner who starts run as soon as ball is kicked. Emphasize not kicking straight ahead. Teach defenders how to handle kicks straight at them and kicks off to the side.