Soccer coaching practice plans don’t usually require a parachute as well as the usual cones, balls and bibs.
However, I’ve used parachutes very successfully, both as as ‘ice-breakers’ at initial training sessions for all age groups and to encourage children to work co-operatively as a team in game type situations.
Parachute play also improves fitness as the action of lifting and lowering the ‘chute works on biceps, triceps, forearms, back – even the hamstrings and calves.
You could try using a parachute as a warm up to your main training session (they make a welcome change from stepping over coloured cones!) or even devote a whole session to parachute games.
Pop a parachute into your bag at a training session soon. Your players teamwork and fitness will benefit and you’ll have a load of fun at the same time!
Ball Roll: Have the children try to roll the balls into the hole in the middle of the parachute. (Or have children try to keep the balls from going into the hole in the center.)
Competitive Chute Ball: Mark a line across the diameter of the chute. Have equal teams hold the edge of the chute on either side. Throw a ball into the middle. The aim is to get the ball off the chute on the other team’s side of the line, and stop it coming off your own side of the line (i.e., to throw it over the other team’s heads). You mustn’t let go of the chute or touch the ball with any part of the body. Keeping score is optional.
After several minutes of wild flapping and little progress the group should realize that coordination and strategy are needed to flick the ball off the chute.
All Change: Have the children hold onto the edge of the parachute. On the count of three, have them lift it high into the air. Call out the names of two players. These players quickly change places under the canopy. Begin calling three or four names at a time. When the game is at its ending point, call out “all change” to have all the players switch.
Rollerball: Everyone holds the chute taut. Place a large ball near the edge. Try to make the ball roll around the edge of the chute. To do this, someone starts the ball rolling. As it comes towards you, you lower the edge you are holding, and as it goes past you raise your edge. When all the players do this in synchronisation, it creates a kind of wave going round the edge of the chute which pushes the ball in a smooth steady circle. It can not be done without concentration and co-operation, but it is very rewarding for a group to eventually achieve the correct motion.
Popcorn: Place a number of small balls onto the parachute. Shake to make them pop up like “popcorn”.
Merry-Go-Round: Children turn their bodies sideways and hold the chute with one hand. They then walk around in a circle, making a “Merry-Go-Round.” For variety, children can hop, skip, jump, etc. You can stop music as a cue to reverse and go the other direction.
Poison Snakes: Place three or four jump ropes onto the chute. Shake the parachute to keep the snakes from “biting” (touching) you.
Parachute Tag: Lift the parachute high into the air. Call out two children’s names. They must trade empty spots by running under the chute, before it comes down on them.
Mushroom: Standing, lift the parachute waist height. Count to three – with “one” and “two” being small practice lifts. On three, all lift the chute overhead, and crouch down pulling the parachute edges down as well. This creates what looks like a “mushroom.”
See-Saw Pull: From a sitting position, have children pull the parachute back and forth in a cooperative see-saw motion.
Shoe Shuffle: Count off. All of a selected number take off one shoe and throw it in the middle. On the count of three, raise the chute, and the designated children have to run under and find their shoe before the chute comes down.
Bouncing Balls: Have one or two children under the chute try to knock balls off the parachute from underneath.
Flying Saucer: All take one step forward upon lifting the chute in the air. Upon command, all let go, and watch as it slowly floats.
Ball in the Bucket: Break into two or more “teams.” Each team will have a different colored ball (or balls.) They will try to keep their color ball from going into the middle circle, while trying to get the other teams’ color of ball(s) into the hole.
Beach Ball (or football) Fun: Using a beach ball or a football, roll it round the edge move it with waves around the parachute.
Mushroom: From a standing position, lift the parachute from the ground to waist height, counting one (lift) and two (lift). On three (lift), have everyone raise the parachute high over their heads and then crouch down, pulling the parachute tightly behind them. A mushroom effect is created as the parachute settles.