Divide into teams with 2 players per team. (It’s okay if one of the teams has an extra player, or a parent can play). Players race around a “Turning Cone” that is about 6 to 15 steps from the “Starting Cone” and the dribbler can pass to the waiting teammate as soon as the he goes around the “Turning Cone”. One point for each completed pass. This is a good game to play right after “Dribble Across A Square”, because you can use the cones that are already on the ground.
Speed dribbling (aka “Running With The Ball”), turning, passing and receiving at “Game Speed” and while under pressure. It also teaches the Passer how to kick the ball while running and under pressure, to pass quickly after having made a turn, and that the Passer should quickly move after making a pass (and not stand still, so it helps teach the concept of “Movement Off The Ball”, as opposed to making a pass and just standing there). It also teaches Receivers that they must anticipate the pass and be alert and move to the ball, instead of waiting for the ball to come straight to their feet (this is a common mistake young players make – they wait for the ball to come to them, instead of going to the ball – in this Practice Game they will learn to watch for the pass and anticipate it’s direction and move to the ball – if they don’t, they will lose the game, because there will be bad passes and the receivers that stop those bad passes or run to the weak passes will win the game). You can also teach Receivers to come to slow or short passes (so they get to the ball quickly), and to one-touch block the pass in front of them as a way to go faster. The game also teaches the Passer that proper “weight” of the pass is very important (the pass can’t be too hard or too slow). It can also be used to teach the receiver one-touch control, playing the pass into open space, and a quick first step into open space (as opposed to “2-touching” the ball and giving opponents time to close in). This one-touch style of play should greatly help your attack and your players will get used to one-touch and see the advantages. If they don’t learn to one-touch,they will lose this game. They will also learn when to one-touch and to only 2-touch when they can’t one-touch.
1. Divide the players into teams of 2 players each. It’s okay if one of the teams has an extra player (or a parent can play). Try to balance the teams so they have equal ability. After each game or two, you can change the teams.
2. Each team has one ball.
3. Use cones to make a “Starting Cone” and a “Turning Cone” for each team. Put the “Turning Cone” 6-15 adult steps away from the Starting Cone, as shown below. The distance you put the cones apart will depend on the age and ability of the players. Example, for U-10 Rec, put the cones about 8 adult steps apart. Put 4 to 6 adult steps between each pair of cones, so players have room to make a bad pass without getting in the adjacent team’s way.
Line each team up beside the Right Side of their Starting Cone, so all the teams are turning in the same direction (to the left).
5. After each game, have the teams start beside the Left Side of the Starting Cones, so in the 2nd game they are turning to the right.
6. After the teams have played 2 games (one turning left and one turning right), you can change the teams so they are more competitive or just for fun. Another good reason to change is that players need to get used to receiving other player’s passes.
7. First to 8 wins (This is an intense game. Another reason to only play to 8 is that if one team makes a really bad pass, they will probably not be able to catch up). I think it’s better to play to 8 twice and then switch up teams and play twice again than to only play twice to “10”.
8. Teams get one point for each completed pass (define a completed pass as when the receiver touches the ball).
1. Start by lining each team up beside the Right Side of their Starting Cone, so all the teams are turning in the same direction (to the left).
2. On “Go”, the first player in each line dribbles to the “Turning Cone”, turns around it and passes to his teammate as soon possible. Encourage the passer to make an accurate pass (one bad pass can lose the game). The pass must be accurate and have proper “weight” (not too hard and not too slow). The receiver can and should move toward the pass once it is made (but not before) as a way to go faster (encourage this – in a game, this will keep the opponent from stealing the ball, and will train the receiver to GO TO THE PASS instead of waiting for the pass to hit her in the feet. Once they are playing well, teach the receiver to block the ball in front of him (one-touch) so he can go faster – this is an important game skill and way to think, as opposed to 2-touch receiving and standing still waiting for the ball. Tell the Receiver that MOST IMPORTANT is to stay on his toes so he’s ready to move either sideways or forward for the pass. He MUST stop a bad pass and NOT let it go past him.
3. The “passer” then goes to the Starting Cone and becomes the Receiver.
4. The “receiver” (who now has the ball) then dribbles around the cone (around the correct side – for example, making a left turn) and passes to her waiting teammate.
5. If a team makes an inaccurate pass, the receiver must run after the ball and doesn’t get a point until she touches the ball. One really bad pass can cause a team to lose the game.
6. After each game, have the teams start beside the Left Side of the Starting Cones, so in the 2nd game they are turning to the right.
7. After the teams have played 2 games (one turning left and one turning right), you can change the teams so they are more competitive or just for fun. Another good reason to change is that players need to get used to receiving other player’s passes.
8. First to 8 wins (This is an intense game. Another reason to only play to 8 is that if one team makes a really bad pass, they will probably not be able to catch up). I think it’s better to play to 8 twice and then switch up teams and play twice again than to only play twice to “10”.
9. Teams get one point for each completed pass (define a completed pass as when the receiver touches the ball).
First team to 8 wins
Note: the passing part of this may be too hard for U-6. If so, just have them dribble around the Turning Cone back to their teammate who then takes the ball.
Things Your Players Can Learn by Playing This Game
* Teamwork, Responsibility and the Benefits of Listening to the Coach and Doing the “Right” Things (the things the Coach tells them to do). This Game will teach your players that teamwork is critical. The Passer and Receiver must BOTH do their jobs and work together or they will lose. One bad mistake and they lose. The teams that hustle, are most alert, try the hardest and listen to the Coach’s tips will do the best and win the most – those that don’t will lose. Players will get quick, positive feedback if they are doing the right things and will quickly see the negative results of NOT doing the right things – they will have to do the “right” things if they want to win, and if they don’t, they will lose. I think most coaches want their players to want to win and to want to try to do the “right” things. In this Game, players immediately see the results of listening to the Coach and doing the “right” things that he tells them to do. If they listen to the Coach they will win… if they don’t, they will lose, and it will be clear why they lost. It’s a very good way to teach many important things.
* Kicking and Passing the Ball While Running. I don’t have to explain why this is important. A basic and very important skill is to be able to kick the ball accurately while running, and the only way to learn that is by practice. Many coaches spend time on “Shooting Drills”. I think this Game is a better, more efficient way to practice this skill. Also, this Game teaches players to perform the skill while under pressure and at game speed. If you practice a “Shooting Drill”, how many actual shots will each player get? 3 to 5? You can play this Game with pairs (2 players per team), and in 3 games each player will have gotten about 15 shots (i.e., 15 practices on kicking a ball while running and under pressure at game speed). You can play 3 games in about 10-15 minutes. Think about it. The players are getting 300% to 500% more practices of this skill and the practices are under pressure and at game speed, and the players are having fun.
* Improving the Receiver’s First-Touch and One-Touch Control to Open Space. Want to make your attack faster and more creative? One of the best ways is by teaching your players to play faster and to use “open space”. I think one of the mistakes of U.S. soccer is teaching that “passing” is to feet. The result is that many players only know how to “pass to feet” and their concept of a “pass” is a ball played to a teammate’s feet. Receiver’s start to think this way too and if a pass doesn’t come to their feet, they will just stand there and watch it go past or criticize the passer for making a “bad pass”. In this Practice Game, a player can either receive the ball “2-touch” (i.e., stop the ball and THEN start to dribble). OR he can one-touch block the ball into the open space in front and run to the ball, which will speed up his play. This is a concept and style of play that you want your players to learn because it’s faster and teaches them to think about how to use “open space” to advance their attack. When you play the Practice Game, the teams that play this way will beat those who don’t. The result will be that all your players will quickly and clearly see the advantages and want to learn to play this way. They will be motivated to learn so they can win the game.
* Receiver to Stay on Toes and Stop Bad Passes. As described above, you MUST teach your player’s to NOT expect a pass to come to their feet. They MUST stay on their toes and ready to move in either direction. Their TOP PRIORITY MUST BE to stop a pass from going past them, because if that happens the opponent will get the ball. In this game, if a bad pass goes past the Receiver, his team WILL LOSE THE GAME.
* Receiver Should Move to Ball (Not Wait for Ball to Come to Feet). In addition to stopping a bad pass, this Game will teach the receiver to MOVE TO THE PASS. The rules of this Game allow the receiver to move toward the pass as soon as the ball is passed. Now, the receiver will learn that he can’t just rush at the ball because if the pass isn’t accurate it will go past him, and one bad pass that isn’t stopped will lose the Game. So, the Coach should advise players to watch to be sure the pass is coming toward them before starting their run toward the pass – they should get in line with the pass. The way to do this is move to intercept the ball – that is the first thing to do. Teaching players to move to the pass has many advantages. You may be thinking “There are times when the receiver shouldn’t move toward the pass”. Yes, that’s true, but your players will figure it out. Moving toward the pass will prevent the pass from being intercepted by an marking opponent. It also teaches the receiver to watch the ball’s “line” and to NOT wait for the ball to come to his feet. It teaches movement and aggressive play, which are both good things, and that the receiver shouldn’t wait for the pass to come to his feet. The teams that move to the ball best will usually win this game. Your players will quickly and clearly see the advantages and want to learn to play this way. They will be motivated to learn so they can win the game.
* Accuracy and Proper Weight on Passes in Game Conditions. This Game teaches players to make accurate passes that have the proper “weight”. The pass must be toward the receiver because one bad pass that the receiver can’t stop will lose the Game. It also teaches the importance of the proper “weight” on the pass – the pass shouldn’t be too hard, or the receiver won’t be able to control it. But is shouldn’t be too soft either. Players will learn this by playing the Game, and it’s the role of the Coach to give “Tips” that will help them play better.
* Speed Dribbling: Show players how they can go faster by “Speed Dribbling” from the start. The first player can go faster if he kicks the ball in front of him and runs to it – this is called “Speed Dribbling”. Notice that he can’t kick it too far or he will go far past the turning cone and that will slow him down. He will learn about how far to kick it so he can catch it just before the turning cone and make the turn. After the first player, each subsequent player will start as a “receiver” and can block the pass forward as a way to go faster, but they can’t block it too far or they will have to chase it farther than necessary. They will learn by playing the Game, with the Coach giving them Tips for how to go faster.
* Observation as a Teaching Tool. It might be a good idea to let your players watch the best 2 pairs play this game and point out what they do right and wrong. The game can be played to 10 in a few minutes. You can point out why one team wins and the things they do that are right and wrong.
How to Get Your Players to Listen to You (Tips for This Game):
This is easier than you think: Let’s say you’re playing “Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race”. Play it once and ask “Who wants to win this game?” Tell them you will give them a tip that will help them win. Here’s an example of a tip: Tell them that the player who starts with the ball can kick the ball in front and run to it as a way to go faster. Tell them they will just have to be sure to not kick it too hard. (Demonstrate or have a player demonstrate).
Another tip: Pass the ball as soon as you can after you have rounded the cone.
Another tip: The Receiver must stay on his toes and watch for whether the pass is going to his left or right and start to immediately move that way – the Receiver’s most important job is to STOP the pass, because if one pass gets by him his team will lose the game (this will start to teach Receiver’s that they can’t just stand still and wait for the ball to come to their feet – the Receiver MUST stop the pass, just as they must in a real game).
Another tip: The Receiver can start moving toward the ball as soon as it is passed (that’s the rule in this game and probably would also be how you want the receiver to play in a real game), but the Receiver can’t just rush at the ball… it’s not that simple… he must be sure the ball is coming at him, because if it’s a bad pass he may have to move sideways to stop it.
Another tip: The Receiver can block the ball in front of him and run to it as a way to speed up (again, this is good training for a real game). Another one: The pass MUST be accurate… one bad pass can lose the game… the pass needs to not be too hard, but it can’t be too easy either… they will learn the proper “weight” by playing this game.
These are some of the things this game teaches, and your players will learn by playing the game. If you use this approach, it changes your role from a nagging coach to a guy who is giving his players tips so the can improve. The reason it works is that when they are playing our games they will see IMMEDIATE results… so they are getting immediate positive feedback and seeing that your “tips” really work. They will see that the players who follow the coaches’ tips win more games than those who don’t… those who listen will win, and those who don’t listen will lose.