soccer games and drills for under 5s
Mueller; Reused with permission
I have had a request about what
to do with kindergarten kids. Here are things I've done that seem to work.
Rule 1: be nice and have
Rule 2: if things aren't working give it a minute then move on.
Rule 3: if more than one kid loses focus, change the activity!
Every player with a ball.
Every player must keep moving and not run into anyone else
When coach says "one" they must stop and put their right foot on the
ball (never mind that most cannot yet tell right from left just tell the
lefties to use their other right foot).
Ask what part of your foot you
should use when dribbling, get lots of answers. Correct one is all parts
(trick question). Show how to pull ball back with sole of foot. Ask them
to try it after you say start. When they are dribbling around, say "ONE";
once they are all stopped, tell them that now when you say "TWO" they are
to stop and sit on the ball. "START" , "TWO", Now show some other
dribbling technique, for instance cutting the ball across with the inside
of the foot. "START", "ONE", Tell them to move faster and to keep their
heads up. "START", "TWO". If they did go faster, they probably had some
collisions. Ask them how to avoid them. (Right answer is just like cars on
motorway, go slower in traffic, only speed up when no one is around and
always pay attention to what the other drivers are doing.)
Tell them when you say "THREE"
to stop and put their nose on the ball. "START", "THREE",
them to find space on the field, help them say "there's space over here",
"now its over in the other corner". etc. Do several of the stops and
starts to get them a little silly and maybe introduce another dribbling
Try "FOUR" - elbow, "FIVE" -left ear, etc.
Sharks and minnows
Need a moderate space with
boundaries (about the dimensions of one long kick for these guys). All
but one player (the shark) has a ball. The shark tries to kick the
minnows' balls out of the area. First let the
minnows retrieve their ball and continue, then the
minnows become sharks after they lose their ball. Continue play until
all the balls are gone. Retrieve the balls and repeat.
Use a few cones to make a 10 to
15 yard square. Have all players with ball inside area. Tell them to try
and kick each other's ball out, but to keep their ball in. If their ball
is kicked out, they must sprint after it and bring it back inside as
quickly as possible. Stop them, ask them to count how many times they can
kick someone else's ball out. Start up again. Stop and ask who had more
than 2,4,.... Now ask them to count how many times their ball is kicked
out. Start and stop again, forget to ask for total.
Another game is to give
1/2 the players balls and tell the others to take a ball away and try to
keep it. Players with a ball after 1 minute win. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
Arrange them in pairs. If you
have an odd number, have one play with you. Play 1v1 keepaway for 1
minute. Player in possession after 1 minute is winner. Rearrange the pairs
and go again for a total of 3 or 4 times.
Have them find a partner, one
ball per pair. This will take a little while so you might tell them to
come back from the break with a partner and a ball before you dismiss
First have them pass the ball
back and forth while standing about 3 yards apart. They will look
Stop them and ask what part of
foot to use for short accurate passes on the ground. (Answer is inside of
foot, show them what you mean; that part of the foot between the heel and
ball of foot.) Have them resume. Point out that a pass is no good if it
can't be received by their team-mate. Ask what that means (answers on
ground, within reach, not to hard, not too soft, when it is expected, for
example it does no good to pass to a team-mate's back, or to one picking
Stop them ask them how to
receive the ball (answer: cushion the ball so it slows and is left in
front of you so you can step forward to pass it, Don't let them stop the
ball under their foot, or so close that the ball is stuck between their
feet and must be moved before it can be kicked, tell them the ball should
be kept moving) Now you will also have to tell them to back up after they
pass the ball or else, they will end up too close together. Resume
Stop and tell them to do
two-touch passing (you probably will have to ask what Two-touch is and
find a correct respondent). Resume
Stop. Tell them that you want to
count the number of passes in a minute and to start on your command. Start
and time for one minute. Ask each pair how many passes, repeat.
Tell them to do one-touch
passing. Time them for one minute while they count. Offer praise, "that's
very good", That's better than I though a bunch of 6-year -olds would do",
Now tell them to pass and move
after they pass. Tell them to keep track of their partner, to avoid the
other players (It's harder than it looks), and not to dribble (two- or
If you have an even number
break them up into equal groups. 2v2 or 3 v3 is good, but 4v4 is confusing
and will need a good neutral player or two to work, if you have an odd
number pair yourself, or an older sibling with the obviously weakest
If you do pairs, have them play
keep-away for one minute.
Encourage the player without
the ball to move to get open and the defenders to challenge for the ball
and to deny passing lanes. Team with the ball after one minute wins. Go
again. Go again. Keep reinforcing the idea of getting open on the attack
(in a position where your team-mate with the ball can see you, where you
are not too close, but close enough and where the other team can't
intercept the pass).
If you do 3v3, consider using a
neutral player to help the team with the ball. Again, reinforce the need
to move to get open. Point out what happens if you hold the ball too long
before passing (you get ganged-up on). Keep such observations very brief
and generally make them in the form of a question (to which you will
likely get lots of wrong answers, just say "no, that's not what I'm
looking for" or "that's it!" when you get the right answer) If the neutral
player is reasonably talented, have them ask the players to get open
whenever there is no good target. The neutral player needs to move to be a
good receiving position all the time. The better the neutral player, the
more players that can be involved. Tell the players with the ball to make
the longest pass they are capable of to a team-mate who is open. (Not the
longest kick, but the longest pass to the team-mate farthest away from the
other team's players; Same comments about passes as before, within reach,
on ground, not too hard, not too soft).
Players love to shoot and
score. Almost anything that gets lots of shots in a short time is fine.
With 6 or fewer, a simple line taking turns and retrieving the balls works
fine. Have them stay out of the way of each others shots.
For more than 6, you need to
keep the bystanders occupied in some way. Having them serve a ball to the
shooter, then move to the shooting line and the shooters retrieve ball and
move to serving line.
Easiest serves are those coming
from behind and slightly to the side of the shooter, also ball must be on
ground and in front of shooter Shooter should be facing sideways so he can
see both the ball coming and the goal at which she will shoot. Next
easiest are serves coming from the goal on the ground back to the shooter
who is facing the goal; hardest serves are those coming across the field
from either side.
If a larger goal is available,
a parent as keeper (preferably a totally inept keeper) is lots of fun.
The youngest will be lousy
servers and you will have to decide if it is "working" when you have them
serve. If not simply change the activity.
One version of the setup: Line
in front of goal about 15 yards out. First player in line has no ball.
Second player in line pushes the ball from behind to in front of the first
player so that the ball is rolling towards the goal. The first player
catches up to the ball and takes a first time shot. First player retrieves
ball and goes to end of line, second player moves to front of line ...
(You will have to instruct them about passing the ball slowly enough that
the first player can reach it, but hard enough that it does get in front
of him. One way to begin this is to have the first player facing the goal
with his legs spread and the second player passes between the first
players legs. That at least puts the ball between the player and the goal
and as long as the pass is not too hard, the first player should be able
to get a shot off.)
1v1: Have the players
find someone of comparable ability. Use two pairs. Have one pair serve as
"goals" standing with their legs spread apart and the other two compete to
score. Tell them the goals must be scored by shooting on the ground. After
one minute goals and players switch.
If you have an odd number of
pairs, use parents as "goals" .
Small sided game
Encourage the team with the
ball (attackers) to spread out and to move to get open. Encourage the
defenders (team without ball) to get between the ball and the goal
(goal-side) (or between an attacker who is "up front" and the goal).
Don't worry about the finer
points of throw-ins, offsides, etc. Do prohibit sliding tackles, encourage
the attackers to shoot, defenders to get back as soon as they lose the
Defenders are everyone on the
team that doesn't have the ball. Attackers are everyone on the team that
does have the ball. When no one has the ball, deciding whether you should
act like a defender or an attacker is hard to determine, but the team that
gets it right most often usually wins the game.
The scrimmage will likely look
like a swarm around the ball. If the coach must engage in some tactical
instruction, have one player play behind the swarm to collect any balls
coming to him and play the ball forward to space in front of and to the
side of the swarm. Later introduce players to the sides of the swarm to
collect any balls to the side or passes from behind and then dribble
forward and shoot or pass to the middle. Finally, add a player in front of
the swarm to serve as a target. Now with 4 players outside the swarm, the
remaining few players are just midfielders, the others are just in good
supporting positions. Encourage the swarm to pass to any team-mate outside
the swarm, yes a pass back is good and should be tolerated, even if it is
a bit risky for K-3 s. The players outside the swarm should be rotated
It will take K's all fall to
get to the point where more than a couple will play outside the swarm.
(except, for those who are really not playing at all and just standing
with no clue as to what is going on, encourage those to get into the
swarm. and get involved)
Do not relegate the only kid
with a booming kick to stay back all the time. The point here is to learn
and not to restrict the chances to learn in an effort to win or avoid an
Of course, there are lots of
variations on all of these and you probably have your own favourite. With
these guys silly games are not a bad idea. Just remember these little ones
have trouble staying focussed on one activity for too long, so make lots
of changes. If something isn't working, change after a very short time,
especially if you don't have a clear way to make it easier or more fun to