Example soccer coaching practice plans

These are two examples of the sort of practice plan I write before each coaching session.

The objective of the first session was to improve general ball control and shooting skills. I had sixteen 10 and 11 year old girls of varying ability and one assistant who mirrored the activities I was running.

Warm up  Need one ball each
Explode (15 minutes)

Set up large circle of cones with poles set up about 20/30 yards away

Dribble round circle, heads up.

Use inside/outside of foot, left only, right, etc.

One whistle – exchange ball with another person.

Two whistles, explode. First one back to me with ball stopped and under control wins.

If not enough balls, sharks and minnows and/or a quick game of War!
Split kids into age/ability groups
My group: talk about shooting: attitude (if you don’t shoot, you’ll never score). Talk about/demonstrate good technique (pick target, preferably bottom of far post, look at ball, ankle locked, hit it hard with head over the ball and weight forward, follow through). Pretend you’re passing hard to someone standing at far post.
Build up game

2 go for goal (players stand in two lines opposite a goal plus goalkeeper. I stand on side line, serve ball in, first 2 players race to see who can score first). Emphasise importance of good first touch, shooting technique.

Or… 3v3 one goal. Emphasise possession play and quick, positive shooting.
End game

Four goal game

The next plan is a ‘standard’ lesson plan that I use once a month or so.The objective is to improve ball control and encourage good teamwork.

Warm up

Bugs and spiders and/or the Zipper drill

Build up games

3v 3 one goal or

Three team keep away

Start with two teams of equal numbers and three soccer balls. On whistle, players try to possess as many balls as possible.

On second whistle the play stops and the team in possession of two or more balls wins. Repeat several times.

In this game, players must be good passers of the ball to keep possession. They must also make decisions on where to run when they don’t have the ball, when to pass or dribble, and whom to pass to.

2 Go For Goal

Players form two lines on either side of the coach who is standing 18 to 20 yards from a goal that is any size. The coach serves the ball toward the goal line while pairs of players race to win the ball and shoot. As skills improve, add a goalkeeper. Encourage correct shooting technique and a good first touch on the ball.

End games

Set up four 2 cone goals in each corner of a 20 yd x 30 yd grid. Divide players into two equal teams. Players may score at any of the four goals. This is an excellent game for encouraging teamwork; getting heads up and discouraging bunching round the ball.

Could try this using both halves of the practice pitch instead of the usual end game.

The offensive team has two more players than the defensive team. Teams can be 6 vs. 4, 5 vs. 3, or 4 vs. 2 depending on the number of players.

The offensive team tries to score on the goal. The defenders try to pass the ball through either of two small goals on the centre line.

Play starts at half field with the ball given to one of the offensive players or from a kick from the goalie.


“Spread the defence out” – offensive players should be near the sidelines.

“Make smart passes” – with a two person numerical advantage, the offensive team shouldn’t lose the ball easily. Encourage team-mates to get into position to receive a pass before the player with the ball gets into trouble.

“Clear the ball wide” – when the defenders win possession of the ball.

“How can they pass to you if you are standing there?” – show players without the ball where to be to best support team-mates.



Require offensive team to complete three passes in a row before shooting.

Defenders have only one less player than offenders (e.g. 3 vs. 2, 4 vs. 3, etc.)