Ball control games for all ages


Break the team up into groups of three, with one football to a group. Volunteer one player to be the pig-in-the-middle. The two other players try to pass the ball past the pig without letting her control it. Once the pig traps the ball, one of the other players takes her place. The two outside players must control the ball, or they will have to switch with the pig.

Rapid Fire

Have the team form a circle around a single player. Every player except the middleman should have a ball. Have each team member take turns passing the ball to the player in the centre. This player tries to trap and control the ball, and then passes it back to the original player. Have each team member take a turn as the middleman.

Continue Down the Line

Divide team members into groups of four players with one ball to a group. Select one player to be the server. The three remaining players should line up, side by side, facing the server. The server will take turns serving the ball to each player who must trap and control before returning it to the server. Continue in this fashion, alternating the server.

Flight ball

Divide team into pairs, giving each pair one ball and a grid. One player will be the server, who is to serve the ball in the air to any location in the other player’s half of the grid. This player must move to the ball, trap it, and return it to the server. Alternate roles after every 10 serves.

4 v 1 keep-away

I’ve used this drill many times with great success.

It demands total concentration and good ball control. It also encourages children to look up (not at their feet) otherwise they will run into each other.

Use a square grid about 10 x 10 yards. 4 v 1 with a player at each corner. Play keep away from defender in middle while keeping ball in the square grid. For more advanced players use 3 v 1 or 3 v 2 with one open corner (player must move to support).

Tips: Shorten grid as players get better. Keep score by counting passes. Don’t be too strict in keeping ball in square – let play continue unless blatantly out of square.

All skills warm up

I first saw this practice being used by an English professional club’s Academy coaches.

I have used it with my kids with some success. It’s fun, fast and reinforces basic skills in a competitive atmosphere. It also has an element of conditioning.

Set up

Set up as for shuttle races (teams of 4/5 kids facing a line of cones evenly spaced about ten metres apart). In the plan below, Xs mark the children and the cones are shown with a ‘C’.

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Start with simple shuttle races (the children run to and from each of the cones in turn. When they’ve run to each one they hand over to the next in line. The first team to finish is the winner).

Then tell the children that the handovers require the successful completion of a basic skill.

For example, place a ball between each line and the first cone. The runner must handover to the next in line by passing the ball to her, receiving a return pass and then passing it back. This exercise has to performed correctly before the next in line can go on their shuttle run.

After passing, get them to practice other skills: heading, side foot volleys etc