It’s very important that young players get their bodies quickly into line with an approaching ball, especially if it is in the air. If they don’t, they either stick out a hopeful foot and get half a touch on the ball or they miss it entirely.

Volleyball will help your players practice this essential skill. And it’s great fun too!

Age group: U8s to U14s.

Number of players: Eight is the ideal number but volleyball works with as few as four players or as many as 16.

Set-up: Create a 20-yard square with a double line of cones across the middle to mark the “net”. Alternatively, you can use a rope stretched between two poles, a ladder on it’s side or a line of ball bags.

Divide your players into equal teams.

How to play: One player bounces the ball then serves it across the net with a half volley or by chipping it with the side of their foot.

The receiving team must play it back across the net, effectively using each player’s body as a tennis racquet.

They can use their feet, chest or head to control the ball before passing it back across the net.

I allow very young players two, three or four bounces before the ball must be returned. Older players get one.

Keep score as in a tennis match: 15-0, 30-15, etc. First team to win two sets wins the match.

Tip: Encourage your players to juggle the ball before returning it and let them try to pass it to each other in the air.

Coaching note: If you need to leave some players out of a small-sided game or other activity, set up a volleyball game for them to play while they’re waiting.

For more soccer coaching tips and products visit Soccer Coaching Club.