Multi purpose games for very young players (part 3)

An easy warm up for under 6s

While dribbling the football with their feet, have the players stop the ball with various parts of the body (by calling out ‘foot’, ‘back’, ‘tummy’ etc.) while the ball is on the ground.

Keep your yard clean

This game is simple, fun, and easy to adapt to account for various team sizes and experience.


  • Create a ‘neutral area’ between the two teams where no player is allowed. This area can be as small as one yard and as big as 10 yards wide. The width is determined by how far the players can kick the ball.
  • Each player starts with a ball at her or her feet.
  • On command, each team tries to keep their side of the game zone free of balls by kicking their ball over to the other team’s side.
  • After an appropriate amount of time (when the balls become too scattered, or the players are losing focus), stop the game and count which side has the most balls on their side.
  • Distribute the balls evenly for another try if the players are still interested.

After players have found some success with this basic game, try these variations:

  • Players can only use their left foot.
  • They can throw the ball back.
  • They must dribble the ball around a cone that has been set up in the middle of their “yard” and then kick it back.

Red light, Green light

Red lightThis should be familiar to most U6’s. Again, the game is fun, simple to set up, and has direct application to the game of soccer. It is particularly good for reinforcing dribbling and ball control skills.


Each player has a ball, except the one player that is designated as the “light”.

Lines from start to finish should be approximately 20 – 30 yards.

Players start from the line opposite the “light”.

The “light” then turns away from the group shouting out “GREEN LIGHT”.

At this signal, the players start to dribble towards the “light”.

When the “light” turns round, calling “RED LIGHT”, players must freeze and stop their ball.

If the “light” catches players or a ball still moving that player must take 5 steps back.

The first player to cross the line where the “light” is standing is the winner and becomes the new “light”.

You can start the game without using balls for younger players, then have them roll the ball with their hands, then use their feet.

The following games will be enjoyed by all children, especially (but not exclusively) the very young. 

The blind leading the blind

Group your players into equal sized, even numbered teams and put the players in each team into pairs.

Position each team about 5 yards apart, all facing forwards in their pairs.

Place 3 gates in front of each team about 5 yards apart. Each gate is 2 cones on the ground, about three feet apart.

One player in each pair covers the eyes of their partner with a sweatshirt tied with sleeves behind the head. They then place a ball between their partner’s feet.

When the race starts the sighted partner works as a guide, talking the blindfolded partner through the gates by voice. The guide can not touch the ball or the blindfolded partner.

When the pair has navigated the 3 gates, they quickly change roles, navigating the 3 gates in the reverse direction, returning the ball to their line.

When the first pair returns to the line, the second pair takes their turn.

Lines compete to be first to return both pairs and the ball to the line after navigating the gates in both directions.

Shorten the distance between gates for younger ages and stagger the gates left and right for older ages to make it more difficult. The objective is to encourage communication, so don’t make anybody feel like a loser – it’s just for fun!

Dribble Relay

The basic game is Team ‘A’ racing team ‘B’ by dribbling through a series of gates. If a player loses control and misses a gate they have to regain control and go through the gate.

One variation is to have a small ‘square’ at the end. The children have to stop the ball in the square, then sprint back and high-five the next player before he/she can start. Another variation is to have several parents positioned at different places along the ‘course’ and have a different one hold up a number of fingers at random times during the race – and award points to the player that sees it and correctly yells out the number first. This encourages the children to play with their heads up.

Freeze Tag

Set up a large rectangle with cones and have the players dribble in the rectangle. After a short time, take the ball away from one or two players who then become “it.” Any player whose ball is touched by an “it” player becomes frozen and has to stop dribbling, spread her legs apart, and hold her ball above her head. He is frozen in this position until another player dribbles her ball between the frozen player’s legs. Switch the “it” players often and make it a contest to see who can freeze the most at one time. 

Follow the leader

Pick a leader and have her dribble anywhere on the field, encouraging her to make lots of turns, changing speed, etc. All other players have to follow the leader and do whatever that player does. Switch leaders often.

Last Man Out

Play in a large grid. All the players stand at a cone about 20 feet from a group of balls. There is one less ball than the number of players. On the coach’s command, the players run to the balls, get one and begin dribbling. The player who didn’t get a ball tries to steal one from the others. The coach keeps time and after a preset period has passed, the coach stops the game. The player who doesn’t have a ball has to perform a minor penalty (such as running round the grid) before re-joining the game.


Very simple and surprisingly effective. Mark off a grid or circle. Everybody has a ball. Whoever is “it” must dribble to another player and tag her. The other players avoid being tagged by dribbling away from “it.” If the player being chased loses her ball outside the grid, dribbles out of the grid, or is tagged, he is “it” and the game continues.

Ball Tag

Just as simple as ‘Tag’ and just as useful! Everyone has a ball and dribbles in a confined area. The player who is “it” must pass her ball so that it hits another player’s ball. The player whose ball was hit then becomes “it.”

Egg Hunt

Have more balls than players. Have the players line-up across one end of the field. Take their balls and spread them out around the field, these are the eggs. If you have an unusual coloured ball –make it the Golden Egg or something similar). At the other end of the field is a goal. I use a portable goal and call it the “basket.” Blow a whistle and turn them loose. The object of the game is to get the “eggs” in the basket as quickly as possible. They are all on the same team, and aren’t allowed to take a ball away from another player. Time them with a stopwatch.


Players are grouped into threes. First player is the “head” of the snake, and does not have a ball. She’s essentially the leader in a follow-the-leader game. Second player has a ball at her feet, and must follow the head of the snake, dribbling wherever she goes. Third player is the “rattle”. No ball, just following. Emphasise to the “heads” to vary their lead — some fast, some slow, some sideways, some stopping, etc. I let one lead for about 20 seconds or so. Then, on a whistle from a coach, 2 drops the ball to 3 and becomes the head of the snake. The rattle (3) becomes the dribbler and the former head circles around to become the rattle. 

Coloured circles

Set up a 20×40 yard grid, make a centre circle, and split players into to teams that can be identified by a colour. Have all the kids dribble their balls in the centre circle. Call out a colour. That team dribbles toward their goal. The other team leaves their ball and runs to slow the attackers down. Encourage the defenders to push the attackers wide and make sure they don’t dive in. If the defenders can keep the attackers outside of the penalty area for 10 seconds they get a point. Attackers get 1 point every time they dribble the ball into the box. Play to 10 points.

Sharks and Minnows

Play in a large grid. Half the players have balls and are the Minnows. The rest don’t have a ball and are the Sharks.

The Minnows start at one end of the grid. The Sharks stand on the opposite line. The Minnows must try to cross the Shark’s line without losing possession of their ball. The Sharks defend their line, trying to kick the Minnows’ balls out of the defined area. Minnows who successfully dribble across the Shark’s line go back for round two. Each Minnow who loses their ball join the Sharks. The last Minnow left in is the winner.

Death Square

Everyone dribbles around trying to keep their own ball and kick out everyone else’s ball. If a player’s ball is kicked out, he must retrieve it, then dance on the ball for 10 touches before getting back in. A player gets a point for every ball he kicks out (so if you spend time outside dancing on your ball, you have less time to win points).

Under Pressure

Get all the kids dribbling around in a grid then remove one, two, or three balls depending on how much pressure is needed. Then announce that whoever has possession of a ball after 1 minute is a winner. If they can chase someone out of bounds they automatically win that ball. Count down the last 10 seconds out loud to increase the pressure. The children who finish without a ball have to perform a token penalty – a couple of pushups, run a lap of the grid, etc.

1v1 to goal

Divide players into two teams. Play in a large grid with a goal on one edge and a supply of balls. Station each team on a goal post, standing off but facing the field. Place a GK in goal facing the field. Coach/assistant stands behind the centre of the goal with a supply of balls. Coach tosses a ball over the crossbar to about the penalty spot. A player from each team both sprint to the ball and attempt to control it, turn, and get a shot off. The second to the ball defends (if he then wins the ball, then he tries to shoot). When there is a score, save, or ball goes out of play, restart the same way with a different pair of players.

The Name Game

Players stand in a circle and pass the ball to one another, but they must call out the name of the person they are passing to. This is great at the beginning of the season, so they (and you!) learn everyone’s names. If the players are doing well and you have enough players, add additional balls.