Dribble races

This is such a simple game but it is one my players always enjoy playing.

Objective: To improve ball control.

Experience: Any.

Set up: A square playing area that’s suitable for the age of your players. If your players are very young, 20 yards by 20 yards is adequate.

Put four or five footballs in the middle of the playing area.

Spread your players around the sides of the square.

How to play: The first player runs into the square, collects a ball and dribbles it to the feet of a player standing on the side of the area. This is repeated until all the balls are with the outside players.

The player then collects the balls back from the outside players (one at a time) and dribbles them back to the middle of the square.

Time each player and see who can complete the game in the fastest time.

Tip: Set up two or more areas if you have a lot of players.

Key soccer coaching points: Encourage players to use both feet, turn quickly and keep the ball close.

Two colour soccer

Objective: to practice ball control, passing, support play and intercepting passes.

Age range: U4s to U7s

Set-up: create an area 20 yards long by 15 yard wide with flat cones.

Split your players up into two teams wearing different coloured bibs (pinnies) i.e., one team wearing white and one team wearing blue.

You stand in the middle of one side line and the teams stand either side.

How to play: put a ball in play and call out “white!” or “blue!”.

The nominated team sends two players out who try to win the ball and pass it back to you. The other team sends out one player who also tries to win the ball and pass it to you.

You should move around the playing area so players must get their heads up to find you.

First team to “Find The Coach” five times, wins.

Coaching points: encourage your players to support each other and shield the ball when under pressure.

If neither team can pass the ball to you within 30 seconds, call “time” and start again.


  • Play 3v1 or 4v1.
  • If your players are old enough, you can restrict the number of touches they are allowed before they have to pass.

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

Treasure hunt

Objectives: To improve dribbling and defending skills.

Age range: U5s to U8s.

Number of players: Twelve (but can be easily adjusted for larger or smaller numbers)

Equipment required: Flat cones, at least 10 to 15 balls.

Set-up: Divide your players into two, uneven teams. For five and six-year-olds, 8v4 or 9v3 are appropriate. If your players are older or more experienced, make the teams more even.

Set up a 20-yard square with a line of six flat cones at one end.

Balance a ball on top of these cones. These balls are the treasure.

The team with the most players are the attackers. They line up at the end of the playing area furthest from the treasure. Each attacker has a ball.

The team with fewest players are defenders. They line up just in front of the treasure, facing the attackers.

How to play:

On your command, the attackers dribble towards the treasure.

Their objective is to get past the defenders, kick their ball at the treasure and knock it off the cones.

If an attacker succeeds she picks her treasure up and carries it back to their end of the playing area while dribbling her ball.

If an attacker is tackled by a defender or allows their ball to go out of the playing area, she must go back to the starting point and try again.

When all the treasure is stolen, change the teams around.

Coaching Points:

Keep the ball close and in control.

Dribble with your head up so you can see where the defenders are.

Push your ball past a defender and explode past them with pace.

If the defenders find the game too easy, make the playing area bigger and/or decrease the number of defenders.

Variation: Allow defenders to put displaced treasure back onto the cones.

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


Age range: U5s to U8s.

Difficulty: Easy.

Equipment: Some flat cones to mark out the playing area, a ball for every player.

Set-up: Create a playing area big enough for all you players to move around in freely. For 10 U6 players, a 20-yard square is a good size.

How to play: All the players dribble around in the playing area.

Ask them to dribble with different parts of both feet, i.e. “dribble with your left sole”, “the inside of your right foot”, etc.

When the players hear the coach shout “Earthquake!” they leave their own ball and have five seconds (that’s how long an earthquake lasts!) to find another ball and stand with their foot on it.

Progression: Remove one ball every time you shout “Earthquake!”. This puts a little pressure on the players to find another ball quickly.

Create two or three four-yard square safe zones in the playing area. Instead of finding another ball, players now have to dribble their ball to a safe zone within the five-second “Earthquake”.

Coaching points: Encourage players to dribble with their heads up and keep the ball close while they are dribbling.

Have you got a drill or game that really works with your players? You have? Well, please don’t keep it to yourself! Send it to steve@footy4kids.co.uk and I’ll feature it in this newsletter.

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

Fast Feet

This game was sent in by George Quinn.

Objective: To improve dribbling and passing skills.

Age group: U5s to U10s.

Number of players: Whole squad.

Equipment required: Flat cones, balls.

Set-up: Create a cone circle big enough for four or five players to dribble around in comfortably. For U5s, a circle 10 yards across should be sufficient.

Divide your players into an even number of small groups. Three or four players per group is ideal.

One ball per group.

Spread the groups evenly around the circumference of the circle facing each other

How to play: On the command ‘Go’, the first player in each group dribbles their ball across the circle to the group opposite.

When they get there, they allow the first player in the waiting group to take their ball and dribble back across the circle in the opposite direction.

Coaching note: Clearly there will be considerable player “traffic” for each dribbler in the circle to avoid and this encourages them to maintain close control and play with their heads up. Don’t be surprised to see collisions between balls and/or players to begin with. As your players improve, they will avoid them.


1. Reduce the size of the circle to increase traffic density and make more demands on your players’ ability to dribble. Ask for “faster feet!”

Tip: The reduction in circle size can be quickly achieved by telling the players to pick up the nearest cone and take one step towards the centre before putting it back down.

2. Tell your players to pass immediately to their opposite number the moment they spot a possible route through the traffic. They then follow the pass to take up the receiver’s place as before. This encourages “heads up” and the same type of pass that they will need to execute in an opponent’s penalty area.

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

Musical chairs

This is a good warm-up or you can use as part of a soccer session that focuses on dribbling the ball. It’s fast, fun, competitive, easy to explain and easy to play.

Number of children: Six to 16.

Equipment required: Twenty or so flat cones and a ball for each soccer player.

Set-up: Create two concentric circles with your flat cones. The inner circle should be big enough for all your players to dribble around comfortably. The outer circle should be between 10 yards away from the inner circle (for six-year-olds) and 20 yards (for 11-year-olds).

Players have a ball each.

How to play: All the players dribble inside the inner circle.

  • On your command of “cone!” they leave their ball, run round one of the cones in the outer circle, go back to their ball and start dribbling again.
  • Repeat two or three times.
  • Then remove one of the balls while they are running to the outer circle of cones.
  • The player who doesn’t get a ball on his return has to complete a small forfeit (such as running around the inner circle) before being given his ball back.
  • Repeat several times.

Coaching points:Encourage young players to dribble with their heads up and try not to bump into each other.Include commands such as “turn left/right”, “stop” and “go” before calling “cone!” Older players can be asked to perform a move such as a stepover.

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

Simon says

Your young soccer players will already know how to play this popular game. It’s a lot of fun for the little ones and it’s great for improving their ball control skills and concentration.

Purpose of the Game: to encourage children to run with the ball, keeping it close to their feet, and to carry out instructions.

Age group: three years old upwards.

Area Needed: 20m x 20m.

Equipment: flat cones to mark out the grid and a ball for every player.

Number of players: whole team.

How to play: Players dribble round the grid waiting for an instruction from Simon, the King of the Ring (that’s you!).

When you preface a command with “Simon says”  they must do it immediately. For example, if Simon says, “foot” they must stop the ball with that body part immediately.

If you don’t say ‘Simon says’ before the command your players should ignore it. If they forget and carry it out, just shout ‘gotcha!’ or similar. No-one is out of this game.

You can add other commands such as “change direction,” “go faster,” and so on.

Easy 2v2

Just about every youth football coach knows the value of playing SSGs (small sided games) and many think that 4v4 is an ideal way for children to learn the game.

But sometimes even 4v4 is too big and complex.

Four and five-year-olds (and even older players) need to practise 1v1 skills and build their confidence in smaller-sided games before being asked to solve the problems posed by four-a-side football.

This 2v2 game is an excellent way to help your players practise their first touch, passing and support skills in a relatively unpressurised environment.

Age group: U5s and upwards.

Difficulty: Easy.

Number of players: Eight.

Set-up: Create a 20 yards by 15 yards playing are with two small goals set 10 yards apart on both end lines.

Divide your eight players into four teams of two.

How to play: Play 2v2 in the playing area. Each team attacks and defends two goals.

The other two teams wait at either end of the playing area. As soon as the ball goes over an end line or a goal is scored, the team waiting at that end immediately start attacking and the team that scored or kicked the ball over the end line must defend. The team that was defending leaves the playing area and waits behind their goal.

Progression: Increase the playing area to 30 yards by 20 yards and play 4v4 with four goals.

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