Here is a fun soccer coaching game I’ve used for U6 teams and even U8’s. I use it a lot at the end of practice so that the kids go home with a smile.

We call it “Ouch” All the kids get a ball in a confined space and must dribble it around until they can pass it or shoot it at the Coach who is running around within the space attempting to avoid being hit by a ball. Often times you have to let some hit you.

I make faces etc. to provoke them to try harder.

Every time the coach is struck by the ball he yells “Ouch”, usually louder based on the strength of the hit.

The drill teaches ball control and shooting as well as making them think a little. As a bonus sometimes I fall to the ground at the end if I am struck a couple times well, and then they really tee off!

Link tag

Focus: Turning, deception, using space off the ball.

Age: U6 and up.

Equipment: A couple of bibs.

Players: A full team works well. Minimum of about 10.

Space: Area about 40 x 40 yards. No need for marking.

Introduction: Turning, deception, and feint moves are undeniably useful in the game of soccer. These moves can be practiced individually and honed. But until the players actually experience success using these moves in a game-like situation, there will be little progress. It is kind of a chicken – egg dilemma: Won’t use the moves until they experience success with them – Can’t experience success with them until they actually use them. This warm up activity works on such movement WITHOUT a ball at feet, which makes it much easier to experience success.

By the way, I cannot take credit for this activity. But I cannot remember where I first saw it used, so I am not sure who to credit for this great warm up activity.

Setup: Have the players partner up. Have partners link arms. Have pairs of players form a large circle, about 25 yards in diameter. Spread the paired players out evenly around the circle. Pull out several of the pairs. Give two player you have pulled out bibs (they hold them, tell them not to put them on). They are “it”. Have about 4-6 “runners” (players who are not paired up with linked arms).

Execution: Simple. You play tag. The “it” players (with bibs in hand) try to tag the “runners”. They must tag them with their hand, not whip them with the bib! As soon as an “it” player tags a “runner”, they exchange roles. The old “it” player throws down the bib and becomes a “runner”. The old “runner” picks up the bib and becomes “it”. None of the linked players can be tagged. Let the players run outside the circle, but keep them from getting too faraway.

Now for the interesting part. A runner can escape being tagged (or simply take a breather) by linking up with any linked player in the circle. The instant that they link arms, the player opposite them must release his or her link and become a runner. This makes for some interesting strategies for the “it” players, and also for the “runners”.

Coaching Points: Watch them. Learn from them. See what moves they are using to avoid being tagged. watch how they use the momentum of the defender. See who uses space wisely. These will give you some insight into what level they are thinking at. When they have a ball, you are seeing a combination of what level they are thinking at, as well as what level technically they are able to operate.

Freeze Tag

Freeze Tag

Freeze Tag

Easy to explain, fun and fast moving, freeze tag (or ‘stuck in the mud’) never fails.

Playing ..

Select 1 player who is “it”

Mark off a grid with cones 10 yards X 10 yards

Each of the remaining players should be standing in the grid with a ball waiting for the coaches whistle.

On the coaches whistle, the player who is “it” tags “freezes” as many players as possible

If a player is tagged, he/she must pick the football up, hold it over their head and spread their legs. They should be encouraged to shout ‘help!’ as loud as possible.

To get “unfrozen” another player (teammate) must dribble to and pass the ball through the spread legs of the “frozen player”.

Once the player is “unfrozen”, he/she resumes dribbling in the grid.

If a player dribbles the ball outside of the grid, that player is “frozen”.

Coaching Points

Players must dribble and keep close control of their ball.

Players must keep their head up and see where the “tagger” is located.

Players must dribble away from the “tagger” and dribble toward teammates
who need to be “unfrozen”.

Competition, Variations & Restrictions:

Coach should keep track of ‘records’, i.e.:

  • in how many seconds can a “tagger” freeze all the players?
  • the most number of players still “frozen” after a 30-45 second time frame.

Circle game

Circle game

Circle game


  • Mark a circle having a centre mark (line intersection; a coin; a scratched “X”).
  • A centre circle works well, but regulation size will be too big for young players.
  • 5-yard radius for 6-year olds; 6-yard for 7-year olds, etc.
  • Use marker disks to make a circle.
  • From centre spot pace out radius by going N, S, E and W. Fill in the rest of the circle.
  • Each player on one side of the circle has a partner directly opposite.
  • One player passes the ball towards his or her partner, while trying to knock over a cone.
  • The partner retrieves the ball and returns the pass, again trying to kick over a cone.
  • The ball must be passed from outside the circle.
  • The game is stopped when all cones are knocked down.

Teaching points

  • Encourage the players to use pace as well as accuracy of pass.
  • Suggest they continue to kick towards the cone even after they have actually kicked (follow through).
  • Encourage them to approach the cone at a slight angle to the direction they are kicking (45 degrees).
  • The coach uses a stopwatch to set the “team” record of knocking all cones down.
  • Later, winners are the pair to first knock over the most cones.
  • Condition them for some part of the practice to use their non-dominant foot only.


Reduce the number of cones and/or make the circle bigger.

Or use one cone and pairs then compete against other pairs, e.g., “First Pair to score 5 hits between them”


The coach uses a stopwatch to set the “team” record of knocking all cones down.

Blob Tag

blobtagAll the players are inside the grid. All but three have a soccer ball at their feet. The three without a ball form a ‘blob’ by holding hands. The blob moves freely in the grid and tries to kick any player’s ball out of the grid. If a player’s ball leaves the grid he/she joins the blob.

Once a chain has six or more players, have it break apart into two smaller chains (of three people each). The last player dribbling is the winner.


“Stay away from the blob”– that’s the purpose of the game.

“Don’t get trapped” — move into space away from the blob.

“Keep control of the ball” — don’t kick it too far away.

“Work together” — the blob must work as a team. They must stay together when kicking balls out of the grid.


Change the size of the grid. Bigger grid makes it easier for dribblers.

Have blobs break into two players per blob. (Harder for dribblers).

Basic ball skill games

Red Light, Green Light

The games described below can easily be incorporated into practice sessions for young children. They’re fun, simple to explain and help reinforce basic skills without any pressure.

Red Light, Green LightRed Light – Green Light

For the very young Under 6 the game of Red Light – Green Light is an easy game to learn and teaches the children to keep the ball close and under control.


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.

North –South – East and West

Players dribble where the coach tells them to, i.e. a direction as suggested in the title or you can make it a colour or an animal, whatever. This again teaches the children to keep the ball close and , hopefully, shows them how to change a direction.


This is a very popular game with the younger crowd. Place players in 2 lines facing each other. Place one football in the middle of the each two players .

The object of the game is to draw the ball back using the sole of the foot. The command to “Draw” is given by the coach. The fun part is that the coach has to tell a story in which he uses the word “draw” to signal the players.

For example: Willy and his sister were working on cleaning their rooms. Willy

said “where should I put these socks? And his sister replied , “In your Drawer.” Make up really silly stories.

You can add progression to this drill by having the players jog in place, have the players only use the non-dominant foot, have the players move up a ladder if they win and down if they lose the round and see who can get to the top first.


Here is a game which involves both passing and dribbling that is fun and engages players quickly. Also, although primarily an individual exercise that allows for differences in ability level, if the players are ready, it can quickly become a cooperative game where players work together to solve a challenge.

The Game

  • Each player will need a ball. Player ‘A’ is “It” and is the only player to start with a ball. All the other players around the outside of the grided space.
  • Player ‘A’ dribbles and tries to hit the other players below the waist with the ball.
  • When hit, that player gets a ball and joins player ‘A’.
  • The game is over when all of the players have been caught.
  • The last player caught is “It” and starts with the ball for the next game.

If you think the task will be too difficult for the one player to get another at the

start of the game, start with 2 players being “It”.

Coaching Points of Get-Em

  • Encourage quick movements and sudden changes of direction to catch players off guard.
  • Players not caught should run, jump, and use zig-zag movements.

A variation can be added by having all players play with a ball


Here is another game that emphasizes dribbling that is fun and challenging for players. Again, primarily it is an individual game that could lend itself to small group cooperation if the players are ready.

The Game

Each player will need a ball, except those that have been designated as “It”. Players that are “It” need to carry a coloured bib or flag in their hand. Players with a ball try to dribble without being tagged. If they are, they exchange places with the “tagger” (The “tagger” hands the bib to the dribbler and takes their ball).

Dribblers are safe in one of the designated bases. Only one player is allowed in a base at a time. if a new player enters a base, the old player must leave the base.

Add “taggers” when the players find the game to be easy.

It seems about right to have one base for every 3 players, but, this number can be adjusted either way to make the game constantly interesting.

This game can also be played by only allowing the “tagger” to “get” someone by kicking their ball away, not just “tagging” the person. (a variation on Shark)

Experiment with different combinations of “taggers” and bases to keep the players engaged.

Basic Passing Game U7: Trick or Treat

This is a drill suggested by Ivan Mann, a coaching colleague from the soccercoach- l mailing list.

Set Up and Execution

Make a square with pretty small sides – players line up on each side. Put an adult in the middle of each side (that means four adults) holding a dozen or so flat cones (you could use anything else similar size and shape). 50 cones or 50 slips of construction paper will do.

On a go signal, players dribble across the square, stop the ball with a foot on it, say “Trick or Treat”, take a cone from an adult, turn the ball, dribble back across, take a cone, etc. When all the cones are gone, who has the most? This requires dribbling at speed, avoiding the clump in the middle, controlling the ball around an opponent, but minimal coordination holding the cones.

After a few rounds dribble across the square, dribble around the coach, and then stop the ball, say “Trick or treat,” etc. Or place the adults randomly in the square, moving at a walking pace. This makes them keep their heads up and look for the target (i.e. the adult).

Anatomy dribbling

anatomy dribblingFocus: Dribbling, quick reaction

Area: 10 yard square

Players: Any number

Equipment: One ball for each player

Formation: Players dribble freely inside the square.

Procedure: While players dribble, coach calls out a body part such as “left foot”. Players put that part of the body on the ball as quickly as possible. Let anticipation build between calls. Body parts can include hand, elbow, shoulder, nose, ear, knees, buns, etc.


1) Use two or more parts, such as “nose, right elbow and left knee”.

2) For older players, include combinations that require teamwork such as “two left hands” or “six right feet and three knees”.