Hot potato

Hot potatoObjectives: communication, goalkeeping, movement, decision-making, passing, receiving, fun.

Age range: 6+

Number of children: 10+

Equipment: enough cones to mark out the grid, 8 or 10 footballs, coloured bibs.

Set up: Mark out a 40×30 grid with two target areas as shown in the diagram. Place 8 or 10 footballs in one target area. Put one player in each target area.

The basic game

Set your players a problem to solve – how can you get the footballs from one target area to the other as quickly as possible?

I suggest that you have just two rules: every player must touch every ball as it is transferred to the other target area and there can only be one ball in play at a time.

Now watch how they achieve their task. How do they communicate? Who are the leaders?

Ask them: “how can you do this more quickly?” “Is it quicker to take up static positions and throw the ball rather than pass it to each with your feet?” “Why?”


If you prefer, you can direct your players by setting conditions such as:

  • Use hands only (a good starting point for younger players)
  • You cannot run with the ball
  • You can only run N paces

Don’t forget to rotate the target players with the outfield players.

hot potato 2Progression 1: Introduce an element of competition.

Keep one player in each target area and split the remainder into two teams wearing coloured bibs. Start by sharing the grid as shown below.

The two teams now compete with each other to get a specified number of footballs from one target area to the other as quickly as they can. Keep the same basic rules, i.e., only one ball in play for each time at a time and every player must touch the ball. Introduce other conditions as required.

Progression 2: The two teams now play a netball (i.e., not allowed to run with the ball) or basketball (can run with the ball) game. They score a point by successfully passing the ball to a target player.

Progression 3: The next step is for the two teams to play soccer in the grid. They score a point by making a completed pass to one or either of the target players.


These soccer coaching activities, when combined with a suitable warm up and cool down, are a good way to improve your players decision making, passing, receiving and communication skills. The simplicity of the games makes them particularly suitable for younger players.