Throw, catch, throw

While this is a very good warm up drill to use for a goalkeeping coaching session, it can be used to start any soccer training session.

It’s good fun, fast paced and makes your players concentrate on what they are doing.

How to play: ask your players to get into pairs.

One player in each pair puts their hands behind their back and their partner throws the ball gently to them from a distance of about five feet.

There’s just one rule – the catcher can’t move their hands until their partner has let go of the ball.

Key soccer coaching points: it is important for all your players to stay on their toes and throw/catch from a variety of different angles.

Move around the players, making sure they have their hands in the right position: for low balls (under waist height) the hand position resembles an ‘M’, with fingers pointed down and palms facing forward.

The little fingers of both hands are almost touching.

For high balls received over waist height, their hand position resembles a ‘W’, with fingertips pointed up and palms facing forward. The thumbs of both hands are almost touching.

After about 12 repetitions, put all the players in a circle and tell them to throw the ball from one player to another. The only rules this time are that you can’t throw it to the person next to you or throw it too high.

Key soccer coaching points: keep checking the hand positioning and ensure the players throw the ball quickly and decisively.

Progression: once your players have got the hang of the exercise, introduce a second ball.

The ladder game

This game will encourage your players to move the ball quickly from defence to attack.

It will also encourage them to take their shots quickly and to follow up on their shots in case the goalkeeper drops the ball.

It is also a good workout for your goalkeeper and you can use it to reinforce the importance of good positioning.

Experience: any.

Objective: to be the first team to score.

Set up: place one normal-sized goal at one end of a playing area 40 yards long by 30 yards wide.

Split your squad into two teams of four plus one goalkeeper. If you have more than nine players consider setting up two games.

The first player in each team has a ball and stands on the end line furthest from the goal. Each team’s players form a zig-zag line between the first player in their team and the goal.

The teams should be separated by about ten yards.

How to play: on your command, the first players in both teams pass to their nearest team mate. This player passes to the next player and so on.

When the ball reaches the player nearest the goal, they have to control it quickly, shoot and score.

After a goal is scored, the shooter takes the place of the player on the end line and everyone else moves down one position.

If the goalkeeper saves a shot, the ball is thrown out and the shooter has another go. If a shot misses the goal, the shooter retrieves the ball and tries again.

The first team to score gets a point and X number of points wins the game.

Key coaching points:

Does the shooter follow her shot in? Remember, it’s the first team to score that gets the point, not the first team to shoot.

Is the goalkeeper moving out to narrow the shooting angle?

Progression: add a defender who plays between the shooters and the goal.

Shot stopper

Objective: For goalkeepers to practise shot stopping and outfield players to practise attacking and defending.

Age group: U7s to U12s.

Number of players: Twelve plus a goalkeeper.

Equipment required:
Three poles, some flat cones, training vests and a ball.

Set-up: Create a circular playing area about 30 yards across.

Make a triangular goal in the centre of the playing area with three poles.

Split your players into three teams of four plus a goalkeeper. To begin with, differentiate the teams with training vests.

How to play: All three teams play against each other and try to score through any side of the triangular goal.

  • If the keeper catches the ball, she throws it back into the playing area.
  • If a goal is scored and the ball stays within the playing area, play continues.
  • If the ball goes out of the playing area, restart with a throw-in or kick-in taken by the first player to get to the ball.Â
  • Every time a goal is scored, change the keeper.
  • Play for a set time or until a set number of goals is scored.


1. Place the goal in the centre of a small circle. Only the keepers are allowed inside the circle.

2. Play with two balls.

3. Take away the training vests. Play for five minutes then ask your players if not wearing vests made the game harder.

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

Three way soccer

This game helps to improve your teams’ attacking, defending and goalkeeping skills.

Age range: U7s and upwards.

Difficulty: Easy.

Set-up: Divide your squad into teams of four or five plus one goalkeeper. It doesn’t matter if you have odd numbers, just make one or two teams bigger than the others.

Create a circular playing area about 30 yards across.

Make a three-sided goal in the middle of the playing area with three poles or cones placed about 6ft apart in a triangular formation.

How to play: Place one player in the triangular goal.

  • Two teams play football in the playing area.
  • They can score through any side of the triangular goal.
  • The waiting teams are spread around the edge of the playing area. They are allowed to stop the ball going out of play and can also receive passes from the players in the centre.
  • If an outside player receives a pass, she cannot be tackled and has to pass back to the team that passed to her.
  • Play “one goal, winner stays on” or for a set amount of time before switching the teams.

Progression: Add a target player who plays for the team in possession.

All attacks must include at least one pass to the target player.

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

Keep your eye on the ball

Objectives: to encourage your outfield players to play with their heads up and spot goal-scoring opportunities, and to encourage your goalkeepers to keep their eye on the ball and predict where the next attack is coming from.

Age range: U9 to U14

Set-up: play this game on a slightly narrower pitch than usual. For U10s, 40 yards long by 15 yards wide is ideal.

Place a small goal at each corner of the playing area.

Each team has one goalkeeper and between three and five outfield players.

How to play: Each team – and each goalkeeper – has two goals to defend.

First team to score X number of goals wins the game.

Alternatively, play for a set time.

Put a different player in goal every few minutes or after a goal is scored.


  • Restrict outfield players to three touches.
  • Mark an exclusion zone about five yards in front of the goals where only the goalkeeper is allowed. This encourages your players to take their chances more positively and stops them trying to walk the ball into the net.
  • Set up several playing areas and play a mini tournament.

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

Goalie golf

The goalkeeper in a youth soccer (football) team often doesn’t get any special attention from the coach. But they should do! Your goalkeeper is, perhaps, the most important player in your team and you should make sure they get some recognition for the thankless task they perform for you every match day.

Goalie Golf is a game designed for goalkeepers but it’s also good for practising shooting. This game also gives all your players a chance to be a goalkeeper and will help them understand how difficult it is.

Skill level: any.

Set up: create a 30 yards by 30 yards playing area with a goal at one end. Choose one player to start the game as the goalkeeper.

Place a few poles or cones around the grid about 20 yards from the goal.

The remainder of your players stand to one side of the playing area, facing the goal.

How to play: serve a ball in front of the first player in the group facing the goalkeeper. This player runs to the ball, controls it with one touch and shoots with the second.

The goalkeeper tries to save the shot. Regardless of whether he saves it or not, he drop kicks the ball towards one of the poles/cones. His objective is to kick the ball within five yards of his chosen target (you will need to ask him which target he is aiming at!).

If he succeeds in this, he gets five points.

The next player in the group shoots. When every player has had a shot, you put a new player in goal.

The winner is the goalkeeper with the most points at the end of the game.


  • If a shooter scores, he gets five points which he carries forward to his turn in goal.
  • If a goalkeeper hits his target, it’s a ‘hole in one’ which earns him 20 points.

1v1 shoot out

Objectives: To give goalkeepers practice in dealing with one-on-one situations.

Set up: create a 20 yards by 30 yards playing area with a goal on one of the narrow ends and a cone in the middle of the opposite end line.

One player goes in goal and the rest of the players are split into two teams. One team stands next to the left-hand post, the other by the right-hand post.

How to play: on your command, the first player in each team runs along the outside of the playing area to the turning cone. As they run, you roll a ball into the playing area.

The first player to get to the ball is the attacker and tries to score a goal as quickly as possible. The second player to the ball is the defender. He is awarded a “goal” if he can either hold the attacker up for 30 seconds or win the ball and kick it out of the playing area.

The first team to score X number of goals is the winner.

Coaching points: this game teaches your players that defending is not necessarily about winning the ball. It is about stopping attackers from shooting. So encourage the defending player to direct the attacker towards the side and keep them there.

Encourage the attacking player to take a shot as quickly as possible.

Progression: give your players numbers. Call two numbers at a time so they are playing 2v2 in the grid.

Keepers keepaway

Objective: To improve short passing/receiving, communication, shielding the ball, teamwork, goalkeeping.

Age range: U7s and upwards.

Difficulty: Easy.

Set up: Divide your players into groups of five to seven. Create a 20-yard square for each group.

How to play:

One player in each group is a keeper.

The rest are numbered 1 to 4, 5 or 6 depending on how many you have in each group.

The numbered players pass to each other in sequence.

The keeper tries to intercept the passes using his/her hands or feet.

Note: Players in possession of the ball cannot be tackled by the keeper.

Give the passing players a relatively easy target to begin with. With U7s, this might be to make three passes before the keeper touches the ball. With U12s, you could start with 10.
Once your players have experienced success, gradually increase the target.
Make the game competitive by challenging groups to make more passes than the other(s).


  • Make the groups smaller. This makes it harder for the passing players to keep the ball away from the keeper.
  • Reduce the number of touches passing players are allowed.
  • Add a second keeper.
  • Coaching notes: If your players find this game difficult, make the playing area bigger or give the passing group an extra player.
  • Encourage good communication. Players should shout their number or “I’m here!” when it’s their turn to receive the ball.

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