Shooting under pressure

Objective: To improve your players’ ability to shoot quickly under pressure.

Age group: U7s and upwards.

Number of players: Four to 10.

Set-up: Create a 40 yards long by 30 yards wide playing area with a goal on one end line.

Divide your players into teams and pair them up.

Put a neutral player, an assistant coach or a parent in goal.

How to play: The first players in each team stand together on one side of the goal with their backs to the playing area.

You stand between them facing the playing area.

You serve a ball over their heads and they turn, compete for possession then try to score.

They play until the ball is dead – a goal is scored or the ball leaves the playing area or a shot is saved.

After each round, make sure everybody has a new opponent.

Tip: Make it competitive – award a point for a shot on target and two points for a goal.

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

Non stop shooting

Objective: To practise shooting skills.

Age range: U8s and upwards.

Difficulty: Easy.

Equipment: Four small goals, cones, balls.

Set-up:

  • Divide your players into groups of five.
  • Create a 40-yard square with a five-yard square in the middle.
  • Use one playing area for each group.
  • Place small goals on the side and end lines.
  • Put several balls in the central square.

How to play: One player starts in the middle, the other four players (the defenders) start in front of the goals.

The player that starts in the middle collects a ball from the centre of the playing area and attacks a goal of his choice.

If the player scores, he races to retrieve another ball from the middle of the playing area and attacks another goal.

However, if the defender stops the attacker from scoring, their roles are reversed. The shooter goes in goal, the defender grabs a ball from the centre and attacks a goal.

What to say:

“Stay on your feet and win the ball”

“Defend well and you get the chance to attack”

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

Rapid fire

This soccer game is a very simple but very effective way for your players to practise their shooting and goalkeeping skills.

You can play the game with as few as six and as many as 16 players. All you need is a supply of balls (one for each player) and a couple of goals to shoot at.

Objective: Teams try to score as many goals as they can in two minutes.

Age range: Six to 16.

Set-up: Place a goal at both ends of a playing area 40 yards long by 20 yards wide.

  • Mark the centre of the playing area with a cone.
  • Place another cone 10 yards away from the centre of each goal.
  • Split your players into two teams and allocate them a goal each.
  • One player from team A goes in team B’s goal and a player from team B goes in team A’s goal.
  • Each outfield player has a ball.

How to play

  • On your command “Go!”, the first player from each team dribbles to the centre cone, turns and runs back towards their goal.
  • They must take a shot no closer than the 10-yard cone.
  • As soon as the first player shoots, the next player goes.
  • If the goalkeeper saves, he returns the ball to the player who shot. If the player misses or scores, he retrieves his ball and goes back to his team.
  • At the end of two minutes, the team that scored the most goals wins.

Coaching points

Encourage players to aim for the corners of the goals rather than just blasting the ball straight at the goalkeeper.

Progression

Players shoot with their “wrong” foot.

Move the 10-yard cone to the side of the goal to practise shooting/saving angled shots.

Teams leave their balls by the goal and move to the centre cone except one player who stays next to the goal and passes a ball out to each shooter.

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

Shoot, save, shoot

This game may look a bit dull and it even has players standing in lines.

But young football players just love playing it!

I’ve used it with U6s to U14s and they’ve all enjoyed it. My U12 girls ask to play just about every week.

So give Shoot, Save, Shoot a try. I’m sure it will become one of your players’ favourite games too.

Objective: To improve shooting technique.

Age range: U6s and upwards.

Difficulty: Easy.

Set-up: Use a playing area with a standard-size goal at one end. Place a cone about 10 yards out from the left-hand post for very young players and about 20 yards away for older players.

Divide your players into two teams.

Team 1 stands about six yards from the left-hand post. Team 2 stands about six yards from the right-hand post.

You stand near the goal with five or six balls.

How to play:

  • On your command, the first player in team 1 runs round the cone.
  • At the same time, the first player in team 2 runs round the back of the goal to become the goalkeeper.
  • As the player from team 1 rounds the cone, roll a ball in front of the goal.
  • The team 1 player shoots with her first touch.
  • If the shot is saved, the goalkeeper returns the ball to you. If the shot goes in or misses, the shooter retrieves the ball and returns it to you.
  • As soon as the first player shoots, the second player in each team sets off to become the next shooter and goalkeeper.
  • Play until you run out of balls to serve. This encourages the shooters to be accurate because if they miss, they have to run after the ball and get it back to you quickly, especially if you’re down to the last ball.
  • The team that scores most goals wins.

Progression: Switch sides so that players have to run to the left and right of the goal.

Ask your players to shoot with their weaker foot only.

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

2v2 War

2v2 war

Objective: To improve dribbling, passing, receiving, decision making and shooting.

Age range: U7s to U12s.

Number of players: Whole squad.

Set-up: Make a 30×20 yards playing area with a goal at both ends.

Divide your players into two teams. For example, team X and team Y.

In the younger age groups, goalkeepers are optional.

Team X is placed at one end of the playing area and each team is split into two groups. Each group stands at one corner of the pitch.

2v2 war

How to play:

  • You stand on one side of the playing area with a supply of balls.
  • Serve a ball into the playing area.
  • The first player from each of the four lines comes out and play a 2v2.
  • Play continues until a goal is scored or the ball goes out of bounds.
  • When this happens, all players leave the field and you serve another ball.
  • Four new players enter the field for a 2v2 match.
  • The game continues until you run out of balls.
  • The team that score the most goals is the winner.

Variations

1. Create an overload situation – when the ball is put into play by the coach, three players from one team play against two players from the other team. The team with two players is awarded two “goals” for every goal it scores.

2. Play with four goals – one at each corner of the playing area.

Coaching notes

Encourage players to:

  • Move to a supporting position immediately after passing the ball.
  • Take opportunities to dribble and shoot.
  • Use the whole width of the playing area (especially in the four-goal variation).

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

Improve your players’ kicking power

Four to six-year-olds won’t get a lot of power into their shots no matter what you do and I suggest these coaching notes should be used with players aged from seven years up.

More effort doesn’t equal more power

If your players try to kick the ball harder by going at it more violently, they won’t kick it any harder, they’ll just get frustrated as their accuracy drops off and the power in their shot stays the same or becomes weaker.

This is because too much effort tends to make the kicking leg go stiff and the stiffer their leg, the less power is transmitted from foot to ball.

Accuracy drops off because too violent execution of the instep drive usually results in a deterioration in technique.

In that sense, the instep drive is a bit like a golf swing. The way to get distance and accuracy is to use the right technique in a smooth and relaxed manner.

When I’m working on increasing power with my players this is what I look for:

In the last stride before the ball is struck, the player should hop on to the non-kicking leg. This gives the kicking leg extra flex and springloads the shot.

Hopping on to the non-kicking foot in the final stride also results in the kicking foot coming down from a greater height – a high backlift is essential for maximum power.

The ankle of the kicking foot must be locked. The easiest way to do this is to scrunch the toes up real hard.

The kicking leg should whip through the shot in a smooth and controlled manner.

How to use imaginary glass and a video camera!

A good follow-through is essential. I tell my players to imagine that there is a big pane of glass about a foot in front of the ball and their kicking leg should break the glass after they have taken the shot.

Talking to players and demonstrating how to increase the power in their shot is only part of the answer. Taking video of them in action on the training pitch is a very useful way of showing them the flaws in their technique

I use a still camera that also takes video and I play it back to my players on a laptop. Seeing any flaws in the way they kick the ball for themselves really does help them to improve quickly.

Hit the teddy

Objective: To improve shooting accuracy.

Age group: U8s to U13s.

Set up: Split your players into three small teams plus three goalkeepers.

  • Create a rectangular or circular pitch about 20 yards long/across.
  • Place three small goals, equally spaced, around the perimeter of the pitch.
  • Place a triangular cone or other small target in the bottom and top corners of each goal.

Tip: I use teddy bears (tied onto the goals with string) as the targets with my U12s. Not sure what it says about them but they seem to enjoy hitting teddies a lot more more than hitting cones!

Put all the balls in the middle of the playing area.

How to play: On your command, all the players run to balls, collect one and try to score a goal.

If a shot hits one of the cones or teddy targets as it enters the net, it counts double.

Play three rounds.

The team with the most points wins.

Progression: Players to dribble and shoot with their weaker foot only.

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

Hit the goal!

Objective: To improve passing and shooting skills.

Age range: U5s to U9s.

Number of players: Whole squad divided into teams of four or five.

Set up: Mark out a 20-yard square with flat cones.

Place five or six balls on top of the cones on two sides of the playing area. These are the targets.

How to play:

  • Roll a ball into the playing area.
  • The players compete for possession of the ball and try to hit the target balls off the cones.
  • When all the balls are knocked off, the team that hit the most is the winner.

Tip: Keep the game going by having several spare balls handy and putting another ball when the first ball leaves the playing area.

Coaching points:

Don’t have too many players in one playing area, they won’t get enough touches on the ball. So if you have enough players to make four teams, mark out two playing areas and play two games.

Encourage accuracy.

Praise players who take careful, side-foot ‘shots’.

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