Lay off and shoot

Lay off and shoot

Lay off and shootPurpose: To develop varied shooting techniques while on the run

Procedure: The squad is organised into two small groups, one of which act as ball retrievers, while the other group practice. The drill takes place in the penalty box area where a goalkeeper defends the goal. One player stands in the ‘D’; the other players, each with a ball, stand in a file facing him, approximately 20 yards away. The first player in line passes the ball to the feet of the player in the ‘D’, who proceeds to ‘lay’ it off for the former to shoot at goal. The ‘lay off’ player then goes to either cone A or cone B to collect a ball from the retrievers before returning down the side to join the file and await his turn. The player who has just shot at goal becomes the next lay-off’ player and faces the second oncoming player. In this way, each player shoots, and acts as the wall-player.

Development: (a) Each group is timed for a set period and the scores tallied up. (b) The coach can impose certain conditions, such as shooting with the weaker foot, or volleys from the ‘lay0off’ player flicking the ball up for another player to hit at goal, or long range shots. Record the number of goals scored in a given time period.

Hit the cone!

Hit the cone

Hit the cone

Game Rules

  • Make the goal one cone placed inside an area with a radius of approximately six yards.
  • The circumference can be marked out with frisbees, bibs or flat cones.
  • The team in dark uniforms plays against the team in white.
  • A goal is scored when the ball is played from outside the area to knock over the cone.
  • All players are allowed to run through the circle but no player is allowed to touch the ball in the circle.
  • If any player touches the ball in the area, the opposing team has a free shot at the “goal” from the edge of the circle.
  • Keep score.

Player Objectives

Player in possession:

  • To keep an eye on the ball and keep the head up to observe teammates, opponents and the goal.
  • To maintain possession of the ball by keeping one’s body between the ball and opponent.
  • To change direction, by turning with the ball, and to change pace.
  • To pass to teammates and choose which teammate is the better option.
  • To achieve pace and accuracy of pass.

Players not in possession:

  • To support the player with the ball.
  • To know where and when to run.
  • To know not to make the same run as other supporting players, or to crowd the player in possession of the ball.


The game should be no longer than three minutes before allowing players to rest.

With a group of 12, six play and six rest.

Half volleys

Half volley

Half volleyMinutes: 5-15 Players: 5-8 Ages: 10-99


Use half-volleys to work on proper shooting technique and shooting power.



Place a cone near the top of the penalty box, have players form a line with a football each at the cone, and have the coach in the goal to retrieve balls.


1. With the ball in his hands the first player in line takes 4-5 jogging steps, drops the ball to the ground, and hits a low, powerful half-volley shot into the goal. The half-volley, or drop-kick, is hit as the ball is rising from the bounce. Do not hit the ball on the way down!
2. If the player misses the goal he must retrieve the ball and get back in line.
3. If the ball goes in the goal the coach will retrieve the ball and toss to the player. The coach is not in goal to block shots.
4. Next player performs a half-volley.


1. Emphasize the shots should be hit low and with power. If either description is lacking then the shooting technique was probably flawed.

Flag shooting drill

Flag shooting

Flag shootingThis is a simple exercise for younger players that emphasises finishing on goal. It also efficiently incorporates complementary receiving skills.

The exercise moves along so fast that although there is a “line” aspect to its structure, the wait per player is very short (in some cases almost not long enough, since it’s a pretty vigorous exercise and they need to get back to the starting position in time for their next turn).

Set Up and Execution

For every six to eight players, you will need:

  • a pair of flags or poles to serve as the goal
  • a pile of extra balls
  • a coach (or knowledgeable parent) to supervise and feed the extra balls when necessary.

Set up: two poles to mark the goal. Flat cones to mark the starting positions about 5 yds from the goal to begin with. Have a pile of balls next to you.


1. Serve a rolling or bouncing ball toward the first player.

Coaching point: encourage the player to meet the ball rather than wait for it.

2. The player has N touches to receive and shoot at the goal (ideally, N=two or even one). The player’s shot will, hopefully!, continue past the flags towards the other line.

Coaching point: the player’s first touch should direct the football to the side and a bit in front of them.

3. The first player from the front of line 2 moves to receive the ball, two (or one) touches and returns a shot back through the goal, which is in turn received and shot by the next player in line 1.

Tip: Rather have them move quickly out of the way after their shot passes the flags, and move back to the end of their line in time for their next turn. Quickly!

If a shot or attempt at receiving it goes astray, or is so poorly mis-hit that it doesn’t effectively roll through the flags, the coach immediately serves another ball to the next player up to go after instead.

More coaching points

Use good striking and receiving technique, BUT equally or more important is to receive and get a shot off QUICKLY!

Emphasize that in a game, fussy extra touches to try to set up a ball perfectly = lost opportunity to get the shot off before the defence recovers (and also allows the GK more time to get ready).

Set the non-kicking foot a little past the ball so it is in the correct position beside the ball when the ball is struck.

It’s better to try for accuracy and firmness than to deliberately try to swing at the ball hard.

Progression – give every player a ball. Add a goalkeeper who returns ball to shooter if the shot is on target. If the shot is not on target, the shooter retrieves it and runs back to her line.

8 drills that improve shooting skills

Shooting drills

Shooting drillsPenalty Box Soccer

Objective: Practice scoring goals and marking in the penalty area.

Area: Penalty area (directly in front of the goal).

Players: Teams of three, two goalkeepers.

Equipment: Two sets of training bibs.

At least six soccer balls

Goal and two corner flags (or four corner flags for two goals)

Formation: Two teams of three are in the penalty area with a keeper defending each goal.

Procedure: The game starts with the keeper of the one team throwing the ball to a team-mate. The game is decided by the first goal scored. The team that scores stays on the field and the losing team is replaced by a new team.

To keep the game moving, keep plenty of balls in the goal and put a two-minute time limit on each game. If neither team scores in two minutes, both teams go off and two new teams restart the game.

Make sure to balance the teams.

The winner is the team with the most goals after 20 minutes.


Players are organised into pairs, each with a ball. Standing with her back to the field of play, the first player throws her ball over her head. The second player then kicks her ball from the starting point and tries to hit the ball that was thrown. Play alternates by kicks until one ball is hit. The players then change over and start again. Coaches should emphasise instep kicks for length and the side of the foot for accuracy. Make it a condition that every other game is left foot only.
Four Goal Game (heads up!)

Set up four 2 cone goals in each corner of a 20 yd x 30 yd grid. Divide players into two equal teams. Players may score at any of the four goals. This is an excellent game for encouraging teamwork; getting heads up and discouraging bunching round the ball.

Shoot Between Cones

Set up a line of cones row 3 to 5 yards apart. Pair up players and put one player on each side of the line facing the cones and each other. Players should start close to the row of cones at first, striking the ball between the cones. The partner receives ball and passes it back through the cones. Move players further apart as their technique and accuracy improve

Go For Goal

Players form two lines on either side of the coach who is standing 18 to 20 yards from a goal that is any size. The coach serves the ball toward the goal line while one player races to win the ball and shoot. As skills improve, add a goalkeeper. The coach should encourage correct shooting technique and a good first touch on the ball.
Dribble Cones and Shoot

Set up two cone lines for a dribble weave about 30 yards with a 2 yard goal at the end. Divide players into two lines or teams. Players must dribble through the cones and score at the goal at the end before the next player in line starts.
Pass and Strike

Set up a 30 yd x 30 yd grid with two opposing goals. Divide players into two equal teams. Each team must make four complete passes before they can shoot on goal. If the ball is taken by the opponent the team must start its pass count again.

Hit the Cone

Set up cones in a line, with three feet between each cone. Line up two players on opposing sides of each cone, facing one another. Give one of the opposing players a ball. The object of the game is to knock down the cone in as few shots as possible. When the first shooter misses the cone, their partner should trap the ball and take a shot. When the cone is knocked over, one player should set it back up and continue playing. For a variation, play the game for one minute intervals, and encourage the players to improve their record each time.

Pass and Shoot

Set up two cones as a goal at one end of the grid and divide the team in half. Pick one player to start as goalie. Then line one group up behind the goal, with one ball for each player. Line the other group up fifteen feet in front of the goal, in the centre. The first player in line should pass the ball to the first player in the centre line. This person then traps the ball and takes a shot on goal. After their turns, the players should get in the end of the alternate line (players who took shots need to retrieve the ball if needed). Switch goalies often. For large groups, two games can be set up at opposite ends of the grid. Later, have the shooting line take their shots with only one touch.

Quick Shot

Divide players into groups of three, and give each group one ball and two cones. Set the cones up as a goal, and have one player be the goalie. The remaining two players should be on opposite sides of the goal, facing each other. They take turns shooting on goal. When the goalie makes a save, he should turn and roll the ball to the other player. Switch goalies often.

Divide the team into pairs. Give each pair one ball and four cones. Set the cones up as two separate goals, about 10 yards apart. Every player stands in front of a goal and takes turns shooting and being the goalie. Initially, have the players shoot a stationary ball. Then have them stand behind their goal line and dribble up to it before shooting or have the goalie roll the ball to the shooter for a one-touch shot

Cone Kick Down

This is played just like a regular small sided game, but instead of having a goal to shoot at set up five cones along each goal line. The first team to knock down all five cones wins. There are no goalies.



1v1v1Game Rules

One ball for three players in the area shown in the diagram, approximately 15 yards square.

Each player plays against the other two players.

Each player tries to score in a goal four to five yards wide.

When the ball goes out of play, the coach puts another ball in play.

Goalkeeper making a save throws the ball to the coach.

After 10 balls are served, all three players and the goalkeeper are changed.

Keep score and play the winners against each other to name the champion.

Player Objectives

Control the ball from the coach.

Manipulate the ball to avoid challenges.

Shield the ball when necessary.

Change direction – turn with the ball.

Change pace.

Shoot at the earliest opportunity.