Setup: 20×40 grid with both ends of the grid open. Place a set of cones about 3 feet apart in the middle of both ends. These are your goals. After you have set up the field, divide your players into two equal teams.
The teams line up outside the grid opposite each other. Assign each player a number.
How to play: The coach starts the game by tossing the ball inside the grid and calling a number.
The players of that number from each team run into the field of play and try to score through the opposite goal.
If you want to emphasise close control, make it a condition that a goal can only be scored if they have control of the ball and be no more than two steps away from it when the ball crosses the line. If they do not have control or are more than two steps away from the ball, the goal does not count.
Alternatively, you can encourage quick shooting by allowing the children to shoot as soon as they get a sight of goal.
Defending techniques, (closing down, positioning between the attacker and the goal, not ‘diving in’), can also be emphasised and reinforced in this fun 1 v 1.
If the ball goes out of the grid, throw another ball in to keep the game flowing. Try throwing it in high so your kids can practice controlling a bouncing ball.
Once a player scores, award that team 1 point. First team to score, say, three points wins.
After players are back into position call out another number.
To make the game more interesting, call out a second number while the first pair are playing. Now you have a 2 v 2 team situation. Now you can focus on defensive techniques, communication, quick passing and running off the ball.
You can add an element of conditioning if the children have to run right round the marked out area when their number is called, entering the field of play through the opposite goal.
Ensure both teams stand in the goalmouths while they wait for you to call out a number!