Conditioning drills

conditioning drills

Here is a list of soccer conditioning drills and games to do for 10 minutes or so. Some can go longer, but don’t try them all in one practice!

Dribble warm-up: dribble in box; at ‘GO!’, sprint to farthest line and back into box; at ‘NUMBER!’, form a group of that number; last ones to make it do 10 press-ups.

Box relays: set out enough grids of 9 cones that you can divide your team into groups of 3-4, each group with its own grid. The grid looks like this:

conditioning drills

Each grid makes a little box and a big box. Run a series of relay races – 1. each runner goes around the small box and then the big box, with no ball, touching each cone with his/her hand as she passes it (best with flat cones); 2. each runner dribble around the small box, then the big box, and passes to the next runner after clearing the last corner; 3. each runner dribbles around the small box, then the big box, using a specified turn for each corner (pull-back/spin; tap behind standing foot; scissors; etc.). Alternate directions so they must use both feet! The purpose of having a little box and a big box is to vary the pace at which they must go to maintain control of the ball.

Lane races: set up 4-5 lanes with flat cones appx 35 yds long; straight dribble right, left, choice, cone weave right, left, choice

Horseshoe: set out 8 cones in square (one at mid-side on each side); divide in groups; dribble & trot 7 gaps, then sprint one gap; next time 6 & 2, then 5 & 3, all the way to 7 sprint and 1 trot

Amoeba: small groups with 2 cones each; lead takes off and sprints until catches back up to end; new lead takes off; all w/ ball & dribbling; rest of group trots

Switch field: groups of 3; pass from edge to edge; rotate every 2 minutes.

3-fly: groups of 3 goal to goal for time; 3 times so each is in middle once; set limits such as 2-touch or 1-touch; cannot shoot until coach ok’s

Wall Pass Ladder: stagger 6-8 players in zigzag; one takes a ball down the middle, passing and receiving wall from each side alternately

Pass relay race: one group at corners of box or pentagon; pass around perimeter to beat a runner from the other team; keep score by teams

Team relays: set in team alignment; pass F LM CM RM RS LS LD CD RD W G; a runner goes the same path & tries to beat the ball; when runner is done, replaces a field player; from goalie, work back up in opposite sequence

Pair Pass Challenge: series of connected boxes (approx 10x10x6 boxes); D at back of each box; cannot leave back line until someone enters box; pairs try to go thru all boxes; who can go farthest?

Dribble w/ front challenge: in pairs, one in front is passive defender; each time D changes stance to adjust, A moves dribble to other side

Dribble w/ rear challenge: In pairs, D behind; A must dribble away & shield ball; change sides by touching with inside of foot closest to defender, then outside of foot away from defender; each time passive D changes sides.

5-ball: set 5 balls in a row on the 18 yd box top line, spread within the edges of the circle; 2 girls start from opposite intersections of the 18 yd box and the restraining circle; at GO, they race diagonally to circle around a cone at the intersection of the end line and the goal box, loop around and straight back up to the intersection where their challenger started, and around to shoot the nearest ball. Back down the diagonal, around, and straight up, to shoot the second ball. Back down around and up to see who can get to the remaining ball and shoot it first. Great conditioning, tight turns, and shooting.

BALL!: Coach with lots of balls stands in goal; two kids stand out between goal and 18 yd box. One team-mate is assigned to count shots on goal for one player, another counts the second player; other teammates shag loose balls; for 2 minutes the coach feeds balls and shouts ‘BALL!’ as he does; kids fight to shoot the live ball; if they go too far or take too long, just feed another ball! Begin by working them out away from the goal, gradually make the feeds closer to the goal until they are hitting headers, volleys, etc in the goal mouth. Manipulate the throws to keep things fairly close. This is easier with a count-down timer on your watch.

2v2v2: Use the penalty area as a boundary. 3 teams of 2; i.e. 2 reds, 2 blues, 2 yellows. GK in goal. Teammates line the 18 yard box with balls. Coach puts ball in play. It’s always 2 attackers vs. 4 defenders. The ball and players may travel within the goal box, but shots must be taken outside of it. If a ball leaves playing area, nearest player on touch tosses another up, then shags. All balls caught by GK are restarted by GK. When one team scores, the other 2 swap out. LOTS of action, emphasis on shooting at the 1st chance, partner moving open in front of the goal.

Turn’n’go: from front of goal, A faces goal with ball in front; D behind facing away & touching; when A goes, D turns to chase down before shoots

3v2+G: 1D in front, 1D behind; pass to space & overlap

3v1, 4v2, 5v3: keep-away

3v3: with extras divided into 3’s; whenever one team scores, the replacement team from the other end starts immediately with their own ball; they should try to ‘fast break’ against the team that just scored.

Progressive sprints: jog in line; last one sprints to front, then slows down; as soon as you are last, you start your sprint, so a sequence are sprinting

Dribble sprints: 1 min. Back/forth across goal box, then penalty box, then penalty to midline, then goal to midline, back down; who can do the most lengths in each 1 min. period?

3 team keepaway

Thre team keepaway

Thre team keepaway

Minutes: 10-20

Players: 9-18

Ages: 10-45


Soccer warm-up, team work, ball control, possession, passing


Make 3 teams (Green-Blue-Red) 4v4v4 or 5v5v5 or 6v6v6 in Square grid about 25 x 25. Vary the size for player numbers and ability. One team starts as the defenders and the other two teams play keepaway. When the defenders win the ball the team colour which was responsible for losing the ball become the defenders. You can give a goal for X number of consecutive passes.

This is an excellent warm up and very good for improving small, quick passes.

It’s also a good drill for improving general ball control, awareness and team work.

I use this on every training as a warm up in a square grid about 20 x 20 meters.

Inside, outside

This is an effective pre-match soccer warm-up, as well as a good way to improve ball skills in training sessions for players of all ages.


To improve passing and receiving skills.

Skill level:

Beginners and upwards.

Number of players:

The whole squad.

Set up:

Create a circular playing area at least 20 yards in diameter. The bigger the area, the harder your players will have to work. Smaller areas will require more skill.

How to play:

Half the players are equally spaced around the edge of the circle with a ball. The other half work inside the circle. On your command, the players in the circle run to a player on the outside, receive a pass and pass back.

Players then run quickly to another player on the outside and repeat.

Play for a minute and then swap roles. Give each team two or three turns as an inside and outside player.

Coaching points:

  • Ask your players to work at pace. They should turn and run quickly.
  • As the inside players approach an outside player, they should call for the ball, loudly.
  • The players on the outside of the circle need to stay on their toes and not let return passes go past them.


  • Outside players can hold the ball in their hands and serve it at varying heights and speeds.
  • The players on the inside have a ball each. They dribble to an outside player, pass to them, get a return pass and dribble at speed to another outside player. Repeat.

Eight soccer coaching warm ups for young players

warmupsman2Young children (up to the age of eight) hardly need to warm up at all – some jogging, swinging of the arms, twists of the hips or other movements to loosen up will suffice.

Older children need some easy stretches interspersed by some gentle jogging to warm their muscles and raise their heart rate.

Note: It is important to establish good training habits as soon as possible. Therefore, emphasis should be placed upon developing a consistent routine. Don’t have a warm up one week but drop it the next because you’re a bit short of time!

Stretching exercises at any age can be harmful if the muscles are cold so start your warm up with some gentle jogging (with or without a football) before moving onto appropriate stretching exercises.

Try one or more of these quick and simple games to get your kids focused and ready to work.

Reaction Warm-Up

This is a good warm-up exercise that warms up the brain as well as the feet. Having tried it out on my team you soon find out who can think quickly – and also who knows their left from their right!

Make a circle with markers – one for each player.

If you have a large number of players, make two (or three) circles.

The size of the circle will depend on the age of your team and how much of a work-out you want to give them – but even a small circle is good enough if you do the drill at pace.

Couldn’t be simpler – you just shout out instructions!

“2 left”

“3 right, 1 left”

“2 right, centre, 1 left”

(Centre means run to the middle of the circle AND BACK)


The drill can be done with or without a ball.

Specify the type of steps they have to use between each marker, i.e., sidesteps or turn and run.

Have them sit down after each instruction – then they get to practice getting on their feet quickly (or get trampled!)
Points to Watch

Make sure your kids are on their toes ready to move – no standing flat-footed.

Every step touch the ball

Players dribble a football slowly in a defined area. Then tell them to try to touch the football with every step they take – (not as easy as it sounds!). On the command ‘Go’, the players must leave their ball and find another. Let them try this a few times then take one or two balls away. The players who end up without a ball have to run a lap of the activity area.

Spiders and bugs

Mark three lines 20 yards long and fifteen yards apart as shown by the x’s in the diagram below.

Warm up

Divide your children into two equal teams. Each team should stand along side the centre line about two yards apart and all facing forwards. Name one team Spiders (the ‘S’ in the diagram above) and one team Bugs (the ‘B’s). When you call ‘Spiders’! or ‘Bugs’! that team has to sprint for the end line nearest them. The other team tries to tag them. Anyone who is tagged joins the other team. Continue until there are only a couple of children left who haven’t been tagged. Don’t carry on until they are all exhausted!).

Pass and follow

A player in the centre of the circle passes to a player standing on the outside of the circle. She follows her pass and exchanges places with the player she passed to. That player then dribbles into the centre of the circle and passes to another player on the outside. As the players improve, put another ball into play and/or impose restrictions (one-touch play, alternate side-of-the-foot and lofted passes, etc).

You could also try putting half the players on the outside of the circle and half on the inside. The players on the inside look to the players on the outside for a thrown-in ball, receive it and one-touch it back (vary the service so that the ball is thrown to feet, to thigh, to chest, to head).

The Zipper Drill

Zipper drill

This drill is very good for observation and co-ordination.


Grid can be determined by the age of the players. 20yds x 20yds is the normal.

Divide team into two groups here blues and greens. Players start on cone A and run down to cone B doing whatever is asked of them. When they pass cone B they run diagonally to the opposite corner and cross the other group, they now start from cone A again.


  • Players bump into each other in the middle and sprint to A
  • Turn before the Zip
  • Introduce a ball.
  • Exercises (from A to B)
  • Slow Jogging.
  • Stop, turn.
  • Skipping.
  • Skipping Sideways.
  • Skipping Backwards.
  • Faster Jogging
  • Striding Out.
  • Slight changes of direction. Three steps to the right then three steps to the left.
  • High Knees.
  • Heel Flicks.
  • Sprinting.
  • Jump and Head.
  • Turn and Sprint.
  • Backing Off.
  • Jockeying.

Quick reactions


Players line up behind each other in a straight line with cones ten yards away on their left and right. The coach stands opposite them and shouts instructions. The players run to the line of cones indicated by the coach.


  • Skip
  • Run
  • Dribble with ball (leave on line or take back).
  • Run with ball in hands (leave on line or take back).

Players can react from:

  • Voice
  • Signal
  • Shouting colours (blue is left, green is right).
  • Numbers odd numbers and even numbers.
  • Opposites

Switch Ball

Switch ball


Grid is 30 x 30 yards, you can even use the centre circle. Use 10+ players.

Three players are in the middle of a 30 x 30 yard grid. The remaining players make a circle around the grid. Five of these players each have a ball.

Each player in the middle moves to a player with a ball, receives it, turns and switches it to a team mate who does not have a ball. Play continues in this fashion for a designated period.

Allow two touches for the players in the middle.

The switched ball has to be chipped in the air.

Add a defender to mark players in the middle.

Rotate middle and circle players.

Two final words about warm ups – NO LAPS!

I cringe whenever I see a coach watching her children run round and round the field. Why?

Because I know that I’m watching a coach who doesn’t know what she is going to do next – the children are running laps so that she can have a think.

Some coaches may say “Yes, but I make them dribble while they run the lap.”

Is this (as the Dutch would say) a ‘soccer like’ activity? No. Is it a situation that children are likely to encounter during a match? No, it’s not.

So…no laps!

And don’t forget the cool down!

3 team keepaway

Minutes: 10-20 Number of players: 9-18 Ages: 9-14

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 20.20.46

Objectives: soccer warm-up, team work, ball control, possession, passing


Make 3 teams (Green-Blue-Red) 4v4v4 or 5v5v5 or 6v6v6 in Square grid about 25 x 25. Vary the size for player numbers and ability. One team starts as the defenders and the other two teams play keepaway. When the defenders win the ball the team colour which was responsible for losing the ball become the defenders. You can give a goal for X number of consecutive passes.

This is an excellent warm up and very good for improving small, quick passes.

It’s also a good drill for improving general ball control, awareness and team work.

I use this on every training as a warm up in a square grid about 20 x 20 meters.