U6-U9 moving with the ball

Warm up: Body Part Dribbling

In a 15 x 20 yd area, each player has a ball. The players dribble freely in the area. When the coach says “NOW”, the players must stop the ball with any body part. Keep it going

Variation: After the players try it a few times, the coach will yell out a specific body part. Each player must try to stop the ball with that body part. Keep it going.

The coach gives praise for creativity and asks each player what body part they used.

Red Light – Green Light

When the coach says “green light”, players dribble their ball with their feet. When the coach says “red light”, players must stop their ball and stand still. When the coach says “green light” again, the players begin to dribble their ball again. Have fun with their imaginations…have the players make “brake’ sounds when coach says “red light” and have them make loud “motor sounds” when coach says “green light”.

The coach gives praise for creative movement, whether the ball is being carried with the hands or dribbled with the feet. The coach applauds dribbling with the feet, change of direction, etc. The coach highlights players that are dribbling the ball with their feet and asks if everyone can try to dribble the ball with their feet.

Sharks and Minnows

10 x 15 yd rectangular grid. Two players, the sharks, do not have a ball. The rest of the players, the minnows, each have a ball.

The minnows line up side by side along one of the 10 yd lines facing the other 10 yd line. The sharks position themselves inside the grid facing the minnows. When the coach says, “swim”, the minnows try to dribble their soccer balls past the sharks, safely to the other side of the grid. If a shark steals a soccer ball from a minnow or kicks a ball out of the grid, the minnow becomes a shark and the family of sharks grows. The minnows that make it safely to the opposite side get to swim again on the coach’s command. Continue until all the players become sharks.

If a shark steals a ball and can dribble it over any line of the grid, then the shark becomes a minnow and the minnow becomes a shark.

(These are games of inclusion…no one sits out.)

Minnows must keep ball close when being pressured by the sharks. Minnows must recognize open space so that they can speed past the sharks if the sharks are busy elsewhere.

Sharks must concentrate on stealing (tackling) the ball.

Get Outta’ There

Set up a 15 x 20 yd grid with a goal at each end. The goal is 3-4 steps wide using flags or cones. The players are divided into to teams colour coded with pennies. NO GOALKEEPERS.

The coach is located centrally on one side of the field, outside of the playing area. Each team lines up single file on both sides of the coach facing the field.

The coach kicks a ball onto the field. The first player from each team chases the ball and plays 1v1. The players shoot at the goal that is farthest from their starting position. If the ball goes out of bounds or is scored, the players must get off of the field immediately and return to the end of their line. If they don’t get off the field quickly, the coach yells,” Get Outta’ There!” Once the players are off the field, the coach kicks the next ball onto the field and the next 1v1 begins. The ball is the cue.

If the coach says, “ONE” before he serves the ball onto the field, then the game is a 1v1, like above. If the coach says, “TWO” before he serves the ball onto the field, then the game is a 2v2…2 players from each line play against each other.

The players get repetition on dribbling to beat an opponent. The players get repetition on shooting. They get the opportunity to defend 1v1. They get repetition trying to steal a ball from an opponent (tackling).

The coach must praise their effort and make the game exciting with his/her enthusiasm.

Cool Down Activity…Hit the Cone.

Cones are scattered around an large grid. Each player has his or her own soccer ball.

Players try to kick their ball so that it hits one of the cones that have been scattered around the area. They can start from various distances. After they hit one cone, they can try to hit another cone.

Coordinate this activity so that everyone isn’t kicking their ball at the same cone. Let them play and have fun.

Give generous praise for their effort and hard work

U6 balance and co-ordination

Activity Description Objective


I can do something can you?


The coach begins the activity by saying “I can do something can you?” and demonstrating a physical activity such as jumping jacks. The children then do the same. The coach demonstrations several other physical activities such as: skips, one-legged bounces; star jumps, rolls, etc. After demonstrating several times the coach asked the children, “what can you do?” and takes their suggestions.

Body movement from skipping to balancing on one leg. The important thing is to allow the children to explore how their body moves.


Snake in the Grass

In an area 15 yds x 15 yds, two children begin by being “snakes” by lying on their stomachs. The other children’s starting position is with their hands touching the “snakes.” On the command “snake in the grass” the children try to stay away from the snake while the snake slithers around trying to catch a child. When any child is caught he/she becomes an additional snake. The activity continues until every one is a snake.

The children move in all directions trying to avoid the snakes. Once snakes, the children try to work together to create more snakes.




Find the Coach


The coach has all the children close their eyes and while their eyes are closed the coach moves. On the command, “find the coach” the children open their eyes and run to tag the coach. This progress from the coach staying still to the coach moving even after the children has opened their eyes.

This activity becomes “chase and flee” quickly. The children begin to run in a direction, and for a purpose. Later they will do the same with a soccer ball, but first they learn to run to a target.


Everyone is it


In an area 20 yds x 20 yds, each child runs around trying to tag as many other children as possible while not being tagged themselves. Each bout lasts for 30 to 45 seconds.

The children must be aware of their surroundings and make decisions about where to go and where to avoid.



The activity ends playing 3v3. Use a size 3 football.



The reset game V2

The original Reset Game was submitted by Coach Carey in New Zealand)

This modified version of the Reset Game is for two teams of four players.

I’ve used it with my U13s girls to good effect. It really did show them the benefits of constant movement and making angles so they can receive passes. It also sharpened up their first touch.

Age range: U9s to U14s.

Number of players: Eight.

Set-up: Place three small cone goals randomly in a 30-yard square.

Divide your squad into teams of four. Two teams per playing area.

The two teams spread out and you give one team a ball.

How to play: The team with the ball has to complete three passes before it can score in one of the cone goals.

The passes must involve all four players, i.e., player 1 passes to player 2, who passes to player 3 who passes to player 4.

If, for example, player 2 passes back to player 1 it doesn’t count towards the team’s three passes.

However, pass backs may be used (and should be encouraged) if the third or fourth player isn’t in a good position to receive the ball.

Players must not allow the other team to touch the ball and they can take as long as they like to make their three passes.

If an opposing player does touch the ball, however slightly, yell “Reset!”

Possession is then given to the other team who must now make three passes in order to score.

As soon as one team scores, it gets to keep the ball and try to make another three passes. The game does not stop.

Coaching notes

1. Players should see they need to create angles in order to receive passes. If they don’t, ask them if it’s a good idea to form straight lines if there is an opponent standing between two of their own players.

2. After a while the better players will start to see that the last player to receive the pass is the most important and they will need to mark him well in order to disrupt the passing sequence.

3. They should also begin to understand the need to control and shield the ball effectively. Ball retention is absolutely encouraged. “Hoof it and hope” definitely does not work in this game.

4. You need to keep your players moving – the team in which one player stops moving usually loses.

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

Teach your players the push pass

Ages: 8+; Equipment: Cones/balls/bibs;

Players: 12+


Basic keepaway, with 1-2 defenders and remaining players in large grid, with rule that outside players must keep moving at slow jog. Defenders get 1 pt. if they steal ball, and outside players get 1 pt. if they can get 5 passes in a row. Outside players limited to 3 touches, then must pass or defenders win a point. Play to 5 points, then switch defenders out. Do stretches at each switch. Play for about 5-10 mins.

Individual Work

Illustrate the basic push pass.

Coaching Points:

  • Lock ankle of pass foot and turn foot outward;
  • Step beside ball, keeping knee of plant leg slightly bent, with toe of plant foot pointed where you want the ball to go;
  • Strike middle of ball with pass foot and follow through.
  • Stay loose and on your toes as the ball is approaching, so that you can adjust body position easily.

If possible, find a wall where each player can pass against the wall, or find flat bench (like for picnic table) to use as wall. Have players work on passing to specific spots (such as chalk marks) on the wall. Suggest to players that they can use wall or steps or garage door at home to work on passing.

If no walls available, then divide players into pairs, and put in small grids (about 20’x 10′). Put extra cones at the corners of the grids (will be used later). Have them pass to one another. Circulate to make corrections. When most have success, then add a contest where team which makes 20 good passes in a row wins the game. Hint: If you have an odd number of players, put 3 in a triangle in one grid.

Then, put cone in centre of grid, and require players to stand at the ends. Have a timed contest to see which player can hit the cone the most times in 2 mins. from his endline. Can use 1 ball or give ball to each player, allowing them to take closest ball back to endline for another pass at the cone.

Small group (match-related)

Set up series of small cone goals/gates in a large grid. Start 2-3 teams of players at any cone goal in the grid. Object is to pass thru all gates (either direction) to partner and then be first to exit by passing ball thru gate by coach. Must redo gate if ball not received by partner. Use extra players on sides to monitor that each team makes all gates. Swap out teams and run exercise with next group. Let each group run course 3 times, then do run-off of winners from each group. Hint: If you have an odd number of players, have 1 player play on two teams.

Set up new teams of 3 players each. Repeat exercise, and allow players to discover for themselves how much better they do with communication and an advanced runner. Say nothing for first 5 mins, except to correct passing techniques. Then, mention that the teams which are doing better are the ones which are talking and planning ahead on which goal to use next. If there is time, do another run-off of the winners.

Large Group (Match conditions)

Pick up cone goals inside large grid. Put most players in large circle inside grid, with 2-3 target players inside circle. Each of the outside players starts with a ball. Inside players must call for the ball, then pass to the feet of an outside player who does not have a ball, and go to another outside player to ask for another ball. Run for about 10 good passes/inside player, then swap them out. Now, add “shadow” for each of the inside players, who does not try to steal ball, but just shadows the receiver to add some pressure. Run exercise again, swapping shadows with passers after 10 good passes, then swapping in outside players for them. Finally, allow shadows to become active and try to win ball. Hint: If you have only 8 or fewer players, reduce the number of inside players to allow at least 5 outside players.

Ending game:

Play keepaway again inside large grid. See how many passes the group can now make in a row without interception by defender. Should have much better accuracy, as well as vision and communications.

Coaching Tip: This practice can be repeated for the next practice, to work on using the non-dominant foot. It also can be used to work on the quality of receiving the ball. Other passing games can be substituted for the sake of variety.

Chipping the ball

Why is it useful to get players chipping the ball?

The chip is used to quickly lift the ball over short distances, for example, to pass the ball over an opponent to one of your team mates or to lift the ball into the penalty area from a few meters away.

If executed correctly, the ball will arc beautifully and in the last moment, drop quite rapidly to its target.

The chip is a useful technique – strikers will score more goals if they can chip the ball over an advancing goalkeeper and all players will need to find a way to pass to a team-mate standing behind an opponent sometimes – so all young soccer players should be able to execute it.

Step-by-step instructions to give your players:

  • Approach the football at a slight angle
  • Place your non-kicking foot approximately 6 inches to the side of the ball and slightly behind it
  • Take a back swing with your kicking leg, keeping in mind that a shorter back swing will allow you more control and better placement
  • Angle your toe down as you make contact with the bottom part of the ball, the part closest to the ground
  • Lean your body back as you kick to increase the lift of the ball. The farther you lean back, the greater the ball’s arc.

Coaching tip: remember that the backspin generated causes the ball to slow down upon hitting the ground.

Encourage your players to practise chipping the ball at home by setting up a hoop or bin a few meters away and trying to chip the ball in.

Tackling for U9+ players

Ages: 8+; Equipment: Cones, balls; Players: 4+


Play basic keepaway, requiring the attacker to become a defender when the ball is stolen from him. Use enough defenders so that the players are forced to move around quickly.

Individual Work

In soccer, the term “tackling” is used to describe any effort to steal the ball or knock it out. Thus, in soccer, a tackle can be on the ground (a slide tackle). It also can be done upright, either by knocking the ball out as you run along one side of the attacker or done from the front by blocking him from dribbling the ball forward. Unlike American football, a tackle really is not supposed to bring the opponent crashing to the turf. Indeed, in many cases, the tackle will be judged as a foul if you do so. As a result, your first job as a coach will be to explain the terminology to your players and make the point that the player is tackling the FOOTBALL ITSELF and not the opponent.

Alternatively, you can simply use a term like “ball-stealing”, so that they don’t have the idea that they will playing American-style tackle football with a pointy pigskin instead of a soccer ball.


The easiest tackle to learn is the knock-out tackle, which is used to hit the ball away when the attacker gets the ball too far in front. Teaching tackling is usually begun right after basic work on First Defender skills and the defensive stance.

Use the same grid and follow the same ideas of patience and delay, but give permission to go in for the ball when the attacker allows it to get out too far in front of him. In this exercise, the defender gets a point for sending the ball out of the grid in any direction while the attacker gets a point by dribbling over the opposing end-line.

This tackle is used when you want to buy time for your teammates to get back and is particularly popular with wing defenders.


The next tackle, which is also very easy to learn, is the bump. To do this, quickly move into the attacker from a slight angle, lifting your lead foot over the ball so that your lead foot will end up between his legs. At the same time, turn into him with your shoulder/hips so that you can bump the him off the ball with your backside and take the ball away with the outside foot.

Once you commit, the key is to pounce aggressively and go in hard. The lead foot comes across the ball just when your shoulder/hips are firmly against the attacker. Try to time the move in so that the attacker is momentarily looking down at the ball and is standing on his dribble foot so that he is temporarily frozen. This exercise also can be done in the same grid, using the same procedure as before. One point for stealing the ball and one point if the attacker can get around the defender and dribble across the opposing end-line.

Block Tackle

The next tackle is the front, or “block”, tackle. The purpose is to block the ball into the attacker’s foot, then to drag/lift the ball over the attacker’s foot. Body weight must be over the ball to prevent the attacker from getting any leverage.

Key coaching points are: ankle of blocking foot locked, to make foot into an L-shape (hoe-shape) to use as a drag; keep body weight over ball; put support foot well to the outside.

Put the pairs back into their grid, one ball per pair. Have the attacker stop, with the ball just to the inside of his right foot. Now, have the defender step in so that his shoulder presses into the attacker just as his right foot blocks the ball into the attacker’s right foot so that the ball cannot go forward. As soon as the block is made, the defender will try to lift the ball to the outside and bring it over the toes of the attacker by getting his locked foot under the ball and lifting/rolling it over. Note that the support leg must be sufficiently wide of the attacker to allow the blocking leg/foot and the ball to come across.

This is a more difficult tackle to learn, so give the players ample time to experiment. Most young players can block the ball easily but have trouble with the technique of dragging it over. Some will try to put the outside leg too far forward, and bump knees and/or give the attacker room to push the ball through their legs. Others will try to put the outside foot too far to the back so that they have no leverage to use against the attacker. It takes some time to figure out the best place to put the plant foot so that the ball is quickly blocked, and then lifted across. Once some success is achieved by both players, start with some very slow dribbling and let the players try to do just a block. When most have made a good block, then let them try to lift the ball across.

Now, simply let the players play 1 v 1 in their grids, as follows. The players stand at opposite ends of the grid, taking turns on who is the server. After serving the ball to the opponent, they close him down defensively and try to tackle the ball. Play until the defender has made 3 successful tackles, then switch. Do two full rotations.

Match-Related Work

Next, play a game in which each successful tackle is worth 1 point. The attacker scores 1 point if he can dribble across the opposing end-line without having the ball tackled away. Play until one player reaches 5 points, then switch roles. Note: Be sure to watch carefully to make sure that you are getting success. Reassign partners; or place restrictions on above-average players; or make the grids narrower if necessary in order to be sure that the defenders win more often.

Now, combine the kids in adjacent grids, and make a hexagon with some cones. Put a player between the cones at every other leg of the hexagon meaning that they will be in basically a triangle. Put the last player in the middle of the triangle, and play keepaway with the outside players restricted to movement only between their cones.

This makes their movement more predictable for the defender. Play until the defender kicks the ball out 3-5 times, then switch. Counsel the defender to use patience when he sets an angle to bottle somebody up as his success is guaranteed by the placement of the outside players once he sets his angle properly.

Match Condition Work

Play keepaway in a small grid, with 1-2 defenders and about 4-5 attackers (the small space will favor the defenders.

Give a point to the defenders for each time that they tackle the ball away or steal it and pass it to the other defender.

Give a point to the attackers for each time that all of them can touch the ball without an intervening tackle by the defender. Play to 5 points and switch.

An U6 training session

red light

WARM-UP: A brief warm-up is appropriate in order to get the players thinking about soccer and to prepare them physically for the time ahead. This should involve individual body activities that may or may not involve the ball. Anatomy dribbling is easy and fun. They can also chase their ball as it is thrown by the coach, bringing it back with different parts of their body. Or, they can chase someone with their ball at their feet. Freeze tag is a good example.

Static stretching is also appropriate at this time, again, hopefully done with the ball.

“Soccernastics” activities are very appropriate, like: rolling the ball with the bottom of their feet, with their elbows, backwards, with the back of their neck while holding on to it; throwing it up and catching it; keeping it up with their feet while sitting.

INDIVIDUAL ACTIVITIES: Follow the warm-up with some kind of individual activity, not a real 1 v.1 game, but some kind of activity where players act as individuals in a game environment. An example would be a kind of tag game, or “Red Light – Green Light”, or a game where players are trying to knock their ball through gates. Keep players in motion at all times. Avoid having them wait on lines. Play games of “inclusion” instead of games where the “loser sits”.

PLAY THE GAME: Move on to the real game, but, make sure it is a 2 v. 2, 3 v. 3, or 4 v. 4 game. Switch the game every 5 minutes or so. Be creative. Play with 4 goals, or 2 balls. Play with or without boundaries. Use cones if you don’t have real goals. Keep players involved. Have more than one game going on at a time if necessary. It is important that every player has a chance to shoot on goal as often as possible.

WARM-DOWN & HOMEWORK: Finish the session with a warm down. Give them some more stretches to do with the ball. You may want to review what you started the session with. Also, give them some homework so that they practice on their own. Think of some ball trick that you would like to see them try to do, like, bounce it off their thigh and then catch it. It is important to finish on time. This is especially essential if the players are really into it. Stop at this point and you will get an enthusiastic return.

U-6 PRACTICE IDEA “Keep Your Yard Clean”

Here is a game that involves kicking and is a good example of parallel play in that it involves all players on the team at one time, but, they are all acting as individuals during the game. This allows for individual differences in skill. The game is simple, fun, and easy to adapt to account for team size and experience.

THE GAME: Create a ‘neutral area’ between the two teams where no player is allowed into. This area can be as small as one yard and as big as 10 yards wide. The width is determined by how far the players can kick the ball.

Each player starts with a ball at his / her feet. On command, each team tries to keep their side of the game free of balls by kicking their ball over to the other teams side.

After an appropriate amount of time (when the balls become too scattered, or, the players are losing focus), stop the game and count which side has the most balls on their side.

Distribute the balls evenly for another try if the players are still interested.

After players have found some success with this basic game, try these variations:

  • Players can only use their left foot.
  • Throw the ball back.
  • Kick the ball back.
  • Dribble the ball around a cone that has been set up in the middle of their “yard”, then, kick the ball back.


Red Light…Green Light”

red light

Here is a game that should be familiar to most U-6’s. Again, the game is fun, simple to set up, and has direct application to the game. The skill that it is targeting is dribbling.

THE GAME: Each player has a ball, except the one player that is designated as the “light”.

Lines from start to finish should be approximately 20 – 30 yds..

Players start from the line opposite the “light”. The “light” then turns away from the group shouting out “GREEN LIGHT”. At this signal, the players start to dribble towards the “light”.

When the “light” turns back around, calling out “RED LIGHT”, players must freeze their bodies and their ball.

If the “light” catches players or a ball still moving, that player must take 5 steps back.

The first player to cross the line where the “light” is standing is the winner and becomes the new “light”.

You can start the game without using balls for younger players, then have them roll the ball with their hands, then use their feet.


All skills circuit training

It’s important to vary the format of your coaching sessions occasionally.

The traditional format of technical skill, individual practice, opposed practice followed by a small-sided game is tried and tested and it works. But your players will appreciate it if you spend a little time and effort setting up something completely different sometimes.

Mini World Cups are a great way of injecting pure fun and letting your players do what they really want to at training sessions: play football.

Another interesting format is a short skills circuit.

Children love to compete with each other and a skills circuit allows them to do just that while, at the same time, improving the essential skills that you teach them all year round.

Set up: the skills circuit I use with eight or nine year olds consists of five 10 yards square playing areas marked out by cones.

Your players should be split into five groups. The groups should be small – no larger than four players in each – so if you have more than 20 players you should consider setting up two circuits or having the extra players take part in another activity.

Each activity requires an observer who records the results. He or she can be a coaching assistant, a parent or an older player.

Each group of players starts in a different area.

On your command, your players spend a specified time (two minutes or so) carrying out the activity in their area before moving on to the next one. I suggest that you blow a whistle to start and stop the activities.

In each area, the players are challenged to perform as many of each activity as possible in the time allowed. They are also encouraged to make the transition between area as quickly as possible.

Each player has a ball that they take with them from one area to the next.

Area 1: Ball control

Equipment required: one ball each.

Activity: Ball Taps – tap a ball between the insides of both feet.

Variation: the “hat dance” – sole taps on the top of the ball with both feet.

For more advanced players: ball juggling.

Area 2: Dribbling

Equipment required: 16 small traffic cones set up in four lines of four and balls.

Activity: Each player dribbles their ball up and down a line of cones as many times as possible without knocking them over or missing any.

Variation: Dribble with “wrong” foot.

For more advanced players: Dribble with a specified part of the foot: sole, inside, outside etc.

Area 3: Running with the ball

Equipment required: balls.

Activity: run with ball from one side of area to the opposite side as many times as possible. Ensure players do not turn short.

Variation: Two players start on one side and two on the adjacent side of the area. This forces the players to keep their heads up while running with the ball to avoid collisions.

For more advanced players: perform a specific turn at the end of each run: drag back, stop turn etc.

Area 4: Shielding the ball

Equipment required: one ball per group.

Activity: use an even number of players in each group.

Players split into pairs. One player has a ball and for one minute, he tries to stop his partner from touching it. He gets a point for every 10 seconds he is successful so can get a maximum of six points if he can keep the ball away from his partner for the whole minute.

After one minute, the players swap roles.

Variation: none.

For more advanced players: award one point every 20 seconds.

Area 5: Passing accuracy

Equipment required: a flat cone with a ball balanced on top. Alternatively, you can use a plastic skittle or bowling pin.

Activity: set up the area as for “knock out” (described below), except there is no goal to shoot into.

Players take it in turns to try to knock the ball off the cone (or knock over the skittle/pin).

Variation: use a specific part of the foot, such as the toes or instep.

For more advanced players: Use weaker foot only.

The whole circuit takes about 15 minutes to complete. At the end you should share the results with your players and, if you wish, give a small award to the player who scored the most points, either in each area or in the circuit as a whole.

Repeat the circuit every month or so, track your players’ progress over time and at the end of the season give an award to the player who has shown the most improvement over the period.