As a soccer coach, you probably understand that the secret to choosing the best soccer drills for kids is mixing fun with repetition. Soccer is all about having fun regardless of age. Offering this makes it easy to keep young players engaged while on the pitch. But most importantly, it intensifies their love for the game. This is critical if they are to play competitive soccer later in life.
In this post, we’ve rounded up 16 fun soccer drills for kids that will make your coaching sessions both enjoyable and fruitful. These activities are rated as U12 soccer drills. They are designed to encourage and develop techniques and individual creative play while keeping the sessions fun.
WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE SOCCER TRAINING FOR KIDS FUN
Before getting into the drills, here are a few fundamental reasons why you should strive to make your coaching sessions with kids fun.
It’s the golden age of learning
It’s generally agreed that the age span of five to twelve years is the golden age of learning. In sports, this is a sensitive and critical period when players learn technical skills and motor movements they will need later in advanced levels.
The key to teaching players in this phase is to create a fun learning environment. Proponents of the “just have fun” argument say that learning becomes natural when the kids enjoy the training sessions. They also add that young players are more likely to perfect technical sports movements if they pick them up through fun.
Fun drills break down walls
Experts also point out that fun soccer training for kids breaks down walls. Youth sports often involve kids with varying athletic abilities and skills. Sometimes the least experienced will feel nervous and are more likely to quit due to the pressure of keeping up with the rest.
In a training session full of fun and laughter, the walls between players and their teammates and coaches come down. Kids can learn at their own pace and are not shy to make mistakes. In addition to creating a fun training environment, the coach must identify and correct faulty techniques as bad habits can be easily ingrained around this time.
To keep them motivated
Young players can easily get disinterested in an activity if they no longer deem it fun. Soccer is not an exemption. Conversely, they will eagerly look forward to the next training session if the drills are fun.
A great solution to repetitive soccer drills
Practice leads to the perfection of soccer skills. Unfortunately, repetition is the number one reason kids lose interest in a particular activity. By making the activities fun and engaging, each training session will be fresh, and your players can improve their abilities without getting bored quickly.
Promotes a stress-free environment
A fun soccer training session is more likely to have a positive vibe where the players are not afraid to make mistakes. This motivates them to give their all and to become more creative.
Your kids will improve quickly
A positive training environment will keep the players motivated. They will also find fun in repetitive soccer drills. All of these benefits culminate in your players understanding the skills you’re teaching them quickly.
Fun Soccer Practice Drills for Kids
Here are the different categories of soccer drills for children that we’ve included here;
- Warm-up drills
- Dribbling drills
- Passing drills
- Shooting drills
All the soccer training drills that we’ve highlighted here give your players a blend of excellent reaction time and agility training. If you’re looking for ways to increase your young players’ explosiveness, you may want to add Blazepod to your training and practice equipment.
These pods come loaded with exciting soccer practice drills designed to be tons of fun, engaging, and motivating and can be used at any level of training. You can take a short quiz to find out which kit fits you best.
ENJOYABLE SOCCER WARM-UP DRILLS TO START WITH
Warm-up skills are necessary for revving up the kids’ cardiovascular system and musculature. This prepares the body for aerobic activities besides lessening the risk of injuries. If you can identify soccer warm up drills that not only prepare the players physically and psychologically but also sharpen their skills, you’ll see better results quickly.
Fox Tails is a soccer drill that works on athleticism and awareness, among other soccer warm up drills for kids. This chasey game requires your players to be quick on their feet as they simultaneously think about defense and offense. It’s a great game for burning energy fast and does not require much space.
This exercise requires four players or more.
Use cones to mark an area about eight yards by eight yards. You may make another field of the same size if you have many players.
Have all the players tuck a bandana, sock or small fabric into the back of their shorts to act as a foxtail.
The aim of the game is to grab as many “foxes’ tails” while keeping yours safe.
How to Play
It couldn’t be simpler! The drill starts with all the players inside the play space. On the whistle, the players start running around the marked area, trying to snatch each other’s tails while protecting theirs.
If their tails are snatched, they must perform a pre-agreed activity, for instance, running around the play area five times. After this, they can return to the field and attempt to snatch a tail from the remaining players.
The game ends after a specified time, e.g., 10 minutes, or after one player has snatched all the tails.
This tag game is a variation of the Fox Tails drill above. It’s a fun and active game for kids that trains speed, reflex, fast thinking and strategy.
To prepare for the Hospital Tag, mark a play area around 10 yards by 10 yards.
At least four kids can play this game.
Before getting inside, each player places their ball outside the play area’s boundary.
Each player must understand the boundaries of the play area. Any player who steps out of the boundaries is automatically disqualified from the game.
The objective is to tag other players while avoiding being tagged.
How to Play
On the whistle or when the coach shouts go, the players run around and attempt to tag other players. When they get tagged, the players scream “ouch” and place one hand over the body part they just got touched. When they get tagged again, they must place their other hand on that body part, too and shout “ouch.”
A player who gets tagged twice will be holding two body parts simultaneously, so they have no hand to tag others with. It should be fun to see a player running around while holding two body parts.
When they get tagged the third time, they are injured and must go to the hospital. Going to the hospital means getting out of the play area to dribble the ball with five controlled touches. After this, they are “healed” and can get back into the play area.
SOCCER DRILLS FOR 4 AND 5 YEAR OLDS
The Cone Chase
This is one of the most fun soccer drills for 4 year olds and 5 year olds. It demands quick thinking and reaction time- a combination that prepares the players both mentally and physically.
Up to 10 or more players can play this game.
You’ll need as many cones as the players.
Divide the players into two groups. Name the players in one group in odd numbers (1, 3, 5 etc.) and the other in even numbers (2, 4, 6 etc.).
Let the groups stand in a line opposite of each other with a distance of around 20 yards between them. Each of the players should stand behind a cone.
The players will be racing to collect a cone left by the other player.
How to play
To play this game, the coach calls out an even number and an odd number, for instance, 4 and 7. The respective players should sprint and grab the cone that the other player has vacated and take it ‘home.’ The player who reaches home first wins.
- Competitive warm-up
- Fast thinking. Where should I go?
Pac man is another very interesting and engaging activity for a coach or parent looking for soccer drills for 5 year olds. This is a simple drill that can be played by any number of players. It teaches them how to accelerate quickly without losing the ball and while being aware of other players’ positioning on the pitch.
Pac man is best played indoors in well-marked basketball, tennis, or soccer courts.
It requires at least five players (each with a ball), and each session can be played for 10-20 minutes.
Let all the players stand along the lines of the court with their balls. Choose one player to be the Pac-Man.
The Pac-Man dribbles along the lines of the court, trying to tag other players.
How to play
At the whistle, all players start dribbling the ball along the court markings. The Pac-Man chases the other players, hoping to tag them. The other players dribble along the court markings while looking for escape routes to avoid being tagged. Each player who is tagged becomes a Pac Man too. Each round ends after all the players have been tagged.
- Keep the ball rolling
- Keep your head up
- Be ready to change direction
- Vary your speed
- Agility and balance
SOCCER DRILLS FOR 6 AND 7 YEAR OLDS
Sharks and Minnows
Sharks and Minnows is one of the best soccer drills for 6 year olds because it’s incredibly easy and full of fun. This drill trains young players to protect the ball by placing it between their bodies and the oncoming defender.
Use markers to build a grid 20 by 25 yards. Feel free to adjust the size of the play area depending on the skill level and the number of players.
Two players stay in the middle of the grid without a ball. These are the sharks. The rest stand along the length of the grid, each with a ball at their feet. These are the minnows.
This drill aims to have the minnows attempt to dribble the ball across the sea of sharks to the other side of the dribble.
How to Play
At the coach’s cue, the minnows dribble the ball inside the grid and attempt to go past the sharks to cross to the other side.
The sharks attempt to steal the ball from the minnows.
Minnows who lose possession of the ball join the sharks. Minnows who successfully get to the opposite side attempt another round across the sea.
As you can imagine, the game becomes progressively harder as more sharks join the defined area.
The game ends after the predetermined time, for instance, 10 minutes or when only 1-2 minnows are left standing.
- Train the players to use little touches when dribbling. They should learn the consequences of hitting the ball too far when dribbling.
- Advise the players not to panic when under attack from the sharks. Instead, ask them to keep their heads up to be aware of their environment and the opportunities available.
- Train them on the importance of using the inside and outside of their feet to dribble the ball- not their toes.
Pirates of the Pugg
Like other soccer drills for 7 year olds, Pirates of the Pugg is full of enjoyment. But most importantly, it requires the players to employ various soccer techniques and skills. Thus, the coach can focus on different aspects of the game, for example, dribbling in traffic and awareness at the same time.
Make a circle 10 yards in diameter. You can use the center circle of the soccer field.
Place a Pugg goal post in the middle of the play area.
All the players start in the defined area- 9 with a ball at their feet and three players without a ball. The latter are the Pirates.
This drill aims to train the attackers on proper dribbling techniques when under pressure, which requires keeping their heads up for vision and awareness. Another crucial focus could be how to transition from offense to defense and vice versa.
How to Play
At the whistle, the players with the ball start dribbling around the defined area while protecting the ball from the pirates.
The pirates (players without the ball) tackle and attempt to steal the ball.
When pirates manage to get the ball, they try to score on the Pugg. If they score, the player who just lost the ball becomes the pirate. However, the attackers must try to win the ball back before the pirates try to score.
The drill continues until all players except one are pirates. The remaining player is crowned the winner.
- When attacking, players should keep the ball close and their heads up. This is necessary for identifying open spaces amidst pressure from defenders. After losing the ball, attackers should recover quickly and devise ways to win it back.
SOCCER DRILLS FOR 8 AND 9 YEAR OLDS
Soccer drills for 8 years olds and 9 year olds incorporate the element of fun with the need to train on basic tactical and technical aspects of the game. Some of the top skills to focus on when training this age group include;
- Making a choice between passing and dribbling
- How to dribble with the weaker foot
- Transitioning from offense to defense
- Positioning yourself when a teammate has the ball
- Awareness when dribbling
First Pass 1V1
Using cones or markers, make a grid 15 yards by 15 yards.
Divide the players into two and have each team stand in a line on opposite sides of the grid.
Each player on one of the teams (not both teams) should have a ball at their feet.
This is among the top soccer drills for 9 year olds in teaching young players how to make accurate passes. The drill also teaches the players how to determine the weight of the pass and how to close down on attackers quickly.
How to Play
The first player with the ball passes the ball to the first player on the opposite team on the coach’s signal.
Both players get in the grid for a 1v1 duel when the ball is received.
That round ends when one of the players successfully tackles the other player to dribble across the opposite grid line.
The coach can vary this drill by having 2 or 3 players face each other in a 2v2 or 3v3 game.
4v4 to Mini-Goals
Use cones to set up a play area about 25 yards by 25 yards. Multiple play areas can be made for larger groups.
Use cones or pugg goals to set up mini-goals on two opposite sides of the grid.
Divide the group into even teams of 4 players plus a goalkeeper. Each team should have its color.
This drill focuses on quick decision-making skills, playing 1v1 soccer situations and passing vs. dribbling.
How to Play
The coach defines how players earn points. This versatile game lets you create unique rules to emphasize different aspects of the game. For instance, you could make a through pass worth 2 points and a one-touch pass worth 3 points.
Guide the players on deciding between passing and dribbling and emphasize the need to spread out and communicate.
Soccer Dribbling Drills for Kids
Dribbling is a core skill in soccer that essentially helps 6-16-year-olds in ball control. Like playing basketball, dribbling soccer skills teach the player how to move with the ball past an opponent without being tackled. Offensively, dribbling in soccer helps in achieving the ultimate goal of the game- scoring. As a coach, here are soccer dribbling drills that will teach your kids how to dribble for soccer.
Snake in the Grass
‘Snake in the grass’ is another simple but very enjoyable drill that aims at improving those little soccer feet. This soccer dribbling practice offers a way for the players to work on their coordination and body movements.
- To set up for ‘snake in the grass,’ use four cones to create a square grid approximately 15 by 15 yards in size.
- All the players will be inside the grid.
- The coach should choose two players who will be the snakes.
- The snakes should lie on their stomachs on the grass.
The objective of this game is to have the snakes slither around the grid and touch all the other players.
How to play
Before the drill starts, all the non-snake players need to place one of their hands on any of the snakes. When the coach shouts, “snake on the grass,” each of the non-snake players should start dribbling the ball within the grid while attempting to avoid the snake by doing anything possible, for instance, running, jumping, cutting, or turning. On the other hand, the snakes should slither around to touch the non-snake players. Every player who is touched becomes a snake. The game ends when all the players become snakes.
- Fake passes
- Quick thinking
- Fast responses
Red Light Green Light
This youth soccer game is often recommended to players above the age of 6. However, with moderation, it also makes one of the most exciting soccer drills for 5 year olds and 4 year olds. Similar to ‘snake in the grass,’ this game teaches the player how to have constant control of the ball in a tight space.
- All the players should stand on one sideline with a ball.
- The opposite sideline is the end and where every player should target to reach.
- The coach (or the light) should always be 15-20 yards away from the closest player.
The players should aim at beating the rest by being the first to reach the opposite sideline.
How to play
The game starts with the players making a line shoulder-to-shoulder along the sideline. The coach should be 15-20 yards away, facing away from the players. When the coach shouts ‘yellow,’ the players should slowly dribble the ball towards the coach. After some seconds, the coach calls ‘green,’ signaling the players to dribble fast. Lastly, the coach shouts ‘red’ as a sign for the players to freeze. After shouting red, the coach should turn and be on the lookout for players who are still moving. Any player who is caught has to go back to the starting point. The game ends when most of the players reach the other sideline successfully.
- Be alert to coach commands
- Dribbling with speed
- Respond quickly to verbal cues
- Learning how to keep the ball close enough always
Soccer Passing Drills for Kids
Soccer is a team game. Keeping possession of the ball is essential to scoring and winning. One way of doing that is the ability to pass the ball to other teammates without losing it to your opponents. These soccer passing drills for kids will help your team dictate the play and conserve energy for scoring goals.
Triangle Combination Soccer Passing Drill
This is one of the passing games soccer drills that teaches your players combination play when under pressure. You can focus on different aspects, including the angle, pace, weight, and timing of the pass.
- These passing drills for youth soccer require four players per group. You’ll need to divide the team into multiple groups to keep everyone engaged and entertained.
- Create a triangle by placing three cones 10 yards away from each other.
- Have three players standing around 1 yard outside of the cone and the fourth player behind player one.
- This game requires only one ball.
This is one of the best youth soccer passing drills whose objective is to control the ball and pass it to the next player before sprinting to the next position.
How to play
To start this soccer training game, player one will kick the ball towards player 2. After kicking the ball, the player immediately vacates the cone and starts moving towards player 2. Player 4 immediately fills the gap left by player 1. Player 2 receives the ball with one foot and hits it with the other foot towards player 3. Player 2 also vacates their position and starts running towards player 3. The game continues.
- Efficiency when passing the ball using both feet
- Excellent timing
- Great body balance
- Good choice of the appropriate surface of the foot to kick the ball with (outside, inside, or top)
- Sharpening the player’s first touch skills
Use cones or discs to create a circle 10 yards in diameter. The center circle in a soccer field may be used.
Have one player stand in the middle of the circle. The other players stand along the edge of the circle at an equal distance from each other.
Played properly, the Pressure Passing is a great soccer drill for stressing the need for quick but accurate passing. The nature of this drill also forces the players to keep their heads up to scan for awareness.
How to Play
At the whistle, one player around the edge of the circle hits a ball to the player in the middle.
The player in the middle receives the ball and controls it before passing it to another player on the edge of the circle.
Almost immediately, a second ball from outside the circle is passed to the central player again and so on.
The game continues for one minute before another player replaces the middle player.
The central player needs to have fast forward, backward and lateral movements to receive, control and pass the balls.
Soccer Shooting Drills for Kids
The ultimate goal for these soccer shooting drills for beginners is to ensure that you’re developing players who can confidently score past the goalkeeper.
Penalty Box Soccer
As the name suggests, this game is played in the penalty area right next to the goalpost. It’s beginner-friendly and can be played by players U6 up to U12.
- To prepare for this game, you’ll need a pair of soccer training bibs for the goalkeepers, one goal and two corner flags (or four corner flags to make two goals), and six balls.
- Begin by making a goal post on the penalty box line directly opposite the main goal.
- Divide the team into groups of 4 players. Have two of these teams competing against each other first, with one player on the goal post.
The objective of this game is to have one team score the most goals within 2 minutes.
How to play
The game begins with one of the goalkeepers passing the ball to a teammate. Each team should work hard to score the most goals within the first 2 minutes. The team that scores the most goals wins and remains in the field as the losing team is replaced by another team. If no goals are scored in the first 2 minutes, the two teams are replaced by new ones.
- Be comfortable when shooting the ball on target
- Like other soccer shooting drills, this game emphasizes supporting teammates to score
- Scoring more goals
- Correcting mistakes fast
Open Goal Shooting
This is a fun soccer drill for kids that most youths and adults come back to regularly to sharpen their skills.
You’ll need a goalpost for this drill. You can use actual goalposts, pugg goals or even make one using cones.
Depending on the age and skill level of the player, position the ball at a suitable spot in front of the goal post.
The aim of this drill is to teach young players how to identify a spot inside the goal and hit the ball towards it. It also trains them on how to make a shot from different spots.
How to Play
The drill starts with the player standing two steps behind the ball facing the goal.
The player looks at the goal and visualizes a target spot inside the goalpost.
At the whistle, the player takes a step forward using their non-kicking foot before striking the ball towards the target spot.
Repeat five times. Place the ball at a different position each time. Also, encourage the player to visualize a different target for every round.
Fun Defensive Soccer Drills
1v1 Defending Drill
This is a simple but effective drill requiring only a few cones and a soccer ball. Thanks to its simplicity, your players can replicate it anywhere, making it easy to perfect the intended skill.
Use eight discs or cones to set up a small grid 2 yards by 8 yards.
Have two players start in the grid, one with a ball at his feet.
The goal of this drill is to teach defenders how to lead attackers into super tight areas with the least amount of space, for instance, along the sidelines. The drill also focuses on staying with the attacker by constantly switching their feet instead of turning around to chase them.
How to Play
The drill starts with the attacker and defender facing each other inside the grid. The attacker should utilize all skills learned to protect the ball from the defender. While the defender is not looking to steal the ball from the attacker, he wants to stay with them and force them into tight spaces. The goal is to choke the attacker. As the attacker changes direction, the defender should stay with them by shuffling their feet to minimize available space.
Defensive Run Down Drill
This soccer drill tests offensive ball-handling, defense and conditioning. When playing defense, this game emphasizes accurate ball clearances and recovery maneuvers. On the other hand, offensive players practice speed while dribbling at top speed to evade defenders.
This drill will require a goal post. You can use a full goal post or create one using cones or discs. Have two players, an attacker with a ball and a defender, stand around the midfield line facing the goal post.
Defensive Run Drill stresses excellent ball control for attackers and recovery for defenders. The objective is to have the defenders attempt legal slide tackling and clear the ball before the attacker can attempt to make a shot.
How to Play
On the first whistle, the offensive player dribbles quickly towards the goal post.
When the offensive player is several steps ahead, the coach blows the whistle again. This signals the defender to run towards the offensive player and attempt to clear the ball.
The offensive player should attempt to protect the ball from the defender without using long dribbles.
After eluding the defender, the offensive player may attempt to score a goal only when they are inside the penalty box.
The drill ends when the offensive player has attempted to score, or the defensive player has successfully cleared the ball.
Sharpening 5-year old kids’ soccer skills can be daunting thanks to their short attention span. As a coach, you want to focus on multi-skill drills that keep the players engaged and entertained at all times.
Blazepod makes the drills more challenging and fun by creating a healthy competitive environment that pushes the players to offer their best. Learn how Blazepod sharpens your kids’ decision-making skills, dribbling speed, and agility!
How do you train soccer for preschoolers?
At this age level, parents, coaches and trainers should:
- Stress on having fun as opposed to going with rigid practice plans. Start by letting them understand some basic concepts of the sport, for example, no hands while on the field.
- Let every player in the practice session have a ball.
- Be enthusiastic and use positive reinforcement only.
- Keep the practice sessions short (45 minutes utmost) with several water breaks in between to avoid boredom.
Why is dribbling skill important in soccer?
Like in basketball, dribbling in soccer is important for progressing the ball forward while avoiding losing it to opponents. Teams with excellent dribbling skills have a higher percentage of possession during a match and also have higher chances of scoring.
What are some soccer exercises for a kid?
- Fox Tails
- Hospital Tag
- The Cone Chase
- Pac Man
- Sharks and Minnows
- Pirates of the Pugg
How much time is enough to train youth soccer drills per week?
Players in the 17-21 age bracket often train for 16 hours per week.
Who is a defender in soccer?
Defenders in soccer are also called a fullback. These players stay close to their goal post and are responsible for preventing attacks and making it difficult for opposing attackers to score.
How do you make soccer a fun game for a young player?
- Let the young players learn at their own pace.
- Provide consistent positive support to every child in the team regardless of their skill level.
- Encourage team bonding.
- Come up with a structured practice plan with lots of fun exercises and water breaks.
How long is a U8 soccer game?
U8 soccer games last 40 minutes (20-minute halves)
Who is an offensive player when teaching soccer?
Also known as an attacking player, this is a player in an advanced position in a soccer lineup. These players are positioned in front of the defenders and are highly skilled at scoring goals.