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Top Five Drills To Do With Your Youth Soccer Team

How to keep youngsters engaged and excited about practice with these soccer drills.

Training the youth can be stressful and difficult to keep it fun while also implementing useful soccer skills. While kids refuse to share their ball, are too busy picking flowers or just not into the practice, there are ways around these struggles. From my experience of coaching kids ages 2-13 years old, I have picked up what certain ages enjoy and what they do not enjoy doing. On the younger side of the spectrum, it is definitely more difficult to find what they may want to participate in as opposed to the older groups. But no matter what age they may be, these five soccer drills are ones that they certainly will enjoy. 

5 Best Youth Soccer Drills

#1. Sharks and Minnows

This drill focuses on the players' ability to dribble out of pressure and use their body to protect the ball from the defender. 

How to Setup:

  • 1. Make a grid approximately 20x25 yards, but may depend on number of players as well as skill level. 
  • 2. Select two players to be the Shark. These two players start in the middle of the grid without a ball. 
  • 3. The rest of the players, Minnows, start with a ball on one of the end lines. 

How to Play:

  • 1. The Minnows, players with the ball, attempt to dribble (swim) from one end line to the other while keeping their ball away from the Sharks. 
  • 2. The Sharks' jobs are to try to gain possession or knock out the Minnows' ball from the grid. When this happens they become a Shark.
  • 3. The last Minnow standing with their ball wins and can be chosen as the Shark for the next round.

#2. What Time Is It Mr. Wolf

This drill is more so for younger ages, but it is a fun way to focus on controlled dribbling, dribbling at different speeds, turning and counting. 

How to Setup:

  • 1. Make a grid approximately 20x30 yards. Size may vary depending on number of players.
  • 2. To begin, the coach can be Mr. Wolf and will stand in the middle of the grid without a ball.
  • 3. The players will start with their ball on one of the end lines. You can start without balls to get the kids used to the game.

How to Play:

  • 1. Players on the line call out, “What time is it Mr. Wolf” and the Wolf responds with any time to tell the players how many dribbles to take. Ex.: If Mr. Wolf says five o’clock, the players take five dribbles. 
  • 2. This continues until Mr. Wolf says “Lunch Time” where they run after the players as they try to dribble back to the starting line without getting their ball eaten by the wolf.
  • 3. If Mr. Wolf eats their ball, they become a wolf as well. They can work together to figure out what time it is and proceed to get other players to be a wolf.
  • 4. Last player standing or first to make it to the opposite end line can become the new Mr. Wolf.

#3. Red Light, Green Light, 1, 2, 3

This game is a great way to get kids to figure out when to take big or small touches and being able to follow directions on the fly.

How to Setup:

  • 1. Make a start- and end-line about 20-25 yards away, depending on number of players.
  • 2. Select a player to be it and the rest of the players will line up on the starting line.
  • 3. Players can start without a ball to warm up and then add in soccer balls after the first round.

How to Play:

  • 1. Player that is it faces away from the players and calls out “Red light, green light, one ... two ... three!” After saying three, they turn around and call out any player that does not freeze. 
  • 2. If a player is caught moving, they can be sent back to the beginning by the player giving direction. 
  • 3. This continues until the first player reaches the player that is it and tags them. The player that is it is not allowed to move from their spot to ensure they can be tagged when the first player reaches them. 

An alternative to this game is to have the player that is it face the players and call out instructions such as: 

  • Red Light: Meaning stop
  • Green Light: Meaning go
  • Yellow Light: Meaning slow down
  • Blue Light: Do a pull back and dribble back to the beginning
  • Orange Light: Toe taps
  • Purple Light: Favorite dance move, etc. 

This version allows players to follow commands and use different techniques in a fun way. Colors can mean anything the coach may want, but those are some examples.

#4. Stuck in the Mud

This drill is a fun way to work on dribbling into space and beating a defender. 

How to Setup:

  • 1. Create a box 20x25 yards and halfway create a channel making a lane to represent the Mud.
  • 2. Pick two or three “Mudders” who are stuck in the mud without their ball.
  • 3. The rest of the players line up on the end line with their ball.

How to Play:

  • 1. The job the Mudders is to try to take the ball away from the players who are trying to dribble through the mud. 
  • 2. The Mudders are NOT allowed to leave the mud, hence being stuck in it.
  • 3. When the Mudders take the ball or kick the player's ball out of the grid, they too become Mudders.
  • 4. The players try to dribble through the Mud using foot skills and awareness of where the open space is to try to make it to the other side of the grid.
  • 5. When they make it through the Mud they wait on the other side until they are told to go back through by the coach.
  • 6. The last two players that still have the ball and made it through the Mud and Mudders win and can become the new Mudders.

#5. Scrimmage

The best way to end a practice is by scrimmaging. No matter how old your players are, it is a great way to expose them to structure and how to actually play soccer. 

How to Setup:

  • 1. Create a small-sided field depending on how many players you have.
  • 2. Use two pug goals or cones if you do not have real ones. 

How to Play:

  • 1. If you don’t know how to play a scrimmage, you should probably reconsider coaching lol.
  • 2. But if you don’t, divide the players into two even teams with or without goalies. 
  • 3. Set them up on the field in your shape of choice. Could be a triangle, diamond, diamond with one player in the middle or whatever formation in which you can fit all your players on the field.
  • 4. Begin play and allow players to have fun and use skills that were practiced for bonus points.

All of these drills can vary depending on age, number of players and skill level, but they are great introductory games that implement basic skills of the game for younger kids.

They are fun, easy to understand and make the kids want to come back and play.

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