Soccer training at the youth level is different from training players at the professional level. At the youth level, making the training fun and exciting is almost as important as learning and practicing skills. After all, having fun is considered the main reason why a kid plays any sport, not just soccer. So besides being informative and challenging and in turn stimulating, any training session has to be fun and exciting. To cater to that element, we bring you the best fun drills for youth soccer team training sessions, with the emphasis being on fun, of course.
Keep in mind that these fun drills are just to give you an idea and any modification can be made to make these games easier or tougher according to the age group you are coaching. A successful coach is creative and loves solving problems and helping players out in developing their games. And that is exactly what these games ought to do.
Let us start with a certified fun game of freeze tag. The idea is simple but that is where the fun lies. After all, playing tag is one of the most beloved games of children and if you can get some soccer practice in through its help, there’s nothing like it. The coach has to first explain the simple game to the players and become Mr. Freeze. Every player has a ball at their feet and dribbles away from the coach who has to touch them. If the coach touches a player, they have to freeze by holding the ball on the top of their head.
The only way they cease to freeze is if a player crawls under them or the ball passes between their legs. At this point, they can throw the ball back down and start dribbling again. It is recommended to keep the field of play smaller than it usually is making control a greater test. So using just one game, you get your players to enjoy and learn too. They learn running with the ball on their feet, urgency, passing, precision, and teamwork by getting each other free.
And of course, it warms up the coach like nothing else because he has to be fast too, otherwise, the game is no fun. If you want to make the game a bit more challenging you can get two people to become Mr. Freeze and pile on the pressure on the rest of the players.
Ouch (Hit the Coach)
One of the certified fun drills to teach players control and blow off some steam on the ever demanding coach. This one requires some sportsmanship from you as well. The idea is simple. You make a 20 by 20 grid in which there may be 6-8 players depending on the ages of the players. And the aim of the game is to hit the coach, simple as that. And whenever the player hits him, the coach has to say “ouch”.
This expression alone makes it incredibly fun and allows players to see their coach as a human being and not just an authoritative figure always trying to tell them what to do. Every hit gives the player a point and helps them improve their passing and shooting accuracy.
You can always change the dimensions of the grid in which it is played according to the level of the players involved. If players find it difficult to hit a moving coach, you can become stationary and let them hit you a few times so that they can gain some confidence.
On the other hand, if it gets too easy, you could challenge the players to only use their weaker foot to hit you or add any other task to do before hitting you.
The reason so many of these fun drills are named on popular games and fun activities outside football is to make children familiar with the concepts. This is especially helpful with the children under eight, who may find understanding tough drill concepts difficult.
This game again is simple. You make a grid depending on the level you are coaching. 7-8 players have to follow your instructions. A few examples of instructions you could give include turn to the right, start dribbling, stop the ball, and other directions depending on what you have been working on. Every time someone does not follow your instruction, you can issue them a Gotcha! The player with the least number of gotchas wins.
These fun drills the listening ability, dribbling and passing of the players. And if you can add a few diverse instructions in there like skipping or jumping through the ball, it can also help develop some agility in the players. All round, this one is fun and gets work done too.
Four Goals is a drill that can nurture future strikers and develop the love of scoring in children. The game starts with four goals in four corners of the grid. Eight players usually play this game in teams of two but twelve players may also play in teams of three.
The ball remains in the middle and the players run from the nets to the middle, take the ball to the net and kick it in. Only the instance they kick the ball in can their teammate start with their attempt at putting the ball in the net. If a player misses the net they must retrieve the ball and try their luck again. The team with the most balls in the net once the time ends or your supply of ball runs out.
This drill brings speed, shooting skills and ball control on the forefront. And the sense of urgency always keeps children motivated.
Exchanging the Ball
This game is the footballing answer to musical chairs. The setup is simple and it would be a good drill for slightly older kids. The idea is that in the grid you make there are more players than there are balls at any given time. So the players starting with the ball dribble for a few seconds with it and after any auditory input (like a whistle) from you, they leave the ball.
Now, they switch to some other ball and the two or three players that did not have the ball also try to capture one. Ultimately, this game teaches players about the importance of agility and builds in them the importance of regaining possession.
There is a chance of some tackling or coming together so it is better suited for slightly older kids.
World Cup of Soccer Drill
This drill can be great for kids in simulating matchday situations. The idea is to have as many teams of three in a grid as possible. Every team plays separately and there is just one goalie. The fact is that at the youth level, children enjoy being around the ball and near the action.
This game ensures that the players are always in close approximation to the ball but the challenge lies in the fact that they are also too close to each other. So in a 20 by 20 grid, you could have four teams of three players each. The fun lies in making it a tournament of sorts where the last team to score in a round gets eliminated. As one team scores, they can rest for the remainder of the round. They also progress further in the competition. The spirits need to be kept high while keeping the contest alive. This drill focuses on teamwork to create opportunities.
Such would be the crowdedness of the grid that a single player could never be enough to win the World Cup. So it encourages quick passing and brings everyone in the game. This may be a suitable drill for rather older kids who are well accustomed to the basics and can play basic football but not on the full pitch.
This could also be perfect for grooming goalkeepers who have to be vigilant throughout the drill as the ball can enter their stratosphere at any time.
These were some of the Best Fun Drills for Youth Soccer Team Training Sessions. The emphasis was always on making them as fun as possible.
The first game freeze tag helps children become quicker while enjoying the conventional game of tag. Ouch is all about precision and accuracy and allows children to have a laugh as well. Simon Says is highly customizable and is bound to be your favourite drill as a coach. The Four Goals drill works on shooting and urgency and is sure to groom goal scorers in the future. Exchanging the ball works on winning possession of the ball back while the World Cup of Soccer Drill improves teamwork and passing.
All these games serve diverse purposes while ensuring that children have fun and training sessions are never boring. This allows training to become their favourite part of the day and keeps them interested.