Choosing quality youth soccer coaching drills can really make a big difference in the fun factor of your practices. Young players want to play soccer, not stand in lines waiting to kick the ball. I recommend using activities that have multiple balls involved along with lots of movement and well-defined objectives.
Here are a couple of my favorite passing drills for kids:
Passing Speed Drill
Split your team up into groups of 3 or 4 players. You will want each team to have the same number of players. Set the teams up on a line facing open field. The coach will serve the ball into the space while calling out a team’s name or color. The players must get to the ball, and then complete a pass to all four players. Once the fourth player receives the ball, he must quickly play it back to the coach.
The coach should be counting slowly 1-2-3-4, etc. He will stop counting when he receives the ball and all the players get back to the line. Each team gets an opportunity, with the team taking the least amount of time declared as winners.
You can add all sorts of requirements to this exercise to work on different techniques. For example, require all passes to be made with the outside of the foot, or only allow players to pass the way they are facing (this forces players to really move into supporting positions).
Pass Through Gates
Set up a number of “gates” using two cones throughout the inside of a 30×20 yard grid. The players on the team will each pick a partner. Each group of two players will have one ball. On your command, the players will move around in the space, and pass the ball through the gates to their partner. Limit the players to only using one pass in a row per gate (no gate can be used twice consecutively).
With young players you can have the kids play for one minute, and then see how many passes each group made. Challenge them to try to beat their score the next round. For older players, you can have them race to 10 or 15 passes.
This drill is geared towards players that are a little bit older as it requires more technical skill to execute. Set up 4 players around a 10×10 grid. One player will be in the middle. The outside players will attempt to pass the ball around to each other without the defender getting the ball.
If the players are able to handle it, put them on two-touches. I don’t recommend requiring them to use one-touch unless they are extremely proficient with passing/receiving. You can either have the player that makes a mistake go to the middle when the ball is lost, or play the game for 1 minute and then switch the players out.
If the defenders are having too hard of a time getting the ball back, you can reduce the size of the grid, or add a second defender making it 4v2.
This one is a huge favorite with all of the kids I have played it with. Set up a long narrow grid. Have two players on the short ends of the grid. The other players will partner up across from each other along the long edge of the grid.
The two end players will pass a ball back and forth down the length of the grid. The ball is the “armadillo” trying to get to the other side. The players along the edges pass the ball across the grid to their partner, trying to hit the “armadillo.” They are the “cars.” When one of them hits the ball, they take the place of one of the passers on the short side of the grid. This particular youth soccer coaching drill works on timing and properly weighting passes.
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