I say “beginning soccer drills,” but most of these are really “beginning soccer games.” These games will help kids, age 3-6 (or older), build their soccer skills. Kids do well learning through play and imagination. I am currently coaching 4 and 5 year olds in soccer. Now, how I became a coach is kind of a funny story. I had no plans to coach. I felt like I had enough on my plate. I showed up for the soccer jamboree, and our team was called over. We had a number of parents and little faces in our circle looking at the man in charge. He informed us that we don’t have a coach and one of the parents would have to sign up. I stood there silent..so did everyone else. He continued to urge us. He said if one person didn’t step up, we’d all have to work together to make it happen. Silence. After some more explanation, he finally said, I need to hand this folder and bag of cones, balls and jerseys to someone. My husband said, “We’ll take those things and start communication.” Doh! The man in charge then told us to take our team over and run a practice. Well, I had been observing Abby’s coach and everyone else didn’t seem to have much experience with soccer at all, so I ran the practice. I arrived home and started emailing everyone. One dad stood up to start co-coaching with me, so that’s nice if I can’t be there. I kept going off to practices, games and meetings, and my husband would keep insisting, “You’re not the coach.” I think he has finally come to the correct conclusion that I am, indeed, coaching. The joke in our home is now, “Bye. I’m off to the coaching meeting even though I’m not the coach,” or “Headed to soccer practice to not coach the team.”
Do I have any experience coaching? No. I did play soccer though Jr. High. That, in no way, makes me an expert. However, what I do have as my advantage is my sister was a soccer rock star. She played soccer year round, often on two teams. She played ODP (Olympic Development Program) and went on to play in college until she decided she didn’t want it to be her life. I have been around soccer enough to fake it as a micro soccer team coach.
So, since I’m
not the coach, I figured I should come up with some ideas of how to best direct these preschoolers around the field. They really came in as clueless as I did. We really were starting from scratch. They also wear out easily, so I need to do things to keep them interested. They often don’t know how to get in a line, so just going to tell them to line up is a lesson all in itself. I was lucky to have Abby’s coach to observe quite a bit, and I got some of these “drill” ideas from her. I also did my own research and made a few things up. I hope these come in handy if you end up not coaching a team too.
Hit the Coach
Hit the coach I found on YouTube. I set out four cones to create a box. The box should be big enough to contain your whole team with a bit of extra space to move around. Does this involve actually hitting the coach? Well, kind of – yes. The goal of the kids is to kick the ball and hit you with it. Yes, you will have a number of kids (we have 8) all kicking balls at you at the same time. They are really learning to get their foot on the ball for the first time, so I don’t think you have to worry too much. I actually have to let the kids hit me most of the time. Once they kick the ball into your legs, they get to tell you what animal to act out. Then, you have to act like that animal. Keep going with the game. Try and make sure everyone gets a chance to hit you. This keeps their feet moving and really helps them learn how to have better ball control. It also helps with kicking and dribbling.
Red Light, Green Light
This is a game I observed with Abby’s coach. Brilliant. It is just like the game of red light, green light, but you have a soccer ball at your feet. It can be played with them starting on one side of the field and racing toward you. I can also be played where they are just running around the field at random. Green light means go fast. Yellow light means go slow. This helps them work on speed change. Red light means stop the ball by putting your foot on the ball. This game really works on dribbling, ball control, stopping and speed adjustments.
Little, Little, Big
This is another game Abby’s coach was doing. The kids start on one side of the field and then race to the other side. As they go, they are suppose to do a little kick, a little kick and then one big kick. As they go, they yell, “Little, little, big” to match their kicks. Encourage them to yell loud. This keeps them really moving along and work on the different kinds of kicks they’ll utilize in a game.
Guard the Space Ship
This was my own little creation that began in a game. I have a number of boys that I thought might connect more with the game if I made it more of a make believe situation. So, the box by the goal I now call the spaceship and tell the kids they need to defend the ship. Although we don’t technically have a goalie, I try and play one kid back in a more defensive mode. That child is the one in charge of guarding the ship. The balls are the bombs that people are trying to use to destroy the ship. They need to do all they can to protect the ship by kicking the bombs away. We use this in practice when we try to work on defense. I set up a couple cones as the goal and set 2 on offense and 1 or 2 on defense. The defenders work to protect ship.
An activity that the kids really seem to connect with and show the most improvement in their skills is “The Battle.” I kick the ball and yell out two names. The two kids battle it out. They run to the ball. The goal is to get the ball and bring it back to me. If one person has the ball, the other wants to take it away to bring it back to me. This is great practice in ball control, dribbling and learning how to steal a ball from an opponent.
Volcanos is a game I learned on YouTube. You will want to set a bunch of cones semi-close together in random formation. The kids have to dribble the ball through the cone maze and come out on the other side without hitting any of the volcanos (cones). I make an exploding noise if they are hit. They start out slow. We do it a few time, and I encourage them to speed up each time. I also encourage them to see if we, as a whole team can avoid knocking over any volcanos. This is a great game to teach dribbling skills.
The Tunnel is a game to teach kids to kick with the inside of their foot. The coach creates a tunnel by spreading his/her legs wide. The kids get in line and, one at a time, try and kick the ball through the tunnel by using the inside of their foot. They can then run to the other side and retrieve the ball. With my kids, I found I had to explain what the inside of the foot means. Many of them couldn’t translate what I was demonstrating to their own feet and tried to use the outside. I had to go down to their feet and touch the inside. I found this game on YouTube.
This is the traditional game of keep away with a few kids on the outside and a couple kids on the inside trying to steal the ball away. This help kids practice their big kicks as well as work on their defense skills.
Balls on Heads
This isn’t a game so much is an idea I came up with to get everyone’s attention. If the ball isnear their feet, they want to fiddle with it. If I’m going to talk to the team or get their attention quickly to organize the next drill, I’ll say ball on your head. It’s the only time they can touch the ball with their hands. They reach down, pick it up and put it on their heads, knowing it is time for listening ears.
Attack is a game I came up with to not only work on defense skills but to also teach kids to work as a team and pass the ball to one another. I have found that the kids are like little magnets to the ball. They don’t realize they have a team. They will steal the ball away from one another and get in the way of the other players’ progress. Therefore, I wanted to find a way to make them more aware of one another and how they can better work together. I have two girls that, if they could figure out how to work with each other rather than against each other, could be quite the force. Set up cones to represent a goal or use a goal appropriate to their size. Keep one defensive player back by the goal with you. Have two players at a time working together on offense. Set them apart from one another. Tell them their goal is to work together to make a goal. They must pass the ball when the coach yells, “Pass.” Once they have done a couple passes, yell out, “Attack.” That sends your defensive player to the field to attack the person with the ball. At the right moment, yell, “Pass.” This will get the ball to the other player on offense. Encourage your defense to follow the ball (as now the ball has switched players) and then yell, “pass.” They will continue to pass the ball while the defense player is in attack mode. Either the defense will successfully steal it and take it away or the other team will get an opportunity to shoot at the goal.
Here are the games that came in my coaching packet:
Crab Grass Soccer
Players dribble inside a designated square. The coach pursues dribblers. If the coach can touch the ball or get dribbler out of the square, the player gets in “crab” position and tries to touch the ball of other dribblers with their “crab feet.” Dribblers and crabs should be careful not to have hands stepped on.
Players dribble inside a designated square. On command from the coach, each dribbler tries to keep his or her ball while kicking other players’ balls outside of the grid. The last dribbler in the square is “Top Dog.”
Escape from Montesano
Players line up on one edge of the field. Their task is to escape to the other side of “Montesano” without being caught by the “sheriffs” who are racing to get them. Make sure dribblers stop once they get to the other side of the grid. Game ends when all players have been caught. Players must freeze where they were tagged to wait to the end of the game.