These are the best beginning soccer drills for kids. They can probably better be described as “beginning soccer games for kids.” These games will help kids, age 3-6 (or older), build their soccer skills. I am currently the head soccer coach for 4 and 5 year olds in soccer. Having this toolbox of games has been pivotal in our success.
Kids do well learning through play and imagination. These drills utilize just those skills.
Here is a full list of the 13 beginning soccer drills for kids found here. The description will come later.
Hit the Coach – works on ball control, kicking and dribbling
Red Light, Green Light – works on ball control, speed adjustments and dribbling
Little, Little, Big – works on kicking and dribbling
Guard the Spaceship – works on defense and goalie skills
The Battle – works on ball control and stealing a ball from an opponent
Volcanoes – works on ball control and dribbling
The Tunnel – works on passing, kicking and shooting
Keep Away – works on long kicks and defense
Balls on Head – works on attentiveness and listening to the coach
Attack – works on defense, teamwork and passing
Crab Grass Soccer – works on offensive moves, dribbling and ball control
Top Dog – works ball control and offensive & defensive moves
Escape from Montesano – works on ball control, dribbling and offensive & defensive moves
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.
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.”
Wilson Traditional Soccer Ball – Size 3Franklin Sports Blackhawk Portable Soccer Goal – Small – 4 x 3 FootExtra Large Heavy Duty Soccer Ball Mesh Bag for Sports, Beach and Swimming Gears. Adjustable Shoulder Strap Made to Fit Adults & Kids. Secure Side Zipper Pocket for Personal Items. 40×30 in, BlackREEHUT 7.5 Inch Plastic Sport Training Traffic Cone (Set of 12, Orange)Pro Disc Cones (Set of 50) – Agility Soccer Cones with Carry Bag and Holder for Training, Football, Kids, Sports, Field Cone Markers – Includes Top 15 Drills eBook (Multi-Color)
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 no one else had experience with soccer, so I ran the practice. I arrived home and started emailing everyone. One dad stood up to start co-coaching with me. It was nice to have some back-up.
I kept going off to practices, games and meetings. 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 soccer coach for kids. 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 were all 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. Just telling 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 took 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.
Beginning Soccer Drills and Games for Kids of All Ages
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 Spaceship
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.
Volcanoes 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 volcanoes (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 volcanoes. 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 is near 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.
Want More Outdoor Games for Kids?
Water Obstacle Course for Kids
This post was originally written in 2013, but it has been updated and republished in September of 2018.
Thanks for some great ideas. I might try some of them with my first/second grade class during gym.
Cool! I think they’d have a lot of fun. I’m glad you find it helpful.
Very creative and helpful. Going to use these at our next practice thank you
I’m so glad this was helpful. I hope your team really enjoys it. Thanks for coaching!!
Hi! Thanks for this it is really helpful. We are going to be coaching our 4 year old plus his team. It isn’t ideal considering we know nothing about soccer but they couldn’t get a coach and they said it would be easy since they are only 4. We have first practice today, do you have any suggestions? Do we just do various drills?
How did I miss this? I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I hope it went well. I’m sure you figured it out. We did some basic introductions and then just started doing drills. Thanks for stepping up, and I hope you you’re all having fun.
Thank you so much for these tips. I too became a coach the same way you did, and I have no assistant :/ I am trying to throw this together to please the kids and mostly the moms that worries me. wish me luck!
I do wish you luck. I think you will have fun, and I hope you find this really helpful. Way to step up!
This post is the best drills I’ve found so far. You completely understand making the drills fun yet very effective for the kids. I’m head of all the 4-5 year old in our league so being able change and replace some of our existing drills will definitely be exciting for myself and fellow coaches.
What kind words! Thank you so much. I’m so glad it’s going to be a great resource for you. I really appreciate your involvement in the active life of those kids. Thanks!
I got caught in the same, there’s no coach scenario. So now my mother in law and myself are coaching 4 and 5 year olds. Two of which are my twins. This is the best compilation of soccer drills I’ve found so far! Thank you for putting them in writing. We start next week.
So glad this is going to help! Have so much fun coaching. It really is great, and at that age it’s all about making it enjoyable while learning some basics. Thanks for stepping up in these kids’ lives.
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I mean Beginning Soccer Drills – Meaningfulmama.com is a little vanilla.
You ought to peek at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they create news headlines to get people to click.
You might try adding a video or a picture or two to get people excited about everything’ve written. In my opinion, it would bring your blog a little bit
I hear ya. This was an earlier post I wrote, and I’ve learned a lot about blogging since then. That said, I need to put in a redirect plugin if I change the title so that the title can match the url. I just added some code to start that process by deleting the dates in my post. It’s on my to-do list to add research the plugin soon. Thanks so much for your feedback and constructive criticism.
I know its a bit late but I just saw this. So helpful thank you very much
I’m so glad this was helpful. It’s so fun to find creative ways to engage the kids in soccer. 🙂
Thanks for a great article! I’m new to coaching soccer. I’m coaching my little girl’s preschool soccer team. I was so nervous the first day. I had no clue where to begin. Thanks to you, I have some great ideas to try! It brings me so much joy to spend time with these kids. I wish I had done this sooner. Thanks again for sharing. All the best!
I am so glad you found this helpful. I love to know when my content is being used. I love that what I’m writing is impacting a bunch of little kids. Thank you so much for coaching those kids and caring enough to research how to make it even more fun for them.
This is brilliant stuff. I’ve recently become a coach of a U6 and U7 rugby squad, and the hardest part I find is getting and keeping their attention and making drills and games age-appropriate. Even though it’s a different sport, your examples have been so helpful. Thanks!!!
I’m so glad this has been helpful to you in your coaching. It’s fun that it translates to rugby too. Thanks for commenting. I’m so glad when my content helps people.
Thank you so much for providing new and fun ideas. It was extremely helpful for my class and helped me learn how to teach soccer effectively (especially as a new soccer coach) in a fun way that was engaging to the kids.
Yay! I’m so glad it was helpful. I hope it made the soccer coaching experience better for both you and your kids!
I’m in the same situation with the coaching gig starting next week. I have never done it and I am nervous to do it. Thank you for this, it makes me a little less stressed to do this… Whew
Have fun with it. I’m sure you’ll do great, and I’m so glad I could help. 🙂
Thank you so much. I’m in the same situation – somehow I’m coaching my child’s team but I’ve never played. haha!
Hahaha! I’m sure you’ll do great. I figure they’re little. We can’t mess them up too bad. I hope these drills help!
Yay! Found your post yesterday. I start coaching 4-5 today. I will DEFINITELY be using some of these drills!
So glad to help! Have a lot of fun with it. It’s a funny age with soccer. It’s kind of like herding cats, but just keep it light hearted and fun so the kids enjoy it!
This post is incredibly helpful I coach 3/4 yr olds for an hour twice a week. I began to run out of ideas to keep their little attention I will be trying some of these tomorrow
So glad to help. Sorry it has taken so long to respond, but I’m so glad that you found this resource useful.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Like you, I found myself at the parents meeting for my 5year old and no coach. So we were told that a parent needed to step up. So, I volunteered to coach 5-6 year olds and have no clue since it’s been 30 years since I played it myself as a kid. I’ve been finding some good stuff on warm-ups and that big stretches aren’t necessary for this age group, but by far, this is the best listing of “drill” that I’ve found. Thank you so very much. Practice starts this Monday and I plan on using most of the things you wrote here!!!
Sounds like so many have experienced this. I am just glad I can be a resource for those who are stepping up in this area. Thank you for checking in, and I’m just so happy I was about to use my own experience to help others find success in those early soccer years. Blessings on your experience.
Thanks Jodi. I just started coaching my 4 yr old granddaughter’s soccer team. This will help a lot! Thank you very much!
So glad to help! Have fun, and thanks for being invested in your grandkids like that!
hey this was very helpful I am doing a camp for 4-6 year olds tell me if u have any other ideas
So glad to help! I hope you are having a lot of fun with those kiddos!
First time coach. These are amazing ideas I’ll use. Thanks for the great ideas.
So glad to help. I hope you have a lot of fun. At those early ages, giving them the basics while having a lot of fun is key. Glad you found me. 🙂
THIS. Best info on Drillls out there. I volunteered to help Out and was inadvertently appointed As Coach as well. Lol! I’m a nervous wreck but Love Kids. Enjoy exercise. And look forward to the littles becoming friends and learning some skills along the way. Now I feel a Little confident that I can actuallly Teach them these skills.
Thank you so much for the drills ideas! Wish us luck Lol.
Yay! I’m so glad I could help you out on this journey – which sounds a lot like my own. I hope you have a lot of fun teaching those kids.