Soccer drills, just like any other sports drill, are of utmost importance to any team who wants to be counted as the best or at least one of the best. I have compiled a list of drills you can practice to be the best soccer player.
The soccer drills are numerous; let’s look at them one by one, shall we?
As it is with many beginner players, they are usually afraid to come in contact with players from another team. Most often, a beginner player is intimidated at the skills of others such that they can rather choose to avoid a ball rather than have a face-off with the opponent. So, the purpose of the harassment drill is to teach players that their concentration should be on the ball when they are being attacked by their opponents. This drill aims at developing the players’ familiarity with handling a ball when they are in a room full of players.
How it is done
- Place four players in each drill group; the defensive players should be 5 yards apart from one another and the offensive players should line up right outside the 18-yard line;
- Player A should throw a ball between two of the defensive players. Player B, at the same time player A throws the ball, should run towards the defensive players;
- Player B should try to shoot the ball at the goal; one of the defensive players then runs in front of the ball (or whatever he can do) to try and hinder player B’s effort of shooting at the goal;
- Neither player B nor the ball should be touched by any of the defensive players.
This drill is one great way to end a session; it can be done when the players are tired or right when the drill is still going on so that the work out pace can be slowed down. The drill helps to develop a player at penalty shooting, visualization, and also helps build the ability to kick a ball that is not at play in set pieces. One interesting fact about this drill is that it gives athletes who are not as skilled as their other teammates a greater chance at a win; and players love this.
How it is done
- The coach should make each one of the players to line up on the six-yard line with a ball facing the goal. Then, the players should be spaced on the line. The distance between players should be some several feet;
- Whistle a signal that the game should start; once you whistle, the first player should take a shot on the goal. Then, each one of the players should take one shot to start the shooting in quick procession. Once the shot is taken, the player should run around the back of the goal in order to take up the ball. Then he goes on to wait on the sideline while the other players in the team take their shots;
- When each of the players have taken their shots and have retrieved their ball, they should line up some 12-yard distance from one another. If any of the players missed his shot from the 6-yard line, the player is eliminated from the current round. He can wait at one side. The players start taking their shot from the 12-yard line, and then from the 18-yard line and so on;
- The main objective of the drill is to see which of the players will be the last man standing. When a shot has been taken, the players can run so they can gather their ball while the play is in progress. However, it is usually best to wait and gather the balls after every player has taken his shot;
- The cycle continues until a winner emerges i.e. the last player standing.
Knock Down the Flags Drill
This drill is done with full participation of both the offensive and the defensive players. The defensive players on the team practice their defensive skills while they protect the flags; they also practice how to support the attack. On the other hand, the offensive players practice how to make an accurate low shoot.
How it is done
- Set up four flags on one side of the 50 set up; make the flags about 3 yards distant from one another and set them on both sides of the field. Then set up a team consisting of three offensive players and two defensive players;
- What the game focuses on is to knock the opponent’s flags, the four of them, down. Each of the teams will use two defensive players to protect their flags. The other three players will be the ones to attack the opponent’s flags. The defense players will act as support player for attack when the ball has landed on the opponent’s half of the field;
- Each of the offensive players on both teams are the only players that are allowed to knock the flags over;
Breathing Room Drill
When the game is in play, there are bound to be circumstances where players will not have enough space in which they can maneuver themselves. A pass is most often received by a player who has to make a decision as quickly as possible on whether he wants to shoot the ball himself or he wants to pass it to another player. The breathing room drill is very good at developing players’ footwork; it conditions players to become much more comfortable with making a quick shot and improves their ability to be able to control the ball in congested areas. The drill also helps improve players’ defensive skills since it enables defenders to practice how they can contain offenders and also work with other players in the defensive unit.
How it is done
- This drill usually consists of seven players in each team who will be divided into two; four players serving as defenders, two serving as offenders, and the last player will serve as the throw-in to the offenders. The drill should be held in the penalty area and the offenders should be three to five yards apart from one another. Cones or flags can be used to create goals;
- A neutral player will use a proper throw-in to throw the ball into the offensive team’s side of the court;
- Then the defensive players will try to keep the offensive players surrounded. In turn, the offensive players look round for breathing room by dribbling in order to get a clear shot goal. No wild kicking is allowed; on control shots should be played;
- The defenders have no business kicking the ball; all they have to do is surround the offenders and act as a wall and a harassment to the offenders trying to shoot a goal;
- To score, the ball has to enter the goals only from one direction even though there are no boundaries on the court. As soon as a team has scored, the players should line up behind the goals right where they started and then a new drill begins.
Shoulder to Shoulder Drill
The shoulder to shoulder drill is intended for defenders and offenders. The main goal of the drill is to get offensive players to practice how to make quick shots even under pressure while the defenders will practice how to clear the ball.
How it is done
- Each drill group will make use of three players. The distance between the players will be about ten to fifteen yards. Player B and the defending player will line up shoulder to shoulder;
- Player B and the defensive player will then stand next to each other facing away from the goal located at the left side of the court;
- On the coach’s whistle, player A will throw the ball between both player B and the defense player;
- Player B and the defensive player will then turn on the signal in an attempt to contain the ball and gain control of it;
- Player B is there to create a shot on goal while the defending player is there to turn the ball and dribble it over the center line of the court.
This is another soccer shooting drill aimed at helping players get accustomed to taking a shot on goal as quickly as possible. It is also a soccer drill aimed at players’ fitness; it helps them develop and improve a muscular endurance and also gets them to worn on their control skills.
How it is done
- The coach will set five players per drill group, eight soccer balls and one flag are needed. This drill will be held in the penalty area and the distance of the last player to the cone will be about five yards;
- As soon as the coach whistles a signal, player A will pass the ball to player E;
- Then, player E immediately takes a shot at the goal and runs around the cone;
- Player E should always be in motion as he receives a pass from player B and then player C and so on;
- As soon as player E has repeated the cycle about two times, the drill is over.
Zig and Zag Drill
This is a drill for beginners. Often time, beginner soccer players get caught up trying to score in a small area or defending that they fail to remember the big picture of the game and the fact that there is something else going on in the field. The Zig and Zag drill is a passing and shooting drill that helps develop the mindset of moving a ball up the field. Along with that, the players are also practicing how to pass, trap and shoot.
How it is done
- There are six players who will be participating in each drill group. The players will position themselves on the field in a pattern like a zig zag;
- Players A and B will act as fullbacks, player C acts as a halfback, player D is the wind, and player E is the forward player;
- Once the coach whistles, the goal keeper will start the drill by passing the ball, rolling it, to player A;
- Then, player A passes it on to player B, B to C and C to D;
- D then crosses over the field with the ball to player E;
- Player E then takes the goal shot.
Pass Through Traffic Drill
This drill is also for the beginner soccer players because they need to practice ball control. The drill aims at helping the players to work on the ball controlling skills while still remaining in the context of a game. The players practice feinting, dribbling and freeing themselves so that they can easily receive a pass.
How it is done
- Each drill group will consist of three players each with four cones marking off a 5 x 5-yard in length defense zone
- Player A will try to pass the ball through the defense zone. This zone does not allow passers;
- The defense player then tries to hinder (or block) the ball from going through. Defenders are permitted to do whatever they want to do in order to prevent a successful pass-through;
- Then, passers can dribble and feint so that they can create a clear pathway for the pass sent to the player on the other end.
Fox and The Hounds Drill
Fox and the hounds drill is a fun soccer drill aimed at helping beginner soccer players in developing excellent team work and sharp passing skills. The game’s objective is to strengthen team spirit, awareness, and communication between team players and also to strengthen running and positioning away from the ball.
How it is done
- This drill consists of two teams and is conducted in the penalty area. The members of the teams will be chosen at the discretion of the coach. The two teams are the hounds;
- Then, a neutral player is chosen to serve as the fox. Or, the coach can play the part himself;
- When the coach whistles, the play starts. Whichever of the team is gaining possession of the ball will pass it around in a basketball style while the other team attempts to take possession of the ball;
- The game aims at striking the Fox with the ball as the Fox moves and tries to hide among the players. The Fox should not, under any circumstance, try to gain possession of the ball;
- For a goal to be scored, the ball has to strike the Fox on the lower half of his body. Every time a goal is scored, the drill is restarted by kicking the ball back into the penalty area.
Shark in the Middle Drill
This drill is a fun one that can be played at pretty much any time during the practice. It can be made to be as long or short as necessary. It aims at developing players’ concentration and composure under high pressure.
How it is done
- The coach will instruct the players to stand in a large circle on the field. A player will be chosen to act as the shark who will stand in the middle of the circle formed by the players. Only one ball is used in the drill and is given to any player standing in the circle, at random;
- When the coach whistles, as soon as he whistles, the player holding the ball will pass it to another player along the circle. After this, the second player also does the same and the passing around continues like that. Coach should allow the players to pass the ball to one another as a warm up;
- The coach will blow the whistle again to signal the beginning of the drill. The drill aims at getting players to keep the ball away from the shark who is at the center of the circle and is trying to intercept the passes done between players. The players can pass the ball to anyone in the circle whether the person is next to them or far away. They should try to put as many passes as possible together;
- The passing will continue until the shark’s attempt at intercepting the ball succeeds;
- When the interception is successful, the player from which the ball was taken away will take over and become the new shark while the old one takes his spot along the circle.
Head Return Drill
In a typical soccer game, the defending team will not attempt to guard or protect the player trying to make a throw-in. As a result of this, the person throwing the ball can receive a return pass under little or absolutely no pressure. The player receiving the throw-in is comfortable using his forehead accurately as this is very important while the game is in play. For the ball to be returned to the thrower, the headers are actually the only option when the team finds itself in a tight situation.
How it is done
- Player A will attempt to throw-in to player B who is about twenty to 30 yards away from him or her; this he does on the sideline of the court. The distance between both players can be reduced;
- After this, player A will step into the court where the play is going on and player B heads the ball back to player A and then moves down to the end of the line;
- Player A will attempt to gain control of the ball as quickly as he can and in turn pass it to the next thrower in line;
Overlaps and Pass Drills
These drills are for the intermediate soccer players. One very important soccer skill and mindset is the passing and then returning to an open space. Overlap and Passing in soccer drill is aimed at simulating game passing. It helps players to perfect their passing skills and also causes them to learn how to overlap at very high speed while the drill is going on.
How it is Done
- There will be nine players involved in this drill. The 9-player drill group will be divided into three groups with each group holding three players. Three players will arrange themselves near the end line in a triangular form and set themselves some 10 yards apart from one another;
- Once the coach whistles, player A will pass on to player B. Then, after passing, player A will run ahead and overlap player B after which player B will then pass to player C and also overlap player C;
- The passing and overlapping will continue until either one of the group of threes gets to the other end of the field where the second set will take over;
- The next set of players will then repeat the drill up the field and also hand over to the third set. At the end of the third cycle, the drill will end.
Start Up Drill
At the beginning of the game or when a goal has been scored, the ball is expected to be back right at the center circle and then the referee whistles a signal for the play to restart. When a team has a set play that is prepared for a kickoff, the team will be able to catch the opponents off guard and thereby score. This drill is created to show players how to create scoring opportunities from the kickoff by crossing to A, B or shooting at the goal, or by D passing the ball back to C who then aims a goal shot.
How it is done
- There should be five players in each drill group;
- Player A will push a short pass to player B;
- Then, player B will pass the ball across the field to player D while players A, C, and E, run towards the 18-yard line;
- Player D then dribbles down the field towards the corner of the 18-yard line where the three other players are;
- Player D can choose between crossing to players A, B, and E or he can shoot the goal himself. Player D can also pass the ball back to C; any of the four players are allowed to take the goal shot.
Nutmeg and Shoot Drill
This drill is especially for professional soccer players. Often when a ball passes between the defender’s legs in the course of a game, it is unplanned. The nutmeg and shoot drill is a passing and shooting drill for the advanced soccer player aimed at getting players to handle a ball and finishing it and also to run with a pass instead of coming to meet it.
How it is done
- The players should be placed in groups of 3 and made to assemble on the 50-yard line. Player A should be placed right in the center circle on the court while player C is placed some ten to fifteen yards from A along the same line (i.e. the 50-yard line). Player B, on the other hand, is standing in front of player A set at a distance of about five to ten yards;
- Coach whistles and, on his whistle, player A will pass the ball to player B while player B lets the ball pass between his or her legs. As soon as it does, B quickly turns and makes a pass to player C;
- Then, player C will take control of the pass and finish the play with a goal shot.
Off Limits Drill
When a soccer game is going on, there is often a necessity of feeding a pass to a receiver who happens to be very far away from the passer. The receiver can either be a player in position ready to take a shot or he is a player who will help change the direction of the attack on the team. Off limits drill is an advanced soccer passing drill that stresses long distance chips. It is considered an advanced drill due to the fact that it is a requirement to be accurate.
How to do it
- There will be two drill groups with just two players. In addition, ten cones and one soccer ball is provided for each team and utilized by the team;
- From one end line to another end line, the field will be divided into three separate sections. From sideline to touchline, the field is divided again into four sections. The middle section is seen as off-limits to the players while sections 1 and 3 are the passing zones;
- Players A and B will begin passing the ball from Zone 1 and they must pass it successfully over the off-limits zone before they can move to the next zone on the court;
- It is a requirement that the ball be kicked from one passing zone to the other without it touching the off-limits zone ground. The receiving player is also expected to trap and gain control of the body before it can go out of bounds. All these requirements must be met by the players before they can move to the next zone;
- Players A and B are both expected to scale both phases of this drill by kicking and receiving before they can move to the next zone. At the next zone, the same procedure is repeated. When both players have completed their tasks, at zone 4, the drill will end.
Stop and Go Drill
This drill is especially for players who are just learning how to play soccer. At the beginning of their soccer career, they are liable to fall into the trap of wanting to do more than their capacity with the ball. They try to do so much all at once or they are in a hurry to shoot a ball before they’ve even gained control of it. The drill of Stop and Go is that dribbling drill that causes players to run with the ball first and then, after running, come to a complete stop. If they do not stop, they cannot proceed. This drill helps them to develop that mindset that will help them greatly on the field – the mindset that they need to be in full possession of the ball before they think about taking another step.
How it is done
- In this drill, only one player is needed in each exercise;
- Player A is placed at an eighteen to twenty-yard distance from the end line;
- Each one of the players will dribble to each corner of the 18-yard line and then on to the corners of the goal area, one after the other. Player A will go first;
- After they have done that, each of the players has to bring the ball in order for a stop to be completed on each number of the corner. Otherwise, they cannot continue to the next number;
- To end the drill, player A will dribble to the left corner of the field where he or she will then pass the ball to the next player who will then repeat what player A just did.
Chase Down Drill
This drill is often used to begin a soccer practice. The chase down drill starts with the players running the ball and easing them into the flow of the practice they came around for. This drill is technically a warm-up drill aimed at getting players to have fun and to think about soccer. It is a great conditioning and developing drill that helps players condition and develop their skill of running a long distance while they are carrying the ball.
How it is done
- The coach will instruct each one of the players to find a preferred spot along a short edge of the field. The player finds the sport while holding a ball;
- Coach whistles and, on his whistle, the players will start with dribbling their ball towards the 50-yard line on the court;
- Two, three, or more players are then chosen to attempt to stop the players dribbling their ball from reaching the 50-yard line by kicking their balls away. The players that are chosen to intercept the balls are allowed to intercept and kick away as many balls as they possibly can. After all, that is why they are there;
- As soon as a player has been able to reach the 50-yard line despite the interception, the player is allowed to rest before the next round begins. Players who weren’t able to hold on to their balls and had them kicked away have to retrieve the ball and wait off to one side. The exercise is repeated in the next round;
- The drill cycle continues until there’s only one player standing.
For How Long Should You Stay in Your Soccer Practice?
Most of the time, the period you can practice soccer is the time left after your activities in the day or after school. So, talking about the length of time you should use for your soccer practice has to be done with sensitivity to those factors. When it comes to the time spent for soccer practice, it differs among all ages. It would be best to break down the ages of the soccer players because each group has its own peculiar attention that should be given to it. Apart from that, the natural endurance capabilities of players differ. The age group of players differ where some can go for a long time without feel a wee bit tired while some can only go for a few hours and no further. Where we are dealing with very young players, it would be best to be a bit flexible with the time we allot for their practice. I mean, we should keep the time as short as possible.
For the sake of this article, I will talk about the different time limits you can use for soccer drills of players around the age younger age. For players who are not yet 8 years old, that is players under the age of eight, their session should last about 50 minutes to one hour. Trying to make it longer will be a waste of time because if the time is made to be too long, the kids become very tired and they lose interest. In essence, any drilling you try to do after an hour would be a total waste of time. The practice period can be broken down into sections that may include a 10-minute warm up, a 10-minute technique introduction, 10-minute skill development section, about ten- to fifteen-minute team game, and then the last ten to twenty minutes of free play and some fun activities. The other activities can either be overseen by the coach or the coach can decide to leave them to the desires of the players.
For players under the age of ten, their practice duration can be more than that of players under the age of eight because they are expected to be much stronger and have more enduring ability than the latter. Take note, however, that even players under the age of ten have endurance limits so whatever length of time is added to their practice time should not be too much. Their practice time can be a total of an hour and fifteen minutes. As in the period of practice for players under eight, their session too can be broken down into short periods of different activities. Do a ten-minute warm up followed by a twenty-minute technique and another twenty-minute skill development. Then, round up the session with games and fun activities.
The moment players are eleven or twelve, their endurance ability is expected to have been on the increase. Their session can last about one hour thirty minutes. When athletes reach this age, they already have some sense of direction and they understand the purpose of the drills and the game in general. Also, they understand how necessary the practices are and they also get that they need to put in extra effort if they intend to gain success over their opponents. The session can be broken down to include warm ups of about ten minutes and then a longer period of technique and skill development. They can also use the remaining time left in the session time for free time and desired activities.
For players under the age of fifteen, their practice session can also be broken down as in the other age groups. The difference here is that these players can take more than the one hour thirty minutes that the other age group of players around twelve years of age. Their drills can go on for as long as two hours. It may even happen that some of the players will want to set apart time alone to practice on their own so that they can get better and probably be the best. Nevertheless, the practice time should be interesting and tension-free.
For much older players, they can spend as much time as they need at the drill. Generally, the time should not be less than two hours. This is because, they are much older now and can make decisions on their own. They have a purpose for their game; they know what they want. Therefore, they want to put in their very best to be the best and to be at the top of their game.
As a general rule, players should not be kept at drills longer than necessary. If the players are full-time players, then you know their practice would take longer time. This is because they have no other job to attend to; their whole attention is focused on the game and all their interest is on how they can be the best at what they do. However, even full-time players have a life to live so, all their time should not be for the practice. The official soccer drills sessions can be fixed and, if they so desire, players can map out time to do their own individual development. Majority of players, especially the ones who have passion for what they do, will naturally work on their own game all by themselves.