Soccer continues to grow in popularity around the world, and indoor and outdoor leagues are available for children as young as three years old. Whether you are new to coaching or a veteran, some entertaining games will keep practices fresh and fun while athletes learn and perfect skills of passing, ball handling, dribbling, and shooting.
One of the most important skills a soccer player can acquire is dribbling because it allows the player to keep control of the ball. Split the team into two relay teams, and have them line up on each side of a goal. Students will dribble down to the other goal and back, and then pass the ball to the next person in line. The team whose players finish first wins. Add in cones to dribble around for additional ball-handling practice.
Keep Your Yard Clean
Coaching Soccer 101 suggests using "Keep Your Yard Clean" to teach passing skills and encourage teamwork. Coaches split the team into two groups, and each group has one "yard" to keep clean of balls. The simplest way to do this may be to use the center line as a dividing line for each team. Each player starts with a ball, and a timer is set for four minutes. Each player then tries to kick her ball and any other ball that comes into her team's yard into the other team's yard. At the end of four minutes, coach blows the whistle and counts the balls to see which team has the cleanest yard. Coaches can add in elements such as only kicking with the left foot to increase skill development.
Use the center circle or use cones to create a circle that the players must stay in for soccer dodgeball. Assign half the team to be runners and the other half to be kickers. Kickers use a ball and try to hit the runners with the ball as they move around the circle. When a runner is hit, she is out. Switch roles and play again to ensure all players get a chance to be kickers, which teaches ball control, passing skills, and teamwork.
A similar game that Soccer XPert suggests using as a warm up is Coach's Revenge. In this game, players line up on sidelines and coaches are in the middle of the field with several soccer balls. As players run from one sideline to the other, coaches try to hit the players (below the knee) with a soccer ball. If a player is hit, he joins the coach in the middle on the next run. Young players in particular enjoy this game, and it gets everyone's feet moving.
In Explode, players gather in the center circle dribbling their ball, while keeping their heads up, because when coach yells "Explode!" players must try to be the first one to run and kick their ball in the goal. Players will learn that keeping their heads up will allow them to see the open spaces and make a quick breakaway toward the goal.
Easter Egg Hunt
The "Fun Games that Teach Skills" Coach's Manual suggests a game similar to an Easter egg hunt, except the soccer balls are the eggs. Players start at one end of the field, and the coach scatters the "eggs" all over the field. When the whistle blows, players must run to get all the eggs in the "basket," or goal at the other end of the field. Coaches can time how long it takes to gather the eggs and teams will enjoy trying to beat their time.
- Photo Credit soccer ball image by John Steel from Fotolia.com soccer image by Sandra Henderson from Fotolia.com youth soccer image by Steve Brase from Fotolia.com football image by goleador from Fotolia.com man playing soccer image by Diane Stamatelatos from Fotolia.com Soccer field image by rasita from Fotolia.com colorful easter egg in a basket image by Adkok from Fotolia.com