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SOCCER FUN GAMES UPDATED ! (NOW OVER 120!)

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SOCCER FUN GAMES

OVER 120 !!!

CoachingAmericanSoccer.com®

INSTRUCTIONAL SOCCER PROGRAM

Soccer “Fun Games” are intended to provide youth with an atmosphere of enjoyment and whimsy while learning skills and teamwork.  Many of these games can be introduced without using balls at first, either for ease of instruction or as a warm-up activity, and then balls can be added. In addition, a number of these games may be used as skill drills.  All games are conducted in a confined space, or grid, the size of which is based on the age and number of participants, but is generally a rectangle 20-yards by 30-yards.  (Some games use circles.)

IMPORTANT NOTES: 1.) Names given to these games are common, generic names, most of which have existed and been in use throughout the United States since 1972. Because of this, except where noted, no claim is made by Coaching American Soccer.com® to have invented or trademarked any of these names, or that they can be ascribed to a particular source. To do so would be to find that the name, and the game itself, is clearly associated with a specific entity as the indisputable originator. No such valid evidence has been found to date. 2.) Games are not identified by specific age groups. Just like the introduction of skills, coaches are left to challenge their players with the highest level of these games that they can perform successfully. 3.) A number of the games suggest using the right or left foot, or moving in a right or left direction. Coaches need to ensure that very young players know their right from their left before using these games. 4.) Coaches are challenged to dream up their own games.  Send them in for possible inclusion on this site – Use the “Contact Us” feature to make a submission.

Arcade.  Establish two concentric circles with flat discs.  In the center circle place balls on top of a number of cones or saucers.  Players with balls are set beyond the outer circle.  Players are to use the instep drive to try to kick the balls off the cones or saucers.  The kicks should be hard enough so that, if they miss, the ball will make it to a player on the other side of the outer circle.  After a sufficient number of attempts, re-set the balls in the center circle and repeat.

Ball Master. Coach throws one or more balls into the grid in different directions and gives commands to bring the ball back or take it to a designated area. Repeat with players working in pairs.

Ball Tag. See “Tag” games. All players with ball. Instead of touching other players with their hands, dribblers must touch other players’ feet or lower legs with their ball. Count touches during a timeframe. (Variation: Only certain players or coaches may be touched.)

Blob I. Two players, without ball, holding hands, start as “the blob.” All other players with ball. Players dribble away from the blob. When a ball is kicked away by the blob, the player must leave his ball and join hands with the blob. Last player with ball “wins.”  (Also known as “Spider Web.”)

Blob II. Two pairs of players without ball, holding hands, start as blobs. All other players with ball. Players dribble to avoid being tagged by a blob. If tagged, they must put their ball away and join the blob. Either blob must split into two pairs of two when it reaches four players. Last player with ball “wins.”

Body Parts I. All players with ball. Players dribble until directed to stop the ball with a particular body part, upon the coach’s command. For example, when the coach yells “knee,” the players are to all stop the ball with their knee and then, upon the coach’s command, resume dribbling. Other examples include the sole of the foot, ankle, shin, thigh, chest, stomach, arm, head, and the rear end. Command “right” or “left” parts as appropriate.

Body Parts II. All players with ball. The coach establishes a number for each body part to be used to stop the ball. Examples: 1 – right foot; 2 – left foot; 3 – rear end (sit); 4 – elbow; 5 – ear. Players dribble. When the coach calls out a number, the players must stop the ball with the associated body part. Start with a limited set of numbers and then build up. Players may be allowed to yell out the body part when the number is announced.

Bop the Adult. All players with ball. Divide the team into at least two groups assigned to a coach or a parent. Ensure that the groups are spaced away from each other (two grids). Players start by facing the coach or parent, who should be about 10 feet away. On command, the coach and parents move away from the players, who are to dribble and chase and try to hit the adult with the ball by shooting at them. Players can count a point for each hit. Even with a hit, players collect their ball and continue. This can be a timed event. Adults cannot jump to avoid getting hit.

Bowling. Set up cones as pins and have players kick their ball toward the pins to see how many they can knock over.

Bulldog.  All players with ball, except two.  The players with balls line up on one end of the grid and, upon receiving a signal to “go,” try to dribble to the far end.  The two players without balls are the “bulldogs,” start on their side of the grid and then try to kick any ball out of the grid. (Variations:  No balls – the “bulldogs” are instructed to just get in the way – no contact; one bulldog or three bulldogs, depending on the size of the grid and the number of players involved.)

Bump the Car.  Set up a “repair shop” with cones outside the grid.  All players with ball.  As many coaches and parents (or older siblings) as are available also with ball.  All balls are to be called “cars.”  Players are to try to “bump” into an adult’s (or siblings) car with their car by dribbling or passing their ball into it.  Adults who have their ball bumped must take their car to the repair shop to get it “fixed.”  Any adult going to the repair shop must count to 20 and then may return to the grid.

Busy Bees.  Essentially a precursor to “Bop the Adult.”  All players with ball dribbling.  The coach or another adult moves around within the grid, changing direction and speed.  Players are all to try to surround the adult and “sting” him by hitting his feet with the ball.  Adult movement is based on the age group.  For the youngest age groups, the adult should stop and allow himself to be “stung.”  The “bees” can be encouraged to “buzz.”  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Capture the Balls. Set up two to four “nests” or “home bases” designated by disks or cones. Divide players into the same number of teams. Place all teams in a nest. Place all balls in the middle of the grid equidistant from the nests. Upon command, players are to retrieve balls one-at-a-time and dribble them back to their nests. Players may steal balls from the other nests! Players may not foul or lie on top of the balls. After a brief timeframe, count the number of balls in each nest.

Catch the Giant.  All players with ball dribbling.  The coach or another adult moves around within the grid.  Players are to change direction to keep moving toward the adult. Changes of speed and direction by the adult are based on the age group.  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Cattle Grazing. All players with ball. Down on hands and knees, all players move their ball around only with their heads.

Chase the Coach. All players with ball.  The coach moves all around in the grid and the players dribble to try to catch and touch him with their balls.  The size of the grid and the “speed” at which the coach moves depends on the age of the players.  This is a precursor to “Dribble Snake” or “Follow the Leader.”  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Circle I. Lay out a circle with disks from ten to twenty yards in circumference, based on age and leg strength. Distribute approximately five cones near the middle of the circle. Establish approximately six players, each with balls, around the circle. The objective is to pass balls through the circle and attempt to knock down or hit the cones. Players receive balls on the opposite side of the kickers and continue to return passes until all the cones have been knocked over. Players may enter the circle to retrieve balls, but must not allow themselves to be hit.

Circle II. Lay out a circle with cones as in “Circle I” above, but use fewer cones to create passing lanes.  Players are to pass to teammates on the other side of the circle without hitting the cones.

Coach Freeze Tag. All players with ball dribbling in the grid. When tagged by the coach, players freeze with their legs apart and hold their ball above their head. Players who are dribbling are instructed to look for frozen players.  Frozen players can resume dribbling when a teammate passes a ball between their legs.  (Variation:  Unfreeze by counting to an established number.)  (See “Gates” as a possible precursor game.)

Cone Soccer I. All players in pairs. One ball per pair. Each player has one cone or disc for a goal. Play one player against the other player – offense and defense – for a limited time, then switch the ball.  Later, switch players around so that no one player sees the same opponent twice.

Cone Soccer II. All players in pairs. Each player has a ball. Each player has one cone or disc for a goal. Each player is to try to score at the other player’s cone while trying to defend their own cone.  Play pairs for a limited time, then switch players around so that no one player sees the same opponent twice.

Cops and Robbers. Use discs to establish a “jail” in a corner of the grid. All players except two with ball. Players with ball line up on one side of the grid. These players are the robbers. The two players without ball are the “cops.” They are to start from the other side. The object is for the robbers to dribble across the grid without having a cop take the ball away. If a robber loses his ball to a cop, he or she goes to the jail. Repeat the crossings until there are two players remaining. These two may become the new cops for successive iterations.

Crab Soccer. Designate players as crabs to “walk” around on their hands and feet. Other players with ball try to dribble from one side of the grid to the other without getting caught by the crabs.  Crabs may touch players or their balls with their hands or feet.  Players who are touched become crabs.  Be very diligent to ensure that young players are not going to get their hands stepped on.

Defend the Fort.  Set up a very large goal using corner posts and thin plastic (“Caution”) tape.  This is the “fort.”  Set up half the players, without ball, to defend the fort.  Send the other half, all with ball dribbling, to attack the fort.  Defenders are to try to kick balls away while attackers are trying to score.  Reverse rolls.  (Variations:  Try 5 v 4, 4 v 3, and 3 v 2.)  [A Coaching American Soccer.com® original.]

Double Dribble. All players try to control two balls.  (If necessary, in order to have enough balls, coaches may put only half the team in the grid at a time.  If this is done, coaches should use rounds of a minute or less.  Non-participating players could be asked to do strengthening exercises or jog around the grid.)

Dribble, Dribble, Kick.  All players with ball at one end of the grid.  Players are instructed to take a little dribble, then another little dribble, and then take a big kick as the coach calls out, “Dribble, Dribble, Kick!”  Players may then be encouraged to yell out the same words as they perform.

Dribble-Relay Race.  All players in pairs without ball at one end of the grid.  One ball per pair placed on the other end of the grid.  (Players in each pair may be designated as “A and B,” “First and Second,” or “One and Two.”)  Upon “Go,” the first players sprint to a ball, dribble back as quickly as possible (under control), and leave the ball at the feet of their partner.  The second players are to dribble the ball back to the far end-line, leave the ball, then sprint back to their partner.  (Players may be required to “tag” their partner, as well.)  This pattern may be repeated up to five times without stopping.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Dribble Snake. Everyone with ball follows the leader in a line anywhere the leader goes inside the grid. Leader breaks off upon request of the coach and dribbles to the back of the line, establishing the next player in line as the leader. This can be done until everyone leads. Players must understand that, when they are the leader, they must make a number of turns, including even going in a circle around the line.  (Also known as “Follow The Leader.”)

Dribbling Relay. All players with ball. Dribble from line to line or to cone and back – two or more teams. Make sure the number of players on each team is low and even.

Driving Test.  All players with ball. After demonstrating the commands, the coach calls out: Go, Stop, Slow Down, Speed Up, Right Turn, Left Turn, and “U”-Turn, as appropriate.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Egg Hunt. Use discs to define a “basket” in a corner of the grid. This activity requires more balls than players. This may be done by using extra balls from the coach or by dividing the team in half. Spread the balls around the grid. Line the (first set) of players up on one end of the grid. The object is for the players to collect all the balls (eggs) and put them in the basket as quickly as possible and return to the starting line. Coach defines whether this is to be done with hands or by dribbling. Everyone is on the same team; no one is to take a ball away from a teammate. The event can be timed against themselves or against the other group.

Escape.  All players with ball except two.  Players with ball are the “outlaws.”  The two players without balls are the “sheriffs.”  All players line up on one end of the grid.  Upon hearing the command, “There’s an Escape!”, all players with ball are to dribble as fast as they can to the other end of the grid.  Upon hearing the command, “Get ‘em Posse!”, the sheriffs are to tag as many dribblers as possible.  Tagged players are to freeze in place until all players are tagged or have made it to the other end of the grid.  (Variations:  There can be more than two “sheriffs.”  The second command may be eliminated, and the sheriffs released at the same time, depending on the skill level of the dribblers.  Repeat after changing out the “sheriffs.”)

Everybody Scores!  Set up two very large goals at each end of the grid using corner posts for the uprights and thin plastic (“Caution”) tape as the crossbars.  All players with ball.  Send players from one end to the other to score by dribbling the ball through the opposite goal.  When they score, direct them to dribble to the outside of a post and dribble back to score again at the other goal. (Variation:  Start half the players from each end and have them dribble through each other to get to the opposite goal.)  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Fetch. Pairs with one ball. One coach or parent per pair. The coach or parent tosses the ball into the grid and the pair must bring it back in the manner directed by the coach. For example, the coach will yell “four hands” and the pair must return the ball to the coach with all four hands in contact with the ball. Others may include (at least) three hands and a thigh, or two heads.

First Rondo. See explanation for “Keep-Away II.”

Follow the Leader. See explanation for “Dribble Snake.”

Forest. All players with ball.  Parents are asked to stand tightly-packed like “trees” in a forest.  (Parents are reminded that trees are stationary and don’t move.)  Players are asked to dribble among the trees.  [A Coaching American Soccer.com® original.]  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Four Goals.  Set up a portable goal centered on each side of the grid.  Set up a “safe” area just outside the grid.  All players with ball, dribbling within the grid.  On command of “Go,” players are to score at each goal, in any order.  (Players may need to be told that they are not expected to go “around” the grid to get to each goal, but to head for the next goal that has the fewest number of players around it.)  As a player completes all goals, they are to move to the safe area.  Repeat.

Fox Tails. Cut up an old sheet into strips approximately 4” wide and 24” long. These are the “tails.” Each player sticks one tail in the back of their shorts. First play the game without balls.  Add all players with ball. All players dribble while simultaneously trying to grab others’ tails while protecting their own.  (You can use pinnies as tails.)  See “Foxes and Chickens” for a variation.

Foxes and Chickens. Cut up an old sheet into strips approximately 4” wide and 24” long. These are the “tails.”  Each parent is to place a tail in the back of their shorts and act as the “chickens.”  Players act as the “foxes” and are to chase the parents and remove the tail.  First play the game without balls.  Add all players with ball. All players dribble while simultaneously trying to grab others’ tails while protecting their own.  (You can use pinnies as tails.)  See “Fox Tails” for a variation.

Freeze.  All players with ball dribbling.  The coach calls “Freeze!” and all players are to stop in funny poses.  Let the players look around at their teammates.  Coach then calls, “Go,” “Unfreeze,” or “Thaw” to have the players resume dribbling.  Repeat.  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Freeze Tag. All players with ball except for designated “tagger.” Players dribble within the grid while avoiding the tagger. The tagger runs around and touches any players to freeze them. Players can unfreeze themselves by performing the “Irish Jig” for ten touches or just counting to 10. Continue briefly and then switch taggers. (Variations: Taggers can also be dribblers. Can use two taggers. Can separate team into two groups.)  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]  (See “Coach Freeze Tag” as a precursor or a follow-on game.)

Gates. Split the team in half, one half with ball and one without. The group without a ball is to spread out randomly within the grid and stand with their legs spread a little more than shoulder-width apart. These are the “gates.” Each player with a ball dribbles around the grid trying to put their ball through as many gates as possible. Time the event for two minutes. Players should count the number of gates they split. The teams then switch roles. “Score” may be kept by individuals or teams.  (Variation:  For younger players, use parents for the “gates” and have all players with ball.)  (See “Tunnel” for another variation.)

Get the Ball I.  One ball for each player set in the middle of the grid, spaced a few feet apart.  (Disks may be used to mark where the line of balls go.)  All players start on one end-line.  Upon “Go,” all players are to sprint to get a ball and dribble to the other end-line.  Players are to then return the balls to the middle by dribbling and come back to the starting end-line.  Repeat.  Variation:  Players get the ball and return to the starting end-line.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Get the Ball II.  Players in pairs.  One ball for each pair set in the middle of the grid, spaced a few feet apart. (Disks may be used to mark where the line of balls go.)  All pairs start on one end-line.  Upon “Go,” each pair is to sprint together to get a ball and the first player to the ball dribbles to the other end-line with his partner next to him.  Pairs are to then return the balls to the middle by dribbling and come back to the starting end-line.  Variation:  Pairs get the ball and return to the starting end-line.  Coach may call out first or second player for equal treatment. [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Get the Ball III.  Players in pairs.  One ball for each pair set in the first third of the grid, spaced a few feet apart. (Disks may be used to mark where the line of balls go.)   All pairs start on one end-line.  Upon “Go,” each pair is to sprint together to get a ball.  The first player to the ball is to take two dribbles.  His partner is to run out in front of him.  The dribbler is to pass the ball to his partner out in front, who then dribbles to the other end-line.  Pairs are to then return the balls to the first third by dribbling and come back to the starting end-line.  Variation:  Pairs get the ball, the dribbler and the partner turn, the partner runs in front for the pass and both return to the starting end-line.  (The balls will need to be placed in the final third of the grid.)  Coach may call out first or second player for equal treatment.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Get the Ball IV.  Half the players in one color pinnie. The other half in another color pinnie.  Players in pairs, each pair having one player with one color pinnie and one with the other color pinnie.  One ball for each pair set in the middle of the grid, spaced a few feet apart. (Disks may be used to mark where the line of balls go.)  All pairs start on one end-line.  Coach calls out a color. Upon hearing their color, the correct player is to sprint to get a ball, dribble to the other end-line, turn, dribble the ball back to the middle and leave it. (Don’t necessarily alternate colors, but make sure that the iterations wind up being equal.)  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Giant in the Trees.  Coach is the giant working within a set of cones described as the trees of a forest.  All players with ball.  Players are to move from any part of the grid to another part of the grid by successfully dribbling through the trees without the giant kicking their ball away.  If the giant kicks the ball away, a player is to immediately run and collect it and try again.  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Go Karts. (See “Racetrack” as a precursor.)  Set up a detailed “track,” creating many left and right turns, cones on the inside and with disks on the outside.  (Alternatively, you may set up only one group of “inside” cones, use two long ropes, or one long “inside” rope.  You may establish a start/finish line if you wish.  All players with ball.   On “start your engines, go,” all players are to dribble around the track counter-clockwise.  The race can be under control or as fast as possible, but all players must keep the ball on the course and within playing distance.  Change to going clockwise.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Halloween.  All players with ball dribbling.  Minimum of four parents holding at least 10 disks or small pieces of colored paper each, spread equally around the grid.  Players are to dribble around within the grid, changing direction, go up to each adult, stop their ball, and say, “Trick or Treat!”  Players may only be given one disk or piece of paper as a “treat” at any one visit to an adult.  The size of the grid may have to be reduced for younger players.  Players should not group in front of an adult; players may be informed by the coach to go quickly to other adults who don’t have any players with them.  Adults are to raise their hand and keep them raised when they are out of “treats.” After all the adults have their hands raised, players may stop and count their “treats” to see who got the most “candy.”  Collect and redistribute the disks or pieces of paper to the adults and repeat.  Variation:  With permission of the parents obtained in advance, give the players large paper cups to carry while they dribble and give the adults real pieces of small candy. (Great fun at the last practice right before Halloween.  Have enough treats in reserve to make sure all players get equal amounts at the end.)  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Hospital Tag. All players with ball. Start as in regular “Tag.” When a player is tagged, however, they must place their hand on the spot where they were tagged. By the third tag, they must dribble to the coach (“doctor”) to get fixed up. After being “healed,” they go back to the group to continue.

Ice Cream Cones.  Each player will need two balls and one cone.  If there are not enough balls, the team will have to be split in half.  Players are to place one ball in the large end of an inverted cone and hold the cone with one or both hands, depending on the age of the player.  The players are to dribble in the grid while holding their “ice cream cones” without letting the “ice cream” (ball) drop to the ground.  Switch for the other players, if necessary.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Kangaroos. All players with ball except two players who are the first kangaroos. Kangaroos must hop to tag players. Tagged players become kangaroos until all players are tagged. (Reduce the size of the grid for success, if necessary.)

Keep-Away I. Also known as 1 v. 1 without goals. Players in pairs with one ball. One player starts in possession of the ball and the other tries to take it away. Play for approximately one minute. Player in possession at end may be declared “winner.” May switch player starting in possession, then switch partners.

Keep-Away II.  Place eight offensive players around the circumference of a 10-yard circle, to try to complete as many consecutive passes to each other, while two defensive players in the middle try to take the ball away.  Once a defender gets the ball, he goes to the outer ring and the player who lost the ball goes into the middle.  Offensive players are required to maintain their relative location within the circle and are not to move more than a few feet while working with the ball.  Defensive players may move anywhere within the circle.  Modify the numbers as appropriate for age and ability.  (Also known as “First Rondo” or “Piggy-In-The-Middle.”)

Knock Off. Divide the team in half. One group each has balls. Place several discs randomly spread out in the grid. Place a ball on each disc. One group goes at a time. The objective is to knock all the balls off the discs by kicking a ball into them. Each team gets a turn and the team that knocks off all the balls in the quickest time wins. Have the group that knocked the balls off re-set them and return their ball to a player in the other group.

Knockout. All players with ball. Have players kick other player’s balls out of the grid while retaining possession of their own. Have players count the number of times they knocked out a ball. When a ball it kicked out, it is to be retrieved and play resumed. After a certain amount of time, stop and ask for the number of knockouts. (Variations: Don’t ask for the number of knockouts. Vary the size of the grid. Have the players who are knocked out go to a side activity until only one or two players are left.)  (The variation with one player remaining is also known as “Top Dog.”)

Marbles I. Each player with ball. Divide the team into two groups and set them on opposite sides of the grid. Place a distinctly-colored or different-sized ball in the middle of the grid. This is the marble. Have each team try to move the marble to the other team’s line by striking it with a ball. Tell the players that after the game starts, they can kick at the marble with anyone’s ball. If a player kicks the marble directly, stop play and remind all players of the requirement to hit it only with a ball. (Variation: Everyone works to get the marble out of the grid.)

Marbles II. Each player with ball. Players in pairs. Players alternate using a single push pass to try to strike the other player’s ball.

Marbles III.  For players using Size 3 balls, place two or more Size 5 balls in the grid.  All players with ball dribbling are to move the larger balls around the grid by striking them with the smaller balls.  Brightly-colored Size 5 balls are recommended.  (Variations:  Players may count their “hits.”  Add goals.)

Moving Goal. All players with ball. Two parents or coaches acting as “goalposts” carry a piece of rope as their “crossbar” and walk around in the grid as a moving goal. Players must shoot the ball between them and under the rope to score. Players may score from either direction.  (Thin plastic (“Caution”) tape may be used instead of rope.  If rope or tape is unavailable, the adults may hold hands at arms length.

Mud Monster. Two or three players start as the monsters. They then chase the rest of the players and try to tag them. Once they are tagged, they must spread their legs wide, pick up their ball and hold it over their head, and stay “stuck in the mud.” They can be freed if another child crawls or kicks a ball through their legs.

Muddle in the Middle I.  All players with ball.  Spread out half the players on one side of the grid.  Spread out the other half of the players on the opposite side of the grid.  On command, have both sets of players dribble, under control, to the other side of the grid.  Players are told to not make contact with another player.  Players are to stop the ball on the opposite grid line.  Repeat. Try without balls first.  Reduce or increase the size of the grid, as necessary.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Muddle in the Middle II.  All players with ball.  Spread out half the players on one side of the grid.  Spread out the other half of the players on the adjoining side of the grid.  On command, have both sets of players dribble, under control, to the other side of the grid.  Players are told to not make contact with another player.  Players are to stop the ball on the opposite grid line.  Repeat.  Try without balls first.  Reduce or increase the size of the grid, as necessary.   [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Muddle in the Middle III.  All players with ball.  Spread out one-quarter of the players on each side of the grid.  On command, have all four sets of players dribble, under control, to the other side of the grid.  Players are told to not make contact with another player.  Players are to stop the ball on the opposite grid line.  Repeat. Try without balls first. Reduce or increase the size of the grid, as necessary.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Muddle in the Middle IV.  All players with ball.  Spread out one-quarter of the players on each side of the grid.  Number the sides or put players in pinnies.  On command, call out two sets of numbers or colors and have those sets of players dribble, under control, to the other side of the grid.  Players are told to not make contact with another player.  Players are to stop the ball on the opposite grid line.  Repeat. Try without balls first. Reduce or increase the size of the grid, as necessary.   Variation:  Call out numbers or colors from one, three, or four groups.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Muddle in the Middle V.  Set up a circle using cones or disks.  All players with ball.  Spread out all the players evenly around the circle.  On command, have all players dribble under control to the opposite part of the circle.  Players are told to not make contact with another player.  Players are to stop the ball on the opposite side.  Repeat. Try without balls first.  Reduce or increase the size of the circle, as necessary.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Muddle in the Middle VI.  Divide the players into four groups.  Place each group on one side of the grid.  One ball per group.  On command, one player from each group dribbles under control to the opposite group, leaving the ball for the next player of each group to continue.  Players are told to not make contact with another player.  Repeat. Try without balls first. Reduce or increase the size of the grid, as necessary.  Variation:  use a circle instead of the grid.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Musical Chairs.  See “Switch II.”

Not in My Yard. Set up a “fence” of cones or discs dividing the grid in half in order to establish two “yards.” All players with ball. Divide the team into two equal groups and place each group in a yard. This is a timed event. Upon command, players are to kick their ball into the other team’s yard. The objective is to keep each yard free of balls. Parents should be used around the perimeter of the grid to keep the balls in play. At the end of time, the group with the least number of balls in their yard wins. (Variation: As players kicks get stronger, the fence can be modified with a second set of parallel cones or discs to create a “no player zone,” and the size of the yards increased.)

Numbers I. Set up a goal at each end, marked by cones. Divide the team into two groups, with approximately five players per group. Assign each player a number from one to five. Try to ensure that players with the same number are evenly matched. Have the players of each group spread out on opposite sidelines. Tell each group which goal they are to attack and which to defend. Put a ball in the center. Call out one or more numbers, and those players are to run out and play. Re-set when a goal is scored or if the ball goes out of bounds. (Variations: Have players start from the end lines. Throw the ball into the center.)

Numbers II. All players with ball. While dribbling, coach calls out random numbers 1 through 5 and players must form groups of that number.

Nutmeg I. Two players with one ball. One, defensive, player stands with legs spread. During a time limit, offensive player see how many nutmegs he can get, by pushing the ball through the defenders legs, running past, retrieving ball, and dribbling back around. Switch positions.  Variation:  Player without ball can turn and face the player with the ball after each nutmeg.

Nutmeg II. Two players with one ball.  Defensive player backs up slowly as offensive player dribbles toward him. When coach yells “Nutmeg” or “Meg,” defensive player assumes a position with legs spread and offensive player pushes the ball between his legs, runs past, retrieves ball and dribbles. Players resume facing each other and repeat.  Switch positions.

Pass in the Night. Two small goals are established with disks or cones at each end of the grid. Players are divided into two groups at each goal. Coach has all balls in the center. When coach serves a ball, one player from each group sprints out to contest for the ball and try to score at the other player’s goal. Players must quit if the ball goes outside of the grid or a goal is scored. Multiple pairs may be in the grid at the same time. Coach may serve the ball anywhere inside the grid.

Passing Count. Players in pairs with one ball, approximately three yards apart. Inside of foot pass and trap, using “two-touch” passing. The pairs can count the number of passes made in one minute. (Variation: Older may be asked to move and pass.)

Passing Partners.  Pairs with one ball each.  Pairs are to kick the ball back and forth to each other within the grid.

Piggy-in-the-Middle. See explanation for “Keep-Away II.”

Pirates. Define a circle with discs inside the grid. All players with ball except one, who is the first pirate. Players dribble to retain possession while the pirate tries to steal a ball and kick it out of the circle. As players lose their ball, they also become pirates until one player with a ball is left. This player can become the starting pirate for the next iteration.

Planets. Set up three large circles designated with disks. Tell the players that they are going to visit parts of our solar system. Name the circles as “Venus,” “Mars,” and “Neptune.” All players with ball. Coach calls out the name of the next planet to visit. Can visit in groups in a rotation. Add more planets if memory can handle it.

Racetrack. Set up two ovals to create the “track,” one with cones on the inside and one with disks on the outside.  You may establish a start/finish line if you wish.  All players with ball.   On “start your engines, go,” all players are to dribble around the track counter-clockwise.  The race can be under control or as fast as possible, but all players must keep the ball on the course and within playing distance.  Change to going clockwise.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Receive/Dribble/Shoot. Use cones to define at least two goals and set a disc approximately ten yards in front of both to define a starting point. Divide the team into groups for each set of goals and place the groups at the starting point, without balls. A coach and at least one parent should have the balls next to the goal. The coach should feed a ball to the first player, using “bowling.” The player should come to meet the ball, receive (trap) it properly, dribble and shoot. The player should retrieve the ball and return it to the coach. You should increase the number of groups if players aren’t moving quickly through the drill. A parent may also be used at the starting point for assistance. (Variation: Players start on the other side of the goal with the coach or server. The coach bowls the ball out into the field and the player runs to it, turns it back, dribbles and shoots.)

Red Light/Green Light I. All players with ball. Players dribble within the grid and respond to the coach’s direction. With Green Light, players are to dribble at a slow pace. With Red Light, players are to stop the ball immediately with the sole of their foot and “make an airplane.”  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Red Light/Green Light II. All players with ball. Line the players up on one side of the square. On “green light,” players dribble to opposite side. On “red light,’ they must stop. First player to other side “wins.” (Players must be cautioned that they must dribble properly; no kicking and running to the ball is allowed.)

Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light. All players with ball. Similar to “Red Light, Green Light,” players start in a Red Light position with the ball stopped at their feet. With Green Light, players are to dribble at a fast pace. With Yellow Light, players are to dribble at a slow pace.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Relay Race I. Traditional race among teams between two sets of cones or disks. Can set up against parents or intermix parents and kids. (See “Dribbling Relay.”)

Relay Race II. Divide the team into three or four groups, with no more than four players per group. Set up identical courses where players must dribble between discs, around cones, perform the Irish Jig, stop the ball on a spot, or other activities. Practice, then race where first group to finish wins.

Roll. All players with ball. Players will start spread out shoulder-to-shoulder on a line. Each player is to “roll” the ball with the sole of their foot for approximately 10 yards, turn, and repeat back to original line. This may be done with from the inside or outside of both feet.

Shadow. Players in pairs. All players with ball. Similar to “Dribble Snake,” the first player dribbles around and their partner must duplicate, or “shadow,” their every move from behind. The leaders should change direction and speed throughout. Have players switch positions at least once and usually three times, to create four sets.

Shark Islands.  Establish two circles of cones or disks within the grid and identify them as the “islands.”  All players with ball are to dribble within the grid, outside of the islands, until the coach yells, “Shark!”  A pre-designated parent then enters the grid as the “shark.”  Players are to dribble as quickly as possible and get “on” (within) one of the islands before being “gotten.”  The parent “shark” needs to switch off kids so that they all have a chance to get to an island.  Coaches may need to emphasize that players are not allowed to “camp” right next to an island.

Sharks and Minnows I. One player starts with a ball as the first shark. Other players run in a confined space while the player with the ball tries to kick the ball at the other players’ feet. Once hit, they get their ball and become another shark.

Sharks and Minnows II. Two or three players are “sharks” and the rest are “minnows.” Sharks have soccer balls and the minnows don’t. The sharks chase after the minnows and try to tag them on the leg with the ball. If a minnow gets hit, he or she becomes a shark and goes and gets their ball and becomes a shark.

Sharks and Minnows III.  All players with ball except one.  Players with the ball are the “minnows.”  The player without the ball is the first “shark.”  The shark tries to kick the balls outside of the grid.  At first, if a ball is kicked out, players may retrieve their ball, return to the grid, and continue.  On the second iteration, players who have their ball kicked out become additional “sharks.”  (Also, see “Knockout.”)

Sharks and Minnows IV.  Divide the players into two equal groups.  All players in one group have balls.  Players with a ball are the “minnows.”  They are to start on one end-line of the grid. The group without balls are the first “sharks.”  The sharks start on the other end-line of the grid.  Upon “Go,” each minnow is to try to get to the opposite end-line as quickly as possible with their ball. Also upon “Go,” the sharks go to meet the minnows and try to kick the balls outside of the grid.  Switch the groups with the ball and repeat.  Variation:  After the first iteration, minnows who lost their ball join the sharks and the remaining minnows try again.

Sharks and Minnows V.  All players, except two, with balls inside a large circle designated by disks.  Players with a ball are the “minnows” dribbling inside the circle. The players without balls are the first “sharks.”  The sharks start by jogging around the outside of the circle.  Upon “Go,” the sharks enter the circle and have ten seconds to kick as many balls outside the circle as possible.  Players who lose their ball join the sharks for the next iteration.  When two players are left, they become the sharks that start the next game.

Shooting 1 v. 1. Groups of four in two pairs. One pair with a ball. One pair serves as “goals,” standing with their legs spread shoulder-width apart. The other pair is to play 1 v. 1 to score at their goal by shooting only on the ground. After approximately one minute, pairs switch positions. Modify pairs, if necessary to equalize the skill level. (Variation: Use parents as goals.)

Simon Says.  All players with ball.  Same as regular “Simon Says,” but with dribbling commands “Simon says, Stop,” versus, “Stop.”  No one is ever to go “out;” coach simply says, “Uh, oh, Simon didn’t say…”  Commands may include, stop, go, fast, slow, right foot, left foot, turn.

Snake. Different name or variation of “Blob” games. Players can be tagged instead of the ball being kicked away. Snake(s) can be told to make “hissing” sounds.

Spider’s Web. Different name for the “Blob I” game.  (See “Blob I”).

Star Wars. All players with ball. Players with ball try to kick at other players’ balls. Once a player connects three times, they move to a designated “safe” area.

Steal. Divide the team into two groups. One group with ball. Tell players without a ball to try to take one away from a player with a ball. Tell players with a ball to retain possession for as long as possible. Players who lose a ball then try to get one back. Play for approximately one minute cycles. Players with a ball at the end of each cycle may be declared “winners.”

Steal the Bacon. All players with ball, except for one player who is “it.” All players dribbling except one who is “it.” Designated player kicks balls out of the grid. Change designated player every 30 seconds. Players whose balls are kicked out retrieve them and wait at edge of grid until next 30 second-period starts.

Steer the Car.  All players are given a practice disc to use as their “steering wheel.”  Practice without ball at first to “turn right” and “turn left” by walking to the right and walking to the left while turning the disc clockwise and counter-clockwise, respectively.  All players with ball then dribble while “steering.”  (Variations: Coach may call out the “turns.”  A “stop” command may be added.  Players may “honk their horns” by pressing the center of the disc and saying “Beep, beep!”)  (Advanced variation:  Add “reverse” or “backing up.”)

Stuck in the Mud. One player without ball is “it.” All other players have ball. On signal, all players dribble until tagged. Once tagged, they must hold their ball over their head and spread their legs. They are stuck, but can be freed by another player with a nutmeg. Rotate “it.”

Switch I. All players with ball. On command, have players leave their ball and switch to a different soccer ball.

Switch II.  (Also known as Musical Chairs.)  All players with ball dribbling. On command, have players leave their ball and switch to a different one.  Stop, remove one ball and resume dribbling. The player without a ball remains, running around “fake dribbling.”  Repeat command to switch.  Player “fake dribbling” may get a ball.  Continue for a number of quick iterations, depending upon the number of players and how much they can handle, until there are only two balls remaining.

Switch III.  (See Switch I and Switch II.)  All players start dribbling with ball.  On command of “Switch,” players go to a different ball and freeze.  Remove one ball and put it in a “Safe Zone” represented by a nearby smaller grid.  Repeat command.  Player without a ball goes to the safe zone and dribbles a ball there.  Repeat command, remove ball and transfer player.  Repeat until there is only one player with a ball remaining.

Tag. All players with ball. Players must always dribble their ball within playing distance. Players are to keep count of how many other players they tag with their hand within a certain timeframe.

Take Away.  Half the players with ball and half without.  Players with ball try to keep it in their possession.  Players without a ball try to take it away from a player who has a ball.  Use a short duration of a minute or less.  At the end of the time, players with balls switch the ball to players who don’t have one.  Repeat.

Target Shooting. Two players, each with ball and one cone. See how many times each player can hit the cone.

Top Dog. See explanation for “Knockout.”

Treasure Hunt I.  At one end of the grid spread out a number of pinnies or disks that will be called the “treasure.”  (Ensure that the number of “treasure” items at least equals the number of players.)  At the other end or the grid, use cones to create two 2’ x 3’ rectangles that will be called the “treasure chests.”  All players with balls are to dribble from the end of the grid with the “chests” to the end with the “treasure,” pick up one piece of “treasure” and, while dribbling, carry it back and put it into a “treasure chest.”  (For real young players, this should be done first without balls.)

Treasure Hunt II.  At one end of the grid, beyond the end-line, spread out a number of pinnies or disks that will be called the “treasure.”   At the other end or the grid, use cones to create one 2’ x 3’ rectangle that will be called the “treasure chest.”  Five attackers, with ball, head at three defenders in front of the treasure.  All attackers are to dribble from the end of the grid with the “chest” to the end with the “treasure,” pick up one piece of “treasure” and, while dribbling, carry it back and put it into the “treasure chest.”  Defenders are to try to kick the balls outside of the grid.  Defenders may not go over the end-line behind them to defend the treasure and may not kick the balls of players returning with treasure.  Variations:  Alter the number of attackers and defenders.  Instead of pinnies or disks, place treasure balls on top of disks and require attackers to kick a treasure ball off the disk with their ball before the treasure can be retrieved.

Trees.  All players with ball.  All parents stand like trees in the grid.  Players are to touch the “trunks” of the trees (parents’ feet) with the ball, moving from one to the next.  This can morph into “Gates.”  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Tunnel I. Divide the team into small groups. Start with three players as the “tunnel,” and then you may add more players as success is achieved. Have each group line up in a straight line, front to back, and spread their legs apart, to form the tunnel. You may practice first, and then this is can become a race between groups. To start, the first player in each line must turn and face the tunnel and pass a ball through the tunnel and then get back in the front of the line. The last player in the line collects the ball, dribbles it to the front and repeats the process. (As a race, the first group to complete a full cycle wins.) (Variation: The player at the back of the line may pass the ball through the tunnel from behind. The player at the front collects the ball, dribbles it to the back, passes it through the tunnel and remains at the back.

Tunnel II(Similar toGates.”) Split the team in half, one half with ball and one half without. The group without a ball is to spread out in a line within the grid (front-to-back, approximately two-yards apart) and stand with their legs spread a little more than shoulder-width apart. These players form the “tunnel.” Each player with a ball dribbles through the tunnel by pushing the ball between the legs of each player of the tunnel, going around the player, collecting the ball and continuing through the legs of the next player, sequentially. The teams then switch roles.  (Variations:  For younger players, use parents to form the tunnel and have all players with ball.  May include a “fanny pat.”  Form multiple tunnels as necessary to keep the game moving.)  (Also see “Tunnel III.”)  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Tunnel III.  Set up as in “Tunnel II,” but using parents only for young players.  All players with ball.  Parents are to be set far enough apart so that players are able to dribble (kick) the ball through the parents’ legs, crawl beneath/through the parent’s legs, stand up, collect the ball and repeat for each parent sequentially.  (Variation:  Require “inside of the right foot only” or “inside of the left foot” only.)   [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Turkey Shoot. Set up random cones. All players with ball. In a time limit, players count how many cones they can knock over with the ball. Each cone knocked over must be re-set by the player who knocked it down.

Turn Signals.  All players with ball dribbling.  Players are to put out their left arm out to signal a left turn and then make a left turn; right arm out, right turn; either arm straight overhead, “U”-turn.  Variation:  the coach may direct the turns at first, saying “left turn,” “right turn,” or “U-turn,” while making the appropriate arm signals.  The players are to then make the signal and execute the turn.  (Advanced variation:  The coach gives the arm signals without saying anything verbally.)  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]

Turns I.  All players with ball, dribbling.  Upon command of “Turn,” all players use whatever turn they can execute to go in the opposite direction.

Turns II. All players with ball. Players will start spread out shoulder-to-shoulder on a line. Establish a second, parallel, line with discs approximately seven yards away. Each player is to dribble to the second line, turn, and go back to the original line. The coach should direct the following types of turns: 1.) Inside of Foot – Right foot for left turn and left foot for right turn; 2.) Outside of Foot – Right foot for right turn and left foot for left turn; and, 3.) Pull Back – Sole of the right foot and sole of the left foot.

Two Squares. All players with ball. Divide the grid into two squares identified by cones. On command, have the players dribble their ball from one square into the other square. You can then split the players with half in each square. On command, the players dribble their ball into the other square while avoiding collisions. Last, after starting to dribble within one square, upon command players are to leave their ball, run into the other square, find another ball and continue dribbling in the new square.

Unicorn.  Show the players a picture of a unicorn.  All players are given a cone to hold to their forehead (with both hands) as the horn of a unicorn.  All players with ball.   On “go,” all players free dribble around the grid.  (Can also use a Triceratops or a Rhinoceros.)  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Volcanos.  Place a large number of cones randomly within the grid, but far enough apart from each other to be able to dribble around and between them.  These are the “volcanos.”  (They even look like volcanos.)  All players dribbling with ball are to try to get from one side of the grid to the other without hitting a volcano.  For young players, hitting a cone can cause the volcano to “erupt” and “spew lava.”  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

Walk the Dog.  All players with ball.  Players are asked to dribble with one arm out like they are holding a leash and the ball is their dog.  They are then asked to keep they arms pointed in the direction of the ball as they dribble.  The players may be asked to use only their right arm and dribble only with their right foot.  They may then be asked to use only their left arm and dribble only with their left foot.  [A CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® original.]  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

What Time Is It Coach?  All players with ball at one end of the grid.  A parent calls out, “What time is it Coach?”  The coach responds with “One o’Clock,” “Two o’Clock,” etc.  Players are to take one or two dribbles, etc., and then stop the ball until the next call.  When the coach responds, “Lunchtime!,” all players are to return to the starting line.

Yellow Brick Road.  Set up a winding path of parallel sets of disks and cones.  All players are to dribble in the same direction within the road, return to the outside, and repeat.  The “Wizard” can meet them with a compliment at the end of the road.

Zombies.  Parents walk around the grid like slow, crazed zombies (arms outstretched and asking for “brains”).  All players with ball.  Players dribble among the zombies, making sure to never come in contact with one.  [Great for a practice before Halloween.]  [Tested and Confirmed for 3-year olds and up.]

 

Any undefined soccer words, terms, or phrases may be found in The ULTIMATE SOCCER DICTIONARY of American Terms available at Amazon.com.

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John Harves

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Coaching American Soccer

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