At the young age of five, children who play soccer are typically beginners or have minimal experience. As with any sport, it is beneficial to focus on the basics: dribbling, passing, kicking and shooting. Since the attention span at this age is minimal, it is important to keep the drills short, while making them as fun as possible. Kids at this age love drills that involve a game with s specific purpose or goal.
One drill that sounds like a lot of fun, is called Killer Whale. This drill also teaches the players to protect the ball while dribbling, and keep their head up when possible.
To set up this drill, place several cones in a large circle which will serve as the play area. Each player must then stand inside the circle with the ball at their feet. Next, choose two players with different colored jerseys or pinnies who will be the killer whales. On the coach’s signal, the players must dribble in control around the playing area. The goal of the killer whales is to steal the players’ ball and kick it outside the circle. In order to give all players a chance, alternate the players who are the killer whales each time.
Bowling for Cones
A second great drill you can use is an accuracy game called Bowling for Cones. To run this drill, you need to line the players up horizontally (with a ball) and place 2-3 cones about ten feet away from each player. Have the players kick their ball and attempt to knock over the cones as if they were bowling.
This drill works on the player’s accuracy and strength of their kick. To add a variation to this game, you may want to put the players in groups of two and have them pass to one another before an attempt to knock over a cone is made.
Red Light, Green Light
All kids love “Red Light, Green Light”, so a soccer variation of this game is sure to be a hit with young players. For this drill, you can use the lines of the soccer field, or set up cones in a large square of approximately twenty square feet.
The players start at one end of the field or square and the coach will yell out “Green light,” “Yellow light,” or “Red light.” Green means the players must dribble as fast as they can with the ball, yellow means they must dribble slowly and in control with the ball, and stop means the players must place their foot on the ball in order to stop it. In following the coaches’ commands, the players will be practicing three specific skills: dribbling in control, dribbling while running and stopping.
Soccer Obstacle Course Chase
A fourth drill that young children will enjoy is called Soccer Obstacle Course Chase. To set up this drill, place cones in four different arrangements in a circuit around the soccer field.
To get the players to work on dribbling back and fourth, set up a line of 5-6 pylons about 2 feet apart. Another arrangement would be set up two cones for players to shoot on. A third idea is to set up 2-3 pylons for players to practice the accuracy of their throw-in. Players will rotate through each drill while attempting to catch up to the player in front of them on another drill. Practice continues around and around until a player catches up to someone in from of him or her, or until you feel the players have practiced each drill thoroughly. It is important to remind the players that technique is more important than rushing through the drill to catch their target player so far.
When teaching young children the game of soccer, the primary goal is to introduce the basic skills so, while ensuring the players have fun. Maintaining this aspect of fun will keep the joy and excitement alive for the children, for many years to come. As a coach, if you follow these simple steps, you will notice that the players will show up to every practice and will be eager to learn. Below is a list of references and useful sites when coaching or working with young soccer players: