When practicing throw ins with your soccer team, it helps to have set drills that not only refine the skills of those making the throws, but also those who will be receiving the throws. These four drills will not only give your teams best arms plenty of practice, but gives defenders, midfielders and even strikers the chance to refine their trapping, passing, heading, shooting and even aerial challengers.
The Bucket Dump Challenge
This drill is particularly helpful for finding your best throwers and is also a great way to have fun and do some “team building” early on in the pre-season. Basically, this drill involves using a five gallon buckets that has about 2 gallons of water in it (for stability).
Start by drawing a line and placing the bucket 20 yards out. Have the team line up behind the line and take turns trying to get the ball in the bucket via a throw-in. Give each player a few tries, however after a couple rounds, move the bucket back further and repeat the process until there is a winner.
The winner is then allowed to dump the bucket of water on the coach (or assistant coach) or if the team agrees and is friendly enough, any player of the winner’s choice. For really adventurous coaches, kids or teams, you can fill the bucket with jello or slime or maybe just add some food coloring to the water.
Watch the video below for a different way to run this drill that makes it a bit easier and less messy.
The Mid-Field Pickle Chicken Sprint
This drill is great for giving your midfielders and defenders practice on how to make or defend a fast paced throw in play designed to move the ball up field. It involves four players: two defenders and two midfielders. One defender is the thrower, one offensive and one defensive midfielder, and one defender on field.
The defender thrower is trying to hit the offensive midfielder while they are sprinting upfield towards the defender on field while being covered by the opposing midfielder. The goal of the thrower is to get the distance and timing of the throw just right to give the sprinting offensive midfielder the chance to trap and pass the ball off before getting to the defender.
The defensive midfielder has the job of trying to intercept the throw and prevent the offensive midfielder moving the ball up field. While the upfield defender needs to move up on the offensive midfielder, to put pressure on them and prevent a lateral pass or pass further upfield.
You can run this drill in two groups on each side of the practice field at the same time. Using your existing line up, have your defenders and midfielders that play on the respective left and right positions square off against each other, and have your center midfielders and defenders switch roles as the offensive and defensive midfielders on either side of the field, giving the left and right midfielders the opportunity to practice both offense and defense in this situation.
The “Better Than a Corner Kick” Throw In Drill
What’s better than a corner kick? Getting a throw in right next to the corner kick placement. This is perhaps one of the funnest drills that focuses heavily on your strikers, forwards and defenders. Due to the fact that a thrower can control the placement of the ball through the air much better than via a corner kick, this allows all the acrobats and high-jumpers on the team to shine.
Give your forwards and strikers different running patterns designed to free them up for set plays, headers or even bicycle kicks. You can challenge the defense to use different coverage techniques such as zone or man.
If you’re using this drill with younger, less physically strong players allow them to throw the ball in nearer the goal.
The “One Striker to Rule Them All” Throw In Drill
This drill pits two defenders on one striker or forward. The thrower lines up on the sideline deep behind the penalty line and must thrown the ball in to the defender, who must pass it back to the thrower who can then clear the ball. The striker’s job is to steal the thrown in or the pass, then get a shot on goal.
This drill can be changed up to use the goalie instead of or in addition to the other defender. Also an additional striker can be added in center field to move towards the play to help put more pressure on the defense.