Are you coaching soccer for the first time? Or an experienced coach looking for new ways to motivate your team and change things up a bit?
Either way, as a youth soccer coach you need some passing drills to use during practice and in pre-game warmups. Passing drills are a great way to encourage teamwork and are critical for players of all skill levels.
Below we've listed a few main areas to focus on in your drills and some quick video examples you can try at your next youth soccer practice.
Don't waste half of your practice trying to teach players how to do a drill. Make sure you're picking simple drills that match the skill levels of your players.
Players should be able to understand a new drill with one quick demonstration. If you have to explain how to do the drill every week, or players are constantly misinterpreting instructions, you need to move on to a new drill.
And drills need to be fun to be effective. You should never hear a player groan or sigh when you announce it's time for a drill. If players are frustrated to do drills, it's not because they aren't hard workers - it's because your drills are too boring.
Seeing your players make progress is one of the top benefits of coaching youth sports. Your players will pay attention and learn quickly if you find drills that are fun.
Routine is important, and players should know what to expect when they arrive at practice. Use the same rough practice plan each week. For example a 1 hour and 30 minute practice can look like:
10 minute warm up
20 minutes of drills
15 minutes of instruction based on recent games
5 minute break for water
30 minutes of fun games or a scrimmage
10 minute practice recap and cool down
But, you need to change things up throughout your season to keep young players engaged. Finding drills that you can build upon will give players the routine they need while also challenging them.
Each drill below has several variations you can use throughout your season so that players are constantly learning. Try at least two different drills per practice for about 10 minutes each. If you have a list of 4 or 5 go-to drills that all of your players know, with several variations for each drill, you'll be able to make each drill session challenging and unique.
One of the keys to coaching youth sports is finding the right balance between learning, fun, and competition.
Drills should be challenging and include friendly competition. Reward players who complete the drills with picking the game at the end of practice, choosing the next drill, or even deciding your next post-game event.
You can also challenge the entire team to repeat the drill successfully 10 consecutive times. If the team meets expectations during the drill you can cancel any typical end of practice conditioning drills.
If you're doing a drill that involves teams, think through how you want the teams to be structured before practice begins so the teams are somewhat even. Younger players can tend to be cliquey - as the coach you need to be decisive picking the teams if you want competition to be fair.
Interested in starting a new soccer club in your community? Learn how to get started in our post How to Start a Travel Soccer Club
What are the most important skills to teach youth soccer players? Constant movement and the fundamentals of kicking the ball. If your players are standing still during drills you're doing it all wrong!
If you only have 1-2 hours for practice, make sure your players are moving at all times and consistently have a ball at their feet.
You'll need at least one ball for every two players. Ideally, each player brings their own ball to practice so there are more than enough balls for every drill.
Once you have your basic practice schedule outlined you can choose a few drills to try at your first practice. The videos below should be simple enough for players of almost any skill level, have several variations you can use throughout your season, and will keep your players active at all times.
Triangle Passing Drill can be used at all skill levels, and you can add challenging wrinkles to the drill throughout your season as players continue to develop.
Y Passing Drill teaches players to pass and keep moving, and can add a bit of conditioning :).
Are your players standing still with the ball at their feet during a game? The 2 Ball Game helps players learn to be decisive when they find the ball at their feet.
The Midfielder Through Ball Drill is great to prepare players for in-game situations.
Get together an email chain with your coaching staff and agree upon a few different drills you can do consistently with your players. Player attention spans can be short, so you should rotate through several drills for 5-10 minutes each practice.
Sticking with a similar routine will help your players continue to improve - but mixing in a bit of fun and constantly keeping players in motion is critical if you want to keep them from becoming bored.