Training Exercise

1 V 1 Duels

The players are divided into two teams, and positioned at either side of the coach outside a 15x20 yard grid with two small goals (or set of cones) on each end line.  The coach serves a ball into the grid and the players try to gain possession and score on their opponent, in either of the 2 goals.  

Play for about 20 seconds, until a goal is scored or the ball is out of bounds.


- A goal in the closest goal = 1pt.  Ball passed into the goal = 5pts.  Dribble to the opposition’s goal or through the cone goal is 10pts.

- Players can only score in the opponent's goal.

- Coach can make it a 2v1 game with bonus points for goals scored after a turn or a move past an opponent. 

Coaching points:  winning possession, attacking the goal, beating an opponent off the dribble


1 v 1 duels.png



U8 Training Format

Typical U-8 Training Session


1 hour or less. 

  • Warm-up, each player with a ball, dynamic stretching, skill activities (15 min) 

  • Soccer Activities, individual body awareness, individual and partner activities. Add more maze-type games. Introduce target games with a variety of player combinations: 1v1, 2v1, 1v2 and 2v2.  (20-25 min) 

  • Free Play, small-sided game of 4v4, two goals and no goalkeepers. (20 min)

The end of each training session should be devoted to playing 4v4 practice games. Fun games involving 1v1, 2v1, 1v2, 2v2, 1v3, 2v3 and 3v3 can lead into the final activity of 4v4.  Coaches can use this time to teach the rules of the game, discuss spacing, and game situations.

Find more formats here:



Delivering Coaching Points (Part 1)

Keep it simple! 

Limit your instruction to one point.  Have the conversation last less than 30 seconds.  Be specific with your key point and make it actionable.  Have the point be something the players can immediately put into action.  




Dribbling Exercise

steal the treasure.png

steal the treasure

Make a 20x30 yard gird divided into two halves with an equal number of cones on each side of the grid.  Place 1 team in each half.  On the coach’s command the players will dribble to the opponents half and touch a cone with the ball, pick up the cone and take it to their half.  The team with the most cones in 3 minutes wins the round.  


players can defend their treasure by tagging the opponent with a cone before he/she crosses the half.  The player drops the cone at the place they were tagged. 





More and more of our coaches are implementing the whole-part-whole methodology to their training sessions.  If you are interested in reading more, here is an article with a quick overview of the approach.



Tips for Coaching little ones (part 1)

Edited from an article by Mike Woitalla

1. If all you do is set up goals and have them play as much soccer as possible during that 45 min-1 hour of training -- you’re off to a good start. 

2. Familiarize yourself with the various age-appropriate games/exercises to facilitate individual skills -- but don’t use ones that bore the kids. And if it takes more than a minute for 6-year-olds to comprehend the activity -- it’s the wrong one. 

3. No lines, no laps, no lectures.  Make sure your training sessions give players as many touches on the ball as possible in the given time.  

4. Enjoy yourself! If for some reason you’re grumpy, act like you’re enjoying yourself. Kids pick up on body language and you’ll get the best out of them if they sense you like being their coach.



7V7 Transfer Boxes


Two teams of players are assigned to one half of the field.  They are numbered 1-7.  

Play starts with the ball in one half and the team without the ball sending two players over to try to win the ball back.  The team in possession is attempting to complete a set number of passes to score a point (5/7/9).  

If the defenders win the ball they pass it to a teammate on the other side of the grid and begin to connect passes.  The count of passes begins when the ball is on their side of the field.  The ball can also be won back by the attacking team (if lost) before the ball switches sides.  

When the ball goes out of play for the first time, the player numbered #1 from each team sprints to the balls lined up on the sideline.  The first player to reach a ball starts passing to their teammates.  The second time the ball goes out, player #2 sprints for each team, and so on.  

The game can run for a certain length of time or a certain score.  



size of field

number of players sent 

another player sent after 5 / 7 / 9  passes completed  

a requirement for players to shift to the side away from the balls before their turn to sprint if players seek to short circuit the conditioning component.  





Tackling - improve with these simple football tips and drills you can do anywhere, anytime.



Dribbling Exercise

numbered corners.png

numbered corner

In a 15x30 yard grid, divided in 4 rectangles, number each of the corners.  All players in one area dribbling, when the coach calls out a number, all players must dribble to that area.  


one foot only

inside of foot only

outside/inside of foot

call out more than one number. (i.e. 1 /3 - players would dribble from their corner to corner 1 and back to corner 3. 



Ball Mastery and Foot skills

Photo by  Markus Spiske

Photo by Markus Spiske


If you are looking for some basic ball skill mastery for your younger teams, check out the linked videos.

You will find the following:

1 & 2. 30 ball mastery skills to incorporate into training.

3. basic dribbling skills individually and with a partner 

4. Dribbling in a condensed space.  This is a time to incorporate the ball mastery skills into a more realistic training environment with some pressure.  You can add a defender to this in a natural progression. 

5. Cone dribbling.  The goal is to increase the proficiency of dribbling in tight spaces.  

6. The 2 cone drill is for more advanced or older players working on ball control.

Russ (




Small Sided Game

2v2 with Servers:




Mark out area 20m x 30m

(size of pitch can be altered to move from anaerobic to more aerobic conditioning)


Two GKs in full size goals.

Two players in each half of pitch with servers numbered 1 to 3 on the outside of area for each team.


Coach calls out the color and number of the player who serves the ball into same colored team.  

Whichever side the ball is played into the opposing color players act as defenders to create a 2 v. 2


Play for a certain time (2-4 minutes high intensity) or a certain number of balls received by each team. Rotate quickly with players receiving rest when passers.




Practice Tips for Youth Coaches (U6-U8 Coaches)

1. Practice should be fun.

Concentrate on the fun factor.  Skip "drills" and lead activities and games. Limit dead time....let them play. 


2. Be all about skill development.

At least 80% of the practice players should have the ball at their feet.  Focus on technique.


3. Positive Motivation is important 

Encourage, Encourage, Encourage.


4. Have efficient, effective trainings.  

Plan your practices, have maximum amount of touches on the ball, limit the lines kids are standing in, try to make it one ball per player until free play (scrimmage). 

(ideas borrowed from David Huddleston, April 2012)



To My Son’s Soccer Coach:

To My Son’s Soccer Coach:

Last weekend, after the final game of the season, you posed with my son and his seven teammates in front of the goal for some team pictures. There you were, one man towering over eight little boys with their arms linked like a chain, big smiles on each face. You tolerated the parent paparazzi and even humored the boys with a crazy-face picture. You didn’t complain; you just acted like a nine-year-old, too, but I’m pretty sure that you were glad when the photo session was over.

Coach, lots of kids play soccer these days, and many of them have similar pictures on the shelves in their rooms. But to my son, this picture – this team, this experience – it is all so special. This team picture represents so much more than just the hours that he spent kicking a ball around with some friends. It is bigger than his successes and his mistakes on the field. It is more significant than the assists that he made or the points that he defended or the breakaways that he finished. And every time I see that picture, Coach, I wonder if you know, if you really understand, just how much you mean to my kid.

My son is a lucky guy. He has some great men in his life, men of integrity, who are training him to be a great man, too. His dad is always cheering on the sidelines. His grandpas love him more than words. His uncles spoil him with gifts and attention. But there is something about you, the other man in his life, that matters to him so much. There is something there that is hard to explain, something special about the relationship between a boy and his coach. I don’t know if you feel it, Coach, but I know that he does, and I hear that the other boys do, too.

You should know that my son, like most little boys, complains about a lot of things. He complains about homework. He complains about taking care of the dog. He complains about brushing his teeth at night. But one thing that he never complains about is going to practice. Every cell in that kid’s body desires to work hard and play hard with his team. He is hungry to learn and to improve for himself and his friends. If he doesn’t feel well and can’t attend school, no problem, but just the thought of missing a practice or a game can reduce my little man to tears. His team gives him a drive and a purpose, and you set the positive tone for that. You teach him to sweat, to show leadership, and to strive to improve. You teach him to persevere when things aren’t easy. You teach him what the give and take of being a teammate really means. These aren’t just lessons that are important in soccer; these are lessons that will guide him for the rest of his life.

Listen, Coach, I live with two little boys, and I know how frustrating they can be. I’m guessing you’ve already noticed, but sometimes they don’t listen. Okay, let’s be honest: A lot of the time, they don’t listen. They can be looking right into your eyes, nodding in agreement, and still not be paying attention to a single word that you’ve said. I’ve been there, Coach; I get it. I also know that they are easily distracted. SO easily distracted! I imagine that if a squirrel runs by or an airplane flies overhead during practice, you probably lose ten minutes just trying to get eight little boys back on track. Then there’s that little boy thing where they can’t keep their hands off each other. I don’t understand it, but I live with them, and I know that even the simplest, quietest activity always ends in wrestle mania. And let’s not forget that sometimes little boys can be insensitive with their words while at the same time being incredibly sensitive with their feelings. Stir all of this craziness into a pot, and the fact that you accomplish anything in the short amount of time that you spend with these animals is something amazing. And you keep coming back week after week, Coach. I guess, like us parents, you also see their joy, their innocence, their loyalty, their honesty, and their pure, undefiled love of the game. Thanks, Coach, for focusing on the positive when my kid tries your patience, and I know that he and his friends sometimes do.

Your time coaching our son is busy, and our evenings are often a rush, so we don’t have many opportunities to talk to you, but I want you to know that we see what you do. You might think that we parents are judging you by the wins and the scores, but that’s not really true. Sure, we want our team to be competitive, we want to see our children grow, but we have entrusted you with our greatest treasures, so there are lots of other things that matter from the sideline. Like that time you put your arm around my son while he was sitting on the bench. Do you remember? Probably not. But I do, and I promise I won’t forget that moment. It mattered to me more than anything else in that game. I’m telling you, I notice.

Every fist bump that you’ve given him when he runs off the field.

Every pat on the back that you’ve shared when he’s having a rough game.

Every serious, one-on-one consultation on the sidelines.

Every team huddle and chant.

Every time you have stood up for a player on our team.

Every time my son has deserved your frustration but received your caring instruction instead.

And then there were the times when a player was injured and you immediately ran to his aid. Do you have any idea how agonizing it is for a mom to allow someone else to be the first responder when her child is hurt just a few feet away? But I know that my son would find comfort in you if he were suffering, and that matters more to me than the score.

There were highlights this season, moments when my son’s skills shined and his contributions made a huge difference to his team’s success. You were the first one to congratulate him on those occasions, and that meant so much. And there were times, like every player experiences, when he did not play his best. We all saw it, Coach. I don’t know why he was having a bad day, but I do know that he didn’t want to disappoint you. I saw how you treated him when he was already down. You saw him for what he is, a kid with skills that are still developing, a kid who doesn’t always perform on cue. He could have been an easy target for a frustrated coach, but you didn’t even yell at him. You encouraged him. You instructed him. You motivated him to keep trying and to want to improve at the game that he loves.

Here’s the thing, Coach. We aren’t trying to raise a world-class athlete here, although we do encourage our boys to follow their dreams. We are trying to raise a man, a man who works hard and plays fair, a man who learns from his mistakes and always perseveres, a man who encourages others and shows compassion and shares grace. A man like his dad and his granddads. A man like you.

Thank you for showing my kid that soccer, as much as he loves it, is just a game, but being a part of a productive, positive team can be his real life.

Thank you for being a part of OUR team.


A Soccer Mom



U10 Training Format

Typical U-10 Training Session

  • 1 hour and 15 minutes or less. 
  • Warm-up, partner and small group activities, dynamic stretching. (15 min)
  • Soccer Activities, individual and partner activities, introduce small group activities (4 to 6 players). Add more directional games. Play to targets and/or zones. (20-25 min)
  • Free Play, small-sided game of 6v6, two goals with goalkeepers. (20-25 min)
  • Cool Down (5-10 min)

The end of each training session should be devoted to playing 4v4, 5v5 and 6v6 practice games. Fun games involving smaller numbers can be played, especially 1v1, 2v1 and 3v2 or 5v3 leading up to a final training activity.

Find more formats here: