For nearly all 6U soccer coaches being a coach will be a new experience. With young players still getting into the game, and teams being led by parents and family members with limited or no coaching background, running useful drills can be difficult. There are ways to accelerate learning as a coach, including those we shared in our Lessons from Coaching Youth Soccer, but this article is focus on more tactical understanding of running a practice and setting up drills.
Resources for Running Kids Soccer Practice
Most of our favorite drills are pulled from other coaches, past practices, camps, or shared from coach training. While all these are great options, it is admittedly tough to find training plans that work and are in an easy format. If you want to run an effective 6U soccer practice, it takes some prep work. Many AYSO leagues offer some guides, we’ve collected some of the best 6U soccer training plan resources here:
- 6U-12U Season Training Plan from Eastern PA Soccer
- YMCA 6U-8U Practice Plan
- Soccer Drive 6U Practice Plans
- AYSO 6U Coaching Guide
- US Youth Soccer Lesson Plans
Here are our favorite drills to run with a 6U soccer team. All of these will work with younger 4U teams, and can be the groundwork for older 8U and 10U teams, with minor modifications. An entire hour to 90 minute practice can easily be created by just combining these drills in an order that works for your team.
Summary: Pit two groups against each other, pick teams of 1s, 2s, or 3s. Roll a ball into the middle of the field, first team to touch the ball is now on offense, play out the point until the defending team takes the ball, the ball leaves the field, or a score. Can also be played where you have kids start next to each other and you throw ball away from goal, they then need to control, turn, dribble, pass and shoot on same goal
2. Sharks and Minnows
Summary: Designate a “shark” and a team of minnows. Minnows can each have a ball, or collectively have 1 ball. Send the shark in to steal the ball. Once a minnow is “eaten” or looses their ball they are either out or can become a shark.
Good for ball control and dribbling. This gets even better if you add in a coach as a shark. Done correctly a coach can try to win as a shark simply by making players dribble out of bounds, highlighting how important ball control is.
3. The Beast
Summary: Setup a few cones between the players and the goal. Position a coach or player within the cones. The attacking team has to go score while avoiding “the beast” of the coach or player in the cones. Early on, dribble around the beast; then progress to dribble at the beast and then pass off ball to teammates.
Good for finding space, ball control, getting around a scrum. Especially at 6u players wind up bunched together, this teaches them to avoid the large group and find green space.
4. Dribble Dribble Shoot
Summary: Simple dribble lines going towards the goal. Make players take just two touches, then shoot. Teaches players that they can score on goal without dribbling the ball all the way in. Teaches control. Over time move the starting position back to encourage touches that extend the ball further but still finish in a shot from a reasonable distance.
Add a chaser to take it up a notch. Make players start and take two dribbles then shoot, but add a follower from a different cone that is trying to break it up or stand in the way (not slide tackle). This helps players learn to take shots on break aways and keeping moving quickly.
Good for teaching players how to handle break aways in game situations.
5. Dribbling Laps
Summary: Make players dribble laps around the field for time. Count the number of times the ball enters the play of field, add that number of seconds to their time.
Good for warmup and start of practice. Ball control and running are important and adding a timer gives some motivation for many players to beat their best time. This can also be done as a relay race collectively as a team.
Summary: Kids love it. Setup 6 cones, put a ball on each one (or just setup a triangle of balls). Start from 10 yards away and have players take turns kicking until they collectively get a strike/spare. Count the number of kicks needed to get a spare. For added fun make it a game against the coaches.
Good for teaching players to look up at where they are kicking. By making a line behind the initial kicker others will also encourage “don’t back up to kick” from players. This is a big issue in games where players try to back up a lot to kick hard, when instead they could keep moving forward.
7. Corner Kicks
Summary: 3 vs. 1 Corner kicks. Setup a single player to kick from a corner and get other 2 into good position closer to and in front of goal. Work on one touch to score, single kicks. Add in a single defender to break up the corner, but don’t let them stand in the goal crease.
Good for teaching the idea of a corner kick. Many players at this level can not follow the simple mechanics of a game, or where to stand. Running this drill helps express when a corner kick happens and allows coaches to call out “corner kick drill” and avoid over coaching on game days.