Bored with training? Get creative!

The best way to learn how to play soccer is simple: Play soccer! When your youth training program follows this philosophy, exercises for small groups that are based on game situations, from 1 v. 1 to full scrimmages, are the cornerstone for success. These exercises are easy to organize, and are fun for players, too.

Introduction

There is one basic principle behind an effective youth training program: Nothing motivates youth players more than playing games with goals and goalkeepers. This does not mean you should just let your players play and hope they might learn something. However, with a few simple variations and rules, you can focus on specific elements of the game while keeping practice simulating to players. 

To demonstrate the wealth of possibilities, we will use exercises based on a simple form: 4 v. 4 + 4 extra players on two goals with goalkeepers. The exercises presented here are just a small sample from a broad spectrum of variations. It is up to each coach to invent further exercises according to the abilities and specific needs of his players.

How to use this exercises

  • Maximum playing time is four minutes. Since each group of four plays two games in a row (only one team at a time can switch roles with the extra players), it helps to have active rest periods between the rounds. During the breaks, coach can make corrections. 
  • Keep some extra balls by each goal - it helps to avoid long interruptions of the game, increases the physical demands on the players and improves the exercise's overall effectiveness.
  • Field size should be determined by the players' skill level. The smaller the field, the harder it will be for players to perform the exercise.
  • Most of these drills work just as well with different numbers of players, e. g. 5 v. 5 + 5 extra players (in this case, an extra position must be found for the fifth player). Field size and playing time are adjusted accordingly. 
  • The different variations emphasize specific skills - creativity, field vision, risk-taking, decisive shooting, combination play, division of space, solo play, cooperating to score, penetration, etc.

Game Setup 1 and 2, Game Setup 3 and 4, Game Setup 5 and 6