When you move up or start at U12/U15 it can be a bit daunting. Some of the kids might well know the game better than you. But Overall, coaching youth soccer at the grassroots level is still the Same. Have a positive attitude and keep your kids moving through different activities that have them constantly working with a ball, either dribbling, passing or shooting. Like always, they should get enough running in doing these drills that you don’t need to add much extra conditioning.
Generally my schedule looks like so
- (10-15 min) Some kind of activity while they show up, usually Rondo or shooting on goal
- (5 min) Warm ups
- (15 min) Ball touches or some other dribbling activity
- (15 min x 2) – Two other drills to work on some skill
- (15-30 min) – Scrimmage/ small sided game
Rondo / Passing Drills
The best team of all time was likely 2009 Barcelona coached by Pep Guardiola. He is fanatical about Rondo, which most Americans would call monkey in the middle. I like to start with Rondos while the kids are showing up so we can be playing and they just jump in when they arrive. I’ll probably make them do some other passing drill in the middle of practice as well
Basic Rondos – You can either do your whole team (10-14) in a circle with two in the middle, or split them in half and do 1-2 in the middle.
Square Passing Drill – This one makes the kids keep running, much better alternative than having them do sprints or laps. Note they start stopping the ball with their left and then passing with their right. Changing direction should make them pass with their left instead of their right foot. If they get really good I’ll throw a second ball in and have them see if they can do it. For larger teams two squares of 6+ works great. Same Idea, just 6 spots with multiple balls for a larger team.
Two Ball passing – You have to pass the ball, but it takes coordination between the kids. Note how he explains it at the beginning using questions, that’s another thing recommended in literature
Warm Ups (5 Minutes)
Most literature recommends a few minutes of dynamic stretches. These aren’t your old hold it stretches, but back and forth that gets you through a range of motion.
Dynamic Stretching Routine – Minutes 2 -3 is probably the most important part of this.
Detroit FC Warm Up – Good overall Warm up theory
You can also have your kids jog a half lap or from touchline to touchline, but remind them it’s just a warm up job. I might throw in some sprints towards the end of practices, but I won’t do much running.
Ball Touches / Dribbling Drills
Try to do at least 5 minutes of ball touches at each practice! You don’t have to do everything listed below every practice, but you should be consistent in doing some of these 4-5 practices in a row so they can build on their success and keep improving.
For ball touches, it’s good to practice these yourself so you can show your kids how to do it. You can start the explanation by asking if any of your kids know how to do ball touches and have them show off to you and the team the different types of touching drills they know how to do. Also point out older kids when they do their touches which will excite and inspire them to keep wanting to do touches..
Basic Touches – Starts with basic touches 00:12 – 00:24 in video. Your kids might not hop like they do, but so long as they are alternating their feet touching the top of the ball, they are improving. They’ll get better and faster as they practice.
Front Pushes/Rolls – Video 2 – 00:33 – 00:37 – Have them push the ball forward until they get back to the line. Important coaching kick is they aren’t kicking the ball, they are touching the top and rolling it forward. Again, don’t worry about speed for your beginners, they will get better as they improve.
Foundation / Tick Tocks – 00:37 – 00:54 – Keep the ball in between their feet. I like to pick a line and have them practice trying to keep the ball on the line while they do it.
Pull Backs – 2:00 – 2:22 – Touch the top and push the ball forward and pull it back while it is under their foot the whole time.
Zig Zag double touch dribble – 2:22 – Touch the ball twice with the inside of their foot moving sideways, then switch feet and go the otherwise. They should go sideways more and move the ball only about a foot or less with each touch. Have them dribble to a spot. They can dribble back.
Side Rolls – Kids face sideways and pull the ball sideways.
Set up lines for kids, you can start them out just dribbling through cones, but then This progression has other ideas to mix it up. You can have your kids pass the ball back to their partner then they run in between the lines while the partner dribbles.
Two Line Dribbling
If everyone has a ball, put two lines about 5-10 yards apart (I’d put a cone every 5 yards so it’s easy for them to see the lines). Have your kids dribble back and forth on the lines, thinking about stopping right on the line and turning around. Make them go until you say stop then return to the start line, about 10-20 times back and forth. Outside foot turns, rakes, inside foot, mix in left foot only, right foot only
Skill / Other drill ideas
Crossing + Shooting – It’s good to get kids in the mindset of when they are in the corner, they need to cross the ball to a partner in the middle. Kids also need practice shooting a ball from a cross, hopefully one touching it. You can start with just 4 lines and have kids move between lines, two go on the left and cross / shoot to the left side of the goal, two on the right, then have them change lines so they go through all 4, here’s the US WNT doing something similar with 3 lines. This one is more static with 2 defenders + 2 centers + crossers/ shooters
Throw Ins + Corner Kicks – At U12 and U15 it’s good to make an offense and defense and practice corner kicks. Find 2-4 kids with strong legs and have one at each corner take a bunch. Also having kids pair up and just practice throw-ins is often good from time to time
Quick Shots – Line all your kids up with their ball around the 18 goal box line, have someone in goal, then just say go and have your kids shoot one after the other. Get their balls and do it again.
Give and Go – This is a good impromptu technique kids can use when they are working through a defense. This is like 4 square passing, but give and go. I’ve also done a circuit style for this where they give and go then dribble to a cone and pass to the line then take up a spot where they can be the guy they give-and-go with before going back into line.
If you have another team practicing, your kids will probably love scrimmaging for 15-30 minutes or more. If your team is by themselves, just make two smaller goals and split them up. This is almost always how I end practice with older kids.