Category Archives for Drills & Exercises

How to Warm Up For a Training Session

By Mike Saif

QuestionHow do you warm up for a training session? Does it change depending on what the training session topic is?

One of the most important things for me with training sessions is to get them active right away. Although I would set up different warm-ups sometimes depending on the topic of the session, most of my warm-ups were small-sided possession games. I did these for a number of reasons.

• They were designed so that all players were moving and active
• No matter the topic of the session, playing soccer always includes passing and possession
• It was a great way to make the warm up competitive and fun

My favorite warm-up was to simply divide the players into two teams with 1 or more neutral players. So it could be 7v7+2, 6v6+3, 8v8+2, etc. This made it really easy regardless of how many players were at practice that night.

I would make the space nice and big which would make it easier to be successful stringing passes and so that the players had more space to cover and run in. Depending on the number of players, it could be a half of a field or from the half line to the penalty area, etc. I would also stipulate that once you had made a pass, you had to run into a different area of the field to make sure players didn’t stay in the same spot all the time.

Making the warm-up competitive ensured a good effort and also made it fun. I would set targets like, 10 consecutive passes or 6 consecutive one-touch passes to get a point. I would sometimes limit players to two-touch or even one-touch with three neutral players. The losing team would have to give the winning team a piggy back ride or have to pick up the cones and balls at the end of practice, etc.

Another active possession warm-up is to play 5v5v5 in the same area with the same rules as above. This time the players would be split into three teams, each with a different color bib. Two teams would combine to keep the ball away from the other team. When the defending team won possession of the ball, the team that was responsible for losing possession, would now become the defending team. In the diagram below, the dark team and white team are combining to keep the ball away from the red team.

Give these a try and experiment with others, but making sure your players are active and having fun, is always a good start to a training session.

By Mike Saif
Founder and President of WORLD CLASS COACHING, Mike has coached 12 State Championship teams and coached the 87G Dynamos to a USYS National Championship.

Endless 4v4

By Steven Smith

Setup:
One grid is set up in the front third of the field using a full half field. The grid is set with the width of the 18 yard box making the width of the grid 44 yards.

Execution:
Four players come from the midfield stripe or a bit closer as shown in the diagram and attack a group of four defenders who are positioned deep in the field in a zonal defense shape.

If the attacking team is successful in getting a shot off either on goal, over the end line or to the keeper’s hands, the attacking group becomes the defending group and a new group of four come from the midfield stripe to attack the newly appointed defenders.

However, if the defending group is successful in cutting out the attacking group and gaining possession, the defensive group attempts to score on any of the three small goals at the opposite end. If they are successful in scoring on the small goals then the defensive group gets to stay on the field and defend again. If they are not successful in scoring they come off the field and the initial attackers become the defenders.

Variations:
Coach should have all waiting players with pinnies in their hands as the new attacking group entering should contrast in color with the defending group.

Coach can have the defending group stay on for 3-4 runs of attack prior to making any switches changing the game from an endless game to a predetermined number of attack before the switch.

By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.

Crossing Free Zones

By Steven Smith

Setup:
Two free zones are set up outside a 36 by 30-yard field. Zones are free from defenders. Grid size can be up to half field depending on age of players and functional desire of coach. The free zone sizes can also be adjusted.

Execution:
Flat back four defend groups of attackers who come from end line with the ball. They can attack in combination play up the center of the field or they can send the ball to the flank zone that is free of defenders. Ball is crossed quickly and attackers attempt to score. When ball is cleared a new group of attackers come at the same defenders. Attack in groups of 6 plus free zone attackers.

Variations:
Coach can limit the attacking group to four players plus the flank free zone players.

Coach can require all attack to come from flank with all attackers selling out to the crossed ball without any balance.

Coach can blow whistle and the ball must get to the flank within two touches.

Coach can allow counter attack opportunity for the defending group on opposite full size goal.

Coach can limit the number of attackers that can come into the box for the crossed ball.

By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.

Brazilian Triangle Series

By Steven Smith

Setup:
Three to four sets of the triangles are set up as shown in the first diagram. Three players are in each triangle and set up on the cone in each location. Distance between cones should be about five yards within the triangle and 15 yards between triangle sets.

Execution:
Players execute a series of predetermined passing sequences as shown in each diagram. Players should eventually become so adept at this warm up that it can be led by the players with the switching of the patterns being done by the leaders of your group. Spend approximately three minutes on each passing sequence before switching sides.

Variations:
1. Coach can set up competitions between the groups to see how many passes in a pattern can be accomplished in a set amount of time.

2. Coach can change up the size of the triangles in increasingly bigger distances and switch groups to each of the increasingly bigger spaces. The precision of passing touches can be translated to the larger spaces that may occur in the game.

By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.

Speed Dribble

By Steven Smith

Setup:
This activity is designed to encourage dribble penetration through the field when space is given. Teams who recognize space for speed dribbling will force defenses to make decisions based on the attacking team. It will be more likely that advances into more dangerous spaces on the field will occur.

Execution:
Two grids are set up in 25 yard squares approximately 20 yards apart. Two color groups are set up so that each grid has 5 vs. 3 occurring in each grid. Each grid plays keep away with the group of 5 retaining the ball. When the defense group of three gets the ball they attempt to retain as long as possible. On the coach’s whistle an attacking player from grid A speed dribbles to grid B and continues to play keep away in the new grid. A player from the sideline joins grid A and the same activity continues. On the same coach’s whistle that initiated the grid switch a player from grid B speed dribbles out of that grid and takes a shot on the goal and then joins the line for grid A.

Variations:
Keep both color groups the same for two separate timed games where score is kept for each successful goal scored after exiting the grid.

By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.

Double Goal

By Steven Smith

Setup:
This activity is designed to convert possession to shooting in a quick sequence. The teams must focus on proper and skillful possession of the ball in a tight space and then quickly convert that to a shooting opportunity and apply good finishing skills.

Execution:
Two grids are set up in 18 yard squares approximately 20 yards apart. Two color groups are set up so that each grid has 4 vs. 4 plus 1 in each grid. Each grid plays keep away with the extra color player in red always on the attacking team side (team in possession of ball at any given time). The coach predetermines the number of passes that must be completed consecutively and uninterrupted by anyone on the opposing team before the final player leaves the grid and takes a shot on goal. A player from the sideline joins each grid after a player leaves to shoot. The shooting player rejoins the sideline of the next grid over and the same activity continues.

Variations:
1. All players who take shots return to their same grid they left and score is kept between the two teams in that grid. Winners advance to play winners of the other grid.

2. Both teams shoot at the same time on opposite goals by the coach blowing a whistle during the possession. The team that scores first on each whistle gets the goal and the second shooter does not get a point even if he or she successfully scores their shot.

By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.

Defending from different angles

By George Kee

1v1 defending occurs numerous times throughout a match. This exercise teaches players to defend from different angles. Players gain experience defending when approaching from the front, side, and behind.

Area Size: Attacking 3rd
# Of Players: 10-15
Time: 30 minutes

Set up: Four cones placed in a square at the top of the penalty area. 4 numbered defenders are placed at each cone. A line of attackers start 10 yards out.

Execution: The attacker begins dribbling into the square, at some point the coach will call out a number and that defender will close down on the ball and attempt to block the shot as the players play 1v1 to goal. The coach can call the number at varied times in order to change the angle of approach from the defender.

Coaching Points:
Defenders approaching from the front should close down at an angle; body position should be side on with knees bent.

Defenders approaching from behind or the side should look to create contact with a shoulder challenge to disrupt the dribbler. From here the defender can get between the dribbler and the ball to win possession or get in front to delay.

Exercise Two: 

 

Setup and execution: 3 colored goals set up 20 yards away from line of attackers. A line of defenders starts on the side halfway between the goals and the attacker. The attacker will begin dribbling and at the same time the defender will come off the cone and close down. At some point the coach will call out a color which will indicate which goal the players will attack and defend.

Defenders should first look to get in the ball line between the attacker and the goal. Once the ball line has been cut out the defender should begin to close down. This exercise can also be used to stress the importance of putting in the extra work to block shots.

Coaching Points
• Good defensive body position, side on, knees bent, balance on toes
• Using the shoulder when tackling from the side
• Getting in the ball line between the ball and the goal

Originally from San Antonio, Texas, George moved to northern California in 2014 to take over as the head soccer coach at Lassen College. In his brief time with the program George has won an undefeated conference title, coached four players of the year, and won three Coach of the Year Awards.