Age Group: U5 or first season U6.
Practice Time: 30 minutes
Objective: Practical touches on the ball, have fun.
1. Set up a circle of cones in yellow, one cone for each player.
2. When it is time for practice to begin, go to the center of the circle and tell each player to find a cone with their ball. Countdown from 10 so that they move with purpose.
3. Reinforce whatever it is you want them to learn this season. I usually said one of the following – have fun and SMILE, try hard and RUN FAST, pay attention and LISTEN and/or If you have the ball what do you do (SCORE), if they have the ball what do you do (TAKE IT AWAY), if someone on your team has the ball what do you do (GET OUT OF THEIR WAY).
4. Call out the names of their teammates and ask everyone to point to that person. It is important they know everyone’s name.
5. Have the players do one or two touch drills while they are at their cone like a simple toe tap.
[TIME CHECK: You are 5-7 minutes into practice now.]
6. Have your team dribble around the circle of cones in one direction. If you are in the middle of the half of field, the field edge is out of bounds. This helps them dribble, dribble in traffic in a fun non competitive way. Some players will go faster than others, it is okay and helps them learn to dribble around other people.
7. Have them repeat the process going the other direction. Feel free to mix it up with them switching direction.
8. Tell them to find a cone! Each player should dribble to a cone and stop the ball with their feet.
9. Water Break, earlier if they need it that is your call
[12 minute time check]
10. Tell them you are going to play a game called MONSTER! INSTRUCTIONS BELOW:
Coach you are a monster, walk funny and make scary noises
Your team is on the other side of the circle, in a group
Their job is to not be tagged, if they are tagged they are ‘frozen’
The goal is to jog slowly (or walk) to one side then move to the other. Your U5 and U6 team should be focused on reversing the ball and keeping an eye on coach. In addition to both of those fundamentally great skills, they also must maneuver around their fellow teammates. Every group I have tried this game with gives it two thumbs up and it works well with the whole circle practice plan that is so effective at this age group
[TIME CHECK: You are 20-23 minutes into practice now – another water break]
11. Every practice is the same up until this point. Structure, fun, the kids love it.
12. At this point we play one of three games.
- Red light, green light. Keep it fun and have the kids put their knee or head on the ball during red light.
- 1v1. Split your team into two groups, put them on opposite sides of the field. Assign each member of both groups a number 1, 2, or 3. When you call the number those two kids come out and try to get the ball you kicked to see who can score first. To make it more fair you can kick the ball more toward the weaker kid to give them more chances. Also, make sure you number kids to skill level so your best kid is not competing against the worst.
- The last is dribble around the coach. Note the screenshot below and here is a link to more detail.
Practice is NOW OVER! It has been 30 minutes.
I have tried every drill in the book, every tip and I always come back to this simple format for U5 soccer practices. The core of the program is the CIRCLE (it is ANTI BORING LINES). The kids love it, they will get better, and everyone has fun. Good luck this season, remember you care more than the kids do they just want to kick the ball.