5 Tips For Designing Individual Soccer Drills

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As a soccer coach, planning individual soccer drills can be difficult. Well-planned drills can be the best way to develop and perfect players’ skills. They’re also a terrific opportunity to make practice more enjoyable and less repetitive. As a coach, it’s important to introduce new drills, so the kids on your team continue to improve and have fun.

When designing new soccer drills, follow these top tips.  

1. Determine Your Focus

The best soccer drills start with a plan. By starting with your goal in mind, you can tailor the drill to get the most out of your players. First, decide what you want to achieve. Next, establish the key skills you want to focus on, taking the players’ skill levels into account.

Every drill should focus on a specific skill — whether physical or mental — you want to develop. Broad training categories include fitness, technique, tactics and psychology. From these key areas, specific skills funnel down into things like dribbling, shooting and defending. Be sure to balance the practices’ topics so you’re covering the different training categories over time.

2. Decide Your Ideal Numbers

Once you know what skill you want to focus on, determine the ideal number of players for the drill.

For drills that focus on fundamentals, individual, one-on-one or two-on-two groupings are often best because they allow the kids to concentrate more on developing their technical skills.

For drills with an increasing amount of pressure, group players in teams of three-on-three or four-on-four. Competitive game-style drills with groupings this size help the players learn more dynamically.

Although you can structure drills that mimic match conditions in groups up to eleven-on-eleven, it’s generally better to keep them as five-on-five or six-on-six to allow players more touches on the ball. In large groups, the players who most need the drill won’t have a chance to touch the ball.

After you decide the best number of players for each drill, determine the appropriate amount of time for the drill. Use the clock not only to provide structure, but also to increase intensity and enhance the mental aspects of some drills. In general, drills should not go over 10 minutes, especially for younger players whose attention spans may be shorter.

3. Write It Down

Whether with paper and pen or digitally, write out the details of the drill. Note the skill you’re focusing on. Next, describe the drill and include drill instructions, making note of any necessary equipment.

Perhaps most importantly, create a drill diagram. You can sketch this by hand or use one of the many online options to create it digitally. Make coaching notes as well, so you’ll remember key points during practice.

4. Prepare for Practice

In your practice plan, include warm-ups that will prepare the players for the new drill. When introducing new drills, you’ll need to make sure you explain it well to the players. Brainstorm brief, effective demonstrations and explanations, so you can keep the coaching clear and concise.  

5. Evaluate the Drill

After the first practice with the new drill, evaluate how it went. What do you want to change about it? How could you improve your coaching around it to better develop your players? If you make any changes, include them in your written details (see tip #3), so you’ll remember how to structure the drill better next time. Continue to evaluate the drill over time and make changes as you see fit.

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