During this time of year I like to run a few sessions that incorporate competitive games that test the player’s dribbling, passing and shooting. Making the exercises into competitive games increases the motivation of the players and challenges them to perform the skills under pressure.
You can use almost any drill or exercises in this way as long as you can have two groups of players doing it simultaneously and you keep score. The power of keeping score in practice environments can not be underestimated. Players that will just go through the motions in an exercises will participate with much intensity as soon as score is being kept.
Here is an example of a mutli-themed practice that I used with my younger teams last night.
American Gladiators - Dribbling and Possession
This is a game that I’ve used a lot because of how versatile it is. Two teams of six players are in their own 15 x 15-yard grid. One player from each team acts as a defender and enters the other team's grid where the remaining five players are dribbling a ball. When a player's ball is kicked out of the grid they are out of the game. The first defender to kick all of the balls out of the other teams grid, wins a point for their team. This is played six times so that everyone has a chance to act as the defender.
A great progression of this game is to allow players who have lost their ball to stay in the grid and help their teammates by providing passing options. Eventually, the games becomes 5 v 1 keep away until one of the teams loose their last ball.
I’ve used this triangle passing drill a number of times during the season to teach not only passing but also the importance of first touch and body position.
Each player follows their pass to the next position after passing the ball. It’s important to emphasis that the first touch and the pass should be made with the right foot when the exercise is moving in a counter-clockwise direction and with the left foot when it is moving clockwise. Using the ‘Back Foot’ in this way keeps the players body open to his teammates and allows him to take his first touch in the direction of the pass he wants to make.
We did this as a relay with two triangle passing at the same time so that the first team to have all of their players complete the circuit twice, wins.
One team is lined up with a ball at the starting cone while the other team is spread out on either side of the goal. One at a time the players with a ball dribble toward the cone, perform a fake or move to go past the ‘defender’ and shoot into a goal. The team has two minutes to score as many goals as they can before the other team takes their turn. With more advanced team you can have one player from the defending team serve as a goalkeeper. You could also have a ‘live’ defender if your players need even more of a challenge.
The practice ends with a scrimmage that is free of any special rules so that they players are free to play hard, compete and use all of their soccer skills.
Have you ever used this type of practice? What other drills/games would you use?