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The payoff from practicing individual and team skills

"Why do I have to dribble around that cone?
Why am I dancing around the ball?  Is this really worth doing?"


It's great to watch world cup, professional, and college soccer teams and all they can do, but it can be challenging for coaches and kids to start to bring what you see high-level players do into youth soccer games.  The videos below show youth soccer age players applying more advanced ball skills and teamwork in games or game-like situations.  There are many lessons to learn, copy, and bring into your game because it makes hard game situations easier and soccer more fun!

The purpose of this page is to show the payoff of working at and learning seemingly boring techniques and skills-- to connect how you see youth players perform in the videos below with practice and help motivate players to want to learn them if they want to be able to play like the players in the videos.

Introducing ball skills can seem boring and unimportant in practice.  Cones and other abstract situations are used to simplify learning and allow step-by-step progression without game-like pressure, but is it working when we ask kids to imagine game situations during drills?  Are the kids getting the picture and understanding what's happening?  In these videos we see the payoff captured on video-- see tricks and moves fool defenders and understand why step-overs, pull-backs, and other skills work in games and why they are worth learning and game-changers for players of all ages.  (Also, defenders should ask how could I defend that player?  Pay attention to the trouble with lunging, over-committing, and the benefit of being a patient, ready-to-react, goal-side defender.  If they haven't gotten past you, they haven't gotten past you!

Joga Bonita YouTube Channel - see examples of those soccer moves (scissors, step-over, Maradonna, etc.) we learn in practice and may wonder "How should I use this in a game?"  They keep defenders guessing what you will do next and off balance-- this makes soccer easier and more fun when you have the ball!


U13 Possession Soccer Example


  • No direct pressure 1v1 attack/defend warm-up (thanks ScottF!)


Some tools/practice-ideas for learning teamwork and passing:

  • Restrictions/conditions for players in small-sided games / real games
    • limit opponents (e.g,. 5 vs 2), to increase success possessing ball
    • limit touches (3 touches)
    • limit time with ball (3-4 seconds)
    • count turn-overs per minute
    • count passes per minute
  • Examples of cleanly receiving ball, 1-2 touch plays, "on purpose" passes that reach teammate (or intended open space) with good weight/accuracy, teammates spread out and moving to support each other... and a goal after 13 uninterrupted passes through and around opponents!