5 Football Training Drills for Kids Under 5
Engagement is the most critical aspect of training drills for kids below the age of 5. Adults have enough trouble staying focused it is compounded more when the attention span is shorter. As a result, the drills should be activities or games the kids can relate to.
What’s the time Mr Wolf?
What’s the Time Mr Wolf, as the name suggests is a spin on the school game of the same name. In this case each of the kids has a ball with the coach taking the role of Mr Wolf.
- Set up a grid 20 metres x 20 metres
- At one end of the grid, the coach faces towards away from the grid with their back to the kids
- Each of the kids have a ball at their feet and start at the opposite side of the grid from the coach
- Kids start calling out “What’s the time Mr Wolf?” and the coach responds with a number
- The Kids must dribble their ball forward in the number of steps the coach calls
- On the 3rd or 4th go, the coach calls “Dinner Time” and commences chasing and pretending to capture the soccer balls whilst the kids must dribble their ball back to the safe zone from where they started
Kids learn to run with the ball whilst keeping control when escaping the Wolf.
This drill combines both some running with the ball skills with some passing skills.
- Players form 2 lines with 4 in each line
- The first player in each line stands 1 metre in front of his line facing them with a ball
- The 3 players facing their team mate must stand with their legs apart to allow the ball to be passed through their legs
- The player who passes the ball must join the front of the line facing the direction from which they came
- The player at the back of each line must control the ball and dribble it to the front and pass through the ‘tunnel’ again
- Players do this 3 times racing the alternate line
Players work on passing the ball with the inside of their foot with weight and direction as well as running the ball at speed whilst keeping control.
This time another familiar game is applied to a training drill.
- Set up a 20 metre x 20 metre grid
- Up to 10 kids can play this game within the grid
- The coach calls out a command preceded by “Simon Says” eg Simon Says – place your left foot on the ball (of course with this age group you might need to explain which is left and right at the start)
- Some commands can include – Dribble the ball, Stop, Swap balls with someone else, go to the nearest disc/cone or colour specific cone, link arms with a team mate, roll the ball backwards, dribble with the right foot only, pick the ball up and put it in the air, place a body part on the ball, put one foot on the ball
- If a player does a task that isn’t preceded by Simon says, they must run around the farthest cone / disc or an alternate menial penalty
Kids are having fun whilst learning ball skills. This includes running with the ball, stopping the ball, listening and looking up whilst running the ball.
This time kids work on their dribbling skills and looking up.
- Set up a grid 20 metres x 20 metres
- 10 kids in the grid have a ball each
- Each corner of the grid is a disc of a different colour
- The coach must call out a colour
- When the kids hear the colour called they must dribble their ball to that coloured disc
Players are working on their running with the ball / dribbling skills whilst looking up and responding to changes with speed.
In this drill, kids are working on passing the ball with the inside of the foot. Some kids master this faster than others and it is important to persevere and help kids get the technique right. Tell, demonstrate and get them to do it over and over. Tell and demonstrate again. Have them slow it right down till the technique is right.
- Set up 2 grids 5 metres x 2 metres one zone 1 metre away from the other
- Place 6 agility discs at the end of each zone in the shape of a triangle in a 1, 2, 3 format. The top of the triangle should be at the closest to the other end of the grid
- Players stand 2 to 3 metres away with a ball facing the triangle
- Place 6 balls atop each of the discs in each zone
- Players must pass their ball at the triangle and try and knock the balls off the discs
- Each time a ball is knocked off it is added to the triangle in the other zone
- The first team to knock off all balls wins
- 2 Parents / Coaches are required to reload discs with balls and return balls to players
Players are working on their passing technique as well as the direction and weight of the pass.
All of these drills are designed to be fun for kids. Engaged kids look forward to playing football and coming to training. Each drill has an element of competition, either against the coach or against another team. This helps kids focus on achieving the task at hand by having an objective – winning. Further, it allows kids to subconsciously learn and with this age group it is a great way to teach.
Whilst there are other drills such as Rob the Nest, I am not a fan of this drill. It always seems to result in tears, arguments and unnecessary hostility. Keep the drills simple and not personal.
I deliberately haven’t placed a time frame alongside each drill. The culture within each group will be different and it will be important for coaches to assess the level of engagement and change the drills before engagement is lost. This way the drill can be repeated at a later date.by