Soccer Practice

Soccer Practice Can Be Fun
Players Can Improve Twice as Fast

29 Practice Tips and
Tips from 3 Famous Coaches

Soccer practice tips, plans, Free No Lines Soccer Drills, and a training program that is fun and really works. Use our No Lines Drills and your players will improve Twice as Fast because they will be practicing instead of standing in line. Most SoccerHelp drills are Practice Games that train players to play fast - try the free drills below and you will see the difference. There are over 400 Testimonials and Success Stories from coaches at the link below.

Things to Do at Soccer Practice

  1. Be organized, have a practice plan and get to practice 10 minutes early to check the field and set up for your first SoccerHelp No Lines Drill. If you need ideas, check out Free Practice Plans.

  2. Be sure each child has a ball (tell each child to bring one, but bring some extras in case they forget).

  3. The key to improvement is "touches" on the ball. Ideally, every player should be active and never stand in line for the entire practice. Try to plan your practice so each child will get at least 200 touches on the ball.

  4. The best way to teach your players is by using SoccerHelp No Lines Practice Drills.. Our Practice Drills are much better than line drills or scrimmaging. A good soccer drill is one that is fun, that teaches skills, concepts, team play, or field awareness, where everyone is active, where there are lots of touches on the ball, and that is quick and easy to set up and simple to explain and manage. The very best No Lines Practice Drills, such as our Dribble Across A Square™ and Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race™ drills that are practice games, are self teaching, and players learn by playing the game. If you are spending too much time on set-up or instruction, simplify it. If it's not fun, it's not a good drill. There are thousands of drills and practice games available on the Internet, but less than 5% meet the criteria established by SoccerHelp. Try our No Lines Soccer Drills - most are original and copyrighted by us. They really work and your team will improve MUCH more quickly. You will notice the difference after just one practice. See the Testimonials and Success Stories for comments by coaches.

  5. The most important fundamental soccer skill is dribbling. Many SoccerHelp No Lines Drills that are Practice Games teach dribbling, but the best one for U8 and older is Dribble Across a Square which I recommend you play at every practice as a warm up for teams U8 and older. The Soccer Help Practice Games are self teaching and players learn by playing the games.

  6. If your team is U4 or U6, you will greatly benefit from Coach Doug's ideas. Watch the video clips of how Coach Doug coaches and the "Hit the Coach" Practice Game at Coach Doug Video Clips. At U4 and U6, Coach Doug and I recommend you focus on dribbling, defense and movement off the ball but NOT passing. Passing is too confusing for U4 and U6 players and teaching it will hold back their development of other skills such as dribbling. The USYSA recommends this approach and we agree.

  7. Practice attendance is CRITICAL. Players won't improve unless they practice. Players are MUCH more likely to attend practice and be on time if your practices are FUN and if you minimize lines and maximize activity. But, if players don't attend practice or are late, motivate and reward them. Praise and reward the things you want your players to do, such as hustling, improving, and giving 100% effort (every player can do those things). We have had great success using small iron-on patches to motivate players - you have probably seen them - we sell soccer balls, Lightning Bolts to reward hustle, a B for Bravery, a D for defense, a Happy Face, T for Team Work, etc. You can see them at Motivational Patch Incentives

  8. If your team is U8 or older, you should teach control dribbling, speed dribbling into Open Space (acceleration into Open Space), how to "chip" the ball, how to make a Throw-in, passing, and Aggressive Receiving. SoccerHelp has No Lines Drills to teach all of these.

  9. Practice Tips from the Great Anson Dorrance for U8 and Older - The best way to teach skills to U8 and older is by using the SoccerHelp No Lines Soccer Drills that involve pressure and competition (SoccerHelp Drills for U8 and older are designed to create pressure and competition). The reason is because they prepare players to perform those skills in games, at "Game Speed", and while under pressure. Coach Anson Dorrance is one of the greatest soccer coaches ever - he is a college coach and his teams have won over 700 games and 22 national championships. Below are some of his tips that have influenced the SoccerHelp Training Program:
    - In practice, encourage competition.
    - During practice, try to keep score in everything you can -- keeping score encourages competition, 100% effort, game speed, and is more like what player's face in a real game.
    - Competition is critical to developing each player's potential.
    - "Competition is key to developing players. The only practice environment in which you truly develop a player is a competitive arena."

  10. At practice, be sure to use Drills or Practice Games that are Age Appropriate. For example, SoccerHelp has different Drills and Practice Games for U6 than for U8. SoccerHelp Games for U6 don't keep score or try to create competition so players practice as fast as possible, but those for U8 and older do.

  11. Summary - SoccerHelp No Lines Practice Games are a better way to train players. The best way to train your players is by using SoccerHelp No Lines Practice Games - that is why there are over 400 Testimonials from coaches. SoccerHelp Practice Games are effective and for U8 and older they involve competition and pressure. SoccerHelp Practice Games train players to play fast while under pressure. Coaches who use SoccerHelp No Lines Drills and Practice Games achieve 200% to 300% MORE at each practice, because actual practice time is maximized and standing in line is minimized. The result is that your players will improve 2 or 3 times faster and develop better fundamental skills - read the Testimonials from Coaches about Results. Even if you practiced twice as much with Line Drills, your results would be inferior because Line Drills don't create competition and train players to play fast while under pressure. SoccerHelp Drills and Practice Games are a better way to train and train players to play fast while under pressure, so they are able to play better in real matches.

  12. 8 Practice Tips from the Great April Heinrichs - No one can match April Heinrichs' experience and success as a soccer player and coach. She was Soccer America's "Player of the Decade" for the 1980's, a 3 time All American at the University of North Carolina where she scored 87 goals in 90 games and Coach Anson Dorrance said she was one of the best he has ever seen at 1 v 1 attacking, in 1998 she was the first female player voted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, Captain of the World Cup Championship team in 1991, Head Coach of the U.S. U-16 Girl's National Team, Head Coach at the University of Virginia, and she coached the U.S. Women's National Team. I interviewed her and asked:

    "What should coaches of players age 13 and younger emphasize in practice?" Below are Coach Heinrichs' 8 Practice Tips (SoccerHelp No Lines Soccer Drills let you achieve her recommendations):

    1. Create passion and love for soccer.
    2. Plan practices in advance and keep the practice and all activities "short and crisp" (not long and dull).
    3. The practice length should be about the same length as the real games or matches (e.g., about 1 hour if games last 1 hour). This way the players will look forward to the next practice.
    4. Keep practices fun and interesting by maximizing activity and minimizing lines.
    5. Have a ball for every player and try to involve as many players as possible in practice activities so as many players as possible are active.
    6. Plan the amount of time you will spend on an activity and stick to it, don't let it linger. End practices on time. Wear a watch and use it.
    7. Spend 80% or more of the practice time on activities with a ball that have a "high ball ratio", such as dribbling, passing and shooting drills or games, and small-sided attacking and defending (such as 1v1, 2v1 or 1v2) where 25% to 100% of the players have a ball, and less than 20% on things that don't involve a ball or activities that have a "low ball ratio" (such as scrimmages that involve a lot of players and one ball).
    8. Build competition into the practice. It's more fun and better prepares players for real soccer matches.
  13. 7 Practice Tips from the Great Jay Martin, the winningest coach in college men's soccer history:

    1. Practice should be pleasant, exciting, and filled with learning opportunities.
    2. Make it fun – Don’t make soccer “work”. Players will come to practice and keep playing soccer if it is fun.
    3. Praise performance.
    4. Set Realistic Goals – Goals that are unattainable cause frustration.
    5. Give positive and informative feedback.
    6. Give players recognition whenever possible for effort or achievements
    7. Success in training increases confidence, which increases motivation.

    The above tips are from an article by Dr. Jay Martin in the NSCAA Soccer Journal. Jay is a great guy, a great coach, and Editor of Soccer Journal - he is the winningest coach in college men's soccer history with a total of over 680 wins. I encourage all youth coaches to join the NSCAA.

Things to Avoid at Practice:

  1. Don't have players standing around watching or standing in lines while only a few practice with the ball. You won't be able to totally avoid this, but you can minimize it.

  2. Don't use Line Drills if you can use No Lines Drills.

  3. Don't scrimmage too much. Only scrimmage for 10-15 minutes at the end of practice. SoccerHelp Practice Games are much more beneficial than scrimmaging. If you scrimmage, use the "Small Sided Scrimmage Without a Goalie" Practice Game in Soccerhelp Premium, it will teach all players to learn to defend and to work as a team to move the ball into scoring range. Large-sided scrimmages don't give each child enough touches on the ball (especially the less skilful or less aggressive players), don't allow you to practice specific skills or concepts, and can actually reinforce bad habits. In brief, they are not the best training method for recreational coaches. If you follow the SoccerHelp Program, your team will improve much more rapidly and play better as a team than a team that spends most of their practice time scrimmaging.

If you want to read more about this subject, try these related topics (these are links):

18 Soccer Practice Tips

12 Tips for a Great Soccer Practice

Why Practice Games are Better than Line Drills

18 Tips for U4 and U6 Soccer Coaches

Things you need for a good practice (equipment, etc.)

Testimonials and Success Stories (youth coaches talk about the SoccerHelp program and how it has helped their teams)