How To Teach Aggressive Soccer Play

How to Teach Soccer Players to be Aggressive
Aggressive Play & Bravery Drill

Hustling, aggressive play is very important on both offense and defense. If your team doesn't hustle and play aggressively, you will almost always lose to a team that is significantly more aggressive. When we refer to aggressive play, we mean hustling, not being afraid of making contact and "winning" the "50/50 balls", which are the loose balls that either team has an equal chance of winning (it's difficult to win these if you are afraid of contact). The most aggressive team will usually "win" most of the 50/50 balls and will usually win the game. It is critical that your defenders are Brave and not afraid of contact - Bravery is an effective motivational word because all kids want to be Brave, and you can motivate Bravery. If a player is afraid of contact, you will give up many goals if you play him or her at Fullback or Sweeper. Any player who is afraid of contact is at a disadvantage. Ideally, you want to teach your players to not only be brave and unafraid of contact, but also to hustle and be aggressive about going to the ball and to win loose balls. This is often not easy to teach. Some kids are naturally timid (I was) and most young children have been taught that rough or aggressive play is bad because someone might get hurt. A great way to encourage hustling and practice attendance is by using SoccerHelp's iron-on patches as rewards for those who hustle or attend practice. Coach Gayla of Missouri USA said: "I can't say enough about the tried and true results of using these patches! This very same team that lost ALL 8 games in the fall, won 7 out of 8 games this spring!!! The kids wanted those patches!!!" Click here to read about our iron-on soccer incentive patches.

We are often asked how coaches can teach players to be more aggressive. SoccerHelp believes that hustling and aggressive play are two of the most important things you can teach. Simply stated, the players who hustle and play aggressively will have more satisfaction and enjoyment from playing than those who don't. Now, we aren't talking about encouraging dirty, dangerous or unfair play, we're only talking about encouraging players to hustle, be brave and do their best. Some of my favorite Fullbacks were small players who lacked skill, speed or much athletic ability, but they were tough and brave and wouldn't back down from anyone. Following are some ideas for your consideration and Practice Games that teach hustling and aggressive play:

  1. Teach your players that it is good to be brave, tough and aggressive. One of the most important things you can do is to encourage your players and praise them when they are brave and tough. Try to do so in a positive way, such as: "Way to hustle Mary!" or, "Win the ball Matt, you can do it!" or, "Way to fight for the ball Tommy!" One idea that SoccerHelp subscribers have had good luck with is to give rewards for tough, brave play. Many coaches give either a B for Bravery patch or a red soccer ball patch that they call a "Blood Patch". See Motivational Soccer Patches
  2. SoccerHelp Premium Practice Games Teach Hustling, Aggressive Play, Winning The Ball and the Desire To Win. SoccerHelp Premium Practice Games involve competition, pressure and winning and losing. Our Practice Games teach hustling, aggressive play, winning the ball and the desire to win. Players learn they must hustle and play hard or they will lose. In these respects, SoccerHelp Practice Games simulate real "match" conditions and encourage players to hustle and perform soccer activities under pressure at "game speed". Click here to try 10 free SoccerHelp Practice Games
  3. We strongly recommend teaching Coaching Rule No. 3 from "22 Coaching Rules". It teaches your players how to position themselves to defend and win the ball on your opponent's throw-ins, goal kicks and punts. How to teach this is described in section 2 of the "Quick Team Improvement Program", in SoccerHelp Premium.
  4. We also strongly recommend you play the "Dribble Across A Square No Lines Game" 3 times to start each practice and ask each player his or her score at the end of each game. This will let you monitor each player's progress. This is the single best game you can play. I promise you that your players will develop outstanding dribbling skills and exceptional "field vision" and "field awareness" if you play this game a lot. It isn't the most fun game, and your players may complain a little, but it is worth it. As your players see that the game is causing them to improve, they won't complain about it. You will see dramatic improvement after 4 or 5 practices. Being able to dribble and shield the ball is critical. Your players will have a lot more confidence and will play with more enthusiasm if they know they can dribble and protect the ball. One of the great things about the "Dribble Across A Square Game" is that it is "self-teaching" and playing the game teaches players how to "control dribble", "speed dribble", "shield the ball" and turn.
  5. Play the Aggressive Play and Bravery Game until your players are used to contact Aggressive Play & Bravery Drill.

    "My team went undefeated this Fall, 7 - 0, scoring 40 goals to opponents 4. My girls knocked off a U10 boys rec team in a scrimmage that were undefeated. The coach said he had never seen girls play that aggressive." Derik, U10G, Premium subscriber

    "This Game made an immediate improvement on my boys on how to fight for a ball." Coach Chuck, U10B

    "The Shoulder Tackling game is working beyond belief. Some of my timid girls are now amongst the toughest on the team." Mark, U1OG

    "The other team was bigger and trying to play very aggressively against us, but we have been playing the Strength on the Ball game since the beginning of the season, and, although they really tried, the other team could not push my boys around." Coach Stephanie, U10

    "The "Shoulder Tackle & Strength on the Ball" drill has HUGE benefits. It paid off this past weekend when we played a team from another league. Their girls were very aggressive until we got on their shoulders and then they generally went to pieces and we took away the ball." Coach Tony, U16G, Premium Member for 6 years