Better Soccer Practices
Why competition, keeping score and game speed are important
Why Normal Soccer Drills and Lines are Bad
Read What Soccer Coaches Say

Hi Premium Forum,

I had sort of a unique experience today at the park. My son and I had gone to a park close to our house at about 5:00 or so to play a little soccer. After we'd been there for about 15 minutes I noticed a girls' soccer team warming up. They looked to be about my team's age group, so my son and I wandered over to ask about a scrimmage or two during the summer. I introduced myself to one of the people I thought to be the coaches and asked if they might want to scrimmage. She immediately said to me, "You're a coach? Could you help us out? Our coach is stuck in traffic and won't be here for a few more minutes." So I said sure and set up the 'Dribble Around a Cone and Pass' practice game. I explained the game to the girls and gave them some tips on how to be quick with the game. I also explained that this was mostly about Aggressive Receiving and some of them understood that term - for those that didn't, I explained. I ended up having to partner with one of the girls to even out the numbers. We ran it once and they did pretty good at it. The coach had arrived by the time we were finishing the first game, so I didn't get to run it another time. The coach and I exchanged phone numbers and my son and I went back to playing where we had set up earlier. I kept an eye on the practice as it progressed, though. The coach had mentioned that he'd coached boys before and had taken a couple of years off and had been sort of volunteered to coach again. Anyhow, the rest of their practice was spent taking shots on goal. The girls would dribble through a cone or two, pass to the coach, he would pass back in a give-and-go setup and the girl would shoot. He had one line going at a time, so the girls were standing most of the time. They were not practicing anywhere near game speed. The Keeper had her hands at her side as the attackers were approaching, not up at chest level in a ready position. She did challenge a couple of the girls that dribbled in too closely, but she didn't really come out at all to create less of an angle for the straight on shots they were taking. I sort of wanted to say about the whole practice, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? Your girls need to be running and moving! They need to be practicing at game speed in a competitive environment!!" This was a U12 team with some U11 players on it as well. If all of his practices are spent doing the same type of drills without competition and game speed play... even though my girls are U11, I expect that when we scrimmage them... his girls will be thinking "what is this?"

I did have my first practice of the summer the other day. Warm-ups, 2 times Dribble Across a Square, 2 times Dribble Around a Cone and Pass, talk with the girls, talk with the parents, 10 - 15 minute scrimmage, handouts, etc. I make sure my girls are moving at nearly full speed for the games during practice that we play, too. I used the full field for this first scrimmage as I wanted them to see the size of the field we'll be playing on, so it wasn't the normal small-sided scrimmage I'd normally run. More than a few girls were asking, "Is THIS how big the field is for our games?" ... and that's why we're conditioning over the summer! They were gassed by the end of practice.

The whole thing with the other team makes me very thankful for finding your site, David. Thank you! My girls may be rec soccer girls, but we practice on a completely different planet than the team I saw today.

Coach A


Hey Coach A, This is Coach S.

Great story.

My favorite part is where you write you'd gone to the park to play some soccer with your son. Too many times I've seen coaches forget to just be a dad with their OWN kids.

Here's your mission brother: Convert this Old-School Drill and Line coach to a SoccerHelp Practice Games coach!

You got the right idea that the first step will be when your younger rec team kicks his older travel team's butt in the scrimmage.

Taking 5-10 minute to warm up before your scrimmage with a SoccerHelp game should also get him wondering what you're doing right that he's doing wrong...I'll bet you his warm-up consists of a lap around the field and then 2 lines facing the goal passing it back and forth 'at least 2 times' and then a shot on goal.

Definitely send him the SoccerHelp website address when you get a chance!

Did the other coach see you playing the Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race game? It amazes me that even when other coaches see these games they revert to standing in lines.

We are like disciples in the wilderness! Don't give up.

Coach S


Hi Coach S,

Yeah, the coach got there as we were doing the game so he saw what I was doing. Every girl got to participate during that game and they were all breathing hard at the end. What is sort of sad to me is I spotted about 4 girls that could be REALLY good with proper conditioning and coaching. They had great ball skills, but if they don't condition and practice at game speed... my girls will show them and their coach why game speed and competitive practices are the way to go.

Coach A


Hi Coach A, This is Coach S.

Awesome ! Your son's lucky to have you.

Check out Coach Doug's DVD � Soccer Coaching Ages 3, 4, 5 and 6. The kids in the video are younger than U8 but it's been my experience that there's a lot of 8 year olds with the attention span and abilities of 5-6 year olds.

And don't give up on those 4 girls on the other team that could be really good, you can help them before, during and after your scrimmages and by gently nudging their coach to this site.

Sometimes all it takes is one adult to show the kids someone cares that they get better and stick with the sport. A passing comment from you such as, "good job # 4" or "keep it up # 8" could change that kid's world for the better.

Coach S


Hi Coach A and Coach S,

I'm like you guys, I don't understand why it isn't clear to coaches, even after you show them, that certain ideas are better, such as:

I didn't invent these concepts, and they would be true for any sport. I just have pulled them together and spent a great deal of time developing, testing and refining Practice Games that are efficient and effective. It's guys like you who have helped me. I spent about 4 years developing "Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race" and 3 years on "Win the 50/50 Ball or Be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking and Defending Game".

I enjoy your discussion and insights... thanks for writing.

David at SoccerHelp