7 Ways to Train Players to Play Fast Soccer While Under Pressure
Soccer practice games that train players to play fast and instinctively while under pressure
The key to playing better in soccer games is practice that involves lots of touches and repetition of a soccer skill while under pressure so it can be done fast and instinctively

How you practice makes a HUGE difference in how your players will perform in real soccer matches.

  1. Soccer drills are a poor way to train players to play fast because they aren't "Game Realistic" in the sense that they don't involve competition which creates pressure and forces players to play fast. Drills can actually train players to play slow because players are learning skills at a speed that is slower than they will need in a game and without pressure. It is one thing to learn to do a skill slowly and without pressure and very different to try to do it fast while under pressure. Try it yourself if you doubt it. I can do some great soccer moves at a slow speed, but not while playing fast under pressure. If you want to train your players to play fast, use Practice Games that involve keeping score so players are competing against each other, which creates pressure to play fast.

  2. The Dribble Across a Square game teaches many things. Play it 4 times as a warm-up to start each practice. Play it twice with a smaller square as wide as 10 of your player's steps and use the smaller square to teach Control Dribbling (dribbling in traffic). Then make the square as wide as 15-17 of your player's steps and use it to teach recognition of Open Space and acceleration into Open Space - that teaches Breakaways. This game teaches instinctive reactions and that is why playing it a lot is good. You want your players to react instinctively when they dribble, which means to react without thinking. You want them to have confidence with the ball. There is no more important soccer skill than dribbling.

  3. Use the Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race practice game to teach Aggressive Receiving. This will train your players to always be ready for a pass and to MOVE TO THE PASS rather than waiting for it to come to them. It will teach your players NOT to expect the pass to come to their feet. It teaches them to EXPECT A BAD PASS and be ready for it. The result will be that your team will play faster because your players are moving to the ball and you will have many less turnovers due to "Bad Passes" because your players will learn to stop many of the "Bad Passes". This teaches receivers to accept responsibility and to NOT expect a perfect pass.

  4. Teach "Passing to Space" instead of "Passing to Feet". This will greatly improve the speed, flow and creativity of your attack and teach your players how to use Open Space. Instead of waiting for a pass to come to their feet, they will start to intuitively understand where the Open Space is and be ready for a pass to that open space. How to teach this is explained in Premium.

  5. Use the Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race practice game to teach "One-Touch Play". This game will teach players that they can play faster if they one-touch the ball in front of them and then run onto it. The players who do so will win the games and those that don't will lose, so it very clearly shows the benefits of one-touch play. Unless players want to lose, they will have to learn to "one-touch". That will teach them the concept of one-touching the ball as a way to speed up or to one-touch it into open space in order to avoid pressure. Once they understand this it is easy to teach the idea of one-touch passes.

  6. Chaos is good in practice - train your players to be cool in chaotic situations. Real matches are chaotic and practice games that are chaotic help prepare players for real soccer matches. Dribble Across a Square and 2 Team Keepaway are examples of chaotic practice games that involve a great deal of traffic. They help train players to be comfortable with chaos, lots of traffic and not get rattled.

  7. Cones vs. Traffic. Competing with other players is best, even if cones are involved. I really tried to avoid cones in SoccerHelp Practice Games real matches involve players, not cones. In a few cases it might be beneficial to use cones to demonstrate an idea, but even then you should have players compete and keep score so there is pressure. An example is the Inside/Outside Figure 8 Dribbling Race which teaches how to use the inside and outside of the foot to turn. However, if you have limited practice time, it is probably better to use the Dribble Across a Square game to teach this. You can do that by telling players that they can only use ONE foot (choose their "strong" or their "weak" foot). The reason is because they will be practicing in "traffic" and that is much more game-realistic than dribbling around cones.

David at SoccerHelp