Dribble Across A Square Soccer Drill Benefits

Dear SoccerHelp,

The dribble across a square game looks like it would be total chaos. Am I looking at it wrong? All players face in and dribble across to the other side while players on three other sides are simultaneously trying to do the same thing? I think I need clarification. Thanks!

Coach Mike Getting ready for U-10 Oregon

Hi Mike,

Read "Dribbling -- How To Teach" on Basic or Premium and how to teach the Dribble Across A Square game.

Mike, youth soccer games are chaotic to the kid with the ball, with so many people and so much happening. Yes, the game is played by spreading the players around an imaginary square (4 cones about 7 to 10 steps apart).

Players face inward, each player has a ball, and on "Go" each player dribbles across to the opposite side of the square, turns and returns. Each turn is "One". Players keep their own score and the first to reach 10 raises his or her hand and yells "Done", all players stop and go to the closest side of the square and the Coach goes around and asks each player his or her score.

This is the best single game you can play. Play it 3 times to start each practice and you will see a great improvement in dribbling within 2 or 3 practices. You can't teach what this game teaches (peripheral vision, quick and instinctive decisions, dribbling under pressure, control dribbling in traffic, to speed up when there is open space, that the ball must stay under control or you will lose, and making turns). The game involves pressure and "game speed". The game is literally the teacher, and players learn by playing it. I recently guest coached practices for U-10 Rec boys and girls, and it was great for both. I could see improvement in one practice. It works with as few as 4 players.

Another game you should play is "Dribble Around A Cone & Pass Relay Race".

You can use the same cones you set out for the Dribble Across game, and add some if needed. Have 2 or 3 players per team. Each completed pass is "One" and first to 10 wins. Switch up teams after each game. Players will learn to hustle, to turn, to quickly pass, that a pass must have proper "weight" (not too hard and not too soft), that passes must be accurate (they will lose if they make one bad pass), and receiver's will learn to anticipate the direction of the pass and to move to the pass. Have receivers start behind the cone, but encourage them to move toward the pass so they can play faster. This will teach them they must be alert, anticipate the direction of a pass, and not wait for the ball to come to them, but instead, move toward the ball when it is passed. This is the type of behavior you want to encourage. Again, they will learn this behavior by playing the game. The winning receivers will be alert and move toward the ball when it is passed (which helps in games when defenders are trying to beat the receiver to the ball), and passers will try to make good passes.

Try these games. They work. We get letters from all over the world about them. Read the Testimonials on the Home Page if you have doubts.

Please let me know what you think after you try them.