At the U10 level players begin to understand the benefits of team play and passing. It’s at this level that they begin to benefit from passing drills that teach positioning and tactics.
Monkey in the Middle
Arrange 4 cones in a square or 3 cones in a triangle. The cones should be far enough apart that the players have to make an effort to pass the ball. A player stands at each cone and another player stands in the middle. The players at the cones pass the ball to each other (no diagonal passes). Passes must be within a step or two of the cone. The middle player is the monkey, it’s that player’s job to intercept or cause an errant pass. Monkeys who succeed take the place of the last player who touched the ball. This drill teaches players about positioning themselves to receive a pass and to make good passes under pressure. It also teaches the players in the middle about defensive tactics. For players who are more advanced or if the group is tired of the game another monkey can be added for difficulty.
Arrange 4 cones in a square or 3 cones in a triangle. The cones should be far enough apart that the players have to make an effort to pass the ball. A player stands at each cone save one. The ball is placed at a cone next to the empty cone. The player passes the ball to the player at the next cone and runs to the empty cone. The next player repeats the process. The effect is players moving in one direction around the cones while the ball moves in the opposite direction. The group that moves around the cones the fastest or the most number of times in a given time frame is the winner. This drill teaches players to make quick decisions and to move after making a pass.
3 on 1 both ways
In a small playing area divided in half, set up two goals. Divide the players into two 4 player teams. One player from each team is on offense and positions themselves in their team’s offensive half of the field. The other players are on defense. The three defenders must pass or dribble the ball between themselves while trying to find an opportunity to pass the ball to their forward on the other side of the field. The forwards try to position themselves to receive a pass and shoot at the goal or pass the ball back to defenders to maintain possession. Defending players must remain on the defensive side of the field, but they can make attempts to score. Variations of the game include only allowing goals scored when the ball rolls across the goal line, or allowing defenders to enter the offensive zone for a certain number of seconds. This drill helps players recognize when a teammate is open to receive the ball and helps players learn to maneuver themselves into an open passing position. It also helps players react to situations where they are outnumbered.
Arrange cones in a triangle and divide into teams of 4. One player will be the keeper. The keeper may not leave the triangle. The remaining three players attempt to pass the ball thru the triangle without the keeper intercepting the ball. If the keeper is successful the keeper replaces the passing player and that player becomes the keeper. Players may move outside of the triangles, but only passes thru the triangle score points. The passer receives 1 point for passing thru the triangle. This drill helps players develop passing angles. It also encourages them to make passes while moving with the ball.
Attacking and Defending
Divide Players into 2 teams (A and B). Randomly place cones to create 6 to 10 gates that are 3 yards wide across the field. Each player on team A matches up against a player on team B and play 1-on-1 trying to move the ball thru the gates. A point is scored for each pass and possession is switched when a point is scored or a turnover is made. Rotate players as desired. Sum up points from all players to determine winning team. This develops the players abilities in 1-on-1 situations.
Divide players into 2 teams on an area on the field. Team A is on sidelines without a ball, Team B is in the middle with their soccer balls. Team A will attempt to knock all of the balls out of the area while Team B attempts to keep them in. Team B’s players who loose their ball are allowed to continue to help other teammates keep their ball, either by passing or receiving passes. See how long Team B can keep at least one ball active. Then repeat with Team A in the middle. Encourage players to shout out to teammates about their position and availability.
Create a volleyball court out of cones. Split players into teams. Play volleyball using soccer skills. Ball served in from end line on a throw in. Must be trapped and returned in a limited number of touches (coaches discretion, starting with 6-8 is a good beginning). Players should be allowed repeat touches, but the ball must be returned to the opposing half before the maximum number of touches is reached or a point is scored. It does not have to be played in the air, but you could do that to make it really hard. Balls hit out of bounds score points for the opposing team.
At the U12 level you can begin to run more traditional line drills. The players at this level are mature enough to be able to control themselves during down times between activities. But the players are here for fun, so try to limit downtime as much as possible.
This is a quick short sided scrimmage. Arrange 3 or 4 cones on half a field for the offense to begin from and have the defenders serve the ball into play with a goal at their back. Players compete until a goal is scored or the ball is played out of bounds. The defenders should always be outnumbered. Rotate players on offense and defense. Stock two or three players per cone and several players available on defense. Help the players understand where a play when wrong or where a pass would have led to a goal. This drill will also help translate the other drills relating to position to a game scenario. Defensive positioning can also be demonstrated using this drill. This game keeps all players involved better than full scrimmages as players are rotated in and out based on balls played into the goal or out of play.
Team Keep Away
Divide players into two teams. One team spreads out and begins passing a ball between themselves. Add one member of the other team to attempt to disrupt the pass. Team possessing the ball is not allowed to dribble, but players are allowed to move freely about the field. After an allotted period of time (30 seconds is a good start) add another player from the non possessing team. Disruptions of a pass reset the time clock and score a point for the disrupting team. Addition of another player takes a point away from the disrupting team but point values cannot drop below zero. Switch sides and see which team scores the most points.