U4 Youth Soccer Drills
U4 youth soccer players are usually not ready for serious competition but can still enjoy learning the fundamentals and rules of the game. As coach, you can conduct fun, age-appropriate drills during each practice session. Doing so will introduce your players to the basic skills of soccer and give them good reason to keep heading for the goal once their muscles and coordination catch up with their heart for the game.
This drill is based on common driving directions. Have your players form a line on either sideline, facing the opposite sideline, with plenty of space between each player. Give each player a ball and call out loud verbal instructions such as "drive forward," "left turn," "right turn," “traffic jam" and "head-on collision." When you say "traffic jam," the players stop the ball and tap either foot on top of the ball until you give another command. When you say "head-on collision," the players stop the ball, get on their hands and knees and tap their heads on top of the ball until you give further instructions. Continue like this for 30 to 60 seconds, let your players rest briefly, and then repeat the drill multiple times. Allow the youngsters to move as quickly or slowly as they want but encourage them to move deliberately enough to control the ball.
This drill introduces U4 soccer players to the concepts of passing and playing defense while teaching them to share the ball and work together as a team. Place four cones in a square, 5 yards apart. Have an offensive player stand at each cone and a defensive player in the middle of the square. Give a ball to one of the offensive players. The offensive players repeatedly pass the ball around the square to their teammates, trying to keep the ball away from the defensive player for 30 seconds. The defensive player tries to intercept the ball before the time expires. The defensive player switches with an offensive player following each 30-second period. Have them play at least five times, giving each player the chance to play defense once. Have the offensive players practice passing the ball around the square without a defender if the drill seems too difficult.
This drill teaches toddlers to shoot the ball accurately by repeatedly kicking the ball into an empty goal. Have up to five players form a line about 5 yards away from a goal and give each player a ball. The first player kicks the ball into the net, runs to retrieve it and then moves to the back of the line. If she misses, she tries again until she succeeds before the second player takes his turn. Cycle through the line multiple times, encouraging and praising each player's effort. Teach the players to encourage their teammates as well. You can play a game by counting how many goals they can make in a row or within a specified amount of time if desired.
- "Coaching Youth Soccer"; D.W. Christfield; 2009
- "Coaching Youth Soccer"; American Sport Education Program; 2006
- "Youth Soccer Drills"; Jim Garland; 2003
Matthew Schirm has worked in the sports-performance field since 1998. He has professional experience as a college baseball coach and weight-training instructor. He earned a Master of Science in human movement from A.T. Still University in 2009.