02/10/10 Practice plan. Dribbling and ball control. U8, 60 minutes.

1. Warm-up (~10 mins)

“Green light” dribbling game. Setup: 10×10 square (yards) (dimensions depend on number of players). Players inside the box, everyone has a ball. Coach issues commands: “green light” – players can dribble, “red light” – players have to stop and put a foot on a ball. Do couple times. Add more lights one by one: “yellow light” – dribble slow, other lights (use your imagination for colors) – dribble make a 180 degree turn, dribble with right/left foot only, inside/outside of a foot only, etc. Also – after red light, call out a body part: when you name a body part – players have to put it on a ball, for example: “left elbow”, “right knee”, “forehead”, “stomach”, “back”, etc. Can combine two or three: “left elbow and right knee”, etc. (this is dynamic stretching exercise). At the end – combine four or five parts at a time or ask for something impossible, kids will have a laugh by trying to do it.

How to run the activity:

At first – just explain “green light – red light” rules and start them running. Usually, kids get into it semi-heartedly, some will even walk with the ball. Stop the game and ask them if they are supposed to walk or run when dribbling – make sure they say “run”. Re-affirm that, restart the game, watch the difference. If they only jog – let them dribble for a couple of minutes, stop again, and ask if they need to run slow or fast – they will answer “fast”, re-start. Other things to watch/questions to ask: “do you keep your ball close or kick it away?” (close – so that in a game other team does not steal it), “do you stay inbounds or let it go out of bounds?”, “do you bump into other players or keep your head high and watch out?”, etc. After you make sure that they get two-three out of these points (don’t go for all of them in one practice) and you see that they dribble with higher intensity – add other lights, add body parts.

As a general rule, keep your talk to two-three sentences at most, no longer than thirty seconds at a time. Keep it to absolute minimum: they will learn faster by playing with a ball.

Water break. For water breaks, make them do something funny to get from the point of activity to their parents with bottles: make them jump like kangaroos, or frogs, or crawl like crabs, or hop like bunnies, etc. Make them race. Tell them ahead of time how much time they have: “thirty seconds for water break”, “one minute”, etc. As a rule: you want short breaks (30sec-1min) in the beginning, longer ones (~2 mins) later.

2. “Sharks and minnows” (3-4 cycles, will usually take 10-15 mins)

Setup: rectangular field 15×30 (can use large goalie box).

Rules: all players (“minnows”) line up at the narrow end of the field, everyone has a ball. Their goal is to dribble through the field to the other end. One or two coaches (sharks) start in the field; sharks’ goal is to kick players’ balls out of bounds. If a player looses a ball then she becomes a shark too. The last minnow with a ball wins (end of cycle).

To start, go easy on them, let everybody through at least once until they get into the game. Then – kick balls out of one or two players and make them sharks (normally – target your best players: it’s the other ones who need more practice).

By the end, when only two or three “minnows” left standing, make sharks hop like bunnies or crawl like crabs – otherwise, it’s too easy for them.

Water break.

3. “Line soccer” (~10-15 mins) 2v2

Setup: 20×30 field, large goals at each end, 2v2 game.

Rules: to score, a player needs to dribble through the goal and stop the ball beyond the goal line. Depending on players’ abilities, you can allow certain distance where it still counts as a goal (e.g., have to stop the ball within 3 feet behind the goal line).

Have two games at a time (have assistant coach supervise the second game), rotate teams in and out after ~2-3 minutes (this is very intense – they get tired easily; as soon as they start walking instead of running – substitte). This way, you will have 4 players playing and 2 players resting for each game – works out perfect for a team of 12. Adjust for your numbers accordingly.

Water break.

4. “Line soccer” (~10 mins), two games at the same time.

Same rules as before – only make sure that all players are on the field (still two games at the same time. Adjust field sizes accordingly). Such, for a team of 12, you would have 2 games of 3v3.

Water break.

5. Scrimmage (through the end of the practice – try to make it at least 10 mins)

Divide your team in two groups and make them play each other in a scrimmage. Play with the “line soccer” rules for the first 3-5 minutes, no restrictions after that.

The end :-)



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