Planning soccer drills for 8 year olds is a fun activity that most coaches enjoy. These drills are one of the best ways to get these energetic youngsters to learn the basic skills required for soccer.
The good thing is, there are a wide variety of drills to choose from. So, you can mix them up to make sure that the training sessions never become mundane.
Besides, these are great methods for the coach to focus on the areas of development for each player.
Listed below are seven u8 soccer practice drills that you can use as the first steps for building mobility, strength, and skill.
1. Fill The Bucket
To start with, divide the players into two teams with an equal number of players. Each player needs to have a ball. You can increase the number of teams if needed.
Now, place one bucket for each team in the middle of the playing zone. Use cones to set up a 20×25 yard playing grid. You can choose the length of the grid depending on the distance you want the players to cover with the ball. Let the players assemble on the starting line at each end of the circuit.
At the starting whistle, one player from each group dribbles the ball and moves ahead to place it inside the bucket. Once the ball is placed, the player races to the opposite end of the circuit. When that player reaches the starting line at the opposite end, another player from the same time can start the process.
This continues till all the balls are placed inside the bucket. The first team that fills its bucket is the winner. Once the buckets are full, you can reverse the process by another game of “emptying the bucket”. This will complete the circuit.
This is a great drill for improving ball control, ball movement speed, and the fitness of the players. By adding the element of competition, you are also making it more exciting.
If the players are newbies, you can allow them to carry the ball instead of dribbling or bouncing. For more experienced players, obstacles can be placed between the starting line and the bucket to increase the challenge.
2. British Bulldog
This is a popular soccer game that has many other names. Here, we will stick with the traditional one.
Start by making a rectangular playing field with the cones. Then split the area into three zones. The smaller zones at two ends are the “safe zones”. The larger zone in the middle is the “danger zone.”
All players should stand with a ball each at the starting point within the safe zone. One or two players without soccer balls act as the “bulldogs” in the danger zone.
Once the game starts, the players within the safe zone will try to dribble past the “bulldogs” into the safe zone at the other end. The “bulldogs” or defenders will try to steal the balls.
If a player’s ball is captured, that player acts as the “bulldog” in the next round. The game continues until a single player with a ball is left. Now, it can be continued in the opposite direction, with the winner acting as the “bulldog”
Note, this drill can also be played without the ball in the first round. The role of the defender will be to tag the players as they run past.
This is a fun u8 soccer drill to improve fitness and the dribbling capability of the players. It also allows players to practice specific dribbling skills. For young soccer players, the drill also provides the basic idea about facing tackles from defenders.
3. Ball Hog
For this drill, start by setting up a yard grid large enough to comfortably accommodate all the players. Mark 75% of the players as the ‘Ball Hogs’ and give them one soccer ball each. The rest of the group will wait outside the grid without a ball.
The objective of these players is to steal the ball possession from the Ball Hogs and stick to it. Once a player loses the ball, they can go after another ball or try to take back their own ball from the stealer.
Chances are, a Ball Hog will accidentally kick the ball outside the grid. In that case, the challenger should be the one to retrieve the ball.
You can let the drill continue for a fixed period of time. Then it can be started again with a new set of players outside the grid.
The ball hog is one of the best u8 soccer drills for teaching two crucial moves to beginners. These are shielding the ball from an opponent and turning while controlling the ball. Effective shielding without pushing or swinging the arms when the opponent is applying pressure is an important skill.
Additionally, this can also help in developing rotational power that allows a soccer player to pivot faster.
4. Stuck in the Mud
Here is another fun soccer training drill perfect for the 5 to 10 age group. You can start by setting up a 20×20 yard or a larger grid.
One or two players without a soccer ball will start as “mud monsters”. All the other players will wait with a ball inside the grid. Once the game starts, the players will have to dribble around and try not to get tagged by the monster.
Once a player gets tagged, they are frozen. They need to stand with their feet shoulder-width apart and with the ball raised above their heads. Other players can try to “free” them by dribbling the ball between their feet.
To make the game more exciting, the frozen players can shout for help from the unfrozen ones. Once the players get free, they can start dribbling the ball again.
After the first round, the number of monsters can be increased if needed. The game can continue for a fixed time period or until everyone is tagged by the monsters.
Dribbling and changing direction sharply with the ball are two skills that this fun u8 soccer practice drill teaches the players.
It also allows the coach to teach them some easy turning moves like the drag-back turn or a hook turn. As the players dribble and turn to escape the monster, they learn to make the right moves under pressure.
5. 1,2,3 Challenge
The next drill is another exciting way of improving the soccer skills of u8 players. This is also one of the best small-sided games and can be played in 1v1, 2v2, or 3v3 formats based on the skill level of the players.
Set up the practice area in front of the goal and choose a goalkeeper. Then divide the players into two teams and assign each team member a number.
Start by placing a ball in the playing area. When you call out a number, corresponding players from each team should move into the field to play a 1v1 game of scoring a goal. The drill continues till a goal is scored or the ball goes out.
You can make the goal more challenging by calling two or three players from each team.
The primary objective of this game is to help the younger players practice turning moves like the inside or outside hook. Competitive play also helps in developing shielding and ball control skills.
When playing in the 3v3 format, the drill also helps players learn about teamwork and decision-making. You can also discuss the right passing techniques to help the players improve their accuracy.
6. Sharks and Minnows
Actually, this soccer dribbling drill is a modified version of the English Bulldog, but with a relatively higher level of intensity.
To start with, set up the play area by placing the minnows with a ball each at one end and sharks in the middle. If you are playing with 5 or 6-year-olds, you might want to reduce the playing area.
In general, two players are marked as sharks and the rest as minnows. But this can change depending on the number of players.
When you blow the whistle, the minnows try to dribble the ball from one end of the playing field to the other. The sharks will try to gain possession and kick the ball out of the zone. Minnows who lose a ball become sharks.
Any minnow who can reach the other side with the ball wins. If the sharks knock out all the minnow balls, they emerge as winners.
The main focus of the drill is on offensive moves and learning how to duck away from a defender. It also helps in developing dribbling skills.
Since the minnow team works together, this also works as an effective passing drill and helps in developing teamwork. In addition, it also focuses on improving fitness and tenacity among the players.
7. Kick The Coach
This is a classic u8 fun soccer drill that trains players to hit the target. Incidentally, the target is the coach!
The game format is simple. Both the players and the coaches are spread around the field and the players have the soccer balls at their feet. Once the drill starts, the coaches start moving around and the players dribble around, trying to kick the ball and hit the coaches.
If you see the players struggling to hit the target, slow down to give them some time. The drill can continue as long as you want.
Most youth soccer coaches find this a great soccer drill to teach the kids how to kick the ball in the right manner. This means using the instep or the laces area of the boot. Also, coaches can make the players practice kicking with both the left and right foot.
Additionally, these training sessions are also great for dribbling practice. Players can also learn how to keep their heads up while dribbling and locating the target.
Why Choose Fun u8 Soccer Drills?
Generally, soccer drills for 8 year olds are more focused on fitness and skill enhancement. However, that doesn’t mean that the kids should miss out on the fun factor. These fun games are the best way to combine skill development with excitement.
For coaches, these drills are great tools to help young players learn the essential aspects of the game. These are dribbling, shooting, shielding, passing, attacking, and defending. Practice plans through drills involve learning these skills in a real-world scenario.
Moreover, basic soccer agility drills also help players to move better and improve their cardiovascular health. And any soccer team with better cardiovascular health will have an edge over the competition.
Here are some of the other advantages of soccer drills
- They make young players familiar with the game.
- They can work as a fun session of warm-up drill
- Drills help to develop teamwork and strategic thinking
- Gives players confidence to cope with the challenges in a match
- Drills improve speed and give the players more time for on-field decision making
- Helps coaches to evaluate players and form development plans
How to Make the Most of Soccer Drills for 8 Year Olds?
One important purpose of the u8 fun soccer drills is to make the young players enjoy the practice sessions and look forward to them. For the kids, it’s not about winning, but more about enjoying themselves
And let’s not forget that kids have short attention spans and can have a hard time focusing. So, keeping them interested in the practice is a big challenge for any coach.
Note, some of the top soccer players can run as much as 7 miles in a single game. Ensuring the proper running technique is a vital aspect of all soccer drills. This includes continuous running for long periods of time as well as short-speed bursts.
Incorporating running as a positive part of soccer drills is a key coaching point. Since running can be uninteresting, these soccer drills for 7-8 year olds are an exciting way to get them going.
Besides, a coach should not allow young players to dwell on their mistakes for too long. Encourage them to move on with the drills and keep practicing to get better.
Soccer drills are aimed at improving the technique and skill of the players. Eventually, the players will need to perform these actions during a match and combine them with split-second decision-making.
Even if you are coaching in a small space, you can adapt these drills to fit your training sessions. That will help the players to learn to keep control and move quickly in tight spaces.
Once the players are ready with the basic skills, you can start playing practice games.
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