20 Effective Soccer Drills to Improve Match Performance for both coaches and players

20 Effective Soccer Drills to Improve Match Performance for both coaches and players

Successful soccer coaches motivate and inspire their players to train hard, recognize and encourage the most talented players to pursue their passion and reach their full potential… AND have an expansive repertoire of DRIBBLING, SHOOTING, PASSING, and DEFENSIVE soccer drills to help them do it!

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This post explains and demonstrates with videos the 20 best and most effective soccer drills used by the pros!

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Many coaches dream of one or more of their players playing for world-famous teams like Real Madrid or Manchester City. Imagine the glory and excitement of watching one of your own become a rising star.

One of the most effective ways to make that happen is to encourage the most talented and hardworking players to attend a high performance football academy or a general soccer camp or program affiliated with teams such as REAL MADRID, FC BARCELONA, PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN, AC MILAN, MANCHESTER CITY, etc.

Before sending your players off to train with the world’s best teams, they need to have pristine DRIBBLING, SHOOTING, PASSING and DEFENDING skills. That’s where you come into play.

Prepare your players for the big league by training them using the same drills as the professionals. At Ertheo.com, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 best and most effective soccer drills to help your players become the best they can be.

 

Top 5 Dribbling soccer drills

 

Successful dribbling is truly beautiful. There are few better sights in the game than watching a player dance through the defense with the ball seemingly glued to their feet.

Successful dribbling combines a number of different elements including running with the ball, close control, spatial awareness and the ability to twist, turn and accelerate at pace.

With that in mind, let’s take a look these 5 soccer drills to improve dribbling skills.

 

1) 1v1 Drill

Superb dribbling skills can be very useful for wide players. They must be able to beat their opponent down the wing and still have enough time to cut inside, to shoot, to square the ball, or to get to the end line to deliver a cross for the forwards to attack.

When a winger run rings around the opposition it can lift the whole stadium and create positive energy throughout the whole team.

This video from AllAttack demonstrates how to practice basic techniques for beating an opposing player.

Notice the emphasis on awareness and decision-making. Knowing when to challenge a player one on one is just as important as being able to execute the move!

 

 

  • Skill rating: Easy
  • Fun Rating: 3/5
  • Number of players required: 2
  • Equipment required: Ball

 

 

2) Cone exercise

Dribbling through cones is a great way to learn how to control the ball in close quaters. The following exercise from BetterSoccerDrills explores different ways of controlling the ball with the inside and outside of both feet. This a great exercise that your players can practice on their own at home or at their local park.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Easy
  • Fun Rating: 3/5
  • Number of players required: 1
  • Equipment required: Ball and cones

 

Of course, if you are Lionel Messi, you can just use other professional players as cones. Watch how the multiple Golden Ball winner uses close control to keep possession of the ball in the following compilation. Click here to find out how to train with professional FC Barcelona coaches.

 

 

 

3) Advanced cone exercise

This drill from Become Elite takes the cone exercise to the next level by teaching players to control the ball at different speeds. Players can adapt these exercises to suit the space they have available and can use them to improve their cardio-vascular fitness.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Easy
  • Fun Rating: 3/5
  • Number of players required: 1
  • Equipment required: Ball and cones

 

Check out this goal scored by Ronaldo for Barcelona back in 1996. The goal prompted a standing ovation from the entire stadium.

 

 

 

4) Circle of cones

Of course, in real game situations, players don’t always dribble in straight lines. This simple drill from OnlineSoccerTraining uses cones in a circular formation to develop players’ dribbling skills and prepare them for more realistic game situations.

Players travel clockwise and counter-clockwise around the circle using the inside and outside of both feet to avoid the cones.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Easy
  • Fun Rating: 3.5/5
  • Number of players required: 1 or more
  • Equipment required: Ball and cones

 

It would be impossible to talk about dribbling without mentioning Diego Maradona’s incredible goal against England in the 1986 World Cup. Often hailed as the ‘goal of the century’, this clip also includes what might be the commentary of the century from the Uruguayan broadcaster Víctor Hugo Morales:

 

5) Cut-backs

Dribbling through cones can help to sharpen a player’s skills and technique and improve their fitness. But, when they start dribbling against real players, they need to react quickly and move the ball out of reach of their opponents.

Practicing cut-backs will them to dribble the ball at tighter angles and avoid losing possession. This set of drills from Epic Soccer Training concentrates on dribbling in tight spaces and at sharper angles.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Medium
  • Fun Rating: 3.5/5
  • Number of players required: 1
  • Equipment required: Ball and cones

 

By practicing these dribbling soccer drills, players become much more comfortable with the ball at their feet, and the difference is noticable in match play.

Who knows, one day you might inspire a player to a score a goal like this one from former AC Milan legend George Weah. Click here to find out how to train with professional AC Milan coaches.

 

 

Top 5 Shooting soccer drills

 

The ultimate objective in a football match is to score more goals than the opposition. And while the process of kicking a ball into a 7.32 x 2.44 metre area may seem quite straightforward; in reality, it can be one of the hardest disciplines to master.

In a game situation, a player entering into a goal scoring position faces many challenges. They have defenders rushing at them from all angles, a goalkeeper closing down their angles, teammates calling for a pass, the noise of an excited crowd ringing in their ears.

Under these conditions, they must adjust their speed, balance, and position before striking the ball cleanly and accurately at the net.

For a player to be a successful striker, they must practice their shooting skills. Here are a few soccer drills for offensive players. Check out these top 5 shooting soccer drills.

 

6) Shooting from a square pass

Shooting can be made much easier when attackers both create space and receive a well-weighted passes from their teammate. This drill from OnlineSoccerTraining offers practice for both assisting players and shooters.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Easy
  • Fun Rating: 3.5/5
  • Number of players required: 2 or more
  • Equipment required: Ball and goal

 

It is this kind of drill that will help your players to score goals like this one from Fernando Torres playing for Liverpool back in 2008. Click here to find out how to train with professional Liverpool coaches.

Notice how Torres keeps a few yards between himself and the defenders so that when he receives the ball, he has time to take a touch, adjust his body, and shoot.

 

 

7) One-touch shooting

Football at the top level is a fast game and elite players don’t always have time to take a touch before they shoot. Whether the ball is rolling on the ground or bouncing in the air, sometimes a one touch shot is a striker’s only option.

These drills from Reading FC Academy may look simple, but they will teach players how to adjust their body, head, and feet to manage a one-touch shot.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Medium
  • Fun Rating: 4/5
  • Number of players required: 3 or more
  • Equipment required: Ball and goal

 

8) Three goal drill

Chelsea FC practices this shooting drill from SoccerCoachTV as a fun exercise to help their players react and shoot in hectic game situations.

Click here to find out how to train with professional Chealsea FC coaches.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Medium
  • Fun Rating: 4/5
  • Number of players required: 5 or more
  • Equipment required: Balls, goal and mini-goals

 

No matter how much pressure a player is under or where they are on the pitch, sometimes they just need to believe in their own abilities and shoot on goal. Just ask Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard!

 

 

9) Lay-offs, turns, and chest control

This video from ProgressiveSoccer features five different drills that can be practiced in groups of three or more. These exercises work on shooting skills, short passing, and lay-offs.

Attackers have better chances of scoring when passed the ball in optimum positions. A good lay-off can make all the difference. If the weight of the pass is just right, the striker won’t need to break their stride or rhythm to strike the ball cleanly.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Easy
  • Fun Rating: 4/5
  • Number of players required: 3 or more
  • Equipment required: Balls and goals

 

In this next clip, watch how Spanish international player Veronica Boquete strikes a perfectly-weighted ball to score an easy goal for Frankfurt. If the ball had been slightly slower, the defender would have been in a position to challenge her. If the ball had been any quicker, Boquete may have been forced to use her weaker left foot.

 

 

 

10) Headers on goal

Scoring is not all about fierce shots or delicate chips with the feet. Around 20% of goals at the top level are scored from headers.

Heading drills may not be the most popular amongst young players, but they are amongst the most important. Ability to score with headers distinguish elite strikers from average strikers.

This exercise from the Soccer Drills Daily is perfect for players who want to spend some extra time training when everyone else has gone home. This drill requires just a ball and a wall.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Medium
  • Fun Rating: 3/5
  • Number of players required: 1
  • Equipment required: Ball and wall

 

Check out the best header goals in history.

 

 

 

Top 5 Passing soccer drills

Great passing is arguably the most important quality of a great team. Even the very best strikers in the world rely on the great services of their mid-field maestros.

In whatever position (even goalkeeper), all players must pass the ball well. As demonstrated by the Ryan Giggs clip above, one stray pass from anywhere on the field can be the difference between victory and defeat.

Check out these top 5 passing soccer drills.

 

11) Basic short passes

To pass with accuracy, players must practice short passes with the inside of both feet. Here are some basic passing drills from ProgressiveSoccer that can be practiced on an indoor or outdoor pitch and are best in groups of three.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Easy
  • Fun Rating: 3.5/5
  • Number of players required: 3 or more
  • Equipment required: Ball

 

Passes don’t have to be long to be impressive. Short, quick, and creative passes like those of FC Barcelona can leave the opposition spellbound. Click here for more info about how to train with offical FC Barcelona coaches.

 

12) Shuffling passes

In an ideal world, players are always facing forward when making a pass. But in reality, they must often make passes while moving sideways (shuffling) in an unnatural or twisted position.

This simple exercise from OnlineSoccerTraining offers practice passing with both feet while shuffling sideways:

 

 

  • Skill rating: Medium
  • Fun Rating: 3.5/5
  • Number of players required: 2 or more
  • Equipment required: Ball and cone

 

Watch how FC Barcelona uses this technique to evade the pressure of arch rivals Real Madrid in this clip:

 

 

 

13) The drive ball

Short passes are great for retaining possession, beating the pressure, and moving the ball methodically through the different zones of the pitch. However, sometimes it’s a better idea to exploit space by delivering a long pass (or a drive).

By practicing to drive a pass, players learn to bypass one or more zones of the pitch. All footballers, experienced and beginners alike, love nothing more than delivering the perfect ‘Hollywood’ pass.

This video from AllAttack clearly explains the technique for delivering a long drive.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Medium
  • Fun Rating: 4/5
  • Number of players required: 2 or more
  • Equipment required: Ball

 

Watch David Beckham use the technique while playing for Real Madrid:

 

 

 

14) The through-ball

One of the biggest assets a midfield player can possess is the ability to play a well-timed through-ball. The through-ball is used to exploit the space behind midfield and defensive lines. It can be used to open up play, build an attack, or to create a direct goal scoring opportunity.

In this group exercise from Coaches Corner, the concept of the through-ball is taught through repetitive drills.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Medium
  • Fun Rating: 4/5
  • Number of players required: 4 or more
  • Equipment required: Balls and mannequins

 

When your players have mastered the through-ball, they will be able to unlock defensive formations just like Barcelona legend Xavi. Watch this video to see what we mean:

 

 

 

15) One touch passing

One touch passing requires great technique and game awareness. Players need to anticipate the position of their teammates and the opposing team before even getting the ball at their feet. This means keeping their head up and tracking their target while being fully aware of the position of the ball.

These passes can be used in midfield to bypass opposing players and to maneuver the ball into a more favorable zone. These skillful passes can also be used by attacking players to break up the opposing defense.

In this video from soccercoaches the Schalke 04 U-19 team can be seen practicing a complex sequence of short passing soccer drills.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Difficult
  • Fun Rating: 4/5
  • Number of players required: 6 or more
  • Equipment required: Balls and cones

 

One touch passing forms an essential part of the pass and move philosophy employed so successfully by teams such as Liverpool in the 1980s.

A later incarnation of Liverpool produced this wonderful one touch sequence in the 2010 Europa League semi-final against Atletico Madrid. Unfortunately, Dirk Kuyt could not provide the finishing touch.

 

Top 5 Defensive soccer drills

Football is often referred to as a ‘beautiful game’. However, great defense can stifle the beautiful fluid offensive movement that makes the game so attractive.

Some teams use their attacking prowess as the basis for their defense maintaining possession. Others prefer to employ a strong defense as a basis for their attack. Although there are many different ways to play the game, the principles of good defending remain the same.

Check out these top 5 defensive soccer drills.

 

 

16) Pressuring warm-up

Pressuring does not always require direct contact. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most important elements of defending. It certain situations, its not necessary to tackle the opposing player. Sometimes, closing down their angles and pressuring them is enough to force them to make a mistake.

In these soccer drills from The Coaching Manual, the players learn the basics of pressing:

 

 

  • Skill rating: Medium
  • Fun Rating: 4/5
  • Number of players required: 9 or more
  • Equipment required: Balls and cones or mannequins

 

In the following clip, we see how Stoke City almost scores by pressuring Manchester City but also leave themselves open to the counter attack. For more info about how to train with official Manchester City coaches, click here.

 

 

 

17) Tackling

While pressuring is important, it is not the most effective tactic in every situation. A defender must learn when to pressure, when to back off, and when to tackle.

Tackling is the activity most associated with defending, but a good tackle is not always easy to execute. Tackling requires practice and good timing because if done incorrectly, a tackle could give the opposing team a free-kick or a penalty kick.

In this short tutorial from TheSoccerEssentials, the coach explains how a defender must accept the physicality of the game to fully commit to a tackle.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Easy
  • Fun Rating: 3/5
  • Number of players required: 2
  • Equipment required: Ball

 

In this clip, Italy defender Alessandro Nesta could simply pressure France’s Sylvain Wiltord; but instead, he decides to tackle and gain possession of the ball. Watch how he fully commits to the tackle regardless of any contact that might occur:

 

 

 

18) Sliding tackle

A good sliding tackle can be just as effective as a great pass or through-ball and can also get the crowd on their feet. However, an ill-timed sliding tackle can often result in an early shower for the guilty defender.

In this clip from U Soccer, the coach expresses the importance of learning to slide tackle properly in order to avoid unnecessary injury:

 

 

  • Skill rating: Medium
  • Fun Rating: 4/5
  • Number of players required: 1 or more
  • Equipment required: Ball

 

 

19) Defensive header

The defensive header is different the goal scoring type of header. The aim of the defensive header is to clear the ball from danger. This means heading it high, hard, and as far away from the danger zone as possible. In this situation, power is often more important than pinpoint accuracy. A well-placed defensive header, however, could also lead to a counter attack.

This is a great defensive heading game from SoccerCoachTV that can be adapted for groups of all sizes and emphasises the importance of heading for distance, height, and power.

 

 

  • Skill rating: Difficult
  • Fun Rating: 5/5
  • Number of players required: 3 or more
  • Equipment required: Balls

 

Defensive headers can come in many different forms. Check out this vital clearance from Real Salt Lake defender Tony Beltran.

 

 

 

20) Small-sided game

Many of essential aspects of 11 v 11 are learned through small-sided games. From grassroots level through to elite world level, these type of soccer drills are used to coach players of all ages through the finer intricacies of the game.

This brilliant drill from The Coaching Manual uses a small-sided game to teach players how and when to pressure, tackle, or drop off. It also encourages awareness and communication:

 

 

  • Skill rating: Difficult
  • Fun Rating: 5/5
  • Number of players required: 11 or more (can be adapted for smaller numbers)
  • Equipment required: Ball and goal

 

 

A NOTE TO COACHES AND PLAYERS

If you dream of playing for world-famous teams like Real Madrid or Manchester City or if you imagine the glory and excitement of watching one of your own become a rising star, you must employ some of these soccer drills used by the pros.

For the most talented and hardworking players, it’s a good idea to attend a high performance football academy or a general soccer camp or program affiliated with teams such as REAL MADRID, FC BARCELONA, PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN, AC MILAN, MANCHESTER CITY, ARSENAL, LIVERPOOL, CHELSEA FC, etc. Click any of the team names to find out more about how to train with one of their official programs.

 

 

 

As always, to help you choose the right football camp or program, our team at Ertheo.com is available to answer all of your questions and offer expert advice.

Call us at (+44) 203 769 94 43 or (+34) 902 750 359.

For a complete list of all the football programs and camps we offer, click here.

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