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Simply Football

Follow the Leader

This is another very, very simple game, which is great for your first practice, and all your practices. But to play this game, you need more balls than kids, a 2 to 1 ball to kid ratio is good, and 3 to 1 is even better! Place one or two portable goals a reasonable distance away from your big pile of balls.
Use as many soccer balls as you can and put them all in a big pile and when you say “go!” they have to dribble and score them all. Once a player dribbles and scores one, he or she runs back to the pile to get another ball and then dribbles to score that one. Sometimes I will challenge them to score them all before I can count to 50 or 100, or I will chase them in a fun way to inspire them to move faster. This game is great because it self adjusts to slower and faster players. The faster ones simply go back and forth more often.
Because the speed and skill of your players will vary, eventually you will create confusing back and forth traffic, so that the players with balls have to dribble through and around the players running back without balls. The players running back are like “moving cones”. Why dribble around cones when you can dribble around real live moving obstacles: kids! Traffic situations are critical to creating good dribblers.
Also, if a player misses the goal, he or she has to chase the ball down with the feet, bring it back with the feet, turn it and score it. Everyone continues until all the balls are scored in the net.
Also note that I never tell them that have to dribble to score them all. We start by always dribbling, but clever players will eventually figure out that they can score the big pile faster if some of them pass while others receive, turn and score. You can allow this or restrict it depending on your objectives. It will be a while before this realization even occurs to your players.
This game combines well with Animal Soccer.
It is critical that all the players do it simultaneously.

You need at least twice the number of balls as players to play this game and a portable goal.

Dribbling to score in a net through traffic, this very closely simulates actual match conditions. This game actually teaches a lot more than meets the eye. For one it teaches “Hustle”, and to “win the ball” by running back. It also teaches a player to “run back” to his own goal, once he no longer has a ball. This is a critical building block for teaching defense later. It also creates a lot of traffic, because eventually there are kids moving back and forth in opposite directions, so the players have to dodge the other kids all the time while they are dribbling. The traffic teaches field awareness and to keep their heads up to not stare down at their feet. A player that stares at his feet during a crazy game like this gets run over, they are forced to lift their heads up for self preservation. All I tell them is “Watch out, don’t run into anyone!”
If this game looks crazy and chaotic, then you are doing it right. Younger kids will do it in a chaotic way. If you do this with older kids, they will tend to self create a more orderly flow, which is actually not what you want to have happen. With older kids, you could tell the kids running back to interfere with the dribblers with the ball, by requiring them to touch one ball with their feet on the way back.