Soccer drills are one of the best ways to rapidly improve your skills. When you are starting out in soccer, you want to know what the best drills are so that you can see the biggest difference in the shortest amount of time.
Whether you’re a coach looking to help someone new to the game or you’re a beginner looking to do all you can to improve your skills, in this post, I’ve put together the 10 best soccer drills for you to do as a beginner.
The List of Drills
In soccer, there are 10 areas of the game that everyone should work on and I’ve listed a drill for each of these areas that I believe will help you grow in your skills and abilities.
The best soccer drills for beginners are:
(To jump straight to a specific drill, click on the drill you want in the list above)
If you can master the skills needed in these areas you will be well on your way to being a great soccer player.
However, you do need to remember that it is going to take hard work and dedication to reach your full potential and be the best player you can be.
All the great soccer players in history spent countless hours on the training ground going through their drills time and time again.
They knew that the more effort they put in on the training ground the better their performance would be when they were out on the soccer field on game day.
To give your soccer training a kick start, I highly recommend you check out my 30-day Soccer Fitness program as well.
Following a soccer-focused workout program that gives you some clear direction to your training will set you up perfectly to make the most of these drills.
Combining the technical side of these drills with a dramatic increase in your fitness will set you apart from the other players around you.
A great soccer player is a fit soccer player. I created this fitness program to help you reach your potential and be that player.
How the drills below are laid out
I’ve created a graphic for each drill below that should help you visualize what to do. As you work through each step of the drills refer back to the image to help you understand how the drill works.
Take the time to go through these drills, understand what they are asking you to do, and get out there and start practicing. You’ll be amazed at how much you will improve.
One last thing before we look at the drills…
Throughout these drills, you will notice that there are two pieces of equipment needed for most drills – a soccer ball and cones.
(If you’re interested in what general equipment is needed in a soccer game check out this other article I wrote – The 6 Pieces of Equipment you need for Soccer )
I can tell you from experience that having a good quality soccer ball is much better than settling for a poor quality one. The lesser quality ones never quite feel right, they are harder to kick them where you want them to go and often need replacing.
I really like the Senda Volta Premier soccer ball not only because it’s a great ball, but it’s also Fair Trade certified which is a huge bonus in my opinion. You can check out the price on Amazon here.
You should also check out the price for these cones on Amazon. They are well worth getting as there are a lot of poor-quality cones out there, but these ones should last the test of time.
Now, this is what you’re here for…
Let’s look at the drills!
The 10 Best Soccer Drills For Beginners
1. Passing Drill
The ability to pass the ball accurately is one of the most fundamental elements of playing soccer. There are two reasons for this –
- It allows your team to effectively move the ball up the field towards your opponent’s goal and hopefully create a goal-scoring opportunity.
- It keeps the ball in your team’s possession. And the reality is that the less time the other team has with the ball, the less opportunity they will have to score a goal against you.
Every beginner should spend time working on this skill. Regularly practicing this drill will make a huge difference.
Aim of this drill
The aim of this drill is to improve the accuracy of your passing.
If you can successfully pass the ball through a small space during a game, or straight to the feet of another player when needed, then you will improve the performance of your whole team.
Equipment needed: 2 players, ball, and cones
The Passing Drill –
Step 1 – Set up the cones.
Place two cones(the white circles in the above image) about 2 yards apart. and then place another two cones the same distance apart, but these ones should be approximately 5 – 10 yards away from the first two.
The distance between the cones can be changed over time depending on your level of skill and confidence.
As your passing accuracy improves, reduce the distance between the 2 cones, or alternatively increase the distance between the two players.
Step 2 – Player position
Each player stands behind the set of cones to pass the ball and receive the ball from the 2nd player.
Step 3 – Pass the ball
The 1st player will pass the ball through the set of cones at their end and the 2nd player will wait for the ball to pass through the set of cones at their end before touching the ball.
Step 4 – Return the ball
Once the ball passes through the set of cones nearest to you, take one touch to control the ball, and then pass the ball back to the other player with your 2nd touch of the ball.
As your skill and confidence levels increase you can try one-touch passes instead. Rather than taking a touch to control the ball before passing, practice passing the ball back with your first touch.
This skill will enable you to move the ball much quicker throughout a game and reduce your chance of being tackled.
This drill is designed to improve your passing accuracy. As a beginner, this is so important.
You’ll have noticed that this drill is a two-person drill so find another player who is looking to improve their passing skills and practice with them.
(If you don’t have someone else to practice with you that’s ok! I’ve seen this drill done with one person and a wall! Set up the drill as shown, but use the wall where the 2nd person should be.)
2. Shooting Drill
You won’t score a goal if you don’t take a shot!
Shooting and scoring a goal is one of the most exciting parts of soccer. Every player wants to score goals for their team and be the hero, but shooting accurately and effectively takes many hours of practice to fine-tune those skills and be ready to make a difference when you’re on the soccer field.
Aim of the drill
The aim of this drill is to improve the accuracy of your shooting.
To be able to hit the target you’re aiming at when kicking the ball is a huge asset to any soccer player. As you keep practicing you will learn how to shoot well and improve your ability in front of goal.
Equipment needed: Ball and goal
The Shooting Drill –
Step 1 – Place the ball
For this drill, we will be taking shots at a goal from the penalty spot. If you have access to a soccer field to practice just use the penalty spot that’s marked there. If not, place the ball approximately 12 yards (11m) from the goal you’re using.
Step 2 – Kick the ball down the middle
For this step, kick the ball into the goal as near to the center of the goal as you can. Take 10 shots with your right foot and then 10 shots with your left.
Step 3 – Kick the ball into the corner
Kick the ball from the penalty spot into each corner of the goal. Feel free to start with whichever corner you prefer, but I like to start at the bottom left corner and work my way around the goal (bottom left, then top left, then top right, and then finish with the bottom right corner).
Alternate between your right and left feet to improve your shooting ability with both feet. Kick the ball into each corner with your right foot first and then repeat using your left foot.
This step takes a little bit more accuracy and practice to hit the target consistently. But the more time you put into it the quicker your accuracy will improve.
For further advice to improve your shooting, check out my article – How to Score in Soccer: 11 Essential Tips.
3. Dribbling Drill
In soccer, dribbling means moving forward with the ball at your feet while staying in control and in possession of the ball. It is a skill that can be hard to master, but when you do, it can make a huge difference in a game.
It’s also very satisfying to take on an opponent and dribble the ball past them!
If you can take the time to work on this drill and master the techniques taught here, then soon you will be taking on other players and moving the ball up the field of play without worrying about the opposition taking the ball away from you.
Aim of this drill
The aim of this drill is to improve your skill in controlling the ball while on the move.
The more you practice this, the faster you will be able to move through the cones without letting the ball run away from you at any point. You will also improve your ability to quickly change direction with the ball at your feet.
I really like this drill for being simple yet really effective. And that’s why I included it in my guide to the 10 best soccer coaching drills.
Equipment needed: Ball and cones.
The Dribbling Drill –
Step 1 – Set up the cones
For this drill, we will be setting up 5 – 10 cones in a straight line approximately 2 yards (1.8 m) from each other.
It’s up to you exactly how many cones you want to set up depending on how far you want to go, but I find that anywhere between 5 and 10 is a good number.
Step 2 – Position
Position yourself with the ball at your feet at one end of the line of cones.
Step 3 – Dribble the ball
Starting with your dominant foot (for me, that’s my right), gently kick the ball forward past the right-hand side of the first cone.
When the ball is about halfway between the first 2 cones, push the ball between them and follow the ball through. You will now be on the left-hand side of the row of cones.
From this position, kick the ball forward again past the next cone and then push the ball through the next 2 cones. Follow the ball through the cones, and you will now be back on the right-hand side of the cones.
Keep repeating this all the way to the end of the line of cones.
Step 4 – Repeat
Once you are at the end of the line of cones, turn around and repeat the drill.
To improve your dribbling skill with each foot, use only one foot each time you work through the drill. For example – only use your right foot for the first time through the cones and then only use your left foot throughout your second time dribbling through the cones.
Alternatively, as you complete the drill, only use your right foot to touch the ball on the right-hand side of the cones and only use your left foot to touch the ball when you’re on the left-hand side of the cones.
4. Defending Drill
Sir Alex Ferguson, one of the most successful soccer coaches in the history of the game, famously said
“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles”
Having strong and effective defensive skills is essential for any soccer player that wants to be a title winner.
A good defender will not only be an expert at protecting their team’s goal but also capable of starting an attacking move from the back of the field.
Aim of this drill
The aim of this drill is to improve your skills and abilities at keeping an attacking player away from the goal you’re defending. You will learn how to close down the space the attacker wants to move into, and you will improve your timing when making tackles.
Equipment needed: 2 players, ball, and cones
The Defending Drill –
Step 1 – Set up the cones
For this drill, you will need to set up the cones in the shape of a rectangle. The drill works best if the rectangle is fairly small.
A width of approximately 6 yards (5m) and a length of 15 yards (14m) will work well. The entire drill will take place within the rectangle.
Step 2 – Positions
This drill requires 2 players. One as the attacker and one as the defender. If you’re looking to improve your defensive skills take the role of the defender as often as possible.
The attacking player will start with the ball at one end of the rectangle, and the defender will place themselves at the opposite end of the rectangle.
Step 3 – Play
When the defender shouts “play!” the attacker will run with the ball from one end of the rectangle with the aim of dribbling the ball through the cones at the opposite end of the rectangle.
The attacker shouldn’t treat the opposite end of the rectangle as a goal in which to score but rather a line to run across while still in possession of the ball.
Meanwhile, at the same time that the defender shouts “play,” they will run towards the player with the ball and try to tackle them or stop them from making any progress towards the opposite end.
Neither player may leave the rectangle during this drill (unless it is the attacker dribbling the ball across the line they were aiming for!), and once the defender tackles or takes control of the ball themselves, the drill is over and both players reset to start again.
For more information on defending, check out my recent article – 21 Qualities of a Good Soccer Defender. Or have a look at my article – 10 Best Defensive Soccer Drills – for more inspiration on becoming a better defender.
5. Goalkeeper Drill
If you play in the position of goalkeeper or hope to one day, then you need to spend time on this drill.
Playing as a goalkeeper is a unique position in a team, but also an incredibly important one. There have been many games I have been involved in where I’ve seen the goalkeeper be the difference between a team winning or losing a game.
This drill will both make you a better goalkeeper and a better team.
Aim of this drill
The aim of this drill is to improve the concentration and reaction time of the goalkeeper. As the goalkeeper moves and returns to position, they must be constantly aware of where they are in relation to the goal and where the ball is.
Equipment needed: 2 players, ball, goal, and cone
The Goalkeeper Drill –
Step 1 – Set up
In this drill, you will need a goal, a ball, and a cone.
Place the cone in the middle of the goal line. The goalkeeper will stand between the cone and the goal post and a second player will be ready with the ball around the penalty kick spot.
Step 2 – The call
Before kicking the ball the player with the ball will call out “left” or “right”. When the goalkeeper hears this call they will quickly move to touch the cone or the goalpost in the direction the player has called.
As soon as the goalkeeper has touched the cone or the post they will move back to the center and stand ready to defend their goal.
Step 3 – The kick
As soon as the goalkeeper is back in position the player with the ball will kick the ball towards the goal, between the post and the cone, aiming to get the ball past the goalkeeper.
At this point, the goalkeeper will do their best to stop the ball from going in the goal.
Step 4 – Repeat
As soon as the goalkeeper saves the ball or the ball goes into the goal, return the ball back to the player who is kicking the ball and get ready to hear the next call as the drill starts again.
Repeat this drill around 10 times consecutively before taking a break.
For more info about goalkeeping check out the 8 Rules Every Soccer Goalie Must Know.
6. Attacking Drill
The attacking players on a team are often the players who are looked up to the most.
They can often be seen as being the most creative, the most talented, and the most needed. While this is an unfair representation of the rest of the team, an attacker does have a unique and important role to play.
The best-attacking players only get to the top of the game by putting in hours of hard work. Over and over again they practice being in an attacking situation to fully prepare themselves for what it will be like in a real game.
Aim of the drill
The aim of this drill is to simulate an attacking scenario.
The attacking players will work together to try and find a way past the defender in front of them. Whether by passing or taking on the defender themselves this drill will give the players confidence in attack when in a real game situation.
Equipment needed: 3 players, ball, and cones
The Attacking Drill –
Step 1 – Set up
For this drill, you will need to set up the cones (marked as white dots on the above image) in a rectangle. A width of approximately 10 yards and a length of approximately 20 yards should be fine.
Feel free to adjust the size of the rectangle when you repeat the drill. A smaller space will provide a greater challenge for the attacking players.
Either use a small goal or set up a goal between cones (shown as an orange dot on the image above) at one end of the rectangle. The defender will be defending this goal.
Step 2 – Starting positions
This drill requires 2 attacking players and 1 defender.
The defender will start on the goal line they are defending and the 2 attacking players will start beside the two furthest cones from the goal. One attacking player stands on each side as shown above.
Although the defender is the lone player defending the goal they are not playing as a goalkeeper and therefore shouldn’t use their hands at all.
Step 3 – Pass the ball
Either one of the attacking players can start with the ball. With their first touch, they must pass the ball to the other attacking player. This player can choose to run out to receive the ball or stay where they are.
As the first attacking player passes the ball the defender is free to leave the goal line and move forward with the intention of taking possession of the ball from the attackers.
Step 4 – Beat the defender
Once the 2nd attacking player is in possession of the ball they have a choice of what to do.
They can either take on the defender and try to get past them themself or they can pass back to the other attacking player and work as a team to pass their way around the defender.
Step 5 – Score or lose possession
The attacking player’s aim in this drill is to get the ball past the defender and score a goal. The defender’s aim is to tackle the attacking players or kick the ball out of the rectangle.
The attacking players should be encouraged to work the ball past the defender before shooting at the goal as that is a significant part of this drill.
Once a goal has been scored or possession lost then the drill starts over again.
For more attacking soccer drills, check out my list of 10 Soccer Attacking Drills to Increase Your Teams Chances of Winning.
7. Fitness Drill
Keeping fit is a requirement of any sport. When an athlete is fit they are faster, stronger, and more agile than they would otherwise be.
The soccer players that can keep going at their highest level for the longest during a game are usually the ones who are the most successful. Those are the ones that the other players look to as they know they can rely on them especially near the end of a game.
Aim of the drill
The aim of this drill is to increase the fitness level of the individual player.
In a game of soccer, it is so important that each player can withstand the demands of the game and keep operating at peak capacity for the entire time. Completing this drill regularly will significantly improve the player’s capabilities throughout a soccer game.
Equipment needed: Soccer field or cones, and ball
The Fitness Drill –
Step 1 – Positioning
For this drill, you will start on the touchline, or sideline, of the soccer field. You will need the ball at your feet ready to dribble.
If you don’t have access to a soccer field then any field or flat surface around 50 yards wide will do for this drill. Just use two cones to mark the spots 50 yards from each other and then one more cone at the halfway point between the two.
Step 2 – Run halfway
With the ball at your feet dribble as fast as you can until you are halfway across the field, parallel with the center spot.
At this point leave the ball and sprint as fast as you can to the opposite touchline.
Step 3 – Touch, turn and run
When you reach the 2nd touchline, bend down and touch the line with your hand. Once you have done this, turn around as quick as you can and sprint back to where you left the ball.
Step 4 – Dribble back
When you arrive back at the ball, dribble with it at your feet back to the original touchline as quickly as you can.
Step 5 – Rest and repeat
When you arrive back where you started, take 30 seconds or 1 minute to catch your breath then repeat the drill.
Do this 5 times in a row. As your fitness improves you may wish to repeat the drill consecutively more than 5 times in one go.
To really take your soccer fitness, you should also check out my Soccer Fitness Guide that includes a 30 Day Fitness Program specifically designed for soccer players and the demands a soccer game places on their body.
8. Crossing Drill
Crossing the ball into the penalty area is one of the most effective ways to create a goal-scoring opportunity in a game of soccer.
You will see it in almost every game you watch or play in. A player, dribbling with the ball down the touchline, looks up, see’s another player in the penalty area, crosses the ball to them, and the attacking player gets a chance to shoot at the goal.
An accurately placed cross can give an attacking player the perfect setup to score a goal and can make their job many times easier.
This is crucial especially at high school level, and you should check out my guide – 7 Effective Soccer Drills for High School – if you’re working with this age group at all.
Aim of the drill
The aim of this drill is to improve the player’s ability to cross the ball accurately.
The drill simulates a real game situation where the player will be running with the ball down the touchline of the field and will be looking to cross the ball into the penalty area where another player can hopefully take advantage of a goal-scoring opportunity.
Equipment needed: 2 players, cones, and a ball
The Crossing Drill –
Step 1 – Set up and position
If you can use a soccer field for this drill that would be great, but if not a flat space around 50 yards wide would work well for this drill.
Position one player on the penalty kick spot, or the position where the penalty kick spot would be if you are not using a soccer field.
This player will be who you are aiming the crosses at. If you are unable to find a second player to help you practice, that’s ok. Just use a cone to mark where the other person would be standing and aim for that.
Place two cones, approximately 5 yards apart close to the sideline of the soccer field. They should be about 5 yards back from the corner of the penalty area. (Refer to the orange dots on the above image for a visual representation of this.)
These cones mark the area where you will be crossing the ball from.
The player who will be crossing the ball should start approximately 15 yards back from these cones.
Step 2 – Run forward
From the starting position run forward with the ball. Take two touches of the ball before aiming to cross the ball with your third touch. You should be aiming to cross the ball as the ball is passing between the 2 cones.
Step 3 – Cross the ball
As you take your 2nd touch quickly look up to see where the other player is and where you will be kicking the ball. Look down at the ball again and kick the ball towards the other player.
The aim is for the other player to be able to catch the ball without having to move.
If no other player is available to help you, aim to hit the cone you have placed on the field.
Step 4 – Repeat
Repeat the drill 30, 40, or 50 times. The more you practice the more accurate your crossing should gradually become.
9. Heading Drill
Heading the ball is one of those things that you have to be prepared to do if you want to play soccer at all. It is an important and often used skill in every game that you will play in.
Because of that, it is worth taking the time to become highly proficient at heading the ball. This will make you a huge asset to any team.
Whether in defense or attack you will benefit from being able to head the ball accurately, powerfully, and confidently.
Aim of the drill
The aim of this drill is to increase the consistency of a player’s ability to head the ball accurately. Performing this drill in different positions develops different muscles and techniques needed to head a ball effectively during a soccer game.
(On a side note, if you are concerned about the ball hurting your head when you head the ball check out this other article I wrote about how to minimize any discomfort – Does a Soccer Header Hurt? And How to Minimize any Pain )
Equipment needed: 2 players and a ball
The Heading Drill –
Step 1 – Sitting
You will need a second player for this drill.
Sit facing the second player who will be doing this drill with you. Start with your toes touching.
The first player will throw the ball up with their hands and head the ball to the opposite player.
The 2nd player will catch the ball then they will throw the ball up and head it back to the original player who will catch the ball.
Once both players have successfully completed this, shuffle back approximately 1 yard and repeat.
Keep doing this until one of the players can no longer reach the opposite player with their header (without the ball bouncing).
Step 2 – Kneeling
This time around, start with both players kneeling on the ground approximately 2 yards apart.
Again, the first player will throw the ball up and head it to the other player who will catch the ball before throwing it up and heading it back to the original player.
Once both players have successfully headed the ball to each other, move back 1 yard and repeat the drill.
Keep going until one of the players can no longer head the ball as far as the opposite player.
Step 3 – Standing
Start this step standing approximately 5 yards from each other.
Complete the drill in the same way as the previous steps.
10. Ball Control Drill
Being able to stay in control of the ball, especially under pressure, is a skill that every player needs to have.
No one wants to be that player who is forever losing possession of the ball whenever they try to do anything outside of the basics.
Having great control of the ball also gives you the ability to pull off one of those tricks you see the top players doing during a game and be the envy of all the other players!
Aim of the drill
The aim of this drill is to increase a player’s ability to use and control the soccer ball in the way that they want to.
As a player becomes more skilled and confident with the ball, and as they improve at keeping the ball in their control for longer periods, their ability to use the ball effectively during a game will dramatically increase.
Equipment needed: A ball
The Ball Control Drill –
Step 1 – Foot
For this step, you will attempt to do 5 kicks of the ball without the ball touching the ground or anything else.
Start by doing 5 kick-ups with your right foot and then 5 with your left.
As your skill level improves you can increase the number of kicks from 10 to 20 and so on.
Step 2 – Thigh
With your leg bent at a right angle and your thigh parallel to the ground, knock the ball up with your thigh 5 times without the ball touching the ground or anything else.
Start with your right leg and then move on to your left.
Again, as your skill level increases you can increase the number of times you knock the ball up before stopping.
Step 3 – Head
This time use your head to keep the ball off the ground.
Head the ball straight up 5 times without the ball touching the ground.
As your skill level increases, increase the number of headers you do.
For more ball control drills, check out my 10 Soccer Ball Control and Footwork Drills (For All Ages).
So now you know the 10 best soccer drills for beginners, take the time to work on them and you’ll be seeing your soccer skills improving in no time at all!
If you want to take your soccer training and skills to the next level then two of the best online soccer training programs I’ve found are:
Both these programs offer affordable and high-quality training that you can start today following the guidance of top-level coaches and see your game improve in what will feel like no time at all! Check them out by clicking the links above.
And to find out how a pro soccer player trains have a look at this article I wrote.
*Check out the next post – Why Soccer Players Wear Gloves – How it can Increase Focus *