Drills are a huge part of development, especially for youth players. Coaches have the critical decisions of putting together youth soccer drills to match the levels of the players. These drills include individual, groups or paired drills that can help teach skills for all positions.
The younger the group of players the more the drills needs to focus on a solid foundation. A strong foundation is based on dribbling, shooting, receiving and passing and doing these with proper technique. Young players need to be learning all positions on the field to understand the game better. As they get older is when they can start to become set on a more permanent position. This understanding of the game will mold the team and show during games. Every coach loves the idea of having a full team that comprehends the game of soccer as a whole and if we can achieve this it would beneficial for the team.
Confidence is an area of concern when working with youth teams. There is always going to be the team that has obvious confidence issues. Kids are worried the ball will come their way, unsure what to do without the ball, and worse of all, not sure what to do with the ball. Some youth players will freeze when they receive the ball and forget what to do. That is going to happen with youth soccer, but the more drills and practice we do, the better we will get at these skills and improve our confidence. Nothing builds confidence like having teammates that know what to do and are making your decisions as a player easier. Working drills where kids move throughout the field will build field awareness which will lead to confidence throughout the game. Even when kids get nervous with the ball, it is always a positive with the coach when teammates are aware of what to do and move without the ball.
Drills should have a progressive theme as well. We don’t throw cones out and tell a beginner to dribble around the cones if they do not know how to dribble. We must take baby steps at first so we can stride later and that is true with all soccer drills. The basic most fundamental foundation must be laid before we can progress into a faster pace. As the team and individuals progress we can continue to add what we call wrinkles to the drills that add another needed skill such as learning to dribble and then when we are ready, to dribble through the cones.
Lastly we must take into consideration injuries. If we are looking to have a long successful season we need all hands on deck. We cannot lose individuals due to injuries if it is something that we as coaches can prevent. The more motions that are practice, the more flexible the muscles become, and the stronger they will be for that particular motion. Strengthening the muscles is done through drills and the more we practice those drills the stronger the players will be at those skills, thus preventing injuries.