Field size: 30 yards by 20 yards
Number of players: full team split into pairs playing one versus one
Age range: 10-12
Description: One versus one in a square. Use a stopwatch and see how long a player can keep the ball away from the defender by shielding the ball. Shielding the soccer ball is a skill that is under appreciated in the game of soccer. While it’s good to play one and two touch soccer there are times when you have to protect the ball.
Move on to 2 versus 2 or then 3 versus 3, and instead of counting passes you keep track of how long each group can keep the ball away from the defense. This way this group can work on shielding the ball and dribbling out of pressure along with passing and keeping possession.
The main focus of this drill is to have players work on keeping the ball in a confined space, using moves to get away from pressure and using their body to protect the ball. Give each player or team a series of attempts in the game and keep their highest scores – meaning the longest they were able to keep the ball away from the defender or defensive group. The defensive team then gets a chance to play offense and see how long they can keep the ball.
Again, if there’s a skill that young players should learn, and is one that’s perhaps doesn’t get as much attention as it should, it’s shielding the ball. Many times players are yelled at for not getting rid of the ball fast enough, but there are times in the game where a player should be praised for holding on to the ball under pressure – fighting off a touch tackle or a defender. It takes confidence to shielding the all away from a defender and then still be able to pick out a teammate with a pass. In order for young players to get used do shielding the ball they have to do it in practice and then get praised for doing it at the right times in the games.
Equipment needed: Cones and practice vests.