Backyard Soccer Drills and Games to Stay Sharp

Soccer training drills to stay sharp in the off season or to improve your skills during the year.

With youth soccer being so popular across the country, here are a few training exercises to stay sharp through the winter months.

Always stretch prior to working on your techniques, injuries can occur at a greater rate during the cooler fall and winter months. Pay close attention to calves, thighs, and ankles. Girls between 12-15 years old are more susceptible to knee injuries, so ask your coach or trainer for particular warm-ups to strengthen the muscles around the knee. Lunges can be very dangerous especially if they are done for extended periods of time. Limit them to about 10-yard intervals and only do them 4 or 5 times. It is better to do fewer reps while using the correct form.

1. Juggling

a) Juggle the ball with all parts of your body using both the left and right side. Try not to have more than five consecutive juggles with the same body part (i.e., feet, head, etc.).

b) Juggle with a friend or friends in a similar fashion to the basketball game "HORSE"; the player who drops the ball gets a letter.

c) Play one-touch or two-touch juggling with your friends, earning letters for drops. Try combinations like foot, knee, head, knee, foot or foot, head, head, knee, etc.

2. One-vs-One

a) Only use one foot; the ball cannot touch your other foot.

b) Have a goal, or a cone, which you can score upon from all sides.

c) Same as b), but have the same goal for both players.

d) Have two goals for each player, one on an end line and one on a sideline.

e) Have three goals for each player, one on an end line and one on each sideline. There would be four cones total; each player can use the cones on the sidelines.

3. Wall Soccer

Just kick a ball against a wall using both your left foot and right foot. Place hard shots against the wall, with accuracy and force, try using a three-touch, then two-touch, then one-touch. This game helps with trapping/receiving, positioning, striking of a ball with both feet, foot speed, being on toes, and concentration. If you play indoor soccer, this is a great practice so you can pass the ball to yourself off the wall. Try setting up a cone 3 feet away from the wall to simulate a defender.

It also will improve your passing/shooting accuracy because of the high number of touches you will have on the ball and the high number of balls you play against the wall.

Vary your shots - high, low, left, right, inside foot, outside foot, instep, etc., and make yourself work at a high pace to get your body behind the ball before it rolls past you. Get closer to the wall to improve foot quickness and move further away to increase lateral quickness.

4. Own the Ball

Just compete for possession of one ball, through shielding, with one other person. If you lose possession, do whatever you have to do get the ball back as quickly as possible. Correct shielding technique; body sideways, arm providing protection, ball on outside foot, knees bent, turning as defender attacks, using feel to understand where defender is going.

 5. Castle

Set up a field that is about 12 X 12 yards square. There will be one “guard” and three attackers. The guard should be wearing a different colored shirt or pinnie. Place a ball on the top of a disc cone in the middle of the grid; this will be the “castle”. If you do not have disc cones, a tall cone will work just as good.


It will be up to the 3 attackers to pass the ball around the defender in the grid in attempt to knock down the castle with a pass. The castle is considered knocked down when the ball is knocked off the cone or the tall cone is knocked down with a pass.


• Depending on the age level and skill of the players, you can remove the 12 x 12 grid limitations, or make the grid smaller for very skilled players.

• If players are standing next to the cone, you can build a 3x3 grid and not allow players to step into that small grid.

• Require players to complete a certain number of passes before they are allowed to knock down the castle.

• Play 1v1 and focus on dribbling skills.

• Make them one time the ball; they can’t settle the pass first.

Coaching Points

• Instruct players to get their heads up to find the pass.

• Make sure the players are passing the ball with the proper pace (speed) on the ball.

• Make sure players are moving about the grid in order to find open space. Make sure players know it is ok to dribble the ball to space or beat the defender before making the pass.

• Make sure players are making the easiest decisions when passing.


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