Soccer Drills for 3-5 Year Olds

by Lori A. Selke, Demand Media
    Kids can start learning soccer skills as early as 3 years old.

    Kids can start learning soccer skills as early as 3 years old.

    Kids' coaches call preschool soccer "herdball" because that's what it looks like -- a herd of kids from both teams chasing after one hapless soccer ball. These games have little passing, no teamwork and goals that happen more by accident than by design. It's not a sophisticated game, and it's OK to laugh at its ridiculousness. Soccer is nevertheless an effective way to introduce the group sports experience to preschoolers. They get to run and kick, interact with friends, and learn the basics of how to follow rules and cooperate with a team. Preschool-age children have a short attention span so drills need to be short, snappy and fun to do.

    Tick Tock

    This is a pre-dribbling practice drill, and it's simple. Give each of the children a soccer ball and have them pass it back and forth between their feet, right to left or left to right and back again, tick tock, like a clock. This will actually be very difficult to do for this age group, but that's OK. Tell your preschool charges that practice makes perfect and demonstrate it for them complete with your own mistakes -- accidental or intentional.

    Target Practice

    The most basic soccer drill at the preschool level is kicking on target. Children can practice kicking a soccer ball at a person, including the coach, a parent or another adult volunteer. Or they can practice aiming at a cone or a set of cones -- set up three or four as if they were bowling pins. Target kicking is an important skill in soccer, and it's also one that kids love to practice.

    Dribbling Drills

    After you have taught the basics of how to dribble a soccer ball by taking little kicks on the inside and outside of your foot, you can progress to short practice drills. One fun exercise is Red Light/Green Light. Each child gets a ball to dribble. Say "green light" and let them dribble the ball toward you. Say "red light" and they must stop until you say "green light" again. This way they develop stop-and-start skills while controlling the ball.

    Catch the Giant and Busy Bees

    Once your preschoolers have mastered aiming at a stationary target, you can make the game more complicated. Start by playing Catch the Giant. In this drill, each child has a ball to dribble. The coach runs around the field and the children must follow, dribbling their balls while they run. Change direction and speed frequently. Once they're comfortable with this game, they're ready for the variation known as Busy Bees. The kids are the bees, and their goal is to "sting" you by kicking the ball at your feet. Run around the field as in the previous drill, changing direction and speed at whim. This teaches your preschoolers not only how to control the ball but how to react during a game and how to pass to another player's feet.

    About the Author

    Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, popular music, film and video, food and cooking. Her work has appeared in "Curve Magazine," "Girlfriends," "Libido," "The Children's Advocate," Decider.com, "The SF Weekly," EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com.

    Photo Credits

    • Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images