Soccer drills are an essential part of any team’s field time, but they are even more critical for young players like first graders. Older players have life endurance, coordination, and communication abilities little kids haven’t learned yet.
Luckily, soccer is the ideal way to develop those skills. What is the best soccer drill for first graders?
The best soccer drill for first graders is 4V4 because players can use all their skills together in quick games. Coaches get to see how well different players work together and learn where the team and individuals need to work on improving the most. Doing this drill will help you decide what other drills are most important to work on.
10 Soccer Drills For 5-7 Year-Olds
First graders are usually 5-7 year-olds. They are more advanced than their kindergarten and pre-k companions but still have a long way to learn to control their bodies and communication.
Playing soccer is a great way to work on coordination, stay healthy, remember to be good sports, and work on teamwork and communication skills.
The ten soccer drills below can help any team or group get better at soccer, but those skills will also translate into other aspects of their lives.
Fun Soccer Drills For First Graders
Having a good time is critical for young sports players. To keep them interested and help them learn, it helps to laugh and play games as a part of your exercises. Below are the top 2 fun soccer drills for first graders.
1 – Bang!
In this competitive game, kids learn to defend, make critical decisions, keep their heads up, dribble, aim, and shoot while having fun.
The idea behind the drill is to have players try and knock each other’s balls out of the play area.
To keep it fun and have everyone stay involved, the out players get their ball and do five jumping jacks before rejoining the game.
- Set up a small field with cones, about 40×40 yards, more or less depending on your team size.
- Give every kid a ball and tell them they have to keep their ball and body inside the cones.
- The round lasts as long as you want, but 15-20 minutes is usually plenty of time.
- On your signal, the kids begin dribbling. Their goal is to keep their ball safe and try and knock other players out by kicking their ball into another player’s ball.
- Anyone who successfully kicks their ball into another player’s ball has to yell “Bang!” as loud as possible.
- Any player who gets their ball hit by another ball has to run to the outside of the field marked off by your cones and do five quick jumping jacks as they count aloud. Then they can rejoin the game.
Variation- Swipe: Half of the players start with no ball in this version. Instead of knocking a ball into a ball, they try to steal a ball from another player. Anyone who gets their ball kicked by another player has to run and do the jumping jacks.
2 – Freeze Tag
Soccer Freeze Tag is a lot of fun, especially for first graders who love to run around. This drill will help them work on dribbling and keeping their heads up.
You’ll need a ball for every player, some cones, 1-3 pinnies, or another way to tell who is ‘it.’
- Set op a square roughly 30×30 yards across.
- Pick out 1-3 fast runners to be ‘it.’ Give these players pinnies, and everyone else gets a ball.
- Explain that all players and balls have to stay inside the box made by the cones. You can adjust the area as needed.
- Rounds last 10 minutes. The players have to dribble their balls while the taggers have to try and tag everyone. A tagged player has to freeze even if their ball rolls away.
- Any other player can kick a ball between a ‘frozen’ player’s legs to unfreeze them. The taggers try to get everyone while the rest of the team works together to stay moving.
Tip: It is not a good idea to have players ‘tag’ each other with the ball since it leads to many accidents and occasional injuries. Make sure they understand that a tag is a gentle tap with your hand.
Best Soccer Drills For First Graders
The best soccer drills for first graders are those where they either use all their skills together or build endurance.
Even though kids run around and play a lot, they typically aren’t accustomed to running back and forth on a large soccer field.
The two drills below help kids practice, focus, communicate and work on their endurance to be better players.
1 – 4V4
First graders are ready to start playing semi-serious mini-games against each other.
An excellent way for kids to practice all their skills together is to form teams of 4 players and have them play short games against each other. This drill helps players with every aspect of soccer play.
- Set up goals with cones about 10 yards apart for each group of 8 kids that will face off.
- Have the kids line up and count off teams of four. Make sure they mix it up so they aren’t always playing with the same 3 teammates when you do this exercise.
- Designate one goalie with a pinnie for each team.
- Games last 10 minutes, and then they switch out the goalie.
- The team with the most points in ten minutes on each field gets to do a silly ‘winner’ dance.
- At the end of 40 minutes, when everyone has been a goalie, make sure they meet in the middle and shake hands (or bump elbows to avoid sharing germs) and tell each other ‘good game.’
2 – Little, Little, Big Race
The Little, Little, Big Race drill helps players work on different types of kicking as they dribble.
Moreover, it’s great for working on endurance, and the whole team can play together. All you need is a ball for every kid.
- Have the players space themselves evenly along one goal line.
- Each kid gets a ball.
- They will dribble down the field on your signal, racing to see who gets there first. The goal is to do two small kicks and then a larger one, then repeat.
- Have the kids yell out “little, little, big” as they dribble and kick to the other goal line.
- Once players reach the other side, have them stop. Only when everyone is together again can the race back begin. Feel free to shorten the run and have them race to the middle instead.
Variation- Relay: You can easily set up the Little, Little, Big race as a relay. Have kids form teams of four and hand out pinnies to each group, so they match. Then set them up so each player runs an equal distance and then passes to the next.
Good Soccer Drills For Beginners
There are two ways to approach teaching beginners. You can put together activities that make them learn multiple skills or focus on one aspect of soccer at a time.
The two drills below represent both ends of that spectrum.
1 – Escape
This drill helps with defense, dribbling, keeping their heads up, ball control, and focus.
In Escape, you have two teams to start, one with and one without balls. Depending on how many first graders are playing, you’ll use half the field or less.
The kids with the balls have to escape from the ones without.
- Mark out a rectangular field with cones.
- Give half of the kid’s balls and line them up spaced out along 1 long side of your designated play area. You can use pennies for each team if you prefer.
- The other half of the kids should spread out inside the playing field. Have them start at least five yards from the escapees.
- On your signal, the escapees have to dribble from one side to the other without getting ‘caught’ by having their ball stolen and kicked away by the jailers.
- Anyone who gets caught has to go back to the start, set their ball down, and join the jailers.
- A round should last 5-10 minutes and then have the original teams trade sides.
Tip: Encourage the jailers to work together or set them up in pairs so they can’t go after all the escapees at once. Doing this promotes teamwork and communication.
Variation- One-Ball Escape: In this version, the escapees only get one ball between them, and they have to get it to the other side of the field, but they start on one of the shorter sides of the rectangle and have further to run. Doing this will help with passing and team communication, and group defense.
2 – Basket Weaving
This drill is purely for teaching ball control, dribbling, and building some basic endurance.
You’ll need a lot of cones and a ball for each first grader to kick. The goal is to have them go in and out of the cones in a zig-zag pattern.
- Set up your cones a yard apart in a large diameter circle. You need enough space for the kids to do this all at once.
- Give each child a ball and have them line up in two groups.
- They will start off going in opposite directions. The first kid in each line starts weaving in and out, and the second kid goes when they are two cones ahead.
- Eventually, the two teams will meet, and they wl have to work around each other as well.
- The game continues until everyone makes it back to where they started.
Variation- Race: You can have the teams race to see who can get everyone back first.
Easy Passing Drills For First Graders
Learning to pass the ball well takes skill and excellent communication. Young players need to keep their heads up and be aware of other players nearby.
For first graders, you need simple, fun games to pass that promote working together and don’t take too long.
1 – Gates
Gates is a drill that requires cones and balls. Players work in pairs running together, working on communication, aim, and passing skills.
Additionally, this simple game helps players build endurance.
- Set up random ‘gates’ all over half of the field by placing 2 cones about a meter apart.
- Pair off players and give each pair a ball.
- Have the kids spread out, so the pairs start in different spots.
- Rounds last 10 minutes, and the goal is to pass the ball through as many gates as possible.
- As players reach a goal, the one who has been dribbling passes it through to the other kid. The second partner takes over dribbling until they reach the next goal.
Optional: Use pinnies in matching colors for each pair to look and feel more like a team.
2 – Statues
In this drill, players learn patience, communication, and passing skills. You’ll need 2-4 balls and a few cones to mark a 30×30 square to play inside.
The goal is to stay ‘frozen’ in a silly position until someone passes you the ball, but the kids with balls only have until the count of ten to pass before they have to freeze.
- Set up your square and gather the players.
- Explain that everyone and the balls have to stay inside the square.
- Hand out the balls to your starting non-statues and have everyone else spread out and assume a silly position.
- Rounds last 3-5 minutes, and you count down 10 seconds loudly, then yell “pass.”
- Only the player a ball is passed to can move, and the player who passed it has to freeze when they give up the ball.
- The players who have already had a ball can’t have it again until the whole team has had a chance to pass.
Scoring Drills For First Graders
Scoring, or shooting, mainly involves kicking a small ball into a large goal.
Unfortunately, this isn’t much of a challenge, even for first graders, since the goalies tend to be relatively unskilled. The trick for coaches is to make it fun.
1 – Zombie Catch
Zombie Catch is a shooting game that has more than one goalie. Players learn to anticipate and intercept flying balls, which helps them practice shooting.
You’ll need a full-size goal, or you can mark out a 20×20 foot space with cones.
- Separate the kids into two groups. I recommend giving the ‘zombies’ pinnies to wear. Green is the best.
- Zombies go in the goal and wander around groaning or growling with their arms up. They cannot leave the designated area.
- The human team chips the balls, trying to get them in the air for the zombies, and the zombies try to catch them.
- If a zombie catches your ball, you are a zombie, and they dribble the ball out to join the human team.
- If the ball doesn’t leave the ground, or no one catches it, a nearby zombie can pick it up and throw it back.
2 – Monster Hunt
Kids will love this drill because they get to kick balls at the coach or coaching assistant. The adult is the goalie, and every kid gets a ball.
The goal is the ‘monster cave,’ and the monster is a moving target inside.
Not only will this help them shoot and aim, but it also builds camaraderie and helps them work a little on endurance with some dribbling back and forth.
- Hand out balls to all the kids and have them line up a few yards away.
- They will ‘hunt’ the monster by trying to kick balls at you.
- Anyone who scores a goal yells “Monster Hunt” or “Hunter’s Rule,” and you roar.
- Rounds only last until every player has taken a shot. In the end, they dribble their balls back and start again.
Tip: Don’t dodge too much. They are little kids. The roaring is half the fun, and the players will feel better and play harder if they hit the target more.
Helpful Tips To Know About Soccer Drills For First Graders
First graders are capable of more than younger children, but they are still learning how to control their body movements. The best way to get them through drills is to disguise than as games.
Here are more helpful tips to know about soccer drills for first graders.
- Be silly. Add playful elements to your drills. For example, have kids pass and make a funny sound, or have them yell ‘woo!’ as they shoot.
- Layer on the praise. Kids, especially young ones, like to know they are doing well. By praising them every time they do something well, you’ll find kids are more likely to want to do it right again.
- Don’t take too long. It would be best to avoid games and drills with a lot of rules or long rounds. First graders do better with quick and simple tasks.
Coaching first graders is hilarious and highly rewarding if you know what you’re about. There are a ton of valuable and fun drills for them to do that are also games.
The best exercises for first graders help them work on multiple skills at once and make them laugh, sing, or yell as they play.
Remember to switch things up often, layer on the praise, offer helpful suggestions, and don’t be afraid to add your own fun twist to any of these drills.