“Make sure your players are having fun” is perhaps the best tip any youth soccer coach can take on board. If children don’t enjoy playing soccer, they’re very unlikely to improve, and more than likely, they’ll stop playing altogether. That’s why we have put together our top tips on how to make soccer practice fun for kids.
Ensuring kids have fun and develop a love for the sport should be at the forefront of every youth soccer coach’s mind! What’s considered ‘fun’ will likely differ from player to player and team to team, so it’s important to pay attention to your players & how they react to the games and activities in your training sessions. When planning your training sessions, be sure to keep the following tips in mind to make sure the kids are having as much fun as possible.
Related: 7 Fun Soccer Warm Up Games For Kids
How To Make Soccer Practice Fun For Kids
1. Start With A Fun Warm-up
Warm-Ups are an essential part of every session as they help players prepare both physically and mentally for more intense and competitive activities. That doesn’t, however, mean that they have to be boring! For younger players especially, anything that gets them moving, active and engaged can be used as a warm-up activity. Choosing to play a fun game with or without a ball to get players excited about the session ahead is a great way to start any practice. Adapt a schoolyard or chase game you played as a child and then introduce a ball or check out our fun warm-up drills for inspiration.
2. No Laps, No Lines, No Lectures!
Have you ever run laps? Stood in a line for a long time? Listened to a long and boring lecture? If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’, you already know that they’re not much fun! Remembering to say no to the three L’s is a great rule of thumb when planning your sessions and keeping things fun for the kids. We could go on, but even now, this is starting to read like a bit of a lecture which, as we now know, is a big ‘no no’, so let’s swiftly move to the next tip.
3. Add Some Competition
Everyone loves a bit of competition, so infuse it into your practices as much as you possibly can. There’s nothing duller than feeling like you’re doing something just for the sake of it, so whatever skill or technique you are teaching the kids, have your players compete against each other, against the clock, or against their prior selves. In soccer and in life, winning isn’t everything but wanting to is, so make sure you’re infusing competition into your practices and ensuring your players want to win even though they won’t always manage it!
4. Have Some ‘Go-To’ Activities In Reserve
Planning your sessions is an incredibly important part of being able to run a fun and successful soccer practice. But, as the famous saying goes, the best-laid plans of mice, men, and soccer coaches gang aft agley (at least, I think that’s how it goes). For this reason, it’s vitally important you have some go-to activities in your back pocket that you can revert back to when everything else is going wrong! Don’t have any favorite activities yet? Check out some of our favorite drills for kids; The Lightning Game, The 1,2,3 Challenge, and The Star Wars Game!
5. Finish With A Game
Kids come to practice to play soccer, they signed up to play soccer, you’re coaching soccer, so it stands to reason at some point that you should probably play a game of soccer! Whether you’ve had a good session or a horrible one (we all have horrible ones sometimes), letting your team finish with a regular game is the best and arguably only way you should finish your practice if you want your players to have fun and keep coming back for more!