soccer coaching

Soccer Coaching With Cupello Part 1 - 10 Games For Small Groups

Jun 09,2022read

In this part one of six parts soccer coaching with Cupello, we look at 10 games for small groups of players.

Small Group Coaching

The coaching games we have designed are excellent to use over the summer months when players are on holidays and want something that keeps them occupied and helps them to develop without being with their team.

It gives players time to focus on aspects of their game that they want to develop but also things that they love doing best when they are out on the pitch.

They are designed so the players can set them up themselves or they can work with a parent to help them. It will help them to be ready when the season starts after the holiday season and they turn up raring to go putting their teammates in the shade!

Small Group Soccer Coaching

Creating the right environment

Think back to when you first fell in love with soccer – it can be difficult to remember and exact time or location but memories from that early time can be remembered. Patches of grass, the local park, school playgrounds and your back yard. The joys of playing out scenarios with your friends is a wonderful way to learn the techniques and skills needed to play it.

Getting your kids set up in the back yard with a ball and some games is a fantastic way for them to spend time during the summer holidays. Zinedine Zidane said “Everything I achieved in football is due to playing football in the street with my friends.”

And this is where a lot of us start to play – imagination knows no bounds when you have a ball at your feet and a garden that becomes the biggest stadium in the world. What I was creating was support play, competition, last ditch tackles and a huge amount of friendships. It was also without adult intervention.

But as times change and technology has come into children's lives it is much more likely that an adult will have to set up play and create games that the players that are in the garden can play. You need to create opportunities for children to fall in love with the game but at the same time try not to intervene by having too much of an influence.

What the games develop

Soccer should be played with a possession based style of play. If you have the ball the opposition cannot score, right? So by developing a possession based game you develop passing quality, great support play and penetrate the opposition with through passes, crosses and dribbles which create goal scoring opportunities. Games should involve attacking and defending and cover:


  • Keeping possession.
  • Technical foundation to control and pass a ball.
  • Some form of competition.
  • Movement to make it easier for the player on the ball.
  • Tactics when in team play – 3v3 or overloads like 3v2 or 4v3.
  • Using safety and risk in decision making.
  • And fair play.


  • Movement and support.
  • React when ball is lost.
  • Communication.
  • Marking opposition players.
  • In small group play counter attacking becomes a big weapon as the ball transitions between the teams more often. But it is the techniques that also come in that you can work on with small groups.
  • Counter attack with speed and control into the final third of the pitch. What small groups allow is movement to keep the ball with good support play and interchanging positions.

You will find using these games that creativity with the players comes to the fore and the games will generate their own game related tactics and techniques.

Things to think about

  • Counter attacking should be quick on ball transitions
  • Play from the goalkeeper – don't allow big kicks especially in small sided group games
  • Player positions when in possession
  • Dribble to beat players with a shot or pass at the end
  • Use wide and central play
  • Vary the speed of attacking play.

What to look for

  • Basic techniques and range of passing skills.
  • Passing and receiving skills.
  • Can pass over a variety of distances and pass into space.
  • Decision making when running with the ball.
  • Turning with the ball in different ways.
  • Wins 1v1 situations.
  • Can play one-touch.
  • Can defend alone.
  • Creativity to score goals.

What to look for when coaching kids

Why small group games help develop players

When playing in small groups each player will get more chance to have the ball with decision making, technique and skills much more focused.

In small groups players are under less pressure so they can make decisions without feeling the pressure of a full game. Players can focus more on the techniques they need to pass and control the ball.

Every player wants to score more goals and boy does it put a smile on their faces. Scoring goals will keep players occupied for longer and be much more satisfied with their game play. Just try calling them in for bed though, they'll want to stay out all night!

More space on the pitch means more chance to try out a step over or a feint like they saw on the TV when watching their favourite player. Less congestion equals more skills.

When children are playing with friends they won't hide away from the ball like they may do during a match. If you want your kids to develop then this is a great way to do it away from the guys who dominate things at training and in matches.

Great fun to play games with friends and a great way for mums and dads to play with the kids and see how well they are progressing.

10 games for small groups

1. Pass, Dribble Move

This is a great game for passing dribbling in combination style movement to coach small groups of players in passing and receiving and dribbling the ball. Used in areas like the penalty area with quick play.

Pass, Dribble Move Soccer Dril

2. 4v1 Boxes

Body positioning is key when receiving the ball and deceiving the defender, helping link play with teammates

4v1 Boxes

3. Match Reaction Agility

Agility is key to the performance of youth players, and is linked to speed of play and match fitness. For any youth player in pre-season agility is vital for physical performance

Match Reaction Agility

4. 2v1 Dribble or Pass

A competitive game where players will have lots of touches of the ball, developing their movement and combination skills to beat their opponent.

2v1 Dribble or Pass Soccer Drill

5. Third Man Counter Attack

A great way to get players to pass and move in a counter attacking style when your team has won the ball and can take advantage of overloads in the opposition half 

Third Man Counter Attack Soccer Drill

6. 1v1 Warm Up

The coach is looking for players to recognise where the ball is and where they are when they get the ball in relation to the goal and the opposite player. In possession players must try to keep the ball and advance play. Out of possession press play.

Third Man Counter Attack Soccer Drill

7. Pass and Receive back Foot

This drill is a simple passing game with players working on passing and receiving but also movement to receive and body shape to receive. It also helps with understanding slow and quick play.

Pass and Receive Back Foot Soccer Dtill

8. Football Tennis

Players to practice their first touch and ball control within a fun game. Developing players ability to receive from different heights and be able to return the ball with different parts of their feet / body.  

Football Tennis

9. 2v2+1 Positioning Game

Creating triangles and keeping possession in small groups is more difficult but it helps players to be more creative in the tight areas of the pitch.

2v2+1 Positioning Game Soccer Drill

10. Combination Passing

This drill gives players the ability to pass over long and short distances with a good first touch and combination play that moves the ball across the area using one and two touch play.

Combination Passing Soccer Drill

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