17 Youth Soccer Ball Handling Drills



17 Youth Soccer Ball Handling Drills

Improving ball handling is essential for youth soccer players, whether they are beginners or advanced soccer players. This article outlines various drills and exercises designed to enhance ball control, dribbling skills, and overall confidence on the field. By incorporating these drills into their training routine, youth players can develop a solid foundation for advanced soccer techniques.

Ball Handling in Youth Soccer

Ball-handling skills are fundamental for soccer players at all levels. Developing these skills early on for youth soccer players can significantly improve their overall performance. Good ball handling allows players to control the ball effectively, make precise passes, and quickly dribble past opponents. Mastering these skills boosts confidence and makes the game enjoyable for young soccer players.

Ball handling is more than just keeping the ball close; it’s about controlling it under pressure, making quick decisions, and maintaining possession. These skills are critical for every player, regardless of their position on the field. Coaches and parents should encourage young players to practice regularly and focus on improving their ball-handling skills.

Basic Soccer Ball Handling Drills for Beginners

Starting with basic ball-handling drills helps beginners and kids build their foundational skills. These drills are simple yet effective for improving ball control and touch.

Foot Taps

Foot taps are easy to perform and can be done almost anywhere. The key is to keep the ball under control and develop a rhythm. Encourage kids to keep their heads up as much as possible so they get used to scanning the field while controlling the ball. This practice will help them become more aware of their surroundings during a game.

  • Method

Lightly tap the top of the ball with the sole of the foot, alternating between feet.

  • Benefits

This drill improves coordination, touch, and balance, helping players get comfortable with the ball.

Inside-Outside Touches

This drill improves how well you can move your feet and control the ball. Players should focus on making gentle touches to keep the ball close. Practicing inside-outside touches regularly helps in developing better control during matches. It also teaches players to move the ball smoothly, which is essential for dribbling past opponents.

  • Method

Use the inside and outside of the foot to touch the ball alternately while moving forward.

  • Benefits

Enhances control and movement, teaching players how to move the ball effectively.

Dribble Relay Races

Dribble relay races are a great way to combine fun and skill development. Younger soccer players compete against each other, which adds excitement and encourages them to improve their dribbling. This drill also promotes teamwork and helps them develop a sense of healthy competition.

  • Method

Set up a relay race where kids dribble the ball around cones.

  • Benefits

Improves dribbling skills and adds a competitive element.

Musical Dribble Drill

This soccer ball dribbling drill is similar to musical chairs but focuses on ball control. It helps kids develop quick reflexes and the ability to control the ball under different conditions. This game-like drill makes practice sessions more enjoyable and engaging for young players.

  • Method

Dribble around in a designated area while music plays; stop and control the ball when the music stops.

  • Benefits

Enhances ball control and quick reactions.

Soccer Ball Handling Drills for Youth Soccer Players

For youth soccer players like 10-year-olds, drills should be more challenging to match their growing skills and understanding of the game. These essential soccer ball-handling drills suit players of all skill levels and help build fundamental ball-handling abilities.

Bulldog Attack Dribble Drill

This drill is both fun and effective. It teaches players to keep the ball close and use their bodies to shield it from opponents. The element of evasion adds a realistic challenge, helping players develop the skills they need to navigate through defenders during a game.

  • Method

Players dribble the ball while avoiding being tagged by a “bulldog.”

  • Benefits

Improves dribbling under pressure and evasive maneuvers.

Round the Square Dribble Drill

Dribbling around a square helps players practice changing direction and maintaining ball control. This drill is excellent for improving agility and precise ball handling. It also teaches players to be mindful of their footwork and dribbling patterns.

  • Method

Dribble around a square formation of cones.

  • Benefits

Enhances agility and control.


Juggling is a classic drill that helps players develop a delicate touch. It also enhances concentration and coordination. Encourage players to challenge themselves by increasing the number of consecutive juggles. This drill also improves balance and timing, which are essential for controlling the ball during games.

  • Method

Keep the ball in the air using feet, thighs, and head.

  • Benefits

Improves touch and coordination.

Wall Passes

Wall passes are great for improving touch and control. They simulate the action of passing and receiving in a game. Players should focus on using both feet and different parts of the foot to control the ball. This drill also helps players develop quick reflexes and accurate passing.

  • Method

Pass the ball against a wall and control the rebound with different parts of the foot.

  • Benefits

Enhances passing and receiving skills.

Advanced Ball Handling Drills for Youth Soccer Players

As players progress, they need more advanced drills to continue improving their skills.

Cone Dribbling

Cone dribbling is a staple in soccer training. It teaches players to change direction quickly and maintain control. Encourage players to keep their heads up and navigate the cones with precision. This drill also improves spatial awareness and the ability to react to obstacles.

  • Method

Set up cones in a line or pattern and dribble around them.

  • Benefits

Improves agility and precision.

Gate Dribbling

Gate dribbling is excellent for teaching players to control the ball in tight spaces. It encourages precise touches and accurate dribbling. This drill can also be adapted to include passing through the gates, which enhances passing accuracy under pressure.

  • Method

Dribble through pairs of cones (gates) spread out.

  • Benefits

Improves accuracy and control.

1v1 Control Drills

1v1 drills help players develop confidence in controlling the ball when under pressure from an opponent. It’s crucial for young players to practice these scenarios to improve their composure and decision-making. This drill also enhances dribbling skills and teaches players how to protect the ball from defenders.

  • Method

Practice controlling the ball while facing a defender.

  • Benefits

Develops composure and control under pressure.

Figure 8 Dribbling

This drill challenges players to keep the ball close while navigating tight turns. It’s excellent for improving control and agility. Figure 8 dribbling also helps players learn how to maintain balance and stability while changing directions quickly.

  • Method

Dribble the ball in a figure 8 pattern around two cones.

  • Benefits

Enhances dribbling skills and ball control in tight spaces.

Quick Feet Drills

Quick feet drills are perfect for developing rapid, controlled touches. They help players become more agile and responsive on the field. This drill emphasizes speed and control, which are vital for maintaining possession under pressure.

  • Method

Rapidly tap the ball with alternating feet without moving it.

  • Benefits

Boosts agility and quickness.

High-Intensity Ball Handling Drills

For players who are ready for a higher level of intensity, these drills can push their limits and enhance their ball-handling skills.

High-Pressure Drills

High-pressure drills teach players to respond aggressively and quickly after losing possession. These drills help attackers develop a relentless attitude, which is crucial for high-intensity play.

  • Method: Set up a drill where attackers apply immediate pressure on defenders after losing the ball. The goal is to regain possession quickly and create scoring chances.
  • Benefits: Builds an aggressive attacking mindset. Players learn to press high and maintain intensity in their play.

Quick Transition Drills

Quick transition drills are vital for developing an aggressive and effective attacking style. These drills help players learn to capitalize on opportunities quickly and maintain a high tempo in their play.

  • Method

Practice drills that focus on rapid transitions from defense to attack. For example, players must quickly move forward after winning the ball to create a scoring opportunity.

  • Benefits

Encourages quick and aggressive forward play. Players develop the ability to switch from defense to attack smoothly.

Battle Zones

Battle zones are great for using one-on-one competition and teaching players to assert themselves. This drill helps players build confidence and aggression in direct confrontations.

  • Method

Divide the field into several small “battle zones.” In each zone, two players compete for possession of the ball. Rotate players through different zones to experience various opponents.

  • Benefits

Encourages one-on-one competition and aggressive play. Players develop confidence and assertiveness in individual battles.

Small-Sided Games

Small-sided games are excellent for practicing ball control in a game-like environment. They encourage quick thinking and effective control under pressure. This format allows players to apply their skills in a realistic context and improve their overall game understanding.

  • Method

Play in small teams to focus on ball control.

  • Benefits

Improves decision-making and controls in-game scenarios.

Ball Handling Drills Guide for Soccer Coaches

Coaches can implement these drills to help their players improve their ball-handling skills effectively.

Skill Circuits

Skill circuits are great for keeping training sessions dynamic and engaging. They allow players to practice different skills in a structured way. Ensure each station focuses on a specific aspect of ball control. This approach keeps players motivated and helps them develop a broad skill set.

  • Method

Set up multiple stations with different drills focusing on ball control, dribbling, and footwork.

  • Benefits

Covers a wide range of skills in one session.

Combination Drills

Combination drills help players integrate various skills seamlessly. They are excellent for simulating game situations and improving overall technique. These drills also encourage players to think quickly and make decisions under pressure.

  • Method

Combine multiple techniques in one drill, such as dribbling through cones and finishing with a shot on goal.

  • Benefits

Develop versatility and adaptability.

Techniques to Enhance Aggressiveness in Ball Handling

Teaching youth soccer players to use aggression effectively without compromising sportsmanship is crucial. These techniques focus on controlled aggression and mental toughness.

Controlled Aggression Techniques

Controlled aggression is about being assertive and determined while maintaining control and discipline. Teach players to use their bodies and physicality within the rules of the game. This approach helps players build confidence and a competitive edge without resorting to fouls.

  • Method

Educate players on the importance of using aggression positively. Practice drills that emphasize assertiveness, such as challenging the ball and shielding it from opponents.

  • Benefits

Improves competitive edge and game control. Players learn to channel their aggression effectively.

Mental Toughness Drills

Mental toughness is a key component of aggressive play. Drills that challenge players’ mental resilience help them develop the ability to stay focused and determined, even in difficult situations. Encourage players to stay positive and keep pushing themselves.

  • Method

Implement drills that focus on building mental resilience and aggression. For example, practice scenarios where players must recover quickly from mistakes and continue to compete aggressively.

  • Benefits

Enhances focus and aggressive mindset. Players develop the mental toughness needed to stay competitive under pressure.

Team Building and Sportsmanship

Team-building exercises help players understand the importance of respect and fair play. By discussing the role of aggression in soccer, coaches can guide players on how to use their competitive spirit positively.

  • Method

Incorporate team-building exercises that emphasize the importance of respect and sportsmanship. Discuss the role of aggression in soccer and how to use it positively.

  • Benefits

Reinforces the values of fair play and respect. Players learn to balance aggression with good sportsmanship.

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From fundamental ball-handling techniques to advanced drills, these exercises help youth soccer players build a strong foundation for ball handling. Consistency and regular practice are crucial for improvement, and players need to enjoy the learning process. By incorporating these drills into their training routine, youth players can develop their ball-handling skills and become more confident and effective on the field.


How can I improve my ball handling in soccer?

To improve your ball handling in soccer, practice basic drills like foot taps, inside-outside touches, and dribbling around cones regularly. Consistent practice will help you control the ball better and enhance your overall skills.

What equipment do I need for ball-handling drills?

For ball handling drills, you’ll need a soccer ball, cones to set up drills, and possibly a wall or rebounder for passing exercises. You might also use an agility ladder or small goals for more advanced drills.

How can I make ball-handling drills more challenging?

You can make ball-handling drills more challenging by increasing the speed at which you do them, using smaller spaces, adding more cones or obstacles, and including defenders or time limits to add pressure.

How can I become a confident ball handler in soccer?

To become a confident ball handler, practice ball control drills regularly, play small-sided games to apply your skills in real situations, and keep a positive attitude. Consistent practice will build your confidence.

How can I get faster at handling the ball in soccer?

To get faster at handling the ball, practice quick feet drills, high-pressure exercises, and drills that focus on rapid movements, like dribbling through an agility ladder or tight cone patterns. This will improve your speed, agility, and control.

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