A ranked list of 10 of the best soccer drills to improve your game

A ranked list of 10 of the best soccer drills to improve your game

Helix Odhiambo
September 18, 2023 at 10:44 AM

Modern-day soccer academies and teams have curated new strategies and drills to train their players. The aim is to improve their ball control, passing, dribbling, and shooting skills. The techniques vary depending on age and experience. Join us as we highlight the best soccer drills to improve your skills.

Best soccer drills for ball control
FC Barcelona players go through their drills during a training session at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California, on 25 July 2023, ahead of their game against Arsenal at Sofi Stadium in Los Angeles. Photo: Frederic J. Brown
Source: Getty Images

Soccer drills cover different aspects that improve players' performance. People can perform the drills with teammates are alone at home. Some of the equipment used to perform the drills include cones, poles, hurdles, soccer rebounders, resistance bands, and free-kick dummies.

Best soccer drills to improve your game

Soccer drills are a mix of individual techniques and pair work focusing on dribbling, passing, ball control, and shooting. Best soccer agility drills help players move quickly with the ball. Coaches often focus on specific areas to give the athletes a solid foundation to develop their skills and improve their abilities.

Top 10 best soccer drills

There are ideal soccer drills for beginners, youth, and senior players. Here is a breakdown of the best moves and tactics recommended for soccer stars during training.

10. Head the ball clear

Best soccer drills for speed
Spain's defender Sergio Ramos (R) heads the ball past Alvaro Negredo during a training session at Las Rozas Sports City near Madrid on 9 October 2013. Photo Javier Soriano
Source: Getty Images

The technique focuses on helping players learn how to use their heads to clear the ball in a defensive position. The coach tests a defender's heading ability by throwing the ball high as the player retreats on his back to effectively and accurately head the ball away. Repeating the move several times will help improve their performance.

9. Catch and move

10 best soccer drills
United States goalkeeper Hope Solo during pre-game warm-up drills ahead of their game against Canada on 17 September 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Photo: Peter Aiken (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

The drill tests the goalie's speed and accuracy. A trainer throws a series of balls to a goalie, who throws back to the coach before changing position to receive another. The goalkeeper goes back and forth as instructed during the exercise.

8. Beat the defender

Best soccer agility drills
Megan Rapinoe (R) of the United States dribbles during a USWNT training session at Bay City Park on 17 July 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Brad Smith
Source: Getty Images

Many coaches use this concept to train their strikers to beat opposing defenders. It requires two attacking players and a defender positioned in a triangle set-up. The attacking players aim to dodge the defender and score a goal by passing to each other or dribbling past the defender, whose objective is to tackle the two players and clear the ball. The drill resumes once the players score or lose possession.

7. Pass and cross

Soccer dribbling drills
Angel Di Maria (L) of Juventus crosses the ball during a training session at JTC on 28 April 2023 in Turin, Italy. Photo: Daniele Badolato (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

The concept involves midfielders, wingers and strikers. Its purpose is to improve a player's accuracy when crossing the ball. The idea involves:

  • Midfielders start by exchanging passes in the middle before finding one of the wingers.
  • The winger controls the ball and then crosses into the box for the striker to score.
  • The drill could also include defenders and a goalie to provide more challenge.

6. Ball in the box

Best soccer drills for youth
Soccer players practice dribbling skills during a training session. Photo: Matimix (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

The technique is among the best soccer drills for speed. The aim is to move the ball and sprint quickly. It involves the following steps:

  • A set of four teams with the same number of players, each dribbling the ball through the lines of cones and leaving it at the centre.
  • When a player returns to the team, another member goes through the same until all have participated.
  • Once all the balls are in the central box, the players perform the drill in reverse. They sprint to the box containing the soccer balls, picking one and dribbling through the cones to the starting point.
  • The first team to complete the drill wins the contest.

5. Looped passing

Best soccer drills to improve your game
Bayern Munich players train with the ball during a session on 27 July 2023 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: S. Mellar
Source: Getty Images

It is one of the simplest drills done by two players standing a distance apart. It aims to develop the accuracy of a player's passing ability. The technique works in the following way:

  • One person controls the ball with one foot, rolls it along the floor in front of their body with the same foot, and then passes it back to the opposite player with the other foot.
  • The trainees are limited to two touches before releasing the ball to the other colleague.
  • The first touch is by one foot, then the second by the other while giving a pass.

4. Dribble-sprint-dribble

Best soccer drills
Bayern Munich players sprint during a training session at Saebener Strasse ground on 4 January 2023 in Munich, Germany. Photo: T. Kieslich (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

The drill has improved the fitness of the best soccer stars in history. It combines dribbling and sprinting from one end of the field to another. Here is a breakdown of the technique.

  • A player dribbles the ball from one end of the field along the sidelines parallel to the centre.
  • Once they reach the halfway point, they leave the ball and sprint towards the other end of the field.
  • On reaching the second touchline, they bend down, touch the line with their hand, and turn quickly towards the halfway point where they left the ball.
  • The player then quickly dribbles the ball back to the original touchline.
  • Doing this five times should improve someone's fitness.

3. Move and shoot

Best soccer drills for beginners
England's Jordan Nobbs shoots during a training session at Central Coast Stadium on 5 August 2023 in Gosford, Australia. Photo: Naomi Baker
Source: Getty Images

The drill aims to train a player to hit the target with a shot on goal, shoot with a moving ball, and dribble past an opponent before shooting to score. The procedure involves:

  • Placing one cone near the penalty box and another some distance away, both in the centre of the field.
  • A player begins with the ball at their feet next to the furthest cone from the goal and dribbles toward the other cone close to the box.
  • After reaching the second cone, one must move the ball to the left or right and then shoot on goal.
  • One can have a goalie guarding the posts or leave it open.

2. Defend the line

Best soccer drills to do alone
Chloe Mustaki (R) blocks Lucy Quinn's (L) shot during a Republic of Ireland training session at Meakin Park in Brisbane, Australia, before their 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup game against Nigeria. Photo: Stephen McCarthy
Source: Getty Images

Defence is the foundation of any team. Most coaches like Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, and Pep Guardiola have established great teams with incredible defenders. The Defend the Line drill aims to improve a defender's ability to keep another player away from the goal. Here is a step-by-step guideline on how it works:

  • The concept involves two players (defender and attacker) working with the ball within a small triangle of cones.
  • The attacker runs with the ball from one end of the rectangle, aiming to dribble through the cones at the opposite end of the rectangle.
  • The defender simultaneously runs towards the attacker to tackle or stop them from progressing.
  • The drill ends once the defender tackles the attacker or takes control of the ball or when the offensive player passes the defender and dribbles the ball out the end of the rectangle.

1. The Weave

Best soccer drills to improve your game
Simone Edera of Torino FC trains with the ball and cones at Stadio Filadelfia on 11 May 2020. Photo: Nicolò Campo
Source: Getty Images

The technique is one of the best soccer drills for ball control. It is also one of the most efficient soccer dribbling drills. Top soccer dribblers like Neymar Jr., Ousmane Dembele, Adama Traore, Vinicius Jr., and Kylian Mbappe have mastered the art. The drill involves:

  • Using six cones placed about a meter apart in a straight line.
  • A player dribbles (weave) through the cone from the first to the last one.
  • After reaching the end of the line of cones, the player dribbles the ball back to where they began.
  • Trainers could restrict players to only one touch on either side of the cones.

Best soccer drills to do alone

Players can practice ball tactics alone at home without their teammates or coach. The best soccer drills at home include ball juggling, push-pull, toe taps, wall drills, and cone dribbling.

Best soccer drills for high school players

Best soccer drills for 12-year-olds
Wilson High School players going through soccer drills at Sal's Soccer Camp on 27 June 2013 in Washington, DC. Photo: Jahi Chikwendiu
Source: Getty Images

Soccer drills for high school players focus on improving their skills and abilities while keeping them entertained, inspired, and engaged. The best soccer drills for youth and high school students include:

  • One-On-One or Toe-To-Toe Dribbling
  • Cone Exercise
  • Pass and Shoot
  • One Touch or One Shot
  • Head-shot
  • Shot Passes
  • Rondos
  • Long Passes
  • Tackling
  • Control and Pass

Best soccer drills for 12-year-olds

Young soccer athletes between 10-13 can improve their game by learning essential drills suitable for their age group. They include the samba (ladder), controlling the ball at any height, the passing circle, two-touch passing, shielding, and rollout.

Best soccer drills are the most effective way of improving players' abilities, skills, and tactical behaviour. It is recommended to performing them regularly. Besides, drills bring fun and foster teamwork and cohesiveness during training.

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Helix Odhiambo
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