Tips for Running Your First Soccer Practice ⚽

Kick Off with Confidence: Essential Tips for Your First Soccer Practice

July 4 2024

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Tips for Running Your First Soccer Practice ⚽

Leading a practice without a gameplan can result in not only wasted time for both you and the team, but in missed opportunities for skill development and team bonding in young athletes. Running your first soccer practice might seem daunting, but with the right prep work it can be exciting and joyful for you and all the players.

Whether you're a seasoned coach or a volunteer parent stepping in for the first time, these tips will help you create a fun, organized, and effective soccer practice.

1. Plan Ahead

Planning is crucial for a smooth practice. Outline your session with specific goals in mind, such as improving dribbling, passing, or team bonding. Prepare drills and activities that align with these objectives. Having a clear plan will keep you organized and ensure that the practice runs efficiently.

Example Plan for a 60-minute practice

  • Warm-up (10 minutes)
  • Dribbling drills (15 minutes)
  • Passing exercises (15 minutes)
  • Small-sided games (15 minutes)
  • Cool-down and review (5 minutes)

2. Arrive Early

Arriving early allows you to set up the field, arrange equipment, and greet players as they arrive. This helps create a welcoming environment and gives you time to address any last-minute changes or questions from parents or players.

3. Start with a Warm-Up

Begin practice with a warm-up to get players moving and reduce their risk of injuries. This also helps players ease into the practice and build their comfort and confidence before diving right in. For the warm-up, you can incorporate activities like jogging, jumping jacks, high knees, butt kicks, and stretching. This not only prepares their bodies for physical activity but also helps them focus and get into the right mindset for practice as a team.

4. Focus on Fundamentals

For your first practice, prioritize fundamental skills such as dribbling, passing, and shooting. Use simple, fun drills that keep players engaged and build their confidence. As they become more comfortable, you can introduce more complex exercises.

Example Drills

  • Dribbling relay: Set up cones in a line and have players dribble around them as quickly as possible.
  • Passing pairs: Pair up players and have them pass the ball back and forth, focusing on accuracy and control.
  • Shooting stations: Create different shooting stations with varying distances and angles to practice shooting accuracy.

5. Incorporate Small-Sided Games

Small-sided games (e.g., 3v3 or 4v4) are excellent for allowing players to apply their skills in a game-like setting. These games encourage more touches on the ball, decision-making, and teamwork. They also keep practice enjoyable and competitive, while building children's confidence.

6. Encourage Positive Communication

Promote a positive and supportive atmosphere by encouraging players to communicate effectively with each other. Teach them to use encouraging words and constructive feedback. Model positive behaviors yourself by demonstrating respect, patience, and enthusiasm. This not only enhances their teamwork but also creates a more enjoyable environment for everyone.

7. Be Flexible

While it's important to have a plan, be prepared to adjust it based on the needs and energy levels of your players. If a drill isn't working or the players are getting frustrated, switch to a different activity or take a quick break. Flexibility ensures that the practice remains productive and fun.

8. End with a Cool-Down and Review

Conclude practice with a cool-down to help players recover and prevent injuries. Use this time for light jogging, stretching, and deep breathing exercises. After the cool-down, gather the team to review what they learned and discuss any highlights or areas for improvement. This reinforces the day's lessons and gives players a sense of accomplishment. These moments with your team will also help you better prepare for the next practice.

9. Stay Positive and Have Fun

Remember, the primary goal of youth soccer is to foster a love for the game. Keep the atmosphere light-hearted and fun, celebrate successes, and offer encouragement. Your positive attitude will inspire your players and make them excited to come back for the next practice.

10. Engage with Parents

After practice, take a few minutes to communicate with parents. Provide them with feedback about their child's progress, upcoming events, and any additional information they need to know. Building a good relationship with parents ensures they feel involved and supports a positive experience for their children.


Running your first soccer practice can certainly seem intimidating, but with careful planning and a positive attitude, it can be a rewarding experience for both you and your players.

Remember: Focus on fundamentals, keep activities engaging, and foster a supportive environment to help your team develop their skills and love for the game,and if it doesn;t go to plan - that’s okay too!. Good luck, and enjoy the journey! 💪

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