U8 Soccer Drills – Soccer Practice Plan for U8 (5-8 Years Old)

What are the best U8 Soccer Drills? Some of the best soccer drills for kids under eight are dribbling through cones to improve ball control, passing drills with partners to develop teamwork, and small-sided games to introduce basic tactics. Remember if you’re starting with soccer coaching for 5 to 8-year-olds, it’s crucial to focus on drills that align with their physical development and budding enthusiasm for the game. 

These young players are in the early stages of building coordination and basic soccer skills. Therefore, the best U8 soccer drills should emphasize fun, simplicity, and teamwork. In this guide, we’ll explore age-appropriate exercises. Let’s kick off this introduction to U8 soccer drills!

U8 Soccer Drills – First Grader Soccer Drills for Kids 

Between the ages of 7 and 8, children experience significant physical and mental development. Physically, they continue to improve their coordination, agility, and speed. Mentally, their understanding of soccer tactics and teamwork becomes more advanced.

ExerciseCategoryBest For
Cone DribblingFootwork and DribblingClose ball control
Dribble TagFootwork and DribblingDribbling under pressure
Traffic Cones MazeFootwork and DribblingAgility and ball control
Passing PairsPassing and Ball HandlingBasic passing and receiving skills
Pass the Ball AroundPassing and Ball HandlingTeamwork and passing accuracy
Follow the LeaderPassing and Ball HandlingBall handling and awareness
Goal Scoring GameShooting and ScoringIntroduction to scoring goals
Target PracticeShooting and ScoringAiming and shooting accuracy
Obstacle Course ShootingShooting and ScoringShooting under varying conditions
Red Light, Green LightDefensiveQuick reactions and ball control
Defend the CastleDefensiveDefensive skills and awareness
1v1 Mini GamesDefensiveDefensive and offensive skills development
Animal RacesFitness and AgilityCoordination and fitness
Sprint RelaysFitness and AgilityTeamwork and short sprints
Balancing ActFitness and AgilityAgility and core strength
Team Keep-AwayTacticalBall possession and teamwork
Passing ChainsTacticalBall movement and positioning
Small-Sided GamesTacticalTeamwork and basic tactical understanding

Footwork and dribbling drills improve their ball control and agility. Passing and ball handling drills enhance teamwork and ball-handling skills. Shooting and scoring drills help them develop accuracy and decision-making. Defensive drills teach proper positioning and pressing. Fitness and agility drills boost their speed and endurance, while tactical drills encourage strategic thinking and teamwork.

Key Takeaways:

  • The best U8 soccer drills focus on developing fundamental skills such as dribbling, passing, shooting, and defending while considering the physical and mental development of children aged 5-8.
  • For 5-6 year olds, drills should emphasize fun, simplicity, and teamwork, with a focus on ball control and basic skills. 
  • For 7-8 year olds, drills can become slightly more complex, enhancing their agility, ball handling, and tactical understanding while maintaining an enjoyable and engaging environment.
  • It’s crucial to adapt the complexity of the drills to match the players’ skill levels and gradually progress as they improve. These early years set the foundation for a lifelong love of soccer.
  • These drills focus on developing fundamental soccer skills, coordination, teamwork, and fitness while keeping the sessions enjoyable and age-appropriate for 5-6 year olds. Adapt the complexity of the drills to match the players’ skill levels and gradually progress as they improve.

Soccer Drills for 5-6 Year Olds 

Based on their body and mental conditions, here are the best soccer drills for kids between 5 and 6 years. If you’re curious about how to start even younger, you might find our guide on starter drills for preschoolers useful.

Footwork and Dribbling Drills:

  • Cone Dribbling: Set up cones in a zigzag pattern and have players dribble the ball through them, enhancing close ball control.
  • Dribble Tag: Play a game where kids dribble the ball while avoiding being tagged by other players, improving dribbling under pressure.
  • Traffic Cones Maze: Create a maze of cones and have players navigate through it with the ball, enhancing agility and ball control.

Passing and Ball Handling Drills:

  • Passing Pairs: Pair kids up and have them pass the ball back and forth, focusing on basic passing and receiving skills.
  • Pass the Ball Around: Form a circle and encourage players to pass the ball to their teammates, promoting teamwork and passing accuracy.
  • Follow the Leader: Designate one player as the leader, who dribbles the ball while others follow and try to mimic their moves, improving ball handling and awareness.

Shooting and Scoring Drills:

  • Goal Scoring Game: Set up small goals and let kids take turns shooting and scoring goals. For those setting up practice spaces at home, consider our curated list of kid-friendly backyard goals.
  • Target Practice: Place targets (cones or small goals) in the corners of the goal and have players aim for these targets during shooting practice.
  • Obstacle Course Shooting: Create an obstacle course for players to dribble through before taking a shot, improving shooting accuracy under varying conditions.

Defensive Drills:

  • Red Light, Green Light: Have players dribble towards a coach who calls out “red light” to stop or “green light” to go, teaching them to react quickly and control the ball.
  • Defend the Castle: Set up cones in a circle and assign one player as the defender. Others try to dribble through the defender’s “castle” without losing their ball.
  • 1v1 Mini Games: Organize small-sided games where kids take turns defending and attacking in one-on-one situations, enhancing defensive and offensive skills.

Fitness and Agility Drills:

  • Animal Races: Assign different animal movements (like hopping like a bunny or crawling like a bear) for kids to imitate while dribbling, enhancing coordination and fitness.
  • Sprint Relays: Organize relay races where kids dribble the ball to the next teammate, promoting teamwork and short sprints.
  • Balancing Act: Set up balance beams or lines and have kids dribble the ball while maintaining balance, improving agility and core strength.

Tactical Drills:

  • Team Keep-Away: Split players into two teams and have them pass the ball and try to keep possession while the other team defends and tries to intercept passes.
  • Passing Chains: Create passing chains where players must pass the ball in a sequence, teaching them ball movement and positioning.
  • Small-Sided Games: Introduce mini-games with simple rules to encourage teamwork and basic tactical understanding.
Source: The Coaching Manual

Soccer Drills for 7-8 Year Olds 

Here are some drills that are designed to further develop soccer skills, tactical understanding, teamwork, and fitness for 7-8 year olds. Adapt the complexity of the drills based on the players’ skill levels;
These drills are designed to help 7-8-year-olds advance in soccer. But if you have slightly older kids and are looking for more challenging drills, our guide on exercises perfect for pre-teens might be just what you need.

Footwork and Dribbling Drills:

  • Dribble Relay Race: Organize relay races where teams dribble the ball through cones, emphasizing speed and control.
  • Dribble Tag with a Ball: Play a game of tag where players must dribble their ball while trying to tag others, improving dribbling under pressure.
  • Obstacle Course Dribbling: Set up cones, hurdles, and hoops to create an obstacle course for dribbling, enhancing agility and ball control.

Passing and Ball Handling Drills:

  • Triangle Passing: Form triangles with players and have them pass the ball within the triangle, focusing on quick, accurate passes.
  • Passing and Receiving Grid: Create a grid with players passing and receiving the ball, enhancing ball handling and teamwork.
  • Wall Passes and Wall Control: Teach players to pass against a wall and control the returning ball, improving passing accuracy and ball control.

Shooting and Scoring Drills:

  • Goal Accuracy Challenge: Set up targets in the corners of the goal and have players aim for these targets during shooting practice.
  • 1v1 Scoring Game: Organize one-on-one games where players take turns attacking and defending, improving shooting and defending skills.
  • Shooting Under Pressure: Introduce defenders or obstacles during shooting practice to simulate game scenarios.

Defensive Drills:

  • Defensive Positioning: Teach players how to position themselves to block passing lanes and mark opponents effectively.
  • 3v3 Mini Games: Organize small-sided games with three players on each team, encouraging players to apply defensive and offensive principles.
  • Pressing and Recovery: Teach players how to press opponents high up the field and recover the ball quickly.

Fitness and Agility Drills:

  • Agility Ladder Drills: Set up an agility ladder to enhance footwork and quickness.
  • Sprint and Passing Relay: Combine sprinting with passing in relay races to improve speed, passing accuracy, and teamwork.
  • Circuit Training: Incorporate various fitness exercises like jumping jacks, burpees, and shuttle runs to improve overall conditioning.

Tactical Drills:

  • Small-Sided Games: Introduce mini-games with simplified rules to enhance tactical understanding, decision-making, and teamwork.
  • Positional Play: Teach players about basic positions on the field and their roles in different situations.
  • Game Scenarios: Create scenarios that mimic in-game situations, helping players practice tactical awareness.


In conclusion, soccer drills for children aged 5-8 are tailored to their developing physical and mental capabilities. These drills foster fundamental skills, teamwork, and an understanding of the game’s basics. By providing engaging and age-appropriate exercises, coaches and parents can help young players build a strong foundation and a deep love for soccer. These formative years set the stage for their future growth and enjoyment of the sport.


What are U8 soccer drills for positioning? 

Positioning drills for U8 players should focus on introducing basic concepts of field positions. One effective drill is the “Position Grid” where players stand in a grid formation representing positions like forward, midfielder, and defender. The coach can call out a position, and players must quickly move to that spot, teaching them the fundamentals of positioning.

What drills are the best for 2nd graders? 

For 2nd graders, simple and engaging drills are essential. “Pass the Ball Around the Circle” is a great passing and teamwork drill where players form a circle and pass the ball to their teammates. “Shooting at Targets” can improve their accuracy by aiming at targets placed in the goal. Additionally, “Dribbling Through Cones” enhances ball control and dribbling skills while keeping them active and involved.

What drills align with the body and mental conditions of U8? 

Drills for young players should align with their developing coordination and mental capacity. Exercises like “Follow the Leader” improve ball handling and awareness, promoting both physical and cognitive development. “Small-Sided Games” encourage teamwork and decision-making, aligning with their mental growth as they begin to understand basic tactics. These drills should balance physical and mental aspects, fostering holistic development.

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