How to Teach Soccer Players to be More Aggressive

A Soccer Drill to Teach Players to Be Aggressive

(Below is a letter from a soccer coach and my reply. He asked how he could get some of his players to play more aggressive soccer.)


Last week we played a soccer team that beat us10-0 last season. The other team has no weak players and three aggressive players. We lost 2-0 but I can see the improvement from last year. The opposing coach even asked me if I had the same team as last year and when I said yes, he said, “You are doing a great job with them”.

A problem I have is that I have two girls who just don’t play. The ball comes to there feet and they just stand there. The ball goes to the corner and do they go get it? No, just stand there. How can I motivate these two girls?

Coach A

Hi Coach A,

As you know, this isn’t easy. Below are some ideas for you to try.

  1. Perhaps those 2 players are timid and don’t know how to be Brave (the word “Brave” is better than “aggressive” – “brave” is a term that most girls and parents like better than “aggressive” – heroes are brave, but some parents don’t want their kids to be “aggressive”). Two soccer drills that teach aggressive play are: “Shoulder Tackle & Strength on the Ball” and “2 Team Keepaway” (a SoccerHelp Premium Practice Game). Also try “Dribble Around Cone & Pass Relay Race” (to teach “Aggressive Receiving” and One-Touch play which will allow players to play faster) and “Win the 50/50 Ball or Be the First Defender 1v1 Attacking & Defending” (a SoccerHelp Premium Practice Game).
  2. Promote the idea that everyone is part of the Team and that the team can only win if everyone does their job. Start a Team Cheer that everyone does before the game. Let the girls choose it. An example is “Go Team, Go, Go, Go” or “Play Hard, Play Fair, Have Fun”. There is more about this on SoccerHelp Premium.
  3. Brazilian Goal Celebration Idea. When your team scores a goal, have everyone gather in a circle facing each other, put their arms around each other’s shoulders, and do your Team Cheer or a Chant. That makes it clear that scoring a goal is a TEAM EFFORT. This Team Goal Celebration will allow EVERY member of the team to celebrate and share in the celebration of a goal being scored – it promotes teamwork and team spirit, and discourages being a ball hog or a grandstander. This will encourage every player to feel that they are an important member of the team. This is what the Brazilian National Team does after scoring a goal. There is more about this idea of “Team Attacking” at
  4. Iron-on Soccer Patches are Excellent for Motivation and Positive Reinforcement Ideas. Our motivational soccer patches really work. There are over 200 Testimonials you can read from coaches that you can read on Choose a patch to give for “Hustle” patch and different patch to give for “Bravery”. An example might be a Lightning Bolt for Hustle and a Gold Star for Bravery. Use the patches that you think will best motivate your players. The patches are part of a Positive Reinforcement approach.
  5. Effective Positive Reinforcement. As part of your Positive Reinforcement, give your players LOTS of encouragement and praise in a VISIBLE way. Give praise for actions you are encouraging at the time they happen. Give your praise in a way where everyone sees it and hears it - let your players know that you are proud of them (that also let’s the other players know what they can do to earn praise). When a player does something you want them to do on the field (like Hustle or Bravery), get their attention and yell “Good job Karen” and clap your hands (to indicate “applause”) or do something so they can see you are pleased. When they come off the field be sure to mention it so the other players hear your praise or give them a High Five. IMPORTANT: Give the patches out after the game in a ceremony in front of all the players AND parents and be sure to PRAISE the players and tell them why they EARNED the patches. This will make them proud and will let the other players know the type of behavior that will EARN a patch. A positive reinforcement approach gets better results than a negative approach and is a lot more fun for everyone.

Thanks for writing.


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