Aggressive Soccer Drill


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Watch a Video about How to Train Soccer Players to be Aggressive

(This soccer drill teaches players how to be aggressive about winning the ball and how not to get pushed off the ball when they are dribbling. It also teaches a legal Shoulder Tackle, challenging for the ball to slow the attack, stealing the ball, strength on the ball to maintain possession while dribbling, shielding the ball to maintain possession when challenged and aggressive play, U8, U10, U12, U14 to Adult)

“This Game made an immediate improvement on my boys on how to fight for a ball.” Coach Chuck, U10 Boys

“We did this first thing after warm-ups until I was satisfied the girls weren’t going to be afraid of contact.” Coach Corey, U12 Girls

“I LOVE the “Shoulder Tackle & Strength on the Ball” drill – it has HUGE benefits. It paid off this past weekend when we played a team from another league. Their girls were very aggressive until we got on their shoulders and then they generally went to pieces and we took away the ball.” Coach Tony, U16G, Premium Member for 6 years

How to Motivate Soccer Players to be More Aggressive

Summary:

This soccer drill teaches a legal Shoulder Tackle, challenging for the ball to slow the attack, stealing the ball, strength on the ball to maintain possession while dribbling, shielding the ball to maintain possession when challenged and aggressive play In real soccer games, it is critical for players to be able to challenge for the ball and also to be able to retain possession of the ball when they are dribbling. The opposing players will try to use a “Shoulder Tackle” to push your players off the ball when they are dribbling, so they can steal the ball or slow down your attack. Your players need to learn what is called "Strength on the Ball" so they aren't easily pushed off the ball when they are dribbling. Young players often aren’t used to physical, aggressive play, but the fact is that the more physical team will usually win, so you must teach your players how to be physical so they have a chance to be successful. This game teaches defenders how to legally use their shoulder to push an opponent off the ball, which is called a “Shoulder Tackle” (and also called a “Shoulder Charge”) and it also teaches players how to avoid being pushed off the ball while dribbling (which is called “Strength on the Ball”). It will get your players used to contact, which is very important, and teach them to play more aggressively. In this soccer drill, players pair up and walk or run side-by-side, while pushing each other shoulder-to-shoulder.

Teachers:

“Shoulder Tackle”, “Shielding”, “Strength on the Ball”. "Winning the Ball", Aggressive Play, How to Legally Challenge for the Ball to Slow the Opponent's Attack, Shielding the Ball to Maintain Possession When Challenged

Set-up:

  • Use cones to create a “Starting Line” and a “Finish Line” 10 steps away
  • Pair up players. Coach or parent plays if odd number.
  • Try to pair up players by size and ability.

The Game:

  • 1st, Before you Pair Up the players, have them stand in line, shoulder-to-shoulder, facing you. THEN, have them turn sideways so their shoulders are toward you (it doesn’t matter which shoulder, but it is easier if your players are close together). THEN, tell them all to put their feet together and stand up straight. THEN, go down the row and put ONE FINGER on the shoulder of each player one at a time and push each one off balance (it will be easy to push them off balance because their feet are together and their knees are straight). POINT THIS OUT TO THEM: “The reason it is SO easy for me to push you over with one finger is because your feet are together AND your knees are straight. I’m going to show you a simple way NOT to get pushed over.” THEN, tell them to move their feet apart (about shoulder width) AND bend their knees a little. NOW, go down the row again and put ONE FINGER on the shoulder of each player one at a time and show them that now you CANNOT push them off balance. When you put your finger on their shoulder, tell them to be STRONG and to PUSH BACK with their shoulder. (Tell them to try to stay “straight up” and NOT lean over, and that they MUST keep their arms straight down by their side, because in a game if they lean into an opponent by “dipping” their shoulder or if they lift their arm to push the opponent they can be called for a foul). This will teach them how to NOT get pushed off the ball AND teach them that when they try to push a player off the ball they can Push, but NOT Lean or “dip” their shoulder, and that they must keep their arms straight down by their side (they cannot raise their arm or push with it, just the shoulder).
  • 2nd, place the pairs on the Starting Line without a ball, facing the Finish Line, “shoulder-to-shoulder” and “hip-to-hip”, with feet apart and knees bent for balance. See which players can make the other one move. Tell them to keep their arms straight down by their side (they cannot raise their arm or push with it, just the shoulder). Also, they must stay straight up and cannot “dip” their shoulder (if they do, they will often be called for a foul). They can move their feet, bend their legs and use their hip so long as their shoulder is in contact with the opponent’s shoulder. (Read “Shoulder Charge” in the Dictionary for more rules). Tell your players “You can’t let other players push you around”.
  • 3rd, have the pairs walk toward the Finish Line (without a ball), pushing shoulder-to-shoulder, hip-to-hip. If some pairs don’t push, switch up the pairs. Encourage players and praise improvement. For some players physical play is not natural, but with praise & encouragement they will improve. Tell them to keep their feet apart and knees bent so they are difficult to push.
  • 4th, do the same thing while running
  • 5th, give one player in each pair a ball, line up all pairs on the Starting Line and have the players with the ball try to dribble to the Finish Line while the other player tries to kick the ball away or steal it. If the “off-the-ball” player touches the ball he gets one point; if he steals it he gets 2 points. Then, give the other players the ball and let them try to dribble from the Finish Line to the Starting line. Do this several times and switch up the pairs for variety. See below for another version of how to play this game that your players might find more fun. My friend Coach Tony from Atlanta submitted the idea below that I really like.

Rules:

Off-the-ball players (those without the ball) must stay shoulder-to-shoulder with the dribbler and try to win the ball by pushing with the shoulder and hip. (They cannot push the front, back or go around; only shoulder-to-shoulder).

Set-up:

Teaching Points:

  1. Show dribblers how to “shield” the ball by dribbling with the foot farthest from the opponent.
  2. “Strength on the Ball
  3. “Shoulder tackling” technique

Variation for Travel teams U-10 & Older and Rec Teams U-12 & Older

The following is from Coach Tony who is a great coach in the Atlanta area. Tony’s record with his Rec team has been fantastic, but last year he lost a lot of his players to the high school team and had to start over (as you know, for Rec players to make a high school team is unusual and proves the coach did a good job). His team lost their first 3 games and did not score a single goal! As Tony said in an email to me: “I had to regroup, re-think, re-tool. What had I slipped away from, what had I neglected? I looked at my notes from each game. We were giving the ball up on throw ins, we were not winning the majority of the goal kicks and punts and we were not stealing the opposing teams throw-ins, punts or goal kicks either. The next week at practice we practiced, mostly Coaching Rule # 3, but really, for about 2 weeks, we worked on nothing other than Coaching Rules 1 – 3. Interestingly enough, won our next 5 games scoring 20 goals and giving up none, we won 6 – 0, 3 – 0, 4 – 0, 3 – 0 and 4 - 0.” The “Shoulder Tackle & Strength on the Ball” practice game also helped Tony’s team a great deal and he came up with a variation of it that I have copied below:

“I LOVE the “Shoulder Tackle & Strength on the Ball” drill – it has HUGE benefits. It paid off this past weekend when we played a team from another league. Their girls were very aggressive until we got on their shoulders and then they generally went to pieces and we took away the ball.” Coach Tony, U16G, Premium Member for 6 years

“I have 15 and 16 year olds, so I tweaked this game a bit as follows:

In the Diagram below, the “C’s” are cones, D = Defender, A = Attacker, 25 is the number of steps between the cones and “1″ is the number of steps the Defender starts behind the Attacker.

  • Pair up your players and put out 2 cones for each pair of players. You can put the rows of cones 4 or 5 steps apart.
  • One player in each pair is an Attacker and has a ball. The other player is the “Defender” and does not have a ball. The Atacker starts beside a cone and the Defender is one step behind (see the Diagram below).
  • On “GO” the Attackers dribble toward the other cone (the “Finish” cone) and the Defenders chase them and try to get beside the Attacker they are chasing so the Defender can use his shoulder to push the Attacker.
  • A’s objective is to get to the “Finish” Cone with the ball under his control. (Note from David: Normally, you want to teach your Attackers to kick the ball in front so they can run to it, but in this game tell the Attackers they must keep the ball near their feet (Control Dribbling) and can’t kick it out in front, because if they kick it to the last cone then it defeats one of the objectives, which is to teach the onball Attacker how to NOT get pushed off the ball, and to get the onball Attacker used to being shouldered, so they don’t fall to pieces like the team Tony mentions above that his team beat when his girls started using their shoulders). The objective is to get your players used to being shouldered when they are dribbling the ball and to teach them how to be “strong” on the ball so they don’t get pushed off the ball. They will have to tearn how to brace themselves.
  • D’s objective is to steal the ball from A by using his “shoulder” to take A off the ball (sometimes called a “shoulder tackle” or a Shoulder Charge) or to at least slow down the Attacker and make it difficult for the Attacker to pass the ball. Go to Shoulder Charge to read the rules for a legal Shoulder Tackle.
  • This does not involve any body slamming or dirty soccer. It is designed to teach them that contact is good and contact can be used to cause the Attacker to miss a half step and perhaps lose control of the ball.
  • It is also designed to teach the Attackers that they are going to take some shoulders periodically and they need to learn how to maintain control of the ball while being shouldered.
  • I love this drill and use it pretty regularly. I designed it after my last tournament, last fall when I went 1 – 2 – 0 on the weekend. In that tournament I became convinced I was the only coach in the Stage of Georgia that was not teaching a physical game. Again, I went back to SoccerHelp to see what had I missed or forgotten. I took the Shoulder Tackle drill and tweaked it a tiny bit.

    This game has 2 objectives. One objective is to teach your players how to use their shoulder to push an opponent off the ball, or to at least slow down the Attacker and make it difficult for the Attacker to pass the ball. The second and equally important objective is to get your players used to being shouldered when they are dribbling the ball and to teach them how to be “strong” on the ball so they don’t get pushed off the ball. They will have to learn how to brace themselves.

    C = cones, D = Defender, A = Attacker

    The numbers are “Steps” between: 25 is the number of steps between the 2 cones (this can be shortened to 15 or 20), 4 is the number of steps between the rows of cones (3 might work), and “1″ is the number of steps the Defender starts behind the Attacker

    C 4 C

    25 25

    A C A C
    1 1
    D D

    (The following idea is from a great U8 Girls coach. I think this idea might work with girls – at least it would be fun)

    David:

    I have a suggestion, Start by making the contact fun. Remember the Monkeys Saturday show – Mickey, the short guy who could sing, and rest of the Band.

    There is a scene at the beginning where the guys are walking down the street shoulder to shoulder and leaning and pushing on each other while singing and laughing – “Hey Hey we are the Monkeys.

    Girls love to sing. Make the contact fun. Make up a song like “Hey Hey we are the dolphins. We love to push each other around. We don’t care if we fall to the ground, cause we’re just havin fun. Hey Hey we are the dolphins”

    Once they are used to it, they will get more brave.

    Troy

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