Dodge Ball As A Soccer Drill – Genius!

Regular readers know that I tend to cover a broad range of topics on this site. I tend not to post basic ‘this is how you coach’ stuff or a lot of drills because there are a ton of other sites that do that (SoccerXpert!). I try to cover more interesting aspects of youth soccer that affect parents, coaches, and players. But once in a while I’ll come across an idea or drill I just have to share.

One of my assistant coaches saw his own son’s coach do this drill and we tried it with our ’96 Girls team.

  • This works best with 5-10 players. If you have more, split them up into separate groups.
  • You need a soccer goal with a goal box (use cones for the box if you have to). The small goal box NOT the larger penalty area, unless you have older players like U14 and above.
  • One player is in goal. The rest are in the box spread out. Everyone starts out with 5 points.
  • The ‘goal’ of the drill is to flick the ball into the air from outside the box and players try to volley the ball into the net using their head or body/legs/feet. If they can’t get a good volley shot off, they try to keep the ball in the air volleying to each other. It’s OK if the ball hits the ground, you just can’t shot from that – you have to volley it in the air again.
  • If a player scores off a volley without the ball hitting the ground, the keeper loses a point.
  • If the keeper saves the ball, the keeper throws the ball dodge-ball style at the players in the box. Only players in the box can be hit, so the key is once the keeper makes a save, everyone runs outside the goal box to avoid getting hit. If a player gets hit with the ball in the goal box – they’re the new keeper. Thus Soccer Dodge Ball.
  • If a player’s volley goes into the net but bounces, they kick it in after the ball bounces (ie not a volley shot), or their shot goes wide/high – they are the new keeper.
  • Have coaches stand on the end line on either side of the goal to flick the ball back in if shots/volleys go wide. The key is to keep things moving. Have a lot of soccer balls so you can restart quickly.
  • Players can flick the ball up for a volley anytime the ball is on the ground, etc. The goal is to keep them volleying the ball around the goal box if they can’t volley it into the goal.
  • On goals, keeper throws that hit or miss, the ball is kicked out of the goal box, etc – always have a  player take the ball outside the goal box to restart things with a flick in the air or have a coach do it from the end line.

It sounds complex at first, but once you start playing it, the players pick it up quickly. This drill is FUN. Our team did this drill for 45 minutes last night and we had to drag them away when the parents came to pick them up. We asked them after 20 minutes if they wanted to scrimmage, play Lightning, or whatever else because we always end our practices with something fun like that. Every one wanted to keep playing this – they loved it. I felt kind of bad for the coach of one of our Rec teams practicing nearby because his players kept turning to watch our girls doing this drill and squealing/screaming every time the keeper tried to hit them with the soccer ball. You can come up with all sorts of variations on the scoring, but honestly, we didn’t even bother keeping track once the girls got so into the drill and were  having so much fun. It was the dodge ball part that sold them. BUT – the drill also got them jazzed about trying to score from the air. I saw bicycle kicks, side kicks, headers, and all sorts of other tricks to try and get the ball into the net. We eventually told them they couldn’t head the ball into the net, but certainly could head it to keep a volley going because they were doing it too much.

So there you go – a drill so fun I had to share it. Do any of you have similar type of game drills that work in more complex skills like this? Volleying is NOT easy and kids hate to practice juggling or partner volleying because it’s boring. Stuff like this? They couldn’t get enough of it.

ADDING: I did this with 11-12 year old girls. If you do this drill with older boys, you MIGHT want to make sure the soccer balls you use aren’t hard as rocks because someone might get beaned pretty hard. Let a little air out of them so they can still be volleyed but won’t knock someone out when thrown!

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