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Below you’ll find a small number of soccer exercises that may be used to train players in both techniques and tactics. Be sure to check back often as this area continues to grow.

Finishing | Attacking | Transition | Defending | Passing | Ball Control | Goalkeeping

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You can find many more training sessions, exercises and information in the 2013 Preseason edition of the Soccer Journal. First launched in 2012, this supplement to the Soccer Journal was a welcomed and popular addition for a coach's repertoire. NSCAA members can view a digital version in myNSCAA.


Short Field Penalty Box Game
This drill is a shooting game that will help finishing.

Bent and Driven Finishing 
Session plan focusing on striking the ball with the laces and keeping your momentum going forward adn landing on the shooting foot.

Finishing Activities for the Whole Team
 (Resource Library)
A series of activities for finishing that are effective and really popular with players.

Finishing in and Around the Box (Resource Library)
This is a functional practice. A 3 v 2 drill with support players involving receiving, turning, dribbling and shooting. The game objective is quick finishing in and around the box.

Training Your Strikers (Resource Library)
Session on training your strikers, movement and finishing in the final third.


Penalty Box Exercises
8v8 Phase Play
One of the best ways to develop the "predatory" skills in strikers is to create game-like situations in training exercises. This series will help coaches to develop the proper mentality in their team for scoring goals.

One-Touch Soccer
Some of the great teams are able to play one-touch soccer for extended periods, helping to break down defenses by moving the ball around quicker than the defenders can adjust or regroup. Here are a pair of activities that can be utilized to help improve your team's ability to play one-touch soccer.

Shaping Midfielders and Forwards in the 4-4-2
One of the focuses in the NSCAA Premier Diploma is systems of play.  These exercises help coaches to guide the forward and midfield unit into a proper shape in the attacking third of the field, working on good timing of check runs, entry passes and combination play.

2 vs. 2 Principles of Attacking
Attacking team looks to strike quickly before defending team can recover.

Attacking Tactics (Resource Library)
A progressive lesson plan in 6 v 6.

Small-Sided Games for the Attack (Resource Library)
Three small sided games that are great for increasing any teams attacking ability.

U8 Attacking Skills Session (Resource Library)
Fun games for youth players that also incorporate attacking skills and quality ball control.


2v2 to Targets
2v2 to Target Players
4v4 Dual Game
One of the most important moments in soccer is the transition from defense to attack. Teams can exploit over-extended defenses and score goals quickly. This series of exercises will help you condition your players to look immediately for the counter-attacking option.

The Goalkeeper in Transition
Goalkeepers as well as field players will benefit from developing a transition mentality. They must look to start the attack as soon as they control the shot or cross, knowing where they plan to play the ball before receiving it.  The exercises linked below will aid coaches in developing the transition mentality in their keepers.

One of the most useful parts of this exercise is that a coach can use the same space and take players through a progression of activities from fundamental to game-related and right up to game condition, with increasing levels of challenges and difficulty for technical execution.  Another useful part of the exercise is that coaches can always add “wrinkles,” or modifications, to make the exercise different each time players use it.  Click on the link above to look at one such progression through the exercise “Windows.”

Tactical Counter Attack Session
Session plan on quick transition from offense to defense.

Transition Exercise (Resource Library)
A three zone game that helps players work on multiple areas of the game. This drill can be used to work on passing and receiving, angles of support to transition and defending.

Transition from Mids to Forwards to Finishing (Resource Library)
A short session to help in transitioning to goal.


Teaching High Press
This drill will help players understand the need to press as a block and not have partial pressing by only portions of the team when high pressure is appropriate.

High Pressure Defending
The University of North Carolina women's soccer team has captured many NCAA Division I titles playing a high-pressure style of defense, often pushing the line of confrontation more than 10 yards into the opponent's defensive half. Here is an exercise that you can use with your teams to train high-pressure defending.

Training the Holding Midfielder
The holding midfield player has numerous responsibilities. Physical speed is not considered a major factor for players in this position (although it never hurts) as this is, really, a sweeper in front of the back players with little need to make long searching runs.  Defensive midfielders vary in size from the diminutive Deschamps of the 1998 French World Cup Champions to his fellow countryman Viera who, at 6’4” is a giant of a player.  A low center of gravity helps as this player generally does a lot of tackling.

Functionally Training the Shape of the Back Four
Session plan leading up to functionally training the shape of the back four. The session plan starts out with 5v2 in a small grid focusing on defending as a unit. Defenders need to be side on and dropping to keep eyes on the ball and be ready to organize and adjust. This power point shows every step that it takes.

Group Defending (Resource Library)
A progressive plan for team tactics.

Defending; 1st & 2nd Defender (Resource Library)
Applying Immediate Pressure & Cover.

Developing Your Team's Zone Defense (Resource Library)
Coach individual and small group defending and then defending by forwards, midfielders, and defenders. Games deal with zonal defending of back defenders.


Simple Passing and Combination Exercises
A training exercise recommended for groups between U-10 and U-18. The exercise is meant to improve quick short passing accuracy and reinforce the concept of moving after the pass.

Techniques of Passing and Receiving
Passing/Receiving exercise; designed to teach techniques of passing, receiving with increasing pressure and “at speed.”

A Passing Sequence
A passing sequence to incorporate: Passing to feet and to space. Receiving and turning. Running without the ball.

One Touch Passing: Variations in Diamond Formation (Resource Library)
Players who can pass with the right and left feet speed up the game and have more chances to shoot at the goal. With the variations in a diamond formation a coach can teach the players abilities to pass precisely, even the under pressure of time or an opponent.

Passing and Receiving in a Game Setting (Resource Library)
A series of activities using zone play that promotes technical and tactical proficiency.

Passing and Receiving (Resource Library)
A progressive session using 4 vs. 4 as a base point.

Ball Control

Receiving Exercises for a Good First Touch
Dimitar Berbatov is a player described as having "soft feet," referring to his great technical ability to control the ball with his first touch.  Here are a series of exercises to help players work on the ability to control the ball with their first touch in a fun atmosphere.

Receiving Exercises
One of the hallmarks of a great player is the ability to read the game and know - before receiving the ball - where the next play needs to go.  Whether in the Premiership, La Liga or the World Cup, players at the top level are capable of receiving the ball with a touch that goes into the right space to set up their next play.  Here are three exercises to help you improve the ability of your players to make the proper first touch.

Receiving Balls, Control, and First Touch
Full session to help your players develop first touch.

Receiving Exercises (Resource Library)
Three practices to help improve players' first touch.


Coaching Goalkeepers to Deal with Flank Attacks
Toni DiCicco has put together this GK session that focuses on the goalkeeper and how they deal with flank attacking. This session was presented at the 2013 NSCAA Convention.

Coaching the Goalkeeper in Basic Handling
Part of the NSCAA Goalkeeper 1 Diploma, this session deals with coaching the goalkeeper in basic handling and collapse diving and hand distribution.

Body Shape/Handshape/Balance
Session plan for goalkeepers to work on their set positions, movement to new angles, and reading the second shot.

Coordinating a Functional Training Session for Both Forwards and Goalkepers (Resource Library)
A session that helps coaches organize a session that incorporates both goalkeepers and forwards; presented at the 2013 NSCAA Convention.

Integrating the Goalkeeper in a Team Training Session (Resource Library)
Not every team is blessed with a goalkeeper coach, however armed with some fundamental knowledge, not only can the coach work with the goalkeeper on a one on one basis, but can do so in the realm of integrating other the players.

Coaching the Goalkeeper in Basic Handling (Resource Library)
Coaching the goalkeeper in basic handling, collapse diving, and hand distribution.

Online Resource Library

The Resource Library is the latest enhancement provided as part of the continued efforts of the NSCAA to increase the value of membership and become the online resource of choice for soccer coaches. Whether you’re looking for theory-based articles or training plans and exercises, the Resource Library is your place to start.  NSCAA is dedicated to helping its members succeed; the Resource Library is just one more valuable information-sharing service NSCAA offers.

Technical Training Videos in the Resource Library

Systems of Play Videos in the Resource Library