Soccer Drills & Games For 8-Year-Olds: Fun-Packed Details

8-year-olds are one of the most fun soccer ages to coach. We will go through what they need and what drills and games to practice.

By the time kids are 8, many have some soccer experience and knowledge under their belts. Yet kids at this age are still full of potential and energy. 

Coaches should focus on keeping 8-year-olds engaged with activities that replicate moments from real soccer games. Practices should be kept short, but for this age group coaches can begin to provide more feedback on improving technique and simple tactics. 

Coaching 8 year-olds finally starts to feel a bit more soccer-focused, but make no mistake these youngsters still need plenty of fun and breaks!

Before we look at the soccer drills, let’s take a look at some common questions coaches and parents have about 8-year-old soccer players…

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How should an 8 year old practice soccer?

Soccer practice should be fun and enjoyable for 8-year-olds. While they should still focus on games that incorporate skills, kids will be able to start incorporating some technical drills as well.

In general, they should keep practices short and do a lot of game-like activities to replicate soccer game moments.

How do I coach my 8 year old soccer?

8-year-olds are still very young kids, but many will have a bit of experience with soccer. It’s important to still encourage having fun while also starting to focus a bit more on technical and tactical elements of the game. 

For 8-year-olds, you can start to dig a bit more into the different positions and what they do.

You should focus on celebrating when kids do things right, but also incorporate constructive criticism.

Focus on your tone and approach for corrections so that kids feel encouraged and motivated. 

What size soccer ball does an 8 year old use?

U8 players use a size 4 soccer ball. 

How long should an 8 year old practice soccer?

8 year-olds should still have fairly short practices. They should practice for up to 60 minutes twice a week. 

What soccer skills should an 8 year old have?

8-year-olds may have vastly different skills based on how long they have been playing soccer and at what level.

While most kids started when younger than 8, recreational teams may still see new players at age 8. On the other hand, most academy teams will have players with experience.

Ideally, 8-year-olds should have the following soccer skills:

  • Passing with the inside of the foot 
  • Receiving the ball with the inside of the foot 
  • Basic dribbling 
  • Cutting the ball while dribbling with dominant foot 
  • Asking the coach for help or alerting the coach of any issues 
  • Respectfully talking to teammates 

What soccer skills should an 8 year old learn?

Most 8-year-olds still need a lot of help with soccer basics. Some of the top skills to work on with 8-year-olds include:

  • When to pass vs dribble
  • Looking at the target before passing 
  • Keeping head up when dribbling 
  • Locking ankle and keeping toe up 
  • Dribbling with weak foot 
  • Passes over 5 yards
  • Where to go when a teammate has the ball 
  • What to do when you lose the ball
  • Staying in position 
Youth Soccer Players With Their Soccer Coach Watching A Game
Youth Soccer Players With Their Soccer Coach Watching A Game

Soccer Drills and Games for 8-year-olds

Sharks and Minnows: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 4-8
  • Length of Session: 10 mins
  • Number of Players: any
  • Skills to Learn: dribbling, keeping head up, ball control
  • Equipment: balls for each player, cones, pinnies optional.

Description: Kids try to dribble from one side to the other without getting tagged by the shark. Anyone tagged becomes a shark.

Drill Set-up: 

  • Create a large rectangle suitable for the number and age of players. For example, 35 meters long by 20 meters wide for 12-15 6-year-olds. 
  • Give each player a ball and line them up on the starting line.
  • Select a “shark” to start. 

Drill Instructions

  1. Line up all of the “minnows” with their balls.
  2. Choose 1-2 sharks and place them in the middle of the space. 
  3. When you say go, have the minnows try to dribble across the other side without getting tagged by a shark. 
  4. Anyone who is tagged must become a shark for the next round.
  5. Challenge players to see who can be the last minnow standing.
  6. Younger kids, 4-6, can focus on just tagging the player. For kids 6-8, change the rules so they must knock the ball away from the minnow to count. For kids 8-10 or with advanced skills, you can require them to take full possession of the ball. 
  7. Another way to make the drill more challenging is to make space smaller. 
  8. You can also add specific dribbling challenges within the game (weak foot only, must complete 2 moves before crossing, etc.

Dribble Through Gates: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 4-8
  • Length of Session: 10 mins
  • Number of Players:  3-10
  • Skills to Learn: Ball control, keeping the head up while dribbling
  • Equipment: enough balls for each player and cones

Description; Randomly place gates that are approximately 3 meters wide. Kids will aim to dribble through each gate once or as many gates as possible in the set time. 

Drill Set-up:

  • Set up a large area around 30 meters by 30 meters (use a larger space for more kids)
  • Randomly set up 6-10 3m wide gates using cones
  • Give each kid a ball. 

Drill Instructions:

  1. Kids 4-6 can have more gates and larger gates to minimize collisions. 
  2. Give kids a set time and goal. For example, you can see who can get through the most gates in 60 seconds, or who can get through every gate first. 
  3. Make the drill more challenging for older players with restrictions, like right or left foot only. You could also require older kids to complete a move before dribbling through the gate. 

Kick the Coach: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 4-8
  • Length of Session: 5 mins 
  • Number of Players: any
  • Skills to Learn: passing
  • Equipment: balls for each child 

Description: The coach runs between two lines of kids who are all trying to hit the coach’s legs with the ball.

Drill Set-up:

  • Create two lines facing each other. Place a cone for each kid. 
  • The lines should be 10-15 yards apart. 
  • Place each kid on a line and give them a ball. 

Drill Instructions:

  • Kids line up facing each other. 
  • The coach will run through the middle of the lines. 
  • The kids try to pass (NOT shoot) their ball to hit the coach. 
  • Only contact below the knee counts. 
  • Ideal for younger kids just learning how to pass. 

4v4 to Mini-Goals (no GK): Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 4-10
  • Length of Session: 3 min games, up to 15 mins
  • Number of Players: 6,8,10
  • Skills to Learn: game decisions, passing vs dribbling, 1v1 situations
  • Equipment: regular cones, mini-goals/pug goals or large cones, pinnies, or different colored shirts. 

Description: Allow kids to compete in 4v4 small-sided games up to 3 mins long. 

Drill Set-up:

  • Set up the field based on the age of players. For younger players, 4-6, make a field about 15x 20 meters. For older groups, make the field a bit larger. 
  • Set up multiple fields if you have a large group. 
  • Use cones to create the outline of the field. 
  • Set up either mini-goals, pugg goals, or large cones as the goals. 
  • Split the players into even teams of 4, and give each team a color. 

Drill Instructions:

  1. Play 3 min games to the mini-goals. 
  2. Define how players earn points. You can create unique rules to shift the focus and practice different things. For example, for older kids, you could make a 1-touch finish worth 2 points. 
  3. Keep the simple focus for kids 4-6, emphasizing taking the ball from the other team but not your team. Also, guide them to stay spread out and communicate. 
  4. For older kids, emphasize decision-making between passing and dribbling. 
  5. You can also use larger goals and add a GK for older kids, ages 9-10. 

Dribble to Pass: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 4-10
  • Length of Session:  10 mins
  • Number of Players: 4+
  • Skills to Learn: passing on the move, ball control, receiving 
  • Equipment: cones and balls

Description:  Players dribble through a series of cones and then pass the ball off to the next player in line. 

Drill Set-up:

  • Set up 10 cones in a line. 
  • The cones should be 1.5 to 2 meters apart. 
  • On each end of the line of cones, set another cone 5-7 meters away. 
  • Repeat this setup to create multiple groups if you have a lot of players. 
  • 2-3 players will line up behind the cone on each end of the line of cones. 
  • Give the ball to the first player in line. 

Drill Instructions:

  1. The first player dribbles through the line of cones. 
  2. Once they complete the line of cones, the player then passes the ball to the next player in line who is at the cone 5-7 yards away. 
  3. The second player should receive the ball and then dribble through the line of cones. 
  4. Create different dribbling rules (right foot, left foot, inside-outside, stepovers, etc).
  5. Focus on dribbling and passing technique, picking the eyes up, and being ready in line. 
  6. Extend the distance of the pass for older/ advanced kids. 
  7. Make the game competitive by having multiple groups compete to see who can have all players go twice. If you only have one group, turn it into a race against the clock. 

Freeze Tag: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 6-10
  • Length of Session: 10 mins
  • Number of Players: 8+
  • Skills to Learn: dribbling, keeping head up, ball control
  • Equipment: ball for each player, cones, pinnies

Description: One or two taggers try to tag the players dribbling around with the ball. Once tagged, a player is frozen until another player passes the ball between their legs to unfreeze them.

Drill Set-up:

  • Create a large square roughly 30 m X 30 m. Adjust the size based on the number of players. 
  • Put all players in the square. 
  • Select 1-3 taggers (depending on the size of the group).
  • Give the taggers a pinny to differentiate them. 
  • Give all nontaggers a ball. 

Drill Instructions:

  1. When you say go, the taggers will run around trying to tag those who are dribbling. 
  2. If a player is tagged, they “freeze.” The frozen player stands with their feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart. They should raise their ball above their head. 
  3. A teammate can “unfreeze” a player by passing their ball between that players’ legs. 
  4. Once unfrozen, the player puts their ball down and begins dribbling again. 
  5. Play until the taggers freeze everyone, or for up to 2 minutes. 
  6. Switch taggers each round. 
  7. For younger kids, you can start without the ball as a warmup. 
  8. For older, more advanced kids, require the tagger to steal the ball instead of just tag. 

Pass Through the Gates: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 6-10
  • Length of Session: 10 mins 
  • Number of Players: any
  • Skills to Learn: passing, communication
  • Equipment: balls and cones, optional pinnies

Description: Players must pass the ball through a gate to their teammate to earn a point. 

Drill Set-up:

  • Set up a large space based on the number of players you have and their ages. 
  • Randomly place gates using cones. Gates should be about 3 meters. 
  • Give each player a partner.
  • Optional: use pinnies to distinguish groups. 
  • Each group of 2 gets 1 ball.

Drill Instructions:

  1. Kids must dribble around the area and pass through the gates to their partners. 
  2. Each successful pass through the gate earns one point. 
  3. Kids cannot go through the same gate twice in a row. 
  4. Challenge your players to see who gets the most passes in a set time or who can complete all gates first. 
  5. Keep each round to 60 seconds or less. 
  6. Challenge older players to use their weaker foot or complete the drill with smaller gates. 

1v1 Shooting: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 6-10
  • Length of Session:10 mins
  • Number of Players: 6+
  • Skills to Learn: dribbling, 1v1 attacking and defending, finishing
  • Equipment: balls, cones, a goal

Description: Both players face the goal and engage in a race to the ball and goal. Who can finish first? This fun game is a combination of 1v1 and shooting. 

Drill Set-up:

  • Place a cone about 25 meters away from the goal. 
  • Bring all of the balls to the cone. 
  • If you do not have a goal available, create one with cones or use a mini goal. 
  • Split players into two even teams. 
  • Have each team line up on one side of the cone. 

Drill Instructions:

  1. Have the goalkeeper (s) head to the goal. They can switch off every few times.
  2. Stand at the cone with the balls. 
  3. Pass the ball forward toward the goal. 
  4. The first player in each line should react to the pass and race to the ball. 
  5. The players should compete to see who can win the ball and finish first. 
  6. If the players are unable to finish right away and engage in a 1v1, keep the game at under 20 seconds. 
  7. Play the first team to 10 goals and then switch sides. Keep the entire activity around 10 minutes or less. 
  8. Have players start in different positions. At first, they can face forward. Then have them face sideways and backward,  or start kneeling or in a push-up position. Different starting positions help them work on power and reaction time. 

Knock Out: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 7-10
  • Length of Session: 10-15 mins 
  • Number of Players: 10-12
  • Skills to Learn: dribbling, keeping head up, defending, decision making 
  • Equipment: cones and a ball for each player 

Description: Players all dribble around the space while trying to knock out the others’ balls. See who the last one standing is. 

Drill Set-up:

  • Create a large circle with cones. 
  • Give each player a ball inside the circle. 
  • Make multiple games if you have a large team. 

Drill Instructions:

  • Each player needs a ball inside the circle. 
  • Players must dribble around while trying to kick other players’ balls out of the circle. 
  • If your ball gets kicked out, you must do some small action to get back in (2 jiggles, 10 toe taps, etc).
  • When the knock-out round begins, there’s no re-entry. Players who are knocked out should work on a skill you provide while watching. 
  • As the number of players decreases, use the players who are out to block areas of the circle to shrink the space.
  • To increase difficulty, shrink the size of the circle or add specific dribbling challenges within the game. 

Small-Sided Numbers Game: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 8-10
  • Length of Session: 15 mins
  • Number of Players: 8+
  • Skills to Learn: listening/focusing, transitional speed, dribbling at pace, defending 
  • Equipment: cones, balls, and pinnies

Description: A fun twist on traditional small-sided games. Kids must listen for their number. Whichever numbers are called, take the field and try to score first. 

Transition - Defense to Attack Example in Soccer. SoccerBlade.com
Transition – Defense to Attack Example in Soccer. SoccerBlade.com

Drill Set-up:

  • Create a field that suits the maximum number of players you have. For example, if you have 10 players, create a suitable field for 5v5. 
  • Place a goal on each end. If you have goalkeepers, you can use a real goal. Otherwise, use mini-goals or cones to create goals. 
  • Divide players into two even teams. 
  • Give the teams two different colors. 
  • Number each player on each team. If each team has 5 players, each team will have a 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. 
  • Have each team line up next to their respective defensive goal. 

Drill Instructions:

  1. Call out a number or any combination of numbers. 
  2. Immediately play the ball anywhere on the field (mix it up). 
  3. The players who hear their number should immediately take the field and start playing. 
  4. After someone scores (or a maximum of 45 seconds) the round ends. 
  5. If a player scores, their team earns a point. 
  6. Repeat by calling out different numbers each round. Mix up how many numbers you call and where you play the ball. 
  7. Play the first team to 10 points or up to 15 minutes total.

Windows: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 8-10
  • Length of Session: 10 mins
  • Number of Players: Minimum By Passing of 8
  • Skills to Learn: dribbling, passing, first touch, turning, trapping
  • Equipment: balls, cones

Description: Half of the players are on the outside of the circle and half inside. The players in the circle run to a player on the outside to complete a skill before running back to the center and finding a new player. 

Drill Set-up:

  • Create a large circle. You can use the center circle painted on a field or create your own. Base the size of the circle on the number of players and age group. 
  • Half of the players start in the center of the circle, and half on the outside. 
  • Each player on the outside of the circle should start with a ball. 

Drill Instructions:

  1. When you say “go”, the central players will each check to a player on the outside. 
  2. The player on the outside passes the ball to the central player. 
  3. The central player passes the ball back. 
  4. The central player heads back into the middle of the circle. 
  5. The central player finds a new outside player to repeat the technique. 
  6. Each round should be no more than 60 seconds. 
  7. After the first round, switch the central and external players. 
  8. Change the skill each round. You can have players use different feet, play in 1 touch, receive the ball out of the air, volley the ball back, perform a wall pass to switch places, etc. 

Pass Around the Square: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 8-10+
  • Length of Session: 10 mins 
  • Number of Players: 5-6 players per square 
  • Skills to Learn: passing, receiving, movement off the ball 
  • Equipment: 4 cones and 1 ball per square. 

Description: Kids must pass the ball around the square, following their passes. You can add increasingly complex versions. 

Drill Set-up:

  • Create a square using 4 cones. 
  • The square can be anywhere from 5×5 meters to 10×10 meters depending on the age and skill level of the kids. 
  • Position one kid at each cone. 
  • Place an additional player behind the player with the ball. 
  • Optional: place an additional player behind another child at a different cone. 

Drill Instructions:

  1. Child A starts with the ball. 
  2. Pass the ball to child B, who will receive the ball, and play to child C. 
  3. Each player follows their pass and waits at that cone.
  4. Instruct players to “show” for the ball by popping off the cone. 
  5. Focus on body position, opening up to receive, and play in 2 touches. 
  6. Complete the drill in both directions (clockwise and counterclockwise). 
  7. Progress to more advanced patterns. For example, add a wall pass at each corner, or have the play change to up, back, through. 

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