Tackling Drills (Stealing The Ball)

Every player on the field is expected to be able to tackle. Strikers start off the press and the rest of the team follows. Tackling and regaining possession is like scoring a goal for a defender.

These tackling drills will help you win the ball back quicker and easier.

Soccer Player Slide Tackling And Wining The Ball
Soccer Player Slide Tackling And Wining The Ball ○ Soccer Blade

Tackling Soccer Drills

Musical Balls: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 4-6
  • Length of Session: 10 mins 
  • Number of Players: any
  • Skills to Learn: awareness, speed, coordination 
  • Equipment: balls and cones 
  • Description: The number of balls decreases by one each round

Drill Set-up:

  • Create a large square based on the number of players you have. 
  • Give each player a ball.
  • Optional: set up a small side activity for kids to do once they are out of musical balls. 
Musical Balls Soccer Drill Soccerblade.com
Musical Balls Soccer Drill Soccerblade.com

Drill Instructions:

  1. Give each player a ball at first. 
  2. Instruct players to dribble around the area using different techniques. 
  3. When you stop playing music or blow your whistle, each kid must leave their ball and find a new one. 
  4. Take away one ball. 
  5. Repeat the steps, this time one player won’t have a ball in the end. 
  6. The player without a ball must perform a simple action, like 5 jumping jacks, or they are out. 
  7. You can repeat the activity this way or take away one more ball each time the same way you would with musical chairs. 

Sharks and Minnows: Soccer Drill

  • Age Range: 4-8
  • Length of Session: 10 mins
  • Number of Players: 6+
  • 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. 
Sharks And Minnows Soccer Drill Soccerblade.com
Sharks And Minnows Soccer Drill Soccerblade.com

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 the space smaller. 
  8. You can also add specific dribbling challenges within the game (weak foot only, must complete 2 moves before crossing, etc.

Defending The Goal: Soccer Drill

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: Defending The Goal
  • Session Length: 3 to 5 minutes
  • Number of players: minimum 2, optimum 4 to 16
  • Skills learned: pressing, marking, 1 v 1 defending, tackling, and blocking
  • Equipment: 1 ball, 1 goal (can be a mini goal made with cones)

Drill Setup

  • If you have a goalkeeper, set up a full-size goal. If not, create a small goal using cones.
  • The penalty box is a perfect space to run this drill. 
  • If your training ground doesn’t have goals or a lined field, place one cone 20 yards in front of the goal. Position another cone next to the goal on the end line. 
  • Split the team into 2 groups, with one attacking and one defending
  • The attacking team lines up behind the cone in front of the goal. The defending team lines up behind the cone on the end line. 
Defending The Goal
Defending The Goal

Drill Instructions

  1. P1 plays a firm, accurate pass to P2. 
  2. P1 then sprints toward P2, closing them down like an in-game situation. 
  3. P2 must take at least 2 touches before shooting to give P1 enough time to defend in a controlled manner. 
  4. P1 should avoid diving into tackles, focusing on shot prevention first, followed by tackling, followed by shot-blocking. 
  5. Instruct defenders to stay on their toes at all times. They should defend with their bodies turned at an angle, guiding the attacker toward their weak side. This is called “side-on” defending. 
  6. While attackers should show intent, this drill is defense-focused.
  7. The round finishes when P1 dispossesses P2 or when P2 shoots. 
  8. After the round, P1 joins the end of the attacking line and P2 joins the end of the defending line. 
  9. The next set of players start the second round and the drill continues. 

Drill Variations

  • Adapt the drill to create 2 v 2 or 3 v 3 situations. 
  • For advanced players, enforce minimum passing requirements before a shot can be taken. 
  • Instead of the defenders and attackers rotating positions, create a competition between both sides to see which team concedes the least number of goals. Allow all players to complete 2 to 3 rounds before switching the attack and defense. 

Defensive Jockeying: Soccer Drills

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: Defensive Jockeying
  • Session Length: 3 to 5 minutes
  • Number of players: 4 to 16
  • Skills learned: defensive pressure, controlled defending, sideline defending, and jockeying
  • Equipment: 8 cones and a ball

Drill Setup

  • Create a passing/dribbling lane, 5 yards wide x 10 yards long, using cones.
  • Split the team into even groups of attackers and defenders. 
  • The attackers line up at one end of the lane and the defenders line up at the other. 
Defensive Jockeying
Defensive Jockeying

Drill Instructions

  1. The defensive group starts with the ball. 
  2. P1 passes the ball to P2 and then sprints toward them, slowing down as they approach touching distance. 
  3. P1 lowers their center of gravity and angles their body to one side, guiding the dribbler in this direction. This simulates an in-game defensive situation along the sideline. 
  4. Defenders should practice showing the dribbler down both sides so they are prepared for all scenarios. 
  5. P2 starts dribbling toward the other end of the lane.
  6. P1 remains within touching distance of P2, using quick feet to shuffle backward. This is called jockeying. It is a controlled form of defense that keeps the attacker close without overcommitting to a tackle. 
  7. P1 continues to jockey 2  without tackling until they reach the end of the lane. 
  8. P2 can dribble from side to side but they must not try to run past P1. 
  9. After reaching the end of the lane, P1 and P2 join opposite lines and the next players continue the drill. 

Drill Variations

  • Once the ball passes the halfway point along the lane, allow the attacker to attempt to dribble past the defender and allow the defender to tackle.

1 v 1 Defending: Soccer Drill

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: 1 v 1 Defending
  • Session Length: 5 minutes
  • Age Group: All age groups
  • Number of players: 4 to 16
  • Skills learned: Sprinting, marking, tackling, and blocking
  • Equipment: 4 cones, 1 ball, 1 goal

Drill Setup

  • Place 2 cones approximately 5 yards apart along the edge of the penalty box.
  • Place 2 cones 10 yards from either cone toward the halfway line. 
  • Set up a full-size goal if you have a goalkeeper. If not, use a small goal or cones.
  • Split the team into 2 groups: defenders and attackers (actual player position doesn’t matter)
  • Defenders line up behind one cone outside the box.
  • Attackers line up behind the other. 
  • The second attacker (P2) in line starts with the ball.
1 V 1 Defending
1 V 1 Defending

Drill Instructions

  1. On the coach’s whistle, D1 and P1 sprint to, then around the cones at the edge of the penalty box. 
  2. After rounding the cone, P1 calls for the pass from P2.  
  3. When the pass is played, the drill becomes a live 1 v 1. P1 tries to score and D1 tries to stop them by tackling or blocking.
  4. D1 can attempt to intercept the ball when it is passed. 
  5. P1 dribbles toward the goal and takes a shot if an opportunity opens up. 
  6. D1 should practice controlled defending, and tackle timing while avoiding diving in. 
  7. When the round is over, the players join the end of the other lines. 

Drill Variations

  • Create a competition to see which group gets the most stops. 
  • Repeat the drill with 2 defenders and 2 attackers.

2 v 2 Inside The Box: Soccer Drill

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: 2 v 2 Inside The Box
  • Session Length: 10 minutes
  • Age Group: 10+
  • Number of players: 8 (minimum)
  • Skills learned: Marking, tackling, and blocking
  • Equipment: 1 ball, 1 goal

Drill Setup

  • This drill takes place in the penalty box. 
  • If you have a goalkeeper, set up a full-size goal. If not, create a small 5-yard goal using cones.
  • Split the team into pairs. 
  • 1 pair is designated as the defensive team (D1 + D2) and another as the attacking team (P1 + P”). 
  • D1 + D2 and P1 + P2 begin the drill inside the penalty box. 
  • The attackers start with their back to goal. 
  • The defenders mark them appropriately. 
  • At least 3 players from the remaining groups line up outside the penalty box, one of them starting with the ball. 
2 V 2 Inside The Box
2 V 2 Inside The Box

Drill Instructions

  1. On the coach’s signal, the game goes live. 
  2. P1 and P2 attempt to get free to receive the ball from the player outside the box. 
  3. D1 and D2 mark the attackers closely, trying to stop them from receiving the outside pass. 
  4. The attackers and defenders must stay inside the box. 
  5. When the attackers receive the ball, they work together and try to score. 
  6. The defenders attempt to stop them. 
  7. The attackers can pass to the players outside the penalty box to recycle possession. 
  8. The players outside the penalty box cannot shoot or score. 
  9. The round is over if the attackers score, shoot the ball wide or over the crossbar, or if the defenders win possession.
  10. The pair that wins the round continues as the defensive team.

Drill Variations

  • Create a time limit for each round. 
  • Limit the number of times the attackers can recycle possession with the outside group.
  • Add a third attacker to make things difficult for the defense.

3 v 3 Attacking Waves: Soccer Drill

Drill Outline

  • Drill Name: 3 v 3 Attacking Waves
  • Session Length: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Age Group: 10+
  • Number of players: 6 to 18
  • Skills learned: Positioning, tackling, and blocking
  • Equipment: 2 cones, 1 ball, 1 goal

Drill Setup

  • This drill takes place in the penalty box. 
  • If you have a goalkeeper, set up a full-size goal. If not, create a small 5-yard goal using cones.
  • Split the team into groups of 3.
  • 3 defenders start inside the penalty box. 
  • 3 attackers start outside the penalty box with the ball.
Attacking Waves
Attacking Waves

Drill Instructions

  1. On the coach’s signal, the drill begins as a 3 v 3, attack v defense scenario. 
  2. The attacking team has 15 seconds to score. 
  3. The attackers have unlimited touches and are permitted to pass, dribble, and shoot.
  4. The attackers cannot score from outside the penalty box. 
  5. Instruct the defenders to communicate effectively and work as a team to snuff out attacks. 
  6. Defenders can tackle, press, block, and intercept. 
  7. The wave is over if the attacker scores, the defense gains possession, or 15 seconds elapses.
  8. When the wave finishes, the defense has 5-seconds to get back into position before the next group of attackers starts the second wave. 
  9. The defense sustains 5 waves before they switch with another group. 
  10. Repeat the drill until all groups have defended 5 waves. 

Drill Variations

  • Get rid of the time limit. 
  • Introduce a maximum touch and/or minimum pass rule for attackers.
  • Adjust numbers to 2 v 2 or 4 v 4. 
  • Add extra attackers to create mismatches for the defensive groups.

Soccer Blade has more than 100 drills – for more go to our soccer drills page. If you need equipment for your soccer drills, check out our soccer equipment page.

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