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The Flag Game

Focus of the drill

This drill is very useful for development of young soccer players’ ability to dribble in tight spaces. This also helps improve close control and balance. The players learn to become more aware of their surroundings by having to look up in order to spot pressure from other players, and be aware of danger. This is a very important skill to have in real game situations.

Drill Setup

Set up a playing area of approximately 10x25 yards in size. The coach spreads flags randomly within the playing area. At the start of the game there should be two flags less than the number of players participating. All players take up starting positions within the playing area with a ball at their feet.

The Flag Game

How to play?

Tell the players to dribble around inside the playing area, avoiding other players and the flags that are spread out on the ground. This tight space and congestion forces the players to constantly look up to avoid collisions with other players and avoiding stepping on the flags. Once the coach yells “Stop”, the players should run as quickly as they can to the nearest free flag. The first player that manages to do this 5 times in a row wins the game.

Different Versions

You can easily create a more challenging alternative game by reducing the number of available flags.

Depending on the players’ age, you can adapt this game with a punishment at the end of each round instead of counting the points. This could be in the form of making players do push-ups, sit-ups, burpees or other physical exercises. Make sure to adapt these to the age group, since it is not appropriate to do with the youngest players.

To further develop the players’ close control, you can instruct them to only use a particular part of the foot when dribbling. This could be for example to only use the inside/outside of the foot, or the sole (rolling the ball around), or even to alternate between left/right foot. This further develops young soccer players’ ability to keep good composure and control over the ball.

Coaching Tips

Instruct the players to focus on having good awareness and identify where other players and flags are by constantly lifting their head up as they dribble around the playing area. Also let them know that the aim here is to try to find space, and avoid other players as much as possible.

It is important to point out that keeping the ball as close as possible is the key when navigating through congested areas. Make sure players keep the ball close to them while in congested areas.

Encourage the players as much as possible, telling them to practice variations of their dribbling by using the various parts of the foot to dribble around (that is the inside, outside, top and bottom of their foot).

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