How to Coach Soccer to 5-Year-Olds

How to Coach Soccer to 5-Year-Olds

If you landed here, there’s a good chance you’ll be coaching some 5-year-olds! Lucky you!

Although coaching young ones can be challenging at times, it’s very rewarding.

I remember coaching my son when he was five and it was organized chaos throughout the season but I learned many important lessons that set the groundwork for years to come. Looking back on it, I definitely miss those days when the kids are innocent and want to do well for you.

I think it’s important to remind yourself why you are doing it and not take it so seriously.

How to Coach Soccer to 5-Year-Olds

Coaching young children requires a different approach than coaching older players, as they have shorter attention spans and less developed motor skills.

However, with the right techniques and strategies, coaching 5-year-olds can be a fun and enjoyable experience for both you and your players.

You’ll learn everything you need to know in the following sections.

Make “Fun” a Priority

When coaching soccer to 5-year-olds, it’s essential to make “fun” a priority. Children at this age have a limited attention span and are more likely to learn and stay engaged when they are having fun. Here are some tips to make soccer practice enjoyable for everyone involved:

  • Keep them moving: Kids this age love to move and run around. Incorporate games and activities that involve a lot of movement and action. Avoid activities that require a lot of standing around or waiting in line.
  • Use colorful equipment: Brightly colored cones, balls, and other equipment can make soccer practice more exciting for kids. Use colorful markers to draw lines and shapes on the field, and use different colored balls to make things more interesting. Keep it colorful and simple!
  • Be silly: Young children love silly games and activities. Incorporate silly movements and sounds into your coaching, and don’t be afraid to act goofy. This can help break the ice and make kids feel more comfortable. Remember, five-year-olds don’t really judge, they are just in the moment so don’t be afraid to act like a mature kid.
  • Encourage teamwork: Soccer is a team sport, so it’s essential to encourage teamwork from an early age. Incorporate games and activities that require kids to work together and communicate with each other.
  • Reward effort: At this age, it’s more important to reward effort than results. Praise kids for trying their best, even if they don’t succeed. This can help build confidence and a love for the game.

By making “fun” a priority, you can help create a positive and enjoyable soccer experience for 5-year-olds.

Remember, the goal at this age is to introduce kids to the basic concepts of soccer and help them develop a love for the game.

Ultimately, you want to make it so much fun that they’ll want to come back for next season.

Equipment You’ll Need to Coach 5-Year-Olds in Soccer

Here are some essential items you’ll need to coach 5-year-olds in soccer:

1. Soccer Balls

Soccer balls are the most important equipment for any soccer coach. You’ll need to have enough balls for each player to practice with. For 5-year-olds, size 3 soccer balls are recommended. These balls are lighter and smaller, making them easier for young players to handle. Hopefully, your organization will provide you with a bag of balls but if not, here are six inexpensive but quality balls that we recommend for coaches.

GoSports Premier Soccer Ball with Premium Pump 6 Pack, Size 3
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2. Cones

Cones are versatile equipment that can be used to set up drills, mark boundaries, and create obstacles for the players to dribble around.

You’ll need at least 10 cones to set up a basic training session. Make sure to use brightly colored cones to make them more visible to the players.

KEVENZ Soccer Cones, Pack of 50

50 colored cones that are perfect for soccer practices.

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3. Goals

Goals are not always necessary, but they can make training sessions more fun and exciting for the young players. If you have access to small goals, use them to practice shooting and scoring. Alternatively, you can use cones or other markers to create makeshift goals.

4. First Aid Kit

Accidents can happen during practices, so it’s essential to have a first aid kit on hand. Include items such as band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and ice packs. Make sure to check the kit regularly and restock any used items.

5. Whistle

A whistle is a useful tool to get the attention of the players and signal the start and end of drills. It’s also helpful for enforcing rules and managing behavior. Make sure to use a whistle with a low volume to avoid startling the young players.

6. Water Bottles

Soccer can be a physically demanding sport, and it’s important to keep the players hydrated. Encourage them to bring their water bottles to practice and provide them with water breaks throughout the session.

Teaching Basic Soccer Skills

When coaching soccer to 5 year olds, it’s important to focus on teaching the basics of the game. This means helping children develop their passing, shooting, and dribbling skills.


Passing is a fundamental skill in soccer and should be taught early on. Start by showing children how to pass the ball with the inside of their foot. Have them practice passing to a partner, aiming for their feet. Encourage them to pass the ball with the correct amount of force and accuracy.

To make passing drills more fun, consider using cones or other objects as targets for children to pass to. You can also have them practice passing while moving, or play a game of “keep away” where they have to pass the ball to keep it away from the other team.

Some kids will be able to do it right away and it will take others many tries before getting a good feel of the pass. The key, as a coach, is to just stay patient and provide one-on-one instruction.


Shooting a soccer ball is another important skill that 5-year-olds should learn. Start by teaching them how to shoot with the inside of their foot. Have them practice shooting at a target, such as a cone or goal post. Encourage them to aim for the corners of the goal.

To make shooting drills more fun, consider using different sized balls or having children shoot from different angles.

You can also have them practice shooting while moving, or play a game of “shootout” where they take turns shooting at the goal.


Dribbling is the act of moving the ball up and down the field with your feet. It’s important for children to learn how to dribble close to their feet so they can move the ball around the field and avoid defenders.

Have them practice dribbling around cones or other objects. Encourage them to keep the ball close to their feet and change direction quickly.

At this stage, it’s okay for the kids to look down but eventually, you’ll want them to keep their heads up so they can see the entire field.

To make dribbling drills more fun, consider setting up an obstacle course for children to dribble through. You can also have them practice dribbling while playing a game of “sharks and minnows” where they have to dribble past defenders to score a goal.

Creating a Safe and Fun Environment

This age group is still developing their cognitive and physical abilities, and as a coach, you need to ensure that they are not only learning but also enjoying the game. Here are some tips on how to create a safe and fun environment for your young players.

Safety Precautions

Safety should always be a top priority when coaching young children. Here are some safety precautions you should take when coaching 5-year-olds:

  • Ensure that all players wear the appropriate gear, including shin guards and cleats.
  • Make sure the playing area is free of any hazards such as rocks, holes, or debris.
  • Always have a first aid kit on hand in case of any injuries.
  • Monitor the weather conditions and adjust your coaching accordingly. On hot days, ensure players drink plenty of water and take breaks as needed. On cold days, make sure players are dressed appropriately.
  • Make sure they aren’t being too silly. This is when kids start bumping into each other and getting hurt.

Fun Drills and Games

As a coach, it’s essential to keep the drills and games fun and engaging. Here are some ideas for fun drills and games that will keep your players entertained:

  • Dribbling Relay Race: Divide players into teams and have them dribble the ball to the end of the field and back. The first team to finish wins.
  • Red Light, Green Light: Have players dribble their ball towards you, and when you say “red light,” they must stop. When you say “green light,” they can continue dribbling.
  • Sharks and Minnows: Designate a few players as “sharks” and have them try to tag the other players (“minnows”) as they dribble their ball across the field.

Building Teamwork and Sportsmanship

When coaching soccer to 5-year-olds, building teamwork and sportsmanship is crucial for their development. Here are some tips to help you promote these qualities in your young players.

Team Building Activities

Team building activities can be a great way to teach kids how to work together and develop their teamwork skills. Here are some ideas:

  • Relay races: Divide the team into two and have them compete in relay races. This will help them learn to work together and support each other.
  • Tag games: Play tag games where the players have to work together to catch the other team. This will help them learn to communicate and coordinate their efforts.
  • Obstacle courses: Create an obstacle course and have the players work together to complete it. This will help them learn to problem-solve and work together to achieve a common goal.

Promoting Fair Play

Promoting fair play is an important part of building sportsmanship in young players. Here are some ways to promote fair play:

  • Emphasize the importance of playing by the rules: Make sure your players understand the rules of the game and the consequences of breaking them.
  • Encourage good sportsmanship: Praise players who show good sportsmanship, such as shaking hands with the opposing team after the game.
  • Avoid focusing on winning: Instead of focusing on winning, focus on the effort and hard work that the players put in. This will help them learn to value the process of playing and working together as a team.

Planning and Conducting Practice Sessions

Creating a Practice Schedule

First, create a practice schedule that includes a warm-up, skill-building activities, and a scrimmage or game. Keep in mind that 5-year-olds have short attention spans, so it’s important to keep the activities short and varied.

For example, you could start with a fun warm-up game, such as “Red Light, Green Light” or “Simon Says.” Then, move on to skill-building activities that focus on basic soccer skills, such as dribbling, passing, and shooting. You can use cones, balls, and other equipment to create fun and engaging drills.

Finally, end the practice with a scrimmage or game that allows the players to use the skills they’ve learned in a fun and competitive setting.

Adapting to Different Skill Levels

When coaching a team of 5-year-olds, it’s likely that there will be a range of skill levels on the team. It’s important to adapt your practice sessions to accommodate these different skill levels.

For example, you could create different stations for different skill levels during skill-building activities. Players who are more advanced can work on more challenging drills, while players who are still developing their skills can work on simpler drills.

Additionally, it’s important to provide positive feedback and encouragement to all players, regardless of their skill level. This will help boost their confidence and keep them engaged in the practice.

The more encouragement the better. Make them feel like they are on top of the world. Kids can never get too many compliments!

Keep the Players Engaged

Here are some tips to help keep your players engaged:

  • Use colorful cones and equipment to make the activities more visually appealing.
  • Use games and challenges to make the activities more fun and competitive.
  • Use positive reinforcement and praise to keep players motivated.
  • Keep the activities short and varied to prevent boredom.
  • Make references to TV shows or movies they might know.

By following these tips, you can create effective practice sessions that will help your 5-year-old players develop their soccer skills while having fun.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve read this far, I applaud you! And, it’s people like you that positively influence the young generation.

I know I threw quite a bit at you but, at the end of the day, if you keep your practices simple and engaging you’ll do great.

In games, it’s important to keep the positivity train going and be empathetic to each child’s needs. For example, I remember coaching a kid that turned his head to the goal the entire time. I didn’t force him to be aggressive. We took baby steps and eventually, he came out of his shell. But, this took all season!

Anyways, good luck this season!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some soccer drills for 5-year-olds?

At five, it’s important to focus on fun and developing basic soccer skills. Some effective soccer drills for 5-year-olds include dribbling through cones, passing to a partner, and shooting on a small goal. Keep the drills short and simple, and make sure to give plenty of positive feedback.

How can I make soccer practice fun for 5-year-olds?

To make soccer practice fun for 5-year-olds, it’s important to keep things simple and engaging. Use colorful cones and balls, and incorporate games like tag or relay races to keep the kids moving and excited. Encourage creativity and experimentation, and make sure to keep a positive attitude and try to connect with each of the players.

What should I do if a player doesn’t want to be at practice?

If a player doesn’t want to be at practice, it’s important to try and understand why. Talk to the player and their parents to see if there’s anything you can do to make the experience more enjoyable for them. If the issue persists, it may be best to take a break and try again another day.

Beau Bridges - Soccer Novo Hey 👋 I’m Beau. A proud Dad, former coach and soccer enthusiast. I continue to love the game of soccer today the same way I did when I was 7. I created to share what I know about the game as well as provide a platform so other parents can learn more about youth soccer in the U.S.

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