Before starting a soccer unit, I find it beneficial for students to self-assess and think about whether they are a beginner, expert, or somewhere in between. This helps them make real-time decisions during the game based on their level of comfort. I always start with more students on offense to increase scoring and skill practice. Once the students show me mastery of these skills, I make the teams even. I also focus on progressing from warm-ups to conditioning activities, and end each game with one or two focus skills. The focus skills of the soccer games below are passing and possession.
Color Call Out
The goal of a good warm-up is to get students ready for gameplay. Focus on a specific skill or activity such as passing, shooting, or keeping your head up.
- Create a goal at each end (use cones or pop-up goals) with a goalkeeper in each
- 4 teams of 3 (different colored bibs or vests) and 1 ball
- Tip: Use the Team Shake App to choose teams for you
Teams begin by passing the ball with short passes. Start with stationary passing, and then progress to moving while passing. When either goalkeeper calls your team color, the player on the ball takes two touches and tries to score on that goalie. The keeper then throws the ball out to another team member in the same group and the passing continues. Teachers can use other skills to progress to, such as volleying to a partner, headers, or throw-ins.
Stop every few minutes to stretch dynamically, making sure all muscle groups are stretched.
Attackers vs. Defenders
Disguising conditioning during small-sided games keeps the game fast paced and keeps students actively engaged both physically and mentally.
Set-Up: I recommend setting this activity up in a small-sided games format with multiple fields and teams.
- 1 large goal at end of field
- 2 small goals on the sidelines, 1 on each side (use cones or pop-up goals)
The offense will stay in the shape of two forwards up front and five midfielders behind them. Encourage them to “play big” instead of grouping together to make more of a challenge for the defense.
The attacking group tries to score on the big goal, while the goalkeeper and defenders try to win the ball and score by shooting into the two smaller goals down the sidelines. Adding these sideline goals helps eliminate defenders simply clearing the ball into the middle and encourages them to start their attack down the sideline. This also helps the defensive team to stay compact and communicate to help defined as a unit.
Play for about five to six minutes and then switch up defensive and offensive players, so each student gets the opportunity to play both positions.
This is a possession game where each player picks a partner on the other team. Players are only allowed to defend the person they are matched-up with. I start with a simple scoring system where four consecutive passes earns a team one point. You can adjust the number of passes to increase or decrease difficulty. The goal is to encourage students to dribble the ball and create passing opportunities to their teammates.
This game meets SHAPE America National Physical Education Standards 1 and 2.
Standard 1 – The physically literate individual demonstrates competency in a variety of motor skills and movement patterns.
Standard 2 – The physically literate individual applies knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance.
Soccer game and activity ideas provided by Michael Cummings.