9 Tips to Make Your Soccer Training More Fun
Growing up, every kid starts playing soccer because they love the sport and have fun playing it.
This carefree attitude and joyful feeling can sometimes get lost later on, however, when the pressure to compete becomes too much.
Some coaches quickly forget that soccer is just as much about having fun as it is putting in the hard work and improving as a player.
Removing fun not only limits players in terms of expressing themselves on the pitch, it also makes training a chore.
Making sure that training stays fun and fresh is a great way to keep your players engaged and motivated, and this will surely help them improve as players in the long-run.
Let’s take a look at why it is important to make training fun, some of the benefits of doing so, and finally, I’ll share 10 tips to make soccer training more fun.
Why it’s Important to Make Soccer Training Fun
Before we look at how you can make your soccer training practices even more fun, here are some reasons why it is important to do so (and what benefits a fun session brings).
1. Having Fun is Why Kids Play Soccer
This one should be obvious…
The main reason why everyone wants to play soccer is that it’s an incredibly fun game to play!
It’s important not to lose sight of this when you’re coming up with your training sessions.
Doing so will help keep players motivated and looking forward to practice every week.
2. Your Players Will Put More Effort In
If something becomes a chore you are more likely to become disinterested and demotivated in what you’re doing.
Conversely, if you really enjoy whatever it is you’re doing, you are more likely to put more effort in and try your best.
3. Players Work Through Repetitive Drills
While you ideally want to vary up your practice sessions quite a bit, the key to becoming a better soccer player is repetition.
Players have to keep working hard to master their skills.
And by keeping your training sessions fun, fresh, and engaging, players can work hard on improving themselves without getting bored.
4. Players Develop and Improve Quicker
The result of the above points is that players will develop and improve their skills faster than if they were bored at training.
It’s difficult to get motivated through a dull training with long lines, repetitive (and boring) drills, and a lot of pointless conditioning.
A fun practice keeps motivation high.
The Benefits of Making Soccer Training Fun
1. Happy and Confident Team
When a team enjoys their soccer experience and improves quickly, the result is going to be a happy + confident team of players.
The positive environment makes every training session a joy to take part in.
Every player will be excited for training / games, they’ll work hard to improve at home, and they’ll always give their best.
2. Extra Motivation
When you’ve created a positive environment where all players are happy and pulling in the same direction, no one wants to let the team down.
They’re all playing for each other instead of themselves.
Selfishness is no where to be seen, and everyone will feel some extra motivation to do their best for their teammates.
3. Stress-Free Environment
Another benefit of a positive environment is that players stop fearing making a mistake on the pitch.
This opens them up to being more creative, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, and working at a higher intensity.
A stress-free environment is crucial.
4. Improved Attitudes
All of this combined will help you see an improvement in attitudes.
Your players will come to training brimming with confidence and looking forward to whatever drills / challenges you throw their way.
This positivity and enthusiasm will see them give their all which will help them improve as players.
5. More Enjoyable Coaching Experience
Watching your players turn up to training each week with a smile on their face is one of the most rewarding things you’ll experience as a coach.
When it happens, you’ll know you created a fun and positive environment.
This will lead to YOU have a lot more fun too!
6. Improved Game-Day Results
Last but not least…
When a team is happy + confident, playing for the team instead of themselves, and everyone has a coachable attitude…
I guarantee your game-day results will improve.
9 Tips to Make Soccer Training More Fun
Now that we’ve seen all of the benefits that creating a fun training session can bring, let’s take a look at some of the ways which you can make your soccer training sessions even more fun.
1. Plan Ahead
This might not seem like the first thing you’d think off to make trainings more fun, but planning what you want to do in advance is absolutely key.
This helps you ensure there’s a good variety of drills for players to work through, and also prevents them from waiting around during training.
If you get players to execute a repetitive drill, give them a competitive drill next to ensure they get a good mix of both.
2. Be Prepared
Once again, not something you’d usually associate with making training sessions more fun…
Being prepared means setting up the next drill while the players are still working through the last one.
Not only does this keep them on their toes and make sure they get the most out of every minute of training, it also prevents them from getting bored or messing around as they wait for you to prepare the next drill.
Ideally you want to transition from one drill to the next as quickly as possible as this helps to keep them focused and engaged.
3. Work on a Variety of Skills Each Training Session
Working on the same thing over and over again can get repetitive…
So it’s a good idea to vary up your drills so that your players don’t get bored with the same skill.
4. Use Multi-Skill Drills as Much as Possible
A great way to maximise the amount you get done in training is to give your players drills that demand several skills from them.
Good passing drills can also improve their first touch and ball control, while a good shooting drill can see them dribbling between a line of cones to practice controlling the ball before taking a shot at goal.
As well as improving their skills in a number of areas, multi-skill drills also help keep training more fun and entertaining.
5. Keep up the Intensity
Nothing is worse than waiting in long lines to do the drill.
Waiting time should be kept to a minimum, as this is both boring and a waste of your players’ time.
When players get bored, they disengage and can start doing their own thing which distracts the other players.
To avoid this you want to prepare well, set up drills in advance, and keep everyone busy throughout training.
6. Multiple Drill Stations
If you have a large group, you can set up multiple drill stations to make sure that everyone is involved and getting as many touches as possible.
Not only does this prevent people from hanging around waiting and getting bored, it also helps them work on a number of different skills in a short period of time.
By rotating the players and changing the drills which they’re working on you keep them engaged, keep up the intensity of the training session, and make it more fun as they are always doing something new.
7. Fun Competitions
If you see that players are not engaging with a particular drill or are finding it a struggle, you can always stop and declare a small competition.
This could be a shooting competition, penalty practice, a juggling drill, or anything else that comes to mind (as long as it engages them and gets them having fun).
This not only lightens the mood, but also reenergises and excites them as they all strive to do their best.
8. Practice Games
While practice games at the end of a training session are loads of fun, they’re also an important opportunity for players to express themselves and be creative.
As such, allocating enough time to these games is very important and can help you see a different side to your players outside of the drills you’ve run in training.
Most players love these games and are disappointed if they don’t feature at the end of a training session, so you always want to make sure you have enough time to play a quick game.
9. Praise and Compliment Your Players
By praising and encouraging your players, you’ll improve your relationships with them and create a positive atmosphere around the training pitch.
This can help create a fun and welcoming environment where kids are excited to turn up and do their best.
If you criticise or yell at your players, you can quickly demotivate them and make them shut down and shy away from playing soccer.
Which would be a sad outcome because there are so many benefits.
Complimenting and encouraging them will most likely see better results as they feel empowered and confident enough to play their natural game.
As you can see, ensuring soccer training is fun and engaging is the key to keeping players happy and giving their all in training.
You can do this by being prepared, using multi-skill drills, and creating a positive environment for the team you’re coaching.
This will keep your players focused and determined throughout a hard training session.
The end result of creating fun practices will be quicker improvement for each individual player and much better game-day results.
Further Reading: How to Run a Terrific Soccer Practice (21 Tips)