Sharks and Minnows (Fun Soccer Game for Kids!)
A super fun drill to run, Sharks and Minnows will excite and delight your players and fill them with enthusiasm for the training session ahead!
Besides being a great warm-up activity, the game also helps them practice their dribbling skills as well as improve their close ball control and technique.
Very easy to set up, run and monitor, Sharks and Minnows is perfect for younger players and will certainly get them enjoying their soccer.
Here's how you can set up and run the game and get your players having a fun time, all while learning valuable soccer skills!
How to Set Up the Game
Besides being very easy to explain to players, Sharks and Minnows is one of the best dribbling drills because it's very simple and quick to set up.
All you need are a couple of training bibs, a few cones, and enough soccer balls to go around the team.
First of all, you want to make a large grid with one cone marking out each corner. This should be approximately 20x25 meters in size.
You can, of course, enlarge or reduce the area depending on how many players you have, how old they are, and what skill level they’re at.
Once you have set up the grid, two players are given training bibs and are instructed to stand in the middle. These players don't have a ball because they’re the sharks!
The rest of the players line up at one end of the grid, each with a ball (make sure it's the correct size) at their feet. These are the minnows!
Now that you have got everything set up, how exactly do you play Sharks and Minnows?
How to Play Sharks and Minnows
While this game is ideal for youngsters from the ages of 4 to 8, older players will also enjoy having the opportunity to dribble, have fun, and compete against one another.
The idea is for the players with the ball (the minnows) to dribble from one end of the grid, past the players in the middle (the sharks), and get to the other end without being tackled.
Once they cross the line at the opposite end from which they started, they’re considered safe and can't be eaten.
When all minnows have crossed the line and are safe, the coach then blows for the next round and they try and get back to the other end of the grid, navigating their way past the sharks.
Whenever a shark does manage to tackle a player or knock their ball out of the grid, that minnow then becomes a shark.
This means that the game gets progressively harder as more and more sharks roam about the middle.
The minnows go back and forth from one end to the other until there’s only one player still standing who’s crowned the champion.
How to Explain the Game
To make Sharks and Minnows even more fun for the young ones and really capture their imagination, you want to clearly explain the game and set the scene for them.
For instance, the sea is a big, dangerous place and it’s up to the little minnows to protect their soccer ball and make sure that the sharks swimming about don't eat them!
They're going to want to do their best dribbling if they’re to evade the sharks and get safely to the other side with their ball.
To get the players ready for the game, there’s even a little song you can sing before it begins.
The sharks in the middle gleefully sing, “Fishy, fishy, come swim in my sea!” to which the minnows at one end of the grid shout back, “Sharky, sharky, you can't catch me!'
With this, the game can commence and the minnows can attempt to dribble their way around the sharks.
When a player gets tackled, they then join the sharks for the next round. They can also sit on the sideline until all of the minnows have been caught.
While the game is lots of fun, there are also some coaching points that you'll want to get across to the kids.
Drill Variations and Coaching Points
Besides being a great warm-up activity that’s sure to get everyone excited for the training session ahead, Sharks and Minnows can also teach your players some valuable soccer skills.
It’s a good idea to ask or remind the players (particularly younger ones) how to dribble before running the drill.
Explain that you want to see them use little touches and not allow the ball to get too far away from them if they don't want it to get eaten by a shark.
They should also remember to keep their head up so that they don't bump into any of their fellow minnows.
Whilst dribbling, they should try and use both the inside and outside of both of their feet and frequently change direction to get around the sharks.
Once you’ve played a few rounds of the game and allowed everyone to be both a shark and a minnow, there are a couple of variations you can try out to make it more challenging.
For instance, you can get players to only dribble with their left foot or only use the sole of their feet to control the ball.
Another alternative is that they’re only allowed to use the outside of their feet to dribble their way around the sharks.
A fun soccer game for kids, Sharks and Minnows is sure to create a buzz of excitement and anticipation around the training ground.
This makes it the perfect warm-up activity and younger players, in particular, will relish the chance to evade and dribble their way past the sharks in the sea.
While it’s certainly lots of fun to play, this simple game also teaches young players how to dribble and control the ball as well as help them to improve their technique and tackling.
As it’s very easy to set up and simple to explain, Sharks and Minnows is a great game for any coach to use out on the training pitch.
Further Reading: 123 Soccer Drills for All Ages and Skill Levels (With Images)
I am a football coach in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I coach young players from 6-18 years old in different age groups. The Fun game I thought from this page will help me a lot to make my younger boys more excited in their training.
I appreciate if your send me more fun games for different age groups.