Dribbling & Turning: Tonight’s U8s session

Tonight’s session had the topic of Close Control, Dribbling & Turns, so the session I planned & carried out was as follows.

Key objectives:

  • A ball with every player at all times
  • No player stood waiting / queueing at any time
  • Dribbling & turning both unopposed & opposed

Warm Up / Starting Session: Gates

Each player had a ball and to begin with we allowed them to dribble through the games and try/perform different turns as they went through the gate.

We then demonstrated and asked them to try the following turns/skills when going through gates (each time pausing to demonstrate):

  • Step over (inc exaggeration as if they were going to shoot)
  • Drag-back
  • Inside / Outside hook

Key points were the players were to also ensure they were keeping their head up whilst dribbling to see where other players were and to visit a different gate if another player was going to the same one. Lots of positive praise for good turns and where players were experimenting.

We then changed a player to be a defender who’s job was to tackle players and that player would then become a defender. Key for the attacking players here was to use the turns to avoid the defender.

Pirates of the pugg

Next we setup and played Pirates of the Pugg as described in the link above. The game continues to work on the players dribbling, with a defender in place but it also provides the defender with an objective as opposed to aimlessly kicking the ball out of play.

Each player who was tackled became a pirate until one player was left. We then rotated to allow each player an opportunity to start as a pirate.

So more dribbling under pressure & also a chance to test their knowledge of characters from Pirates of the Carribean.


We used the game Castles next as described in the link above. We asked players to turn in the inside box, avoiding the defender and had the first player to visit all four corners as the winner. Again rotating the defender in the middle and praising where good turns were used & also where they were being clever and waiting for the right time to enter the box and turn. It also requires the player to perform a turn and exit at a higher speed which is great practice for them.

3v3 SSG

We then ended with a 3v3 SSG.


This is a new group of players we’re working with so it’s important to build rapport at the beginning of the session which we did by asking how they’d got on at school that day, what they’d learnt at school, what clubs they played for, what they did at the weekend, what team they supported etc etc – light hearted and jokey.

We used a whiteboard to described the castles session & also had the players reflect on what they’d learnt at the end of the session and wrote it on the board to demonstrate what they’d learnt.

It felt like a fluid session which kept to the topic and the players enjoyed it – they were also very tired at the end despite regular drinks breaks.

I’ve put this session up as a) it might be useful for someone new to coaching this age group or b) more experienced coaches may be able to critique and question to help with my learning. I’d be happy to see comments from either band 🙂



About Simon
Grassroots Football Coach

2 Responses to Dribbling & Turning: Tonight’s U8s session

  1. Ron Usher says:

    Hi Simon, do you think part of the reason the kids were tired is because kids aren’t as athletic or fit as they used to be? Btw, I like your blog. It’s cool watching you try new things and analyze them.

    • Hi Ron,

      Thanks for your comments, always nice to hear.

      I think it’s fair to say that children aren’t as athletic or as fit as they used to be; primarily due to the invention of computer consoles. If you look at the options a 10 year old boy had for entertainment and fun in the 1970s then 95% of that would probably have been some form of outdoor activity, such as playing football, tag etc! Now we have Xboxes, Playstations, Sky, DVDs etc so there are more forms of entertainment which don’t involve any form of fitness.


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