As someone who has played soccer their whole life, I can speak to the amount of conditioning the sport requires. To achieve proper conditioning, you’re going to have to run quite a bit but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be fun.
So, what are some fun soccer games for kids?
Some fun soccer games for kids to play include: sharks and minnows, red light/green light, Simon says, monkey in the middle, cops and robbers, musical balls, king of the hill, tic-tac-toe, the hula hoop game and gates. These games help kids with dribbling a soccer ball and keeping possession of it.
While most of these fun soccer games may seem designed for U12 and under players, they are a ton of fun and are great ways to warm-up. We encourage you to read on to gain an idea of how you can start using these games in your practices.
Sharks and Minnows
Let’s kick off the list with one of my favorite fun soccer games for kids – sharks and minnows!
Sharks and minnows for helping young players work on their dribbling, while they also work on protecting the ball from other kids. To start, you need an area around 20 x 25 yards or 25 x 30 yards.
The size of the playing area isn’t an exact science but you want to make sure you have enough room for the kids to maneuver. Once the playing area is established, you want to designate one kid as the shark and everyone else as a minnow.
The shark will start in the middle of the playing area without a ball and the rest of the kids (minnows) will start on one of the ends. Each minnow will have a ball and try to make it to the other side without the shark taking the ball.
If the shark kicks a ball out of the playing area, the minnow who had that ball is now a shark. You want to keep repeating this process until there’s one minnow left who will be your winner.
Sharks and minnow is great because it’s competitive and there’s plenty of strategy involved. Do you want to be the first player/minnow who dashes across the field? Or do you want to wait until the shark is busy with another minnow?
The game also forces kids to work on dribbling with their heads up and to work on protecting the balls with their bodies. Kids who don’t dribble with their heads up are going to be easy pretty for the shark(s).
It’s important to know that the shark doesn’t need to control the ball to eliminate the minnow. The shark simply needs to boot the ball out of the playing area.
You can make it more difficult for the minnows by tasking them to only dribble with a certain foot or to have them alternate touches with their left and right feet when dribbling.
You can also start with more than one shark if you so choose. Sharks and minnows also works for older kids as it helps them dribble with their heads up and with keeping the ball close to the bodies.
Red Light / Green Light
For red light/green light, someone is in charge of dictating the pace while the kids take their positions on the starting line.
The starting line could be the goal line, the sideline, the center-line or anything else that you want to use. To begin with, you should designate a spot about 20 yards away.
This will be the spot the kids need to make it to win. Once the kids get good at red light/green light you can expand the distance they have to go to 20 yards, 30 yards or even further.
Once every kid is lined up on the starting line with their ball, the coach/parent/kid will yell “green light!” which indicates for kids to dribble to make it to the other side.
Kids will continue to dribble until “red light!” is yelled out. Once this is yelled out, it’s important each kid remains still.
If a kid continues to move after red light is said, that kid has to go back to the starting line.
Red light/green light also forces kids to control the ball because if a kid kicks a ball too far forward and red light is called, that kid isn’t going to be able to stop his ball in time and will have to go back to the starting line.
For this reason, it’s important kids keep their balls close to them so that they can stop on a dime. Once the kids become experts at the game you can expand the playing field.
You can also mix in more red lights and green lights to make it harder, or you can let them go for longer distances by not saying anything.
With Simon Says, you want to go with a 20 x 25 yards or 25 x 30 yards grid or a playing area similar in size. As you play the game, you’ll get a better idea of the amount of space you need to play with your team.
The youngest generation of kids probably won’t know how to play this game right away but it shouldn’t take long for them to pick up the rules. To begin with, each player will want to grab a ball and line up on one of the sides.
You will also need a person calling out commands for the players to listen to. Some of these soccer games for kids will require someone directing them and this is one of them.
If players mess up and don’t listen or don’t perform the right action they’re out until the next game begins.
Players should make sure they only follow commands that begin with “Simon Says!”. Anything said that doesn’t start with Simon says is something they shouldn’t follow.
So if you’re running Simon says and you want players to stop, you would say “Simon Says stop!”. If you want players to switch balls with another player, you would say “Simon Says switch balls with another player!”
If players don’t follow either of these commands or they do something different than what was said, they’re out and have to wait until the game concludes.
If you say “stop the ball!” and the players stop they’re now out because you didn’t say Simon Says first. This also applies to “pass the ball to a nearby player!”, “touch the ball with your left foot!” or anything else you can come up with.
The point is for players to only follow your commands that start with Simon Says. While this game might be fun for older ages, it’s amazing for young players!
Monkey in the Middle
Monkey in the Middle is great for all ages and you routinely see professional players warming up with this game. This game involves players forming a circle with one or two monkeys (players) in the middle.
The game starts with one of the players on the outside of the circle passing a ball to another player on the outside. The monkeys can’t intercept the first pass, but everything after is fair game.
The whole objective of the game is to keep the ball away from the monkeys in the middle. If a monkey is able to control the ball, the monkey switches places with the player who touched the ball before them.
This player remains in the middle of the circle until he controls the ball. It’s important to note that the monkey needs ball control and can’t simply poke it away.
To mix things up, there are a couple of different things you can do. First off you can increase the size of the circle, which will make it more difficult for the monkeys to get the ball.
You can also reduce the size of the circle, which will make players have to quickly pass the ball around to prevent it from being taken away. This game can be played with one monkey or multiple monkeys at a time.
Cops and Robbers
Of all the fun soccer games for kids in this article, cops and robbers was always a favorite of those around me.
The ideal place to play Cops and Robbers is in the center of a soccer field but you can also make a playing area with cones. Within the playing area, you want to make a small triangle or a small square and denote this as the “bank”.
Once you have the playing area set up you can designate kids as cops and robbers. You want to have twice as many cops as robbers for everything to run smoothly. So if you have nine kids you should opt for six cops and three robbers.
The three robbers will start around the bank in the middle (without a ball) and each cop will start around the edges with a ball. The goal of the robbers is to take all the balls away from the cops and deposit them in the bank.
The robbers can deposit the balls by bringing them to the bank and then completely stopping them. If a ball makes it into the bank but is still rolling, the cop isn’t out yet.
Once the ball does stop rolling, the cop who had that ball now becomes a robber. This means as time goes on the games become increasingly difficult for the cops. The last remaining cop wins.
Once the kids become accustomed to the game, you can make several adaptations to keep it fresh for the kids. One of these changes includes making the robbers collect all the balls within a designated amount of time, which will force the robbers to work quicker.
Another adaptation is to increase the size of the playing area, making it more difficult for the robbers to college all the balls. You can also reduce the number of robbers making it easier for the cops or increase the number of robbers making it more difficult for the cops.
Cops and Robbers is great for teaching the importance of keeping the ball close when dribbling and for getting kids to frequently change direction.
Musical Balls / Musical Chairs
If you notice a theme in this article so far, it’s that a lot of these youth soccer games are great for playing in the center of a soccer field. This game is no different and shines when played in center field.
We’ve all played musical chairs at some point so this will just be a twist on that. If any of your players haven’t seen or played musical chairs before, you can quickly explain the concept for them.
Instead of chairs, we’re going to use soccer balls for this game. You can play this game with any number of players. Before the game beings, every player but one needs to bring a ball and put it in the middle of the center circle.
After the balls are in the center, you want to have your players walk around the outside of the center circle as you play music.
The players will continue to walk around the circle until the music stops. When the music stops, the players will rush toward the center and grab a ball as quickly as they can.
The player who doesn’t grab one of the balls in time will be out for the duration of the game. After each player is eliminated one ball needs to be removed from play. You will then continue this process until one player is left – the winner.
King of the Hill
Just in case you were wondering, we’re not talking about the TV show here. We’re talking about another game that’s great for playing in the center of a soccer field. This game can also be played in a fairly large square or circle made out of cones.
To begin King of the Hill, each player will need to get a ball and enter the playing area. The goal of this game is to be the last remaining player with a ball.
To make this happen, you’ll have to protect your ball while simultaneously trying to kick the balls of other players out of the playing area.
Players will have to balance protecting their ball with trying to eliminate other players. Once a player’s ball leaves the area, they’re out of the game.
This game is great for getting young players to dribble with their heads up and it allows players to practice offensive and defensive tactics. It is also great for getting players to change direction, which is a skill that will be needed in games.
If you only have a handful of players playing this game you don’t need an excessively large area to play but as you add more players, you should increase the playing area.
Growing up, tic-tac-toe was one of my favorite games to play on the schoolyard. I wish I knew back then that you could tie this game into soccer.
The great thing about this game is that it can be played without a ball! To begin you need to set up a 3 x 3 grid. Cones work great for creating the grid.
Once the grid is set up you’ll want to place two cones side-by-side 5-10 yards away from the grid. The players will then split up into two teams, with one lining up behind one cone and the other team lining up behind the other cone.
You can either assign captains and have the players pick their teams or you can assign players to each team.
After the teams are formed and they’re waiting in line, they should each receive three pinnies. The pinnies must be different colors so the players don’t confuse their pinnies with the other team’s pinnies during the game. Once each team has their pinnies, blow your whistle to start the game.
The first player in each line will then race to the grid and place the pinnies within one of the squares. After a player drops off the first pinny, they’ll race back to their line and tag the next player in line to run to the grid and drop off their pinny.
The third player will do the same thing once the second player tags them in. After the third player drops off their pinny, the next team member will race to the grid without a pinny.
This player will pick up one of the three pinnies the team has already placed and move it toward a new spot. This process will continue until a team wins by getting the three pinnies to line up vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
It’s important players pay attention to what the other team is doing to prevent them from winning.
Some alterations you can make to this game include reducing the space between the cones the teams line up behind and the grid so players don’t have to travel as far to place their pinnies.
Another alteration you can make is for you to increase the space between the cones players line up behind and the grid, which will help kids work on the conditioning.
You can also add some kind of reward factor, such as only requiring the winning team to run half as long as they normally would in future practices.
Other rewards could include allowing the winning team to shoot first on goal during practice or getting to pick out the drills for the rest of the practice.
The Hula Hoop Game
For this game, you want to create a large circle with cones or use the center of a soccer field. Each player should then grab a hula hoop and place them evenly around the edges.
Once the hula hoops are set up, all the soccer balls that you can get ahold of should be placed in the middle. The goal of the game is for players to grab a ball from the middle and bring it back to their hula hoop.
Players can only bring back one ball at a time, but they can also take balls out of the hula hoops of other players. Once all the balls are removed from the center and make it back to one of the hula hoops the game is over.
The player who has the most soccer balls in their hula hoop at the end of the game is the winner. You can designate the end of the game in different ways.
One way is to put a time limit on the game and allow players to take balls from one another until time runs out. Another way is having the players collect a specific number of balls to win.
You may want young players to refrain from stealing balls from one another until they fully grasp the objective of the game.
This game involves two teams of equal sizes. For this game to work well you want to play in a fairly large area, such as 25 x 25 yards, 30 x 30 yards or bigger. Designate the boundaries with cones.
Once you have your playing area established, you want to create four or five gates spread out within the area. The gates will be two cones spaced 5-10 feet apart from each other, to allow plenty of room for a soccer ball to go through them.
The more players that are playing, the bigger you’ll want the playing surface to be. You’ll also want to add more gates as the playing area increases in size.
The goal of this game is for players to dribble or pass a ball through the gates. To play the game you’ll need to decide how many points the teams get for dribbling and passing through the gates.
I would give the teams two points for passing through the gates and one point for dribbling through them. The goal of this is to encourage passing in young players.
You’ll need to set a total for the players to play to as well. Seven points is a good starting point, which you can adjust for future games if needed.
My suggestion is to try out each of these fun soccer games for kids to see which ones they enjoy the most. These are also just some of the fun soccer games you can play!
You can modify the soccer games to help further build the skills of players and to make sure they’re having as much fun as possible