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More Backyard Games
by Mike Singleton, November 17th, 2009 12PM
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By Mike Singleton

Here are more ways players can work on their skills on their own. ...

* 2v2 or 2v1 Games
Any 2v2 and 2v1 drills or games will be extremely useful. The entire game can be broken down into 2v2 or 2v1 situations. The more skilled you are at these, the more success you will have in the larger game. Playing combination passes is key!

* Paired Tag
Pair players up, giving each pair two balls. One player starts and is given a two-second lead to break away from his/her partner. The chaser ("it") dribbles after the first player and tries to tag him/her with his/her hand. If tagged, the roles reverse and the player who was previously "it" has two seconds to break away before their partner tries to tag them. Players must always dribble their soccer ball during this activity.

* Marbles
Players are in pairs, each with a ball. One player plays out his ball and the partner passes his own ball in an attempt to strike the ball his partner played out. Players should keep track of how many times they hit their partner's ball. This game should be fast-paced, because players take turns at trying to hit each other's ball without ever stopping.

If Players 2 misses Player 1's ball, then Player 1 immediately runs to her own ball and tries to hit Player 2's ball (Player 2 does not get to touch his ball after missing Player 1's ball). After Player 1 has a chance, then Player 2 immediately tries to hit player 1's ball right back. etc.

This game is continuous and players should keep score.

(Hint: If two balls are lose to each other, a player should kick his/her ball hard at the other ball so that when they hit it, it is more difficult for the other to hit their ball back).

* Soccer Tennis
With a partner, set up two 10x10 grids that are separated by a net (or a line, couple of bags, string tied to bags - something serving as a net). Just as in tennis, players play the ball (though with their feet) into the other's grid and the ball must bounce once in that grid. If the receiving player(s) allows the ball to drop twice, the server earns a point. Receiving players can play volleys. Limit your touch count to two- or three-touch.

Get a partner or partners and play against a wall (or turn over a bench). Use one-touch to kick the ball against the wall.

Turns alternate between partners. Players earn a letter if the ball goes over the bench or goes wide of the bench/wall until they spell "SLAM." Once they spell "SLAM" they are out of the game.

Check out Backyard Games Part I HERE.

(Mike Singleton is the Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association's Head State Coach and Director of Coaching. He is a Region I ODP Senior Staff Coach and a U.S. Soccer and US Youth Soccer National Staff Coach. This article first appeared in Mass Youth e-News.)

Previous editions of the Youth Soccer Insider on improving skills outside of practice include:

Getting Kids To Play On Their Own

Practicing Solo: The 720 Challenge

Improving skills on your own: wall play

Getting players to juggle

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