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Tips and Tricks: Soccer Practice Sessions

When starting your fall soccer season, prepping for your soccer practice sessions are always an important way to bring the team together and make the most out of your time. We thank Koach Karl from Fundamental Soccer for sharing these great tips with iSport360. Establish a ‘Pre-Practice Ritual.’ For yourself and the players as they arrive at the practice site.  

soccer players in the huddle


  • Explanation/Demonstration of the THEME.  
  • Briefly ‘Show and Tell’ the players what they are expected to learn & improve.   
  • State clearly the ONE goal to be achieved!

Step 2. WARM-UP

Inside the FUNdamental Square  

  • Confined area activity to develop ball sensitivity, coordination, flexibility, agility, body control; summarized – building confidence in keeping possession of the ball.
  • Confined area activity that maximizes ball touches and creates a habit that may prevent injuries in their future   

soccer practice sessions

Step 3. ONE + ONE (Cooperative Time)

Coach and players prepare to stop the action to make and take ‘points of refinement’ on the Theme.

  • Two players/One-ball; Review previously taught techniques to provide continuity.  
  • Two-players/One-ball; Working on ‘new’ techniques to be learned and developed.  

Player(s) use ‘the Stages of Play’:

  • Beginning Stage -Perform ‘Theme’ at controlled speed vs. walking opponent
  • Intermediate Stage -Perform ‘Theme’ at controlled speed vs. jogging opponent
  • Advanced Stage  -Perform ‘Theme’ at controlled speed vs. game speed opponent


  • Realize that some players may never get out of the Beginning Stage – Which is OK!
  • Be careful in advancing players through Stages – Since, Success is the Key!
  • When in doubt, put player(s) back in the previous Stage – Since Success is the Key!
  • Understands that (+) = Add information to improve player(s) performance.

Step 4. ONE vs. ONE (Competitive Play)

Coach and players understand that there will be no stop in action.

Player(s):  Experiment with the ‘new’ technique while competing.

  • Test their ability to perform Theme (s) vs. real opposition

Coach:  Observes to see who will need help with ‘the theme’ at future practices.  

  • Observes individual strengths and weaknesses.
  • Understands that (vs.) = Being verbally silent while players are competing.

Step 5.  Half-time Routine

Rehearsal for game day activities which take place in a limited amount of time such as:

  • Gathering in a defined, secluded, shaded area
    • Replenish liquids and stretch
    • Check for injuries
    • Give points of refinement (if necessary) to -Individuals-Group-Team.
  • Prepare them for the 2nd half.  

Step 6.   PLAY – SMALL SIDED GAME (s) 

Games framed inside a set of rules to correct a weakness (Theme) observed in the previous practice or game.

COOPERATIVE Small-Sided Games are controlled by the coach.

Players:  Understand that there may be Stoppages or Interruptions in Play for ‘Points of Refinement.

Coach: Plans to use Stoppages and makes Interruptions during Cooperative Play

     (But, only when necessary…!)

COMPETITIVE Small-Sided Games are ‘FREE’ Games Controlled by the players.

Players  Understand there will be No Stopping or Interrupting Play  to make ‘Points of  Refinement.’

Coach:  Understands that there are No Stoppages or Interruptions during competitive play.

  • Observes and takes Mental/written Notes
  • Understand that (vs.) = Being verbally silent while players are competing…!


Full team games framed inside a set of rules to focused on the Theme:

COOPERATIVE  SCRIMMAGE a Team Game Controlled by the Coach.

Players: Understand that the Coach May Stop or Interrupt Play to make ‘Points of Refinement.

Coach: Understands when to Stop and Interrupt during Cooperative Play. But, only when necessary!

COMPETITIVE SCRIMMAGE a ‘FREE’ Game Controlled by the Players.

Players: Understand that there will be No Stopping or Interrupting Play to make “Points of Refinement.’

Coach: Does not stop or interrupt play.  

  • Observes and takes Mental/Written Notes
  • Understand that (vs.) = Being Verbally Silent while players are competing…!

Step 8.  COOL-DOWN  

Physical goal of relieving the tightness created by running and other soccer-related activities.  

  • To create a habit that may prevent future injuries.


The time to reflect and review the practice session and its’ Theme.’

  • Briefly analyze the strong and weak points of the teams’ performances.
  • The time where positive statements will let them know they improved.
  • Give home-play assignments preferably to play 1 vs. 1 as often as possible!

And I hope that the most critical (Theme) that will sink in with the Coaches in 2022 is:

Understanding that (vs.) means becoming Verbally Silent ‘anytime’ the players are competing!

“I am anxious to see the ‘FUNdamental Practice Session”  be adapted by all youth coaches. Simply because it has been Proven to Work!” Koach Karl

About Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien)

Emeritus State Director of Coaching – California Youth Soccer Association (1979-2012)

Author of the Internationally Published FUNdamental SOCCER Books Series

Producer of the highly acclaimed ‘9-Step Practice Routine’ DVD.  

Web Clinician: 

Email address: 

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September 13, 2022

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