7 Most Effective Soccer Drills for High School Players


High school soccer is a key stage of a soccer player’s development. Choosing suitable drills during training at this time can accelerate a player’s development or cause them to stagnate.

In this article, I’m going to give you 7 soccer drills that are specifically geared towards high school players.

Each one has been tested and shown to be effective for improving a player’s ability on the soccer field. They are also fun for the high schoolers involved as well!

All you will need for any of these drills is a field to perform the drills, a selection of soccer balls, and some discs or cones.

If you are short of balls or cones, Amazon has a wide selection of options, and I recommend you check out these options for balls or these cones.

I’ve included a video or image with each drill to show you exactly how each drill is performed. And if at the end you need even more drills, I’ve included links to a few more lists of soccer drills I’ve put together.

So, let’s get into it.

7 Soccer Drills for High school header image

Here are my top 7 soccer drills for high school.

1. Speed of Play Drill

The speed of play drill is a great warm-up drill with a whole lot of other benefits too.

As high school soccer players use this drill, it helps them improve their passing ability, reaction times, and control of the ball in rushed moments during a soccer game.

Since we’re dealing with high schoolers who are competent at operating at high intensity, they should practice the drill at the maximum difficulty for the best outcomes and improvements in their gameplay.

Let me walk you through it step by step.

Drill Requirements:

Speed of play drill is simple and can be performed with little to no equipment.

However, the following are the basic requirements:

  • Multiple squares on the field marked by cones or any other marking method like paint.
  • Soccer balls.

Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Drill:

SoccerCoachTV - How Fast Can Your Team Play? Try this "Speed of Play" Drill to find out.
Speed of Play drill shown in the video

Step 1: Set-up

Start by dividing the participants into groups of four. You will need to set up one square with a cone at each corner for each group of four players. Start with a gap of 10 yards between the cones.

Step 2: Player Positions

Have one player stand at the corner of each square. There will be four players for each square.

Step 3: Start the Drill

Allocate one of the players in each group to start with the ball at their feet.

For example, Player 1 starts by passing the ball to player 2, who will be standing beside the cone next to player 1; then player 2 gives it to player 3; player 3 passes the ball to player 4, and player 4 passes the ball back to player 1.

The ball must stay outside of the square for the entire drill, and the players can only take two touches of the ball (One to control the ball and one to pass it to the next player).

The first team to pass it around the square of cones three times successfully wins.

Step 4: Vary the requirements of the drill

I really like this drill because there are multiple variations you can use depending on the ability of the players involved or how challenging you want the drill to be for the players.

For example, you can change the passing methods by introducing one-touch passing in this drill and increasing the speed of play. Or allow more touches if the players involved need more practice.

You can also increase or shorten the distance between the cones.

Key Takeaways From This Drill:

There are multiple benefits of this drill.

It helps your players warm up in a fun manner. In addition, warming up shapes your whole training session, as players are less prone to injuries and fatigue if they have warmed up properly.

Secondly, this drill improves passing, ball control, and reaction time.

Encourage the players to “open” their bodies as they receive the ball, ready to pass with their next touch. Check out the video above for more details, or have a look at my article –  First Touch in Soccer  – for more tips on how to do this well.

This is a fun, productive, and simple soccer drill that high school students can learn and execute!

2. World Cup Drill

After high school players are all warmed up and ready, it’s time for the next drill.

The “World Cup” soccer drill mainly deals with shooting, passing, and teamwork and is great for high schoolers but can also be implemented with players of all age groups.

While it’s fun to be involved with, it also brings a great sense of competition to the players involved. It’s also a great candidate to add to the list of options I put together in my list of the 10 Best Soccer Coaching Drills that are Perfect for Practice Sessions.

Let’s get into it.

Drill Requirements:

The following equipment or requirements must be taken care of for this drill to function properly:

  • Large grid on the field with a standard-sized soccer goal at one end.
  • Training vests/pinnies, multi-colored, because we’re dealing with several groups of players here.
  • Sufficient supply of soccer balls.

Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Drill:

World Cup Soccer Drill
World Cup Soccer Drill

Step 1: Set-up

The drill starts with dividing the participants into several groups/teams. For example, say you had 15 players available; you could divide them up into 5 teams of 3 players.

Assigning each team their favorite country’s name (or choose for them if this will lead to arguments!), as the purpose of the drill is to replicate the ‘World Cup.’

Step 2: Player Positions

Place all the players in the marked area with the goal at one end.

A neutral goalkeeper must be assigned the goal. 

Step 3: Start the Drill

The coach delivers the ball into the playing area, and the aim is for all teams to try and score a goal.

The coach must have sufficient balls available because whenever the ball goes out of play, they should deliver another one into the playing area so that the drill can carry on smoothly without interruptions.

Every time a team scores a goal, they advance to the next round and step out of the current round. The game then continues with the remaining teams.

The last two teams which fail to score the goal get knocked out of the “World Cup.” Similarly, the next round starts and the drill continues until there are only 2 teams left.

When only two teams are left at the beginning of a round, the team that scores two goals first wins the tournament.

Step 4: Vary the requirements of the drill

You can vary this drill in several ways, such as increasing the playing area or using a different size goal. Either option may make this drill more challenging for the participants.

Key Takeaways From This Drill:

There are a lot of benefits to using this drill.

At the top of the list though is building the gameplay through passing and coordination and then shooting.

When several teams are involved simultaneously, the competition level is high, and space decreases, which makes it more challenging to circulate the ball between the team members and score. Hence, it’s difficult to pass, difficult to score.

But with difficulty comes improvement.

Using the ball effectively in front of the opposition’s goal can be learned through this drill.

3. Circular Cone Drill

In soccer, players can achieve significant results through simple drills that don’t require much protocol. And Circular-Cone drill is one such drill.

In this list of high school soccer drills, I’m aiming to cover the fundamental areas of soccer. Dribbling and ball control is one of these areas, and it is often learned through drills and practice.

A circular cone drill is simple but a great way to enhance your ball control towards perfection and high school soccer coaches must focus on this area.

For more ball control drills, check out my list of 10 Soccer Ball Control and Footwork Drills (For All Ages).

Drill Requirements:

  • As the name suggests, you’re going to need several cones/discs. Depending upon how big a circle is.
  • It’s a solo drill, so each player can perform this drill alone.
  • A standard-sized soccer ball.

Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Drill:

Overlapping cones soccer drill
Overlapping cones soccer drill

Step 1: Set-up

The drill starts with placing the training cones/discs in a circle.

You can decide on the size of the circle, but I would aim for a 2-yard gap between cones, to begin with. And a diameter of around 15 yards.

Step 2: Player Positions

One player will be given the ball and start beside a cone anywhere on the circle.

Step 3: Start the Drill

When instructed begin the player will dribble between the cones and complete the circle.

You may want them to complete the circle just once before another player begins or up to 5 times consecutively.

Step 4: Vary the requirements of the drill

To make it challenging for the player performing the drill, there are many ways to intensify this drill.

One way is to enlarge the circle and add in more cones or discs.

When you start, try to place cones a bit distant. Then, after every round of the circle is completed, begin decreasing the distance among the cones to make it difficult for the player to control the ball at their feet.

You can also add a twist to this drill by introducing a 20-30 meter sprint or a jumping ladder after every round of circular-cone is completed.

In this manner, this drill can also be used as a warm-up and dribbling practice, both at the same time. Simple but productive!

Key Takeaways From This Drill:

Good ball composure and control, along with excellent dribbling ability, are great for any high school soccer player’s game.

It’s just as important for a player to work on their footwork as it is to learn how to defend, shoot and attack. With every round, this drill gets more complex, the learning increases.

If players stick with this drill and keep practicing, eventually, excellent ball control will be instilled in their subconscious, and you will see a massive improvement in their performances in the tight spaces in real match situations.

This drill can also be a great way to warm-up, before moving on to more complex training drills. For this, I recommend performing circular-cone drills in lighter mode at the start of training sessions. 

This drill is also great as another option to add to the list of the 10 Best Soccer Drills for Beginners.

4. Overlapping Runs Drill

Learning the overlapping runs is necessary for a player’s skill development in soccer. In addition, it increases the understanding among the teammates and provides another option during attacking plays.

This technique is useful, mainly in counterattacks, but it also helps significantly in tight spaces during the attacking build-up. It’s also a great option to add to my list of the best 10 Soccer Attacking Drills.

There are multiple ways to perform this drill with different intensity levels.

As we’re dealing with the high schoolers here, it’s okay to put some pressure and intensity on them. So I’ll show you an advanced level of this drill.

So, here’s how the overlapping runs drill can be executed!

Drill Requirements:

When it comes to requirements in this drill, the following necessities are required:

  • A soccer field with goals at either end, not necessarily standard-sized, you can opt for a smaller area also.
  • A soccer ball.

Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Drill:

Overlapping Runs Soccer Drill
Overlapping Runs Soccer Drill

Step 1: Set-up for the drill

To perform overlapping runs drill, divide your players/trainees into two teams, and organize each team in a 3-1-3 formation with a goalkeeper at the back.

Step 2: Start the Drill

The drill starts with the goalkeeper playing the ball from the back. When one team has the ball, the other team tries to man-mark and make ball circulation difficult, but not steal the ball away.

Step 3:

The goalkeeper passes the ball to the lone midfielder in the middle, and the midfielder passes it to the left-winger in the attack.

While the winger receives the ball, the corresponding full-back makes the overlapping run as the winger is man-marked. The winger then passes the ball to the rushing full-back, who takes the ball forward.

This cycle continues on either flank until the other end of the field is reached.

Step 4: Vary the requirements of the drill

Once a team has practiced both flanks for overlapping runs, it’s time for the other team as the first team now man marks the attacking side.

It’s not necessary to use the 3-1-3 formation. Other formations like 4-2-4 or 2-1-2 can also be used, depending upon the number of available participants.

The core idea is to train players to make over-lapping runs around their man-marked teammates while the holding midfielder distributes the ball.

Key Takeaways From This Drill:

The key takeaways from this drill are crystal clear: overlapping runs are a great way to shake down any defense.

Practicing this drill will make your players aware of each other’s positions and improve teamwork.

Over-lapping runs also compliment our next drill, which is all about learning positional soccer.

5. The 6 Second Rule Drill

If you’ve been a soccer fan for a while, you would know the quality of soccer Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team played between 2008 and 2012.

We can’t cover Pep’s genius tactical approach here in such a short span. But here’s a little sneak peek of it.

Pep introduced a 6-second rule which ensured fluent ball circulation throughout the team. That’s why Barca had everyone on edge back then.

They took the ball, passed the ball, and repeated the process.

Great lessons can be taught to high school soccer players by focusing on this aspect of the game.

I will guide you step by step through how you can integrate this golden principle in your team with a training drill and make them play in a style difficult to anticipate by opponents!

Drill Requirements:

The requirements vary, but this drill is not a complex one, so all you’re going to need is a ball, a group of players, and a field to practice on.

Mark an area on the field so that the drill can be carried out with discipline.

The ball must not go outside the area!

Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Drill:

Pep Guardiola tactics and drills: Counterpressing and the 6 seconds rule
Understanding Guardiola’s 6 second Rule

Step 1: Set-up and aim of the drill

Divide your players into two teams. The drill will be carried out in the form of a soccer game but without goals.

The aim is to win the ball back in 6 seconds after you’ve lost it.

This will all come down to pressing and positional play. This way, the idea of suffocating your opponent’s ball circulation by excellent pressing and eventually winning the ball back will be instilled in your trainees.

When the opponents don’t have the ball, they can’t score. Hence there is no danger if you keep the ball.

Step 2: Start the Drill

Once either team has lost the ball, the goal is for them to win it back within 6 seconds.

Whichever team manages to win the ball back within 6 seconds 5 times wins the drill.

An organized and positional press comes in handy here.

Step 4: Vary the requirements of the drill

To make the drill more intense for the high school students, you can increase the duration of play, decrease the marked area, or increase the number of times you have to win the ball back to win the drill!

Key Takeaways From This Drill:

Players can learn a lot through this drill. The essence of the positional play lies here, which is one of the most beautiful and highly proven concepts of soccer.

Remember this famous Blaugrana phrase:

“Take the ball, Pass the ball.” 

There’s another side of the picture also. Not only does this drill teach players to press, but it also allows them to learn ball circulation under a high press.

6. Dribble-Sprint-Dribble Soccer Drill

Staying fit or getting in shape for soccer is critical for any player, including high school students.

When a player’s fitness levels are higher, they perform better in every area of the soccer field. They also enjoy the game more.

If you’re working with a high school soccer team should focus on their player’s fitness.

During a game, players perform multiple short sprints. Their fitness training should reflect this.

Drill Requirements:

You will only need basic equipment for this drill.

  • A soccer ball,
  • and three cones or a soccer field.

Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Drill:

run through of Soccer fitness drill
Dribble – Sprint – Dribble Soccer Drill

Step 1 –  Positioning.

For this drill, players start on the sideline of the soccer field with the ball at their feet.

If you don’t have access to a soccer field, any field or flat surface around 50 yards wide will do.

Use two cones to mark the spots 50 yards from each other and then one more cone at the halfway point between the two.

Step 2 –  Run to the halfway point.

Have the players dribble the ball as fast as they can toward the halfway point of the field.

They then leave the ball and sprint as fast as they can to the opposite touchline.

Step 3 -- Touch, turn and return.

At the 2nd sideline, the players should touch the floor with one hand.

After this, they should turn around as quickly as possible and sprint back to the ball.

Step 4 –  Dribble back.

When they get back to the ball, the player should dribble back to where they started as quickly as possible.

Step 5 –  Rest and repeat

When back at the start, allow the players a minute to catch their breath and then repeat the drill.

Do this five times in a row or as many times as you feel is appropriate for the high school students involved.

As a player’s fitness improves, you may wish to repeat the drill consecutively more than five times in one go.

Key Takeaways From This Drill:

This specific drill aims to increase high school soccer players’ anaerobic fitness.

In a soccer game, players mostly use anaerobic energy rather than aerobic.

I’ve talked about this difference in my articles about long-distance running for soccer players and cycling for soccer players.

The great part about working on this area of a player’s game is that it should improve every area of their performance on the field.

A player’s fitness levels determine how long they can keep playing, how quick, and how effective they are with the ball.

7. The 7 vs 7 Drill

This last drill includes a real-time 7 vs 7 soccer game with all the standard rules and regulations applied.

We have covered all the primary soccer areas until now in previous drills. Now, we will test every area of soccer training here.

Conducting this drill-like game at the end of a training session will revise all the core ideas learned in a practical way.

Drill Requirements:

The essential equipment that you need is as follows:

  • Training vests/pinnies because we will be making teams here.
  • A standard-sized goal and soccer pitch, since high school students can take on the challenge of playing on a standard-sized pitch.
  • A game-sized, standard soccer ball.

Step-By-Step Walkthrough of the Drill:

7v7 Soccer Drill
7v7 Soccer Drill

Step 1: Set-up

It’s all about a complete soccer match. Divide the high school players into two teams. The number of players on each team can vary. It doesn’t have to be a 7 vs 7 match.

Similarly, the size of the field can also vary.

Step 2: Length of game

However, the game must be at least 20 minutes each half for a better learning experience.

You must take into account that we’re holding this drill at the end of the training session, so it doesn’t have to be intense.

Longer halves mean more intensity.

Step 3: Use all the standard rules

All standard soccer rules like offsidepenalties, and free kicks apply here. Since we’re aiming for a realistic match experience, count in the standard fouls also.

Key Takeaways From This Drill:

Why do we train? For the realistic experiences, right? That’s what your trainees need and why this drill is important.

There are countless benefits of this drill. It doesn’t only help high school soccer players to implement the methods they learned in precise training drills before. It also gives them the joy and sense of competition in a real-time soccer game.

From passing, defending, attacking, and shooting to teamwork, chemistry, techniques, everything is covered here.


For more soccer drills check out one of the other lists I’ve put together.

Ben

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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