Toddler Soccer Session

I have been off all week as it is a national holiday in Northern Ireland.  My 1-on-1 students have also been away on holiday.  It is nice to have some time off & spend time with my own kids but you do miss the coaching.  With full days of playing catch up with paper work & planning for next weeks Fun Week on Monday & yesterday it was great to get out this morning & coach in a local nursery.

We coached in this nursery last year & have returned this summer.  What a great nursery it is!  Superb kids & staff.  Today the numbers were slightly lower due to the public holidays but we all had great fun!  Below you will see some pointers to working with young children, mainly from 2-5, & the games I played with them today.  Feel free to use but please credit back to my blog.

How do I start?

When working with a group, get the toddlers to sit in a circle.  Ensure that adults kneel down with toddlers so that you are speaking to them at their level.  Always start with introductions e.g. 'I'm Coach Tim & this is Coach Ronnie' as they may have forgotten your name or be a new member.

Relax & build a relationship with them.  Ask what kind of week they have had.  What did they do at nursery?  Comment on new shoes or T-shirts.  If they think that you are interested in their lives they will be more inclined to work with you.

Finally, do a simple listening game so that everyone gets 'tuned in'.  Do silly things such as getting them to put their hand behind their ear & tuning in to Coach Tim FM!  Another idea is the 'Stop, freeze' game.  Toddlers run about & then freeze when the whistle is blown.

Now introduce the game you are going to do.  Keep instructions short & make sure everyone can hear & see you.  Always ask if everyone understands & repeat if necessary.

Coaching Style.

It is best to be vocal.  Tell the story so that each child can visualize what is happening.  Use different tones to tell the story.  Make each session an adventure!

To get the toddlers to interact, start a sentence but get them to finish it.  When you are kneeling down & they are sitting on their ball listening, then begin the story.  'Ok, we are in the jungle today & we are Diego & Dora.  Our ball is the little monkey from Dora the Explorer...what's his name?'  They reply 'BOOTS!'  It is great to have the toddlers join in & give feedback, then you know that they are fully engaged.  I once had nearly 50 passers-by stop to see what the heck was going on!

Always demonstrate.  Make your language child-friendly & break skills right down.  Don't stand & demonstrate a skill such as a drag back to the toddlers as you would to ten year olds.  Paint the picture instead.  Ask them to imagine that the ball is a puppy & he wants to roll over & have his tummy tickled.  Can we put our foot on him & roll him backwards?

Get a more able toddler to demonstrate a skill as this will encourage his peers to have a go when they see that someone of their own age can do it.  Give lots of praise.  Be vocal & use the 'high five'!

Lose your inhibitions!

This is of prime importance.  Forget about parents & passers-by watching you.  Get down to the toddlers level.  Kneel down to speak to them, use funny voices & pull funny faces.  Bring these sessions to life!  Remember, the coach who leads the programme will determine how successful it is.

Try to get inside the toddler's head & use as a starting point what they like to see, hear & do.  Those who have children should find easy as they will be up to date with the cartoons they like to watch.  But do not rule out young coaches.  I find that they can relate well to kids.

An example of a silly thing to do with the toddlers is to turn a small traffic cone upside down & place a ball on top of it.  Then tell the toddlers 'Well done!  Now have a big ice cream.'  Add to the fun by making funny noises while squirting pretend strawberry sauce on the top of the 'ice cream'!  We also put discs (small cones) on top of our ears to look silly & pretend to have supersonic hearing!

My session notes...

This morning I used Toy Story as a fun warm up game.  It was my first time at the nursery so a few toddlers were a little shy at first but this game soon brought them round!

Toy Story

Toy Story


A great game that toddlers can relate to as one of their favourite movies!

Movement, awareness, dribbling & co-ordination & skills.


Every player has a ball inside a 20 x 20 yard grid.


The Toy Story game offers loads of mini games insuring maximum participation along with fun for all toddlers!

Here is some ideas of how to use the characters to bring your mini games to life.  Use your imagination to create even more!

  • Warm up using Buzz Lightyear. Each toddler has a ball (Buzz) at their feet.  They grab the Buzz with their hands & stretch to hold Buzz above their head while shouting, 'to infinity & beyond!'  Carry this is out a couple of times & encourage toddlers to shout even louder & get on their tip toes!
  • Coordination using Bullseye. Toddlers stand with their legs open & use their hands to guide the ball (Bullseye) around their toes & through their legs to create the figure 8.
  • Skills & dribbling using Woody (for boys) or Jessie (for girls). Offer all toddlers a cone so they can place it on their head like a cowboy / girl hat.  Get them to lift it off their head & shout, 'YEE HAW'!  To get on Bullseye the toddlers perform toe taps.  Once they have got on Bullseye encourage them to, 'GIDDY UP'!  Simply start dribbling.
  • To stop the ball place foot on top of Bullseye & shout, 'YEE HAW'!  Along with doing an imaginary lasso!
  • Heading with Mr & Mrs Potato Head. This time add a cone to either ear so you look silly!  Then encourage toddlers to head the ball from a simple throw to head using their fore head.  To get some laughs have one of your 'ears' fall off!


Add a series of other fun mini games during the session...

  1. The Rex Game! Using a selection of green cones introduce them to the toddlers as Rex.  Ask them what noise Rex makes?!  They should reply, 'ROARRR!!!!'  Ask the toddlers to close their eyes while you hide 10 or so Rex cones.  Hide them under other coloured cones or maybe on someones head!  They simply have to find Rex.  When they find a Rex they roar & bring him into you!
  2. Dr. Evil Porkchop (Ham) Game! As the toddlers dribble their footballs Dr. Evil Porkchop (the coach!) trys to steal their balls & place in the net!  You can either allow each toddler to reclaim their ball or join the Dr. Evil Porkchop gang!
  3. The Zurg, Buzz & Slinky game! Split the grid in half by using a series of pop up cones (they represent Slinky!)  Half the group on one side is Buzz while the other side is Zurg.  There is a supply of balls in either half.  You can play the game 2 ways.  (1) Use the balls to knock over Slinky (the cones!) or (2) Try to get all the balls in the other half by kicking them over Slinky.


  • Close ball control.
  • Turns & skills.
  • Listening skills.
With it being a smaller group I was happy to add in a few additional games.  A strong favourite is my 'Puppy Dog' game!  It was great fun asking the toddlers do they have a dog only to get replies saying no to I have a stuffed one to a little girl telling me she had a purple dog & a pink cat!  Love it!

Take Puppy For A Walk

Take Puppy For A Walk


Dribbling & skills. Toddler Soccer favourite!


Set up a grid to suit the size of your group. All players have a ball & dribble around the park (grid). Encourage them to look for space to play with puppy.


Each player (master) dribbles with a ball (puppy). The coach calls out various commands. Also say to the players that their foot is the collar & their leg is the lead. Make sure that puppy doesn't stray off the lead or the park warden (coach) will get puppy!


  1. Keep puppy on a short leash (dribble keeping the ball close to the foot).
  2. Puppy runs away - is caught by his master.
  3. Master strokes puppy with his foot - toe taps.
  4. Jog with puppy.
  5. Walkers swap their puppy's.
  6. Puppy to dog toilet (marked area).
  7. Teach puppy tricks, i.e. get puppy to roll over (roll bottom of foot over ball).


  • Close ball control.
  • Keep head up.
  • Use of both feet.
  • Look for space.
With playing the 2 games above I had all toddlers performing drag backs, step overs along with them working their colours & counting!  To finish I played a game of hide & seek with the cones.  Really simple...

Find Woody & Rex. Hide 10 yellow cones (woody) & 1 green cone (Rex) under other colour cones, i.e. white cones (Zurg!) & red cones (Dr Evil Porkchop!)  Ask the toddlers to close their eyes while you hide 10 or so yellow cones & 1 green cone for Rex!  Hide them under other coloured cones or maybe on someones head!  They simply have to find Woody & Rex.  When they find Woody (a yellow cone) they bring it into you.  The toddler who finds Rex can give a bog 'ROOOOOAAAARRRRR!'

Once you have all the cones in have the toddlers sit down while you make 'Woody' fly & they have to count from 1 to 10!

Want more info?  You can buy my Toddler Soccer book by clicking here!  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube : )