Sharks and Minnows

Sharks and minnows helps young players acquire dribbling skills.

Sharks and minnows helps young players acquire dribbling skills.


Brief Description – Sharks and Minnows is the classic dribbling activity for beginners. Dribbling inside a square, players (the minnows), must use their dribbling skills to avoid the coaches (sharks).

Focus of Activity

  • Ball control
  • Vision
  • Change of direction
  • Shielding the ball


Coaches create a small square field with flat cones.

Development of Activity

Players (minnows) dribble their balls inside a square. Using their dribbling skills they try to avoid the coaches (sharks). Because there are many players dribbling at the same time, they must also use their vision to avoid each other.

Comments and Tips

  • It is recommended that two or three games of Sharks and Minnows be included near the beginning of the training session. After playing for about a minute, coaches should stop the game and sit the players down for about 30 seconds. This allows coaches to help players refocus by providing positive feedback.
  • Some of the youngest players do not understand boundaries. When introducing Sharks and Minnows for the first time, it is recommended that a few adults stand on each side of the square to prevent players from running outside. After a few practices, the youngest players should acquire an awareness of boundaries.
  • Younger players should not be eliminated when their balls are knocked out of bounds. Keep them in the game for maximum touches.



Brief Description – This is a supplemental game to Sharks and Minnow that helps players keep the ball in bounds. Coaches roll the ball toward the edge of the square and encourage players to “save the soccer ball” before it rolls out of bounds. It is best played between games of Sharks and Minnows to reinforce ball control and help players keep the ball inside the square.

Objective – Teach players how to prevent a rolling ball from going out of bounds (out of the square), by saving the ball with their feet.

Development of Activity

  • Use the same square that is set up for Sharks and Minnows.
  • Coaches roll the soccer ball toward any edge of the square
  • Players chase down ball and try to save it before it rolls out of bounds.

Comments and Tips

  • Give a vivid demonstration of how to save the ball by hooking it with the inside of your foot.
  • Roll the ball at a pace that is not too easy or difficult to save.
  • Do not roll the ball to a player facing you. Make the player chase the ball to enhance hooking movement to save the ball instead of a blocking movement.