Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Space Invaders gets young players fit

Many coaches believe that getting children fit to play football is a stealth exercise. Running up and down the pitch and sprint training may be all very well in some sports, but playing games is undoubtedly the best way to keep kids entertained, whilst subtly building fitness at the same time.

Benefits of games

Kids become so absorbed in the game they don’t realise how much running they are doing. And because they are practising technical attributes at the same time, this also allows you to focus on developing other football skills under pressure so you are not wasting precious training time on fitness. For the best fitness results from games follow these guidelines:

• Use small-sided games – players have nowhere to hide and have to be involved all the time. Four- or five-a-side is ideal.

• Take a break – have rest periods in between intense periods of work. Two teams play for three minutes while another team rests. By swapping the teams round, each team works for six of every nine minutes.

A change is as good as a break – keep football fresh by changing the game or adding new rules. This means players constantly have to adjust mentally whilst still working hard physically.

• Use games like the one below to give players a change from normal exercises and really take their minds off exercise.


Main Objectives

Dribbling and close control, passing accuracy and pace, and one touch passing.

Set Up

Create a 30 yards by 10 yards playing area with cones spread 5 yards apart along the length. Use 16 players split in to four teams of four, with 10 footballs.


Introduce timing so the quickest team to reach the safety zone wins, or stipulate a maximum amount of time. Alternatively, allow the passers an extra touch so they can be more accurate when firing the “laser”.


Keep an eye out for cheating in this game. If an invader’s ball is touched, they’re out. Make sure the passers are only using one touch to begin with.

How to play it

In pairs, players from three of the teams stand on either side of the channel. On your call, they play one touch passing back and forth. This represents the laser to shoot down invaders.

The fourth team – the invaders – has to dribble through the channel, one player per zone at a time, avoiding having their ball hit by the lasers. If an invader’s ball is hit by a laser, they have been destroyed and leave the channel in that zone.

The invaders must aim to reach the safety zone at the end of the channel. The team with the most invaders reaching the safety zone wins.

If no team reaches the safety zone, the team that progress the farthest along the channel wins.

Get 24 more games like this in  Fun Soccer Games for 5 to 8 Year Olds. But don’t be put off by the title. I used the game above with players as old as 16.


1 Comment so far
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Thanks for good explanation I would like to have more for my school team my students are above 13 years up to 20

Comment by vitus Cyprian mahotola

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