Traffic Lights

  • Author: Ian Knapp
  • Age Group: U7 to U9
  • Time: 15 minutes

This is very similar to the "A Ball for Everyone" warm up, but it really introduces the the topic of looking up and being aware, as the players have to constantly be noticing where the coach is, what he/she is doing and what the other players around them are doing. But at the same time, we're involving plenty of touches, trying new skills and tricks and everyone has a ball.

  • Rectangular area - size dependent on numbers.
  • Each player is given their own ball
  • Coach carries 3 cones (one red, one yellow and one green)

Basic Rules:

  • Each player dribbles their ball around the area.
  • Coach encourages players to try different things - turns, simple tricks, stopping the ball, toe taps, changes of direction and speed etc.
  • Every now and again, coach holds up one of the 3 coloured cones he/she is carrying.

    • Red = stop (either still or do toe-taps or similar)
    • Yellow = try a particular skill, turn, change of pace or direction etc.
    • Green = go

Types of Skills and Turns:
  • The type of turn or skill required for yellow should be changed every few turns to keep things interesting for the players and involve lots of techniques. Some ideas might be:

    • A change of direction or speed
    • A Cruyff turn
    • Stop the ball and do some toe taps
    • Inside / outside of the boot
    • A drag back
    • Using weaker foot for 5 seconds / 5 touches
    • The list is endless... be creative...

Progressions & Variations:
  • Introduce more challenging tricks / skills as the players progress. Perhaps give a "power skill" to each player that is their special piece of skill. This would be unique to every player so you can choose something that is challenging and appropriate to that individual.
  • Give the players the opportunity to choose what type of skill, turn etc. they do when you hold up the yellow cone.
  • One ball between two with passing between the players in pairs.
  • If younger players are really struggling to be aware of when the cones are held up, try having them throw and catch between two instead of dribbling.
  • Introduce an element of competition - who can stop quickest when the coach holds up the red cone?
  • Introduce a defender whose job it is to tackle the other players and win their ball off them. The defender then becomes a dribbler with the ball they won and the player who lost their ball becomes the defender.

Coaching Points (FA's 4 Corners):
  • Keep the ball close to you
  • Using different parts of the foot to control the ball
  • Left and right foot
  • Turning with the ball
  • Skills (technique - break each skill down)
  • Passing
  • Tackling
  • If defender introduced, keep your body between defender and ball
  • Decision making
  • Awareness of the coach, what cone is being held up and the players around you (have they all stopped whilst you're still running!?)
  • Don't worry about mistakes or if you're finding things hard - all part of learning
  • Can you "try" new things and take risks?
  • Be confident and positive!
  • Changes of direction
  • Changes of pace (speed up, slow down)
  • Encouraging others and not being negative
  • Communication when passing (call for the ball)
  • Have fun!