One of the things we love most about soccer is how important every single player and position is. There’s no quarterback deciding the plays and no positions pulling more weight than others.
Every single component of a soccer team needs to run well to capture the win, and that includes the midfield.
It can’t be overstated how important midfielders or halfbacks are to the success of a team. The center midfielders are typically the ones helping to move the ball forward in a meaningful manner – they don’t just clear it like the defense. They need to be able to look up and make smart decisions with the ball.
The outside halfbacks are imperative as well. This position requires that players be in constant motion, well-versed in defensive as well as offensive moves and be able to put enough power behind the ball to cross it over the goal.
It’s a versatile position on the field, and catering drills to midfielders is important for their overall development. We’ve laid out 3 of our favorite drills for midfielders listed below for you!
#1: Passing practice
Passing is perhaps one of the most important skills halfbacks must have. One of our favorite drills that can help encourage passing involves four key players: two midfielders set up standing a few feet apart in the center of a field, and then two lines of outside midfielders lined in front of the two center midfielders. Exactly how far apart you have the soccer players line up is up to you, their skill level and their age.
To help keep this clear, we will refer to the two outside midfielders as “Player 1” and “Player 2,” and we’ll refer to the two halfbacks more in the center of the field as “Midfielder 1” and “Midfielder 2.”
To start the drill, Player 1 will pass the ball to Midfielder 1, and then begin running down the sideline toward and then past the center midfielders. Midfielder 1 will gain control of the ball before passing it to Player 2, still waiting in the other line on the opposite of Midfielder 1.
Player 2 will then pass the ball to Midfielder 2 before they begin running down the sideline in a similar fashion. Midfielder 1 will need to gain control of the ball, do a turn move with the ball to face Player 1, now behind them, and pass to Player 1.
Player 1 then takes control of the ball before making a diagonal, cross-field pass to Player 2. You can choose to end the drill here, or have Player 2 practice further by taking a shot on goal.
The two Players then switch positions with the center Midfielders, who run to the back of the Players lines, and the drill begins again.
#2: Keep away
This is a simple drill that will help all players improve their defensive skills. As we mentioned above, being able to defend and then quickly switch to an offensive mindset is important for midfielders.
Have your players create a circle around one or two other players in the center. The number of players you have in the center and in the surrounding circle is entirely up to you, but if you only have one player in the center of the circle it is more difficult.
Now have players in the surrounding circle begin to pass the ball around with the goal of keeping it away from the players in the center. These players will need to learn how to effectively defend without lunging in order to gain possession of the ball, and the players in the circle will need to be mindful of hard, quick passes that are easily controllable.
Keep going until a center player gets the ball. Whoever loses the ball to the player inside the circle is now in the middle, and the drill begins again.
Looking for a way to make this more difficult? Open up the circle and instead play it in a small, enclosed space that the offensive passing players have more freedom to move around in. Then, assign 2 to 3 midfield players to work on defense inside the same enclosed space. Opening it up like this allows the players on the outside of the circle to work more on their ball touches and trick moves, all while keeping the ball in play constantly.
#3: Short, one-touch passes
Midfielders rarely have much time to think after they receive the ball. Being able to get control of the ball and then pass in one swift motion is imperative.
For this drill, we recommend having 3 to 4 players for every one midfielder working on their ball control and passing. Have the players stand in a group around the one player in the middle. Then have the players on the outside of the circle/square pass the ball into the center toward the middle player.
The middle player will then need to gain control of the ball and pass it to the next person in the surrounding group with one touch. That person can either take one or two touches to control the ball before passing it back to the middle player.
Something to note: This particular drill can get a bit out of hand quickly depending on how skilled your players are at controlling the ball in one touch. We suggest having the drill inside an enclosed space like Revolutionary Soccer Rinks or Revolutionary Soccer Arenas so that you can better keep the ball in play and so players will get more out of the drill.
Like this article? You might also like our post sharing our favorite soccer warm ups.