Unleashing the Next English Football Star: Essential Drills for Primary School Children

As the European Championships unfold this summer in Germany, the eyes of the football world are on the stars of today.

But the future stars, those who will one day don the iconic Three Lions shirt, are honing their skills on school fields and local pitches.

For primary school children aspiring to become the next Harry Kane or Raheem Sterling, developing fundamental football skills is crucial.

Here are some engaging and effective drills to help young players improve their game, inspired by the current European Championships.

1. Dribbling Relay Races

Objective:  Enhance ball control and agility.

Setup: Create a relay course with cones spaced out in a zigzag pattern. Divide the children into small teams.

Drill: Each child dribbles the ball through the course, weaving between the cones as quickly as possible. Upon reaching the end, they pass the ball to the next teammate. The team that finishes first wins.

Benefit: This drill improves close ball control, quick direction changes, and speed, essential skills for navigating through tight defenses and creating goal-scoring opportunities.

2. Passing Circles

Objective: Develop accurate passing and receiving skills.

Setup: Arrange children in a large circle with one child in the center.

Drill: The central player passes the ball to players around the circle, who then pass it back to the center. Rotate the central player regularly to ensure everyone practices both roles.

Benefit: This exercise hones precise passing, receiving under pressure, and quick decision-making.

It’s perfect for building the technical foundation necessary for maintaining possession and executing effective plays.

3. Shooting Stations

Objective: Improve shooting accuracy and power.

Setup: Set up multiple stations with cones indicating different shooting angles and distances from the goal.

Drill: At each station, players take turns shooting at the goal, aiming to hit specific targets within the net. Rotate through the stations to practice various shooting scenarios.

Benefit: By practicing shots from different angles and distances, children can improve their ability to score in diverse situations, mirroring the unpredictability of real match conditions.

4.  1v1 Duel

Objective: Enhance defensive and offensive skills.

Setup: Mark out a small field with two goals at each end.

Drill: Pair up players to compete in one-on-one duels, trying to score in the opponent’s goal while defending their own. Rotate partners frequently to expose players to different styles of play.

Benefit: This drill teaches crucial one-on-one skills, such as tackling, shielding the ball, and feinting. It’s also fantastic for building confidence in both attacking and defending roles.

5. Keep-Away Game

Objective: Foster teamwork and ball retention.

Setup: Create a small grid with cones and divide the players into two teams.

Drill: One team tries to keep possession of the ball by passing among themselves, while the other team attempts to intercept. After a set time, switch roles.

Benefit: This game enhances spatial awareness, quick passing, and team coordination. It’s excellent for teaching children how to work together to maintain possession under pressure.

6. Juggling Challenges

Objective: Boost ball control and coordination.

Setup: No specific setup required; each player has a ball.

Drill: Challenge the children to see how many times they can juggle the ball using their feet, thighs, and head without letting it touch the ground. Encourage them to beat their own records.

Benefit: Juggling improves overall ball control, balance, and coordination. It’s a fun way to build confidence and dexterity with the ball.


As the European Championships inspire a new generation of footballers, it’s the perfect time for young enthusiasts to start working on their skills.

These drills are designed to be fun, engaging, and effective, ensuring that primary school children can develop the essential skills needed to one day compete at the highest levels.

With dedication, practice, and a bit of inspiration from their football heroes, today’s young players could be the stars of tomorrow, leading England to glory on the world stage.

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