A lot of people want to know how to play more aggressive in soccer. About a year ago I was talking to a friend of mine who played professional soccer for a long time. He played aggressive like a hungry lion! You would think the DNA would automatically transfer to your kids, but it’s not always the case or it just takes time. He said when his daughter was ages 5-7 she was just not really into soccer at all, but once she turned 8 things changed around completely. It really is interesting how it all plays out sometimes, because at the younger ages you can see that some players get it and some don’t. But this doesn’t mean it will stay like that.
Shoulder charge soccer drill
You can teach the players how to shoulder charge by setting up two lines. You have them start off shoulder to shoulder. Both players start with a slow jog where they are shoulder charging. It’s important that the players stay together. The point of this is for players to be used to shoulder charging. This means the reps are key.
Once they get the idea and improve you can toss a ball out for them to retrieve. This teaches them when and how the shoulder charge works, which builds their confidence & tackling. Oh and they LOVE IT. They love this game because its different and it’s what they were told not to do when younger.
Video below of U11-12 boys learning how to shoulder charge to be aggressive, without fouling.
Teaching kids at the right time
Some parents write their kids off early, just because they didn’t match the intensity of the few who are really into it. Be patient! Soccer aggression comes late for many kids… And if it doesn’t come soon enough, then below are some great ways to teach & learn how to play more aggressive in soccer.
Both my daughters have been different. My oldest played soccer from U7-U10 and loved it, but not aggressive enough. Makes sense because now her favorite sport is ballet. She really likes all the sports, but her top 2 are swimming and ballet. My youngest is 7 this year and loves soccer and swimming for her top two sports. She isn’t very aggressive either, but you just never know because many kids change in terms of aggression.
Matter of fact several other soccer parents of now high school or college kids say that when their kids were ages 5-9 they were not aggressive, but later became so. I do know that this younger age needs time. I think aggression is mostly natural, but there are also many ways to learn/teach it.
Teaching my daughter life lessons in soccer
For me, I don’t care if my daughter plays or doesn’t play soccer, but I do care that she works hard at what she is doing. So I tell her it’s not fair to her teammates, if she is not running up and down the field trying to get the ball. She runs up and down the field great, but she does not fight for the ball. If it comes right to her, she does well to keep possession. So anyway, I am being patient and waiting till she is 8-10 years old to see if her mindset changes.
Putting pressure on the ball
Meaning putting pressure on the player with the ball. I think for the most part aggressiveness in sports is in the players nature. Some parents who are kind of forcing the kids into things might end up with a great player, but if it’s just not in the kid then it might never come. Now I have seen some amazing players in soccer who never become aggressive, but that person had better be fast or really skilled. If you are not aggressive and you are slow, then your chances in soccer are slim.
Aggression doesn’t mean you have to be the player who is knocking people down; it can also mean putting pressure on the players with the ball. Going to the ball! This is what coaches want more than anything is for players to play hard, because you don’t have to be the best with the ball. As long as you can play good defense and be switched on the whole game (meaning focused) then you can contribute greatly in soccer.
Smaller players can play BIG
You don’t have to be big to play big. If you are big then you better play big and use your body because this is an asset you have. If you are smaller then play big, meaning be everywhere always putting pressure and try to put a body on someone. The smaller players can get away with more, so take advantage. If a smaller players is pulling jersey, getting in on tackles they can get away with more because they are usually not knocking people down. But for bigger players it’s easier to knock players down, so they have to be a little bit more careful so they are not being called for fouls which result in dangerous free kicks.
‘Make Yourself Big’
Make yourself big, is a term used for players to use their verbal and body language. It’s what I call soccer sign language because it’s a unique way to communicate. Sometimes it’s simply opening up your arms calling for the ball. This will help your teammate find you a little quicker. It’s a way to be aggressive, without the ball.
Making yourself big is the opposite of the players who are “hiding” on the field. The players who really don’t want the ball… These are the players who need to change their habits, so they can become better at things they can control. Making yourself big is also a term used for goalkeepers.
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Every player has their own strengths & weaknesses
Aggression in soccer is definitely something the players are born with. Some run like crazy, some are physical and some are the opposite from both of those. Especially at a younger age it’s going to be one or the other. Below I have listed 3 things [shoulder charge, shielding and tackling] all things that will help with aggression. Not all players will be super aggressive, but practicing these things will help.
Learning to shield helps with aggression
You don’t have to be a big player to shield. Some of the smallest pro players are very good at using their body. It’s fun to see little players who understand how and when to shield. Some are very good at drawing fouls without getting tackled hard or hurt. Using the arms, hands, hips, rear, back, legs are all things you need to do when shielding.
Most coaches teach to use your rear or back and then control the ball with the sole/bottom of the foot. This is great, but you also need to turn to the side and use your hands and forearm to keep players from you and the ball. When turning to the side, you can use the outside of the foot to control the ball, which actually gives the most distance than any other way.
Tackling is a part of the game
Hey, this is soccer/futbol/football!!! It’s a physical game and it’s important that players know how to play physical. I will never teach dirty plays, but I will teach players how to protect themselves and become better players. Pulling jersey for a second, using your hands, forearms to keep players from your ball is OKAY. It’s not a foul nor is it dirty. Play Hard!
Knowing how to go in on 50/50 challenges or tackles is important. This video below shows how you can practice these situations.
Watch Youtube highlights of best tackles in soccer
If you’re a player then watch clips of players who are aggressive. If you are a coach or parent then show your players these clips of other players who are aggressive and use their body to shield, shoulder charge, slide tackle. Watching is one of the best learning tools! Take advantage of our fast technology.
7 soccer terms to know that help promote aggressive play
- Shoulder Charge is when there is a 50/50 ball that you are running to. While running after the ball, you can shoulder charge the opponent. Make sure your elbows are in at your side. The contact should be made on the outside of your bicep. Make sure that your arm is bent not straight down.
- Slide Tackle is not taught much, but should be at least introduced! Make sure you NEVER Slide tackle from behind or it’s a RED CARD. It’s very dangerous to slide from behind. Instead you want to slide tackle from the side or front. Make sure your feet are low (no higher than) the ball or else you and the opponent could be injured.
- Be First to the ball is a term used for a ball that is been punted or is about to be cleared away. Kind of like a 50/50 ball before it happens. Teams that are first to the ball are aggressive and benefit from it.
- Go up strong means go up for a header, but be strong because there’s a player challenging you. Learn these 20 tips on heading the ball. To improve this you can have a partner toss you the ball. Younger players ages 9-10 can practice heading a volleyball or nerf ball.
- Pressure means pressure the opposing team when they have the ball. (The wrong thing that many parents say is “Attack”)
- Step to if it’s a defender telling a midfielder to step to the player with or receiving the ball
- Step up is when a coach or player is telling the defense to step up as a unit or individual. This way the defense is closer to their midfielders so that there is not much space between. As a defensive unit you want things to be tight so that there is always pressure on the opposing players.
One thing EVERY player can do
Pressure the ball 100%, meaning when the ball is traveling to the opponent or they have the ball you need to pressure (run at) the ball as fast as you possibly can. The reason is because the player who has the ball or is about to receive the ball will be more nervous and more likely give the ball away. The higher levels have this higher pressure because they are not only naturally aggressive, but they are trained to play aggressive 100% or come off the field.
Adapting style of play defensively
This is the way soccer should be played [Except in the middle of the Summer in Texas, Arizona, Florida] type climates. That brings up a whole other topic I remember reading a story about climate difference compared to Europe and the Americas. It was about why European Football is faster than South American is because of the heat.
You can’t run the whole game like they do in London, England where the temps are much cooler, compared to places like Sao Paulo, Brazil or Houston, TX where it’s super-hot. Interesting story.
Working on your strengths and weaknesses
At the end of the day there is NO Player who is great at everything! Not one sport has ever and will never have an athlete who can just do it all. So know what you are good and not so good at and work on fixing it the best you can. Continue to work on your strengths because those help us feel better about ourselves, but working on our weaknesses help us improve overall.
Now that you know how to play more aggressive in soccer, have fun. If you know someone that this can help please share!