Improve Your Players’ Dribbling Ability: The Gate Game

Gate Dribbling

Gate Dribbling is appropriate for all ages U8 and above. Keep each round short enough to allow players to go flat out (30-45 secs).

Age Group: Because there is an inherent element of competition in this activity, it is a great one to do with all ages U8 and above. Some U6 teams may be able to do this, but you will probably need to start without balls and make the gates bigger (and fewer).  

Area: 25 x 25 yards (W x L).

Activity: Set up a number of gates 2-yard-wide gates randomly arranged in your grid (the size and number of gates can vary depending on the number of players you have and their skill level. I would start with at least 3 more gates than players). Players score a point for each gate they dribble the ball through. Go for 30-45 seconds and have each player keep count of how many points (s)he scores. See how many they get and ask how the top player how (s)he got so many. Get him/her to do a quick demonstration. Repeat and see if players beat their original score. Repeat.

Progressions: Add a restriction; for example, players can only dribble with their left foot (or right foot), or can only go through a gate using a certain surface (e.g. toe, laces, sole, etc.). Reduce the number of gates. Make the gates smaller. Replace some of the gates with pinnies and say that players must go through a cone gate followed by a pinne gate. Introduce a pair of “bandits” whose job is to stop players from dribbling through the gates. Change the bandits.

Regressions: If your group of players is struggling with this game, then have them do it without the ball and get them in the habit of changing direction, keeping their head up, and being aware of space. After they have become comfortable with the structure of the game, you can give them a ball and you will likely find more success. 

Coaching points: Speed of play, weight and type of touch (heavy, soft, which surface of the foot is best suited for different situations?), thinking ahead, finding space, evading pressure, keeping head up whilst maintaining control of the ball, changing pace and direction.

Additional Notes: This is a good activity to repeat on different days, as you can have players remember their “best scores” and can compare progress over the course of the season.

Remember, what gets praised, gets repeated. Highlight and praise the players who are successful, and the rest will try to imitate them. When they do (or at least make a good attempt), praise them! 


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