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How Should I Teach My 4 Year Old to Play Football?

Has your four-year-old shown an interest in football? Do they love having a kickabout in the garden? Do you want to help them get better and enjoy the sport for years to come? If the answer to all those questions is “yes”, then you’ve come to the right place!

When teaching a 4-year-old anything new it has to be fun and engaging for them to get the most out of it. Enjoyment is absolutely key to learning as well as being the primary motivator to teaching your child. Every truly successful footballer has a clear and obvious passion for the game. Ronaldinho’s smile is just as iconic as anything he did with a football.

The following article will run through some ideas that are ideal for training your 4 year old. These training ideas are designed to be fun for your four-year-old whilst teaching some fundamental football skills for the future.

Human Target

This drill definitely ticks the box for ‘fun’. Kids love being cheeky and that’s what the human target is all about. Ask your child to kick the ball in your direction, aiming to hit you.

human target football drill for 4 year old

This game develops their accuracy and focuses on a good connection with the ball. As well as this, dribbling the ball, ball placement, and body positioning will all improve without your child even noticing. It’s a fun little drill designed for plenty of laughs and improvement of some fundamental football skills.

Traffic Lights

The concept of traffic lights may already be familiar to your four-year-old. Green for go, orange for getting ready to stop, and red to stop. This can be applied to a simple football drill that any four-year-old should be able to participate in.

Hold a green cone or flag in the air as a cue to ‘go’. Instruct your child to dribble the ball towards you when they see this go up.

traffic lights football drill for 4 year old

Orange indicates ‘slow down’. Ask your child to dribble slower with little close control touches of the ball.

Red means ‘stop’ and your child should come to a halt, placing their foot on the ball and bringing it under control.

This drill is obviously good for improving dribbling ability but also teaches children to be aware of their surroundings and to keep their heads up for the colour cue. A lot of variation can be added to this drill with cones to dribble around or marked out area. 


This football drill is all about avoiding the volcanoes (or cones to me and you)! The aim of the game is to dribble the ball around some cones making sure not to touch them as you do so. If you touch the cones then it causes an eruption and you have to start over! It’s a fun and imaginative game for the little ones and applies plenty of football skills.

volcanoes football drill for 4 year old

This drill improves ball control, body positioning, direction changing, and agility, among many other skills. It can be adjusted to suit any skill level by changing the distance between each cone or by implementing a three-strike system. Time limits can also be added to keep this drill varied and engaging.

Big Kick, Little Kick

The basis of this drill is to call out how you want the child to kick the ball. They need to listen out for your call and respond with the correct action. You can shout ‘big’ for a big kick and ‘little’ for a lighter contact.

The idea is to encourage a range of passing in your child and demonstrate that they can vary the power they put into their kicks. Mix up your calls and get them used to control their kicks and technique.

football kick off drill for 4 year old

There are plenty of variations with this drill. You can call out different feet to use to teach kicking with both left and right. You can call out things like ‘instep’ and ‘laces’ and teach your child to use different bits of their foot. You can either adapt this for goalkeepers and call out ‘big’ and ‘little’ for throws.

Get them to repeat your call as they do it to teach them to communicate on the pitch. Calling out whilst they kick the ball will help lay the foundations for good on-field communication with teammates. 


All of these drills are designed to be fun and constructive. Your child should feel like they are enjoying themselves whilst learning new skills.

If you want to further your child’s footballing education in a welcoming and encouraging environment, why not consider Samba Soccer Schools? If you live in or around London, our schools are the perfect place for your child to develop their passion for football and improve their skills.

At Samba Soccer Schools we teach football the Brazilian way with qualified friendly coaches. If you want to try out a lesson, then book a free trial today or contact us for more information.

4 Year Old Football Training FAQs:

Where do I put my 4-year-old child for football training?

If you’re looking for a friendly environment with lots of other children of a similar age, consider taking your child to Samba Soccer Schools. More information here.

How do I teach my 4-year-old to play soccer?

The drills above are a great starting point for any four-year-old, regardless of ability.

What is the best age to start football?

As early or as late as you want. There’s no right time to start football as long as your child has expressed an interest. Make sure to tailor drills and games to their skill level.

What should I be teaching a 4-year-old?

The drills outlined above outline a lot of the basic skills a four-year-old can learn. Keep things simple and start with fundamentals.

As a parent, how can I help my 4-year-old son succeed at football?

Spend time with them and work on any weak areas. A soccer school is also a great idea to improve your child’s ability.

Which is the best kid’s football academy in London?

There are lots of kid’s football academies in London but Samba Soccer Schools is, without a doubt, one of the top options. See for yourself here.

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