Build the play in a small-sided game. By Rangers U19 coach Niamh Russell MORE
Animal Island is a fun game to get young players thinking about teamwork, changes of direction and awareness of where to move to, while incorporating dribbling with the ball and passing.
Players are split into groups of two or three (depending on numbers) and each group needs a ball. The area has four boxes (islands) set up around the outside, which can be any colour. The middle box is red. Players must start on the outside of the islands.
Before they start, encourage the players to come up with an animal, this will be the name for an island. The middle red island is known as Danger Island or, if players don’t like that, you can call it Lion Island instead.
The aim is to be the first team to conquer all islands. To do this, players must dribble the ball onto an island and complete three good passes between each other. If they make three good passes, they conquer that island and get to move onto another island, by dribbling with the ball.
However, if players make a pass and the ball goes off the island, they must leave that island and try to conquer another before they can return to that island and try again.
Once they have conquered all the islands on the outside, they can then travel to Danger (or Lion) Island. Once they make three good passes there, they shout as loud as they can ‘WE CONQUERED ALL THE ISLANDS!’.
Encourage players to demonstrate good technique when passing the ball, using the inside of their foot to control and pass. They can also be reminded to consider weight of pass, communicate with each other and use small touches when dribbling to another island.
1. Set up a different coloured ‘island’ in each corner. Players choose which animal each island represents. Set up a red square in the middle (‘Danger Island’).
2. Players work in teams of two or three. They aim to conquer each animal island first by completing three good passes on each island.
3. Once teams have conquered an island, they dribble to the next island. When they’ve conquered all animal islands, they must conquer Danger Island to win.
You can further challenge players by placing a ball on top of a cone in the middle of each of the islands. Players still must make three passes between each other to conquer the island. This time, though, if they knock the ball off the cone as they are making their three passes, they must put the ball back on the cone and leave the island. They have to then go to another island and conquer that before they can come back to try again.