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Safe Zone Dribbling

Safe zone dribbling is a musical chairs inspired dribbling warm-up that is especially great for young players to work on moving with the ball and reacting quickly.

Set Up

Create a large grid with several small 'safe zone' areas inside of it. Every player needs a ball for this drill.

How It Works

Players start by dribbling around the grid randomly but can't dribble through the safe zones. On the coach's signal, players dribble as fast as they can to the nearest safe zone. The last one or two players to make it to the safe zone are out and practice juggling on the side.

Several variations of this drill can be played. In one variation, once a player goes out they can't rejoin the game until there has been a winner and the next game starts. In another version, the game is ongoing and players who are out can complete a task to get back into the game. Examples of tasks could include:


  • Run around the square (x) number of times
  • Perform (x) amount of push-ups
  • Juggle (x) in a row without the ball touching the ground
  • Pass (x) times back and forth with a partner

Key coaching points

This exercise can be used with or without a ball as part of a warm-up. For example to start coaches could have players do different dynamic locomotions to get warm and then add the balls in for dribbling after. Once balls are in play coaches could throw in different commands instead of only getting to the safe zone, they could have players dribble around one of the corners or switch balls with a partner. This can allow players to work on different techniques and help them adapt and react to different commands.

Other things coaches could try include 'left foot only' or 'right foot only', 'inside of the foot only' or 'outside of the foot only', etc. This can help players develop with the ball with different parts of their feet and body.