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Spatial Concepts and Movement Drills

This is an excerpt from Youth Soccer Drills-3rd Edition by Jim Garland.

The development of spatial and movement concepts should be an integral part of beginning players' training. Often these concepts are neglected in favor of drills designed only for developing kicking, heading, and other ball skills. This is unfortunate. Practice sessions must be more balanced to incorporate drills that help players develop spatial and movement skills. A player who understands spatial and movement concepts moves with confidence and incurs fewer injuries as a result of collisions.


Spatial concepts are essential for tactical awareness, which helps a player decide where or when to move to support a teammate who has the ball. Understanding spatial concepts also allows a player in possession of the ball to make better tactical decisions concerning where and when to penetrate the defense using dribbling, passing, and shooting skills. Spatial concepts deal with where to move on the field. Training in spatial concepts includes teaching concepts of open space, closed space, personal space, general space, and vision:

  • Open space—space that is unoccupied by players
  • Closed space—space that is occupied by one or more players
  • Personal space—the space that immediately surrounds a player
  • General space—the entire area in which a player is allowed to function
  • Vision—the entire field of vision a player must monitor, using scanning techniques to improve peripheral vision


Movement concepts deal with how players negotiate space. The development of movement concepts includes training in direction, speed, and level:

  • Direction—the ability to maintain or change a pathway
  • Speed—the ability to change the rate of motion
  • Level—the position of a player's body in relation to the playing surface, such as in jumping (high level) or sliding (low level)

Learn more about Youth Soccer Drills, Third Edition.