Sudden Death (Age Level – All Ages)

Drill Purpose

Sudden Death is a drill that players often look forward to. This is a fun game that fits nicely in between more difficult exercises and can be tailored to be as long or short as needed. While playing Sudden Death, players develop ball handling skills in confined areas and are forced to take their eyes off of their feet while traveling with the ball. The last player remaining with his ball is the winner.


1. Instruct each player to take a ball and find a spot in the 18-yard penalty box. Any place they choose to begin is fine.

2. On your first whistle the players begin dribbling around the penalty box taking care to stay within the confines of the penalty area and trying not to collide with one another.

3. The next blow of your whistle is a signal for the game to begin. The object of the game is to be the last remaining player inside the penalty area with a ball. Any ball kicked out of the penalty box by another player or by simple mishandling is “sudden death” for that player. The player then leaves the penalty area until the next game and the remaining players in the box continues.

4. Players are permitted to leave their ball unoccupied in trying to kick the ball of another player out of bounds but should someone kick their ball away then they are out of the game. As players are gradually removed from the game the playing area becomes less congested.

5. This process continues until one player remains.

Points of Emphasis

Sudden Death is a game that requires a lot of concentration and strategy. Players like it because it’s simple, fast, and they enjoy the personal aspect of attacking players of their choice. During a Sudden Death match, instruct players to…

  • keep their eyes off of their feet as much as they can.
  • encourage team-work (such as 2 players joining wits to knock out another)
  • try any foot drills they’ve been taught.
  • keep the ball close to their feet!


As players gain an understanding of the game, further variations include:

1. Using a larger playing area such as half of the field to strengthen a player’s
conditioning and open field running.
2. Using left or right feet only.
3. Adding pressure by selecting a player who doesn’t have a ball to be the
“shark” whose job it is to kick as many balls out of bounds as possible.

Motivation / Teaching Tips

Tip #1 – This drill is a great way to keep your players from
getting bored. It can be used as a break from the more tedious aspects
of practice.

Tip #2 – Set up a reward system – For example, if a player wins a
match (or makes the final 5 or 3) then that player won’t run at the end
of practice.

Tip #3 – Encourage players to be creative and sneaky – they’ll have
a lot of fun and will start to take on this mindset in real game situations.

One Response to Sudden Death (Age Level – All Ages)

  1. Mubiru Dan April 10, 2010 at 5:47 am #

    Very interesting drill that can motivate players and help them improve on ball handling skill.

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