Start with some basic ball-control movements, such as rolls, vees, toe-taps, and simple sideways taps. Do your stretches, interspersed with assorted ball control moves which you want to practice.
The inside-of-the-foot cut is one of the easiest basic soccer moves to learn. All there is to it is to use the inside of the foot (around the arch), put the foot beside the ball and drag the ball so that it will go in the opposite direction, then transfer the ball to the other foot as you put your weight on the cutting foot.
Start by dribbling straight ahead, then lightly dragging/pulling the ball so that it travels in front of the player to land in the vicinity of his other foot, then dribble forward for a few touches with the other foot, anddrag/pull it with the inside of the other foot so that the ball zags back in the other direction. The transfer of the ball to the other foot is an important step. As weight is placed on the cutting foot, the ball will continue to be carried to the side with the outside/front of the former plant foot. Why? Because the whole object of the move is to get the ball quickly to the opposite side so that you can shield it from an incoming opponent.
Work on using very light touches, and on dragging the ball instead of tapping it. Most young players want to whack the ball, instead of stroking it, so it is good to get them used to the idea of gently pulling/dragging the ball along with them in order to keep the ball within playing distance of the feet.
Initially, all that you want to do is to get the player familiar with how it feels to drag/pull the ball along with him as he moves from side to side. The foot position is hooked slightly inward; the ball contact is below the middle of the ball; and the knees are slightly bent with the weight on the balls of the feet. Concentrate on this aspect first, and then worry about the transfer of the ball to the opposite foot. For young players, the transfer may need to wait for another day, depending on how quickly they grasp the idea.
Coerver devotees likely will want to work on the Coerver ballet-type move to practice these cuts, so that you do the cut and pull the ball back across; do two crossover steps in the other direction; then cut with the opposite foot. Those who don't want to bother with learning the Coerver footwork can let the kids experiment in a big open space. Because there is a natural zig-zag pattern in these cuts, cones will need to be staggered if you have them practice with cone defenders.
Once they have mastered the basics (which should not take long), you can put everyone in a long line, and have them play follow the leader as they dribble around the field. Alternatively, you can put them in a long line, and simply shout "cut right" or "cut left". It is a good idea to get their heads up quickly. By dragging the ball across, they should be able to "feel for the ball" without putting their heads down. Encourage them to try to dribble as much as possible without looking down.
If your players are ready, you can add the element of "faking" or "feinting" to the move. Basically, what you want to do is to swivel the hips sharply as the cut is made, so that you give the impression that you are going in one direction, then suddenly veer off to the opposite side.
Put one defender (a parent works nicely) in the center of a circle, space out about 8 feet, and put down about 4-5 cones around the outside edge of the circle (like spokes coming out of the center spot). Put a player with a ball on each cone, and have them practice coming into the defender; cutting; then going back out to their cone and cutting again; then going back. Have the defender whirl around and make lunges/fakes as if he will steal their balls. The idea is to give them some experience going at a defender, but to restrict the defender so that they get early success.
Progression: Create 2-3 slalom courses of staggered cones; divide team into competing groups; and have a race to see which team can complete the slalom course the fastest by doing cuts at each of the cones. Allow a practice run before holding the race. A fun variation is to set up the lines in front of the goal, and permit a shot on goal after going around the last cone.
Play Freeze Tag in a large grid, using 1-2 defenders. Start the defenders at walking speed. Require players to get away from defenders ONLY by using cuts. Progress to allowing defenders to go at 1/2 speed, and then at full speed. Switch out defenders after they have managed to freeze 5 players. Any frozen player can be unfrozen by having his hand tapped by an unfrozen player.
Sharks is also a fun game to work on cuts. Have 1-2 "sharks" who try to kick the balls of the Minnows out of the center circle. Switch defenders after they have kicked out X balls. Allow anyone whose ball was kicked out to return to the circle after running a quick slalom course on the side (which allows some quick individual remedial work on cuts).
Play 3v3. Make a requirement that every player on the team must touch the ball for at least 3 touches before passing - and every player on the team must have touched the ball (interceptions start the count over again) before their team can score. These restrictions are very important, as they force each player to hold onto the ball - and require the less confident dribblers to use their skills. The less-confident dribblers also will learn that, if they go to open space, they will get more time to handle the ball - and they will start automatically looking for "safe" space. In addition, these restrictions require them to start talking - which is an essential ingredient in any team sport.Updated 3 April 1999