Posts tagged ‘Small-Sided Games’

Just Let Them Play

I sat down to plan my U8 and U10 practices the other day and while going through my old sessions and thinking about previous games I realized that it would be a great day to just let them play. We didn’t have any games the following weekend and there hadn’t been a practice this season that I just let them go at it.

I regularly have the boys play various 1v1 games and we always finish with a small-sided game at the end of training but every once in a while I like to plan an entire session around playing competitive 1v1, 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4 games. This gives the players a break from the usual format and gives them a chance to use all of the skills that we’ve been working to improve. They love it because Continue reading ‘Just Let Them Play’ »

Defending Small-Sided Games and Drills Competition

We recently asked coaches to submit their favorite defending drills and small-sided game. We picked one from all the entries as the winner and the coach received a $200 gift certificate to our site. The winner was Gabriel Celante for his Transitional Defending Game. Here’s a look at the game.

Transitional Defending Game
This Transitional Defending Game focuses on developing and practicing defending cooperation, defensive pressure, and specific decision making while defending. This small sided game also focuses on developing transition to Continue reading ‘Defending Small-Sided Games and Drills Competition’ »

Small-Sided Games in Training

Small-sided games are a great tool for player development. But as with any tool they must be used correctly to achieve the best results. It’s not enough to create two teams of eight and drop a ball. The more specifically you design the game, the more your players will benefit.

Most coaches will choose a game that focuses on the technical or tactical elements that were worked on earlier in the session but many miss the one factor that can be the difference between a session that translates into improved performance in the next match: the formation that the teams use during the small-sided game.

Playing small-sided games in the same formation that your team uses on game day means that the players will get used to the shape and angles of support of your formation and know more about what to expect from their teammates and the opponents.

Here’s an excerpt from, ‘Formation Based Soccer Training‘, that talks about this in more detail.

3 v 4 EXERCISES TO TRAIN THE 4-4-2 DIAMOND MIDFIELD, FLAT BACK, ZONAL DEFENDING

OBJECTIVE: HOLDING THE FLAT BACK SHAPE IN THE BACK, TRAINING ZONAL DEFENDING

Players and equipment: 7 players; square shaped grid large enough to play 3 v 4 to small, Pugg type nets; seven bibs, three one color and four a different color; two Pugg nets placed opposite each other at each end line.

Objective: To force the four players on one team (backs) when defending to stay compact playing flat and defending zonally; and to force the three players on the other team when playing offense to move the ball wide with centered balls to the vital area to create shots on goal.  This exercise is for the benefit of the defending players. Use four backs on one side. The other side should be the one attacking mid at the top of the diamond shaped midfield and the two front or the two outside midfielders and the one defensive mid at the bottom of the diamond. Remember, this is only a sample objective. The objective changes each time a training session theme changes but positional play remains the same.

Set up: Square shaped grid with small, Pugg type nets placed opposite each other at each end line large enough to play 3 v 4, two-way directional (about 40×40 yards). Two teams of three players on one team and four backs on the other team in different colored bibs playing against each other, no limit on touches. Place 3 soccer balls in each Pugg type net to be used to keep the game going after a shot on goal.

Exercise: Two teams in bibs, two-way directional competition to score to goal. Unlimited touches. Defending team must maintain flat shape. First team to reach three goals wins. Use multiple grids so all players are involved at one time.

Progression: From Pugg type nets to target players: Remove Pugg type nets and replace with a target player without a bib at each end line. The target player moves in the goal channel, behind the end line to stay open to collect a ball shot to him. The target player belongs to the team on his side of the grid. Rather than shooting to the Pugg type nets, each team now shoots or passes to the target on the opposite team who collects the ball and passes it back to a player on his team (the opposite team that passed the ball to him) to start play again. The pass made by the target player must be done quickly to keep the game moving.

To small cone goals: Leave the target player as is and add a cone about two yards to his right and another cone about two yards to his left creating a small goal area. The target player can move laterally within this small goal area to collect the ball. The purpose of this small goal is to give perspective to the shooter with an obstruction (the target) in goal. The shooter is to try to avoid the target rather than pass to the target as in the earlier progression. The target which could be a keeper using his hands or a field player not allowed to use his hands, tries to stop the shot on goal. He collects the ball and distributes to his team.

To full sized goals with no keeper: Replace the target and small cone goals with a full sized goal with no keeper. The full sized goals are at each end line.

To full sized goals with keepers: Add a keeper in each goal.

The square shaped grid marked with cones or disks remains the same for each of these 3 v 4 exercises.

Or, use four backs, flat, and two outside midfielders with a defensive mid at the bottom of triangle.

Next, restrict touches for the 3 attacking players to two touch.

Have a Great Day!

Tom

Unique Small-Sided Games

I continue to run one practice per week outdoor with my older teams during the winter months when weather permits. This means that we are often training when the it’s pretty cold. On very cold days I organize small-sided games to keep the players moving and loose. They get a lot more out of playing games than they would if I tried to coach specific concepts.

Playing small-sided game should not be a matter of dividing up into two teams and throwing the ball out. My favorite small-sided games are those that demand specific skills or tactics to be successful. These are the games that really teach players something rather than just have them use the skills and knowledge they already possess.

Here are three small-sided games that are a bit different than those you may have seen before but they are trying to draw out something very specific from the players. These games come from, ‘Brazilian Training Games’. This is my favorite resource for unique small-sided games. This book has given me many good games that have worked well with my teams.

GAME 16 – Transition – 3 Games

Organization: 2 teams – 6v6 to 9v9 + goalie

Description: 3 games are played in a progression. The coach controls and changes the games with a whistle or a signal.

Game 1: Regular game in half of the field with 2 regular goals. Vertically
Game 2: Horizontally 4 goals games with each scoring in 2 goals.
Game 3: In the whole field a possession game is played with each team trying to get 5 consecutive passes = 1 point.

Observation: in both situations (game 2 and 3) the goalies become field players

Coaching Points:
– Positional adjustment
– Fast transition offensive thru defensive situation and vice- versa
– Communication

Variation:  2 or 3 touch on the ball restriction

Equipment: balls, discs, small goals

GAME 17 – Transition – 3 Games + Colored Balls

Organization: 2 teams – 6v6 to 8v8 + goalie

Description: Same game as #16, in this case the coach will add 3 balls with different colors developing 3 specific rules.
Example:
– 2 touches = white ball
– Ball on the ground = gray ball
– Weak foot = black ball

Coaching Points:
– Communication
– Speed of thought
– Speed of improvisation

Equipment: colored balls, discs and small goals

GAME 18 – Transition – 3 Games + Handball

Organization: 2 teams – 6v6 to 8v8 + goalie

Description: 3 games will be play in a progression. The coach control and change the games with a whistle or a signal.
Game 1: Handball Goal Vertically (played with the hands)
Game 2: Horizontally 6 goals games with each team scoring in 3 goals.
Game 3: In the whole field a possession game is played with each team trying to get 5 consecutive passes = 1 point.

Coaching Points:
– Positional Adjustment
– Communication
– Speed of thought

Equipment: Discs, small goals and balls

Training a Team with Two Goalkeepers

This is the first time I’ve coached a team with two players that think of themselves as full-time goalkeepers. We came to an understanding before the season began as to how playing time would be divided. We also decided which events they would have a chance to play on the field when they were not in goal. In other events they would play one half in goal and not play in the other half.

This has worked well in large part because everyone has known what to expect and there have been no surprises. I also think it has been very good for both goalkeepers because there is an element of competition that is usual among field players but doesn’t often happen with goalkeepers because a youth team usually only has one. They are aware of how the other goalkeeper is doing in a exercise or game and they push themselves to be as good or better. This is in spite of the fact that they  have had strictly even playing time up to this point. They know that there will come a point in the season, around the time of State Cup, that the goalkeeper that has proved themselves to be more consistent will get to play more in important games.

One of the keepers had never played on the field before this year and that opportunity has not only helped her with her foot skills but also taught her the game from the perspective of a defender. She has grown in confidence to the point where she looks like she belongs as much on the field as she does in goal.

Having two goalkeepers has helped the team in a number of ways as well. It gives us a sense of security because we know if one of the goalkeepers picks up an injury the other one is there to take her place instead of having to use a field player. Fortunately, both have remained healthy but in a long year of competition I would expect one to be out for a game or two sooner or later. The greater benefit has been in training. Having two goalkeepers makes for more realistic and competitive exercises and small-sided games. With only one keeper, the team she is on has a distinct advantage over the team that has to put a field players in goal. This also takes a developmental opportunity away from the field player because she is practicing something she would almost never do.

I’ve enjoyed incorporating specific sessions aimed at the goalkeepers into our practice routine. The book, ‘Team Training for the Goalkeeper‘ has been an excellent resource for me to find sessions that benefit the team but especially the keepers. Here are two small-sided games that we’ve used with a lot of success.

Small-sided game 3 – GK dealing with pullbacks
Organization: 30×60 / 5v5 w/ 4 targets (in 5×5 boxes), two goalkeepers and full goals / ball starts w/ GK1 / combines w/ team 1 and targets to score / goal must come from a ball pulled back from one of the two targets

Coaching Position: Behind the goal

GK Coaching Points
Angle play: prioritize front post
Stand up / be big
Low hand save with cutbacks across goal
Contingencies (rebounds)

Progression
Team can use targets but not required to score a goal

Variation
Can play the same game to emphasize the goalkeeper’s distribution decisions and techniques in counter attacks / goalkeeper’s first look is to the targets – develop mentality to exploit opponent’s with distribution patterns

Small-sided Game 4: GK dealing with crosses
Organization: 4v4 w/ goalkeepers and full goals / four wingers / 36×44 w/ 5 yard wide channels / Game starts with a free cross into GK1 / game begins with the condition that a goal must come directly from a cross

Coaching Position: Behind the goal or wide of the exercise to see starting positions, decision making and recovery movements

GK Coaching Points
Starting positions in relationship to the ball
Stay or go decision
Angles of approach
Catch/box decision
Contingencies

Progression
Crosses can only come from the defensive half (deep crosses) or attacking half

Do your teams usually have one goalkeeper or two? At what age do you think having two makes sense for the goalkeepers and the team?

Have a Great Day!

Tom

Training a Team with Two Goalkeepers

This is the first time I’ve coached a team with two players that think of themselves as full-time goalkeepers. We came to an understanding before the season began as to how playing time would be divided. We also decided which events they would have a chance to play on the field when they were not in goal. In other events they would play one half in goal and not play in the other half.

This has worked well in large part because everyone has known what to expect and there have been no surprises. I also think it has been very good for both goalkeepers because there is an element of competition that Continue reading ‘Training a Team with Two Goalkeepers’ »

Unique Small-Sided Games

I continue to run one practice per week outdoor with my older teams during the winter months when weather permits. This means that we are often training when the it’s pretty cold. On very cold days I organize small-sided games to keep the players moving and loose. They get a lot more out of playing games than they would if I tried to coach specific concepts.

Playing small-sided game should not be a matter of dividing up into two teams and throwing the ball out. My favorite small-sided games are those that Continue reading ‘Unique Small-Sided Games’ »

November Magazine Preview

Each month we add a new magazine update to the Member Drills Database. The magazine contains training sessions, videos and articles presented by top teams and coaches from around the world.

Here’s part of a training session presented by Chelsea FC Academy coach Chris Woodword. The session focuses on 1 v 1, 2 v 1 and 2 v 2 situations that lead to a zonal game. Continue reading ‘November Magazine Preview’ »

Encouraging Combination Play

For me, the beginning of the season revolves around getting a group of players to work together within a framework of a system. Lately that system has been the 4-3-3. This involves teaching each player the role and responsibility of their position: How the defenders work together to stop attacks and win the ball. How the midfielders connect the team together. How the attackers create goalscoring opportunities. All of this gives the players a starting point but the most important learning comes next.

Helping the players to think and act creatively within the framework of the system is what will Continue reading ‘Encouraging Combination Play’ »

Using Small-Sided Games to Develop Players

Most coaches use small-sided games as part of their training sessions. Sometimes this is limited to a 10 minute scrimmage at the end of the session.

During the spring season I will often run an entire session that revolves around two or three small-sided games to reinforce technical or tactical topics that we have covered a number of times during the fall and winter. As the session continues the players move in and out of the two or three different games. Each one has a slightly different challenge for the players to solve. The players enjoy the change of pace and the games help the players connect the skills we’ve developed to the game itself.

I’m always on the lookout for games that are a bit different. A book that we recently released has given me a number of good games that my players have really enjoyed.  Check it out here.

Developing Creativity Through Small-Sided Games, is written by Brazilian soccer coach, Eduardo Andriatti Paulo. He feels that the Brazilian system has moved away from Continue reading ‘Using Small-Sided Games to Develop Players’ »