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Get back to competitive training with small-sided games

The non-competitive training advice is changing and here in England, as it is in other places around the world, the latest advice from the Government and England FA is that competitive training can now take place.

Of course this means getting the players back in the swing of a competitive way of training. I shall be using small-sided games with my players to give them an exciting way to get back to competitive play and also for myself to see how working on their technique during the non-competitive stage has helped them in game play.

With small-sided games one of the things I’m looking forward to seeing again is watching players react quickly when they win the ball to counter attack or use fast attacks to break the opposition defence. These games are perfect for that.

I like to think of it as groups of player working and covering each other in all areas of the pitch, but what I think players learn most from playing small sided games is individual skills like first touch and also how to make decisions in 2v1 and 1v1 and overload (2v1, 3v2, 3v1 etc) situations.

The movement during transition will also create a lot of 1v1s so there is a wonderful opportunity for coaches to see the reactions in both attack and defence when making decisions – dribble/pass or press/tackle.

You can use them to solve a lot of problems that your team has both individual and team. If you want to cover scoring goals, pressing, creativity or transitions these are the games for you.

Possession or score
This is one of the best match relevant games with players linking up using overloads and getting plenty of goal scoring action – it encourages fast play in games

Don’t let them score!
I love this session because one team has no goalkeeper so defence is key to them winning the game while their opponents must come up with creative ways of getting the ball in the empty net.

Possession in overloads
Overloads are a big part of match play so being able to take advantage when they are in your team’s favour is vital to their success. On the other hand your defenders get a good work out. This game is perfect for that.

Success in transitions
Speed of reaction when teams win the ball is key to them making the most of teams out of balance. The faster they react the better. Use this game to help your team use the ball when they win it

Four square – press the pack
Pressing is one of the main ways to control a game when you haven’t got the ball. This session is great fun and has excellent coaching points

10 player tips for small sided games
These are my 10 tips for your players to help them individually by getting the most out of small-sided games

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