Small-sided games are great for summer training

In the quiet times between seasons I get my players together once a week and we play different small-sided games to keep the players up to speed with their skills. It leads nicely into pre-season training.

Small-sided games are a fantastic way of getting players to work together to score lots of goals with every single player having a big part to play in the game and are a good way to get players facing match relevant situations.

One of the things I enjoy is watching players react quickly when they win the ball and swarm forwards creating overloads in the middle areas, so if the attacker loses the ball and the team works quickly they can go 4v3 against their opponents.

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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