55 UK Academy Small-Sided Games

Learn from the best: small-sided games used at Premier League academies
Michael Beale

When you follow the games in 55 UK Academy Small-Sided Games in sequence, your players will have all the materials that modern-day academies offer to their youngsters. Academies use these training exercises on a daily basis with their players.

If you are working with players aged 12 and above, who have reached a proficient level technically and physically, now you must focus on improving their team tactical development and individual match awareness – this manual can help.

The games are in four categories: 1) Playing out of defence, 2) Building through midfield, 3) Final 3rd – creating chances to score, and 4) Defending

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Focusing specifically on 11v11 football and tactical development, these small-sided games prepare players for the challenges of the real game.

The can help develop key areas of team play. Each one is realistic and easy to follow, with the players learning through playing rather than a coach’s instruction.

The 55 games:

Playing Out of Defence

1. Defensive diamond, 2. 2nd line, 3. Find the number 6, 4. Man to man, 5. Full back introduction, 6. Full back outlet, 7. Attacking full backs, 8. Three-zone build-up, 9. Play out v high press, 10. Zombie build-up

Building Through Midfield

11. The horse shoe, 12. Find the number 10, 13. Find the attacking midfielders, 14. Through the midfielders, 15. Quick play in midfield, 16. Extra midfielders, 17. Diamond midfield, 18. Rotating the defence, 19. Midfield rotation, 20. Xavi and Iniesta possession, 21. Pirlo the playmaker, 22. Central overload, 23. Running off the ball, 24. Dribble or pass forward, 25. Forward runs, forward passes, 26. Zig zag through the pitch, 27. Quick passing square, 28. Play through traffic

Final 3rd – Creating Chances to Score

29. Inverted wingers, 30. Line break runs, 31. Line breaking passes, 32. The Iniesta zone (between lines), 33. Between lines / behind to space, 34. Central v wide attack, 35. Play forward or switch play, 36. 1v1 domination, 37. Play off your forward, 38. Composed finishing, 39. Two-touch / all in


40. High press, 41. Low press, 42. Controlling the opponent, 43. Defensive slide, 44. Defend and counter, 45. Keep play in front, 46. Keep play to one side, 47. Lock in, 48. Press and pass, 49. Press and 1v1, 50. Midfield 3v3, 51. Dealing with direct play, 52. Recover team shape, 53. High-pressing defence, 54. Possession v counter attack, 55. Defend the cross, attack the cross


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7 reviews for 55 UK Academy Small-Sided Games

  1. Dave Roberts

    Just wanted to pass along to you my excitement for this book by Michael Beale.

    I have purchased many of your books in the past and have been delighted with them all. I will share this with my colleagues at the club as to promote more book sales for you.

    This book is a fantastic choice for coaches. Excellent organization of material, great small sided games, and well written. Best of luck to you all!

    – Dave Roberts – USA

  2. John Evans

    I coach U15 girls and U14 boys and this book is a great tool to help keep explanations simple and on track.

    Thanks for yet another great coaching tool, I love Soccer Tactics Made Simple!

    – John Evans – Forza Futbol Club, Utah

  3. Mike Ellicott

    I have been using David Clarke’s Soccer Tactics Made Simple for the last couple of months with my club team players and my high school players.

    In the short time I have been using this great manual I have found the shared terminology incredibly useful in building a bank of common vocabulary that my team uses and clearly understands.

    When I communicate with my players during our games I am calling out the terms like ‘line breaking run’ to get clear tactical points across.

    In our regional final game we played last week I heard my players calling out on the field to ‘horse shoe the play’ which resulted in us playing the ball round the back line and changing the point of attack.

    This system is simple and Dave really has created a user friendly manual I enjoy sharing with my players. You can’t go wrong when everyone is speaking the same language and using similar jargon.

    – Mike Ellicott – Empire Revolution U14 Girls Head Coach & Hilton High School, Hilton NY, Varsity Boys Coach

  4. Jacob Phiri

    As far the book is concerned I found the terminology very simple and easy to follow and understand.

    Soccer Tactics Made Simple has helped my U17 team win 4 out of 6 matches.

    There is a great improvement in their play and organisation since starting to use this book. I believe that going forward I will have a great team and excellent team.

    – Jacob Phiri – Centurion Blues FC – South Africa

  5. Steve Paterson

    Found it very informative. Precise and easy to follow. Had some clear drawings. Price was reasonable and liked the options available.

    – Steve – Ely Rangers AFC – UK

  6. Jerrod Rumley

    Thanks for the resources. Really, top quality stuff.

    The manual looks really clean, graphics are sharp, and the templates for a training session are clear.

    The only addition would be suggestion for age specifics. It seems to be more of a U10 and up guide.

    Overall, love it.

    – Jerrod Rumley – BHS Girls Soccer Assistant Coach -Clovis, CA

  7. Denis Norris

    The 55 UK Academy Small-Sided Games Manual is excellent.

    The individual lesson pages are well structured, well presented and easy to follow.

    – Denis Norris – Australia

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Michael Beale is a world renowned coach and author of the best-selling 64 Small-Sided Soccer Games coaching manual.

A former player at Charlton, Michael moved into coaching with the Chelsea academy at Cobham and established himself as one of the best youth developers in the game.

During this time, Michael authored a number of hugely successful coaching manuals including 64 Small-Sided Soccer Games, Soccer Attack!, Perfect Defending and The Ultimate Soccer Warm-Ups Manual (all published by Soccer Coach Weekly and available here).

Having worked under and learnt from a number of high-profile Chelsea managers during a decade at Cobham, Michael made the move to Liverpool in 2012 where he coached the U23 team from 2012 to 2016. In 2017 he moved to Sao Paolo and took the role of assistant manager but returned to Liverpool 6 months later.

After a year as academy manager at Liverpool Michael moved to Rangers and became first team coach working under Steven Gerrard.

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