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. Academise 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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Michael Beale is the former assistant manager at Sao Paulo in Brazil. His previous roles include Liverpool's senior development coach and U23s manager, and youth development officer at Chelsea. He is the author of many manuals including the best selling 64 Small-Sided Games and Soccer Attack!
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