EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Six reasons to use small-sided games

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. Here are 6 reasons why coaches should use small-sided games.

Academy players playing a small-sided soccer game

One of the things I enjoy using small-sided games for is watching players react quickly when they win the ball and swarm forwards creating overloads in the middle areas. If the attacker loses the ball and the team works quickly they can go 4v3 against their opponents. This opens a whole avenue of possibilities for players to see how they can quickly make use of the overload before the attacker gets back to help.

This is very similar to how midfields work in games, be it 7v7, 9v9, or 11v11. If teams can work quickly at transitions of play or pass into areas behind their opponents then they can use overload situations to create lots of goalscoring opportunities.

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.

Also in the modern game with the fashion to play with just one strong attacker who can be flanked by a couple of wingers or play on his own, small sided games are great to practice playing in situations just outside of the final third to create space for the striker to get the ball and set up goals.

TOP TIPS FOR USING SMALL SIDED GAMES

1. MORE TOUCHES

Fewer players in the session means each player will receive more touches of the ball so they have more opportunity to make decisions and work on their skills in a competitive situation.

The more opportunity a player has to make decisions and work on their skills in a competitive situation the quicker they develop their soccer brains. Try this small-sided game

2. EASIER DECISIONS

Players will make better decisions when there are fewer players on the pitch as there are less options to consider. When dealing with young players, we want to start off with only a few options and then build up from there when they begin to get a feel and understanding for the game. You cannot expect an Under 6 player to make a decision when he is concentrating on ball control. Try this small-sided game

3. SCORE MORE GOALS

Every player whatever age loves the feeling of scoring a goal – I feel it so the youngsters in my care must feel it a hundred times over. Watch them run over to mum and dad after the game with a massive smile on their face and shout out “I scored!”. It helps them to love the game. Try this small-sided game

4. MORE SPACE = CREATIVITY

An increase in space allows players to get off shots and try different moves without immediately running into a wall of players.

As we’ve all seen countless times, young players are drawn to the ball like a magnet leaving very little room for the player with the ball to be under control and practice anything.

Extra space on the pitch allows players to be creative and practice their skills because there’s less congestion. Try this small-sided game

5. EVERY PLAYER HAS AN INFLUENCE

It’s easy for young players to hide in a game of 8v8. It’s not so easy for them to hide in a game of 4v4. In small-sided games all players must contribute to the play. It stops one or two players dominating in bigger games – they are the ones that play goes through at training and matches. Let’s cut that out. Give all your players the chance to develop their skills and influence the game. Try this small-sided game

6 LEARN WHEN TO USE A SKILL

Drills that work on technique without any opposing player are good for player development but, when the player faces competition, they won’t know how to use the skill they were taught.Small-sided games allow players to put the skill they learnt in technique and practice drills into competition and then learn from experience. Try this small-sided game

CONCLUSION … WHY USE SMALL SIDED GAMES?

1. Individual technical development
2. Tactical development
3. Easier decision making
4. More opportunity to solve problems that only the game presents
5. More exposure to attacking and defending situations
6. Because they are great FUN!

Increased development and more fun at the same time is a great way to run a coaching session with your players…
SoccerCoachWeekly.net is the go to place for small-sided games we have over 450 games and counting!

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