EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FOR GRASSROOTS SOCCER COACHES

Small Sided Games

Small-sided games are games with a small number of players on each side, for example 3 v 3 or 5 v 5. The key point is that because there are fewer players, each player gets more touches of the ball, and there are many additional benefits.

Soccer Coach Weekly recommends the use of small-sided games as a key part of your coaching program, and as a subscriber you can access 128 specially designed games, in a format that you can easily print and take to training. Once the games are set up and running and the players understand the rules, there’s no coaching, and the players take responsibility.

Alternatively you can buy all the games in printed or ebook format here.

An example of a small-sided soccer game used to help players have more touches of the ball in a training session

An example of a small-sided game being used to teach strikers to shoot

The games in the section below will help your players to improve on individual and team skills. They are simple to set up, guarantee more player participation, with more passes attempted, and more goals scored.

Play 2v1

Four square

in Attacking, Small Sided Games

If you want your players to outfox the opposition defence by creating goals, this game will provide plenty of opportunities to make clever passes and set up play around the goal area MORE

Creating goal scoring chances

Quick thinkers

in Attacking, Small Sided Games

Youth players will often make a pass into the final third but do not support the pass by running into the penalty area. This session encourages movement to get into dangerous attacking positions. MORE

Pass to release player

Fast break

in Attacking, Small Sided Games

This game improves quick attacking and combination play. The attackers must break forward in order to use the extra player and create a chance to score. MORE

Wingers move fast

The running man

in Attacking, Small Sided Games

Running with the ball isn't just about going in one direction at one speed, players need to turn and accelerate, knock the ball into space and follow it, and pass on the run. MORE

score from crosses

Striker zone

in Shooting, Small Sided Games

This unopposed session gets attackers scoring with balls coming in from the wings. All players get balls played hard and low onto both feet as they attack at either end of the pitch. It includes build up play for a thorough attacking work out. MORE

midfield attackers

Man in the middle

in Attacking, Small Sided Games

The scoring threat often comes from balls played into a central attacker, who must decide whether to turn the defender, hold up the ball or lay off a pass. Here, the central attacker has to make the decision to create a scoring chance. MORE

Pressure opponents

Full team pressure

in Defending, Small Sided Games

If you haven’t got the ball you won’t be able to win, so this game teaches teams how to move together to press the opposition all over the pitch and force a mistake that wins the ball. MORE

Playing out of defence

Foraging forwards

in Small Sided Games, Tactics

This sets up the coming together of two different tactics – it’s build up from the back versus the constant threat of the counterattack from balls played behind the defence. MORE

Defending in small groups

Prepare to defend in small groups

in Defending, Email newsletters, Small Sided Games

If you want to start the new season well and win more games, the importance of defending cannot be stressed enough. Tell your players that without the ball they are not going to have the chance to score, so they need to think about how they are going to get it back first – and that means good defensive play. MORE

Head the ball game

Header react

in Heading, Small Sided Games

This is not only really good heading practice but at the coach’s call it turns into a small-sided game with lots of coaching points: heading technique, concentration, focus and quick passing. Check local rules for heading age groups MORE

High pressing game

High press

in Small Sided Games, Tactics

This game is all about pressing high. It will help both individual roles and team movement when pressing opponents in their own half of the pitch, starting from their defensive third. MORE

Academy players

6 great games for pre-season training

in Pre-season, Small Sided Games

Turning up for friendly games, or for the first match of the season, needs planning. Do your players know where to play or what tactics you will use? Do they know if it’s 7v7 or 9v9? You need to get your players into the swing of match play again so playing appropriate games and activities... MORE

Possession fun game

Keep ball, switch play

in Attacking, Small Sided Games

This session is a good example of a fun activity that works on a number of levels. You can use it for possession and switching play practice, while it also works the defenders who must move quickly between zones when the ball is passed. MORE

Get all players scoring

Goals win games

in Shooting, Small Sided Games

This is a game to get all of your players scoring goals, so that your team is not relying on just one or two players. If you score goals from every position on the pitch your success will be guaranteed. MORE

Turn and play forward

Forward March

in Small Sided Games, Tactics

This drill helps players move to create passing angles to receive the ball. Players in possession try to make good decisions on whether to pass forward to the target player or keep possession by passing backwards/sideways to build the play again. MORE


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