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.

The shield - part 1

The shield

in Defending, Small Sided Games

The players with a ball must shield and defend for their life whilst the defender without a ball competes hard to win possession. The different sizes and strengths of your players ensure each physical battle is different and a good learning opportunity for your players. MORE

King of the ring - part 1

King of the ring

in Defending, Small Sided Games

This practice forces the players to be very clever in their movements as they have to protect their own ball at the same time as trying to remove their opponent’s ball from the game. MORE

Half field possession - part 1

Half field possession

in Defending, Small Sided Games

When your defenders are up against two, three, or even four strikers they need to remain cool under pressure to pass the ball out of defence. This half field game develops team possession, composure, movement off the ball and passing skills. MORE

The random game - part 1

The random game

in Small Sided Games

Improve team work as the players quickly organise themselves to the new game and implement the tactics required to score a goal in this random game. It includes half field possession, end zone, four goal game and a normal two goal game inside one pitch. MORE

Ultimate 4v4 games

Ultimate 4v4 games

in Small Sided Games

One initial pitch set up allows you to play four different small-sided games in this Ultimate 4v4 game. More games, more goals, more fun – less hassle. MORE

Prison Break feature

Prison break

in Ball Control and Footwork, Small Sided Games

The aim of this fun game is for the prisoners to gain possession of the ball from the prison guards and organise a prison break with the help of their accomplices. Why use it Keeping hold of the ball and counterattacking are vital to this session. It’s good for fitness and to maintain concentration, with... MORE

Catch it! feature

Catch it!

in Shooting, Small Sided Games

In this exercise players must use a chipping technique to get the ball into the hands of one of their team-mates in the target box. Why use it The chip is either used to find players in space when the opposition blocks a pass or to chip the goalkeeper. This session helps players to chip... MORE

Dutch Shooting Game

in Shooting, Small Sided Games

Score more goals with this game that targets the final pass into a striker with quick movement and support play. The focus is on the shot but the movement and control of the ball is key to the success of the session. By Dave Clarke Why use it Building play up to getting a shot... MORE

Tight targets feature

Tight Targets

in Ball Control and Footwork, Small Sided Games

Whether your training area is tight or you just want to work on possession skills, this session is perfect to coach players how to move the ball around neatly in a small space. Why use it This is a tight game with pressing, movement, support, skills and accurate passing. It’s brilliant for possession and to... MORE

Fast Combinations feature

Create Title Winning Players Like N’Golo Kante

in Midfield, Small Sided Games

What an amazing achievement for Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante to win back-to-back titles at different clubs. He’s been the model of consistency with the way he breaks play up and £32 million looks a bargain for such a match winner. The weekend saw Kante win his second consecutive Premier League title when Chelsea saw off West... MORE

The Key Player feature

The Key Player

in Passing, Small Sided Games

Use this session to show your team the importance of a ‘key player’, whose free-roaming role on the pitch tips the balance in favour of the attacking team. Why use it This session helps you to coach a key player in your team to set up plays and unlock the opposition’s defence. Balls played into... MORE

Man Down Tactics feature

What Can I Do If My Team Goes Down...

in Small Sided Games, Team Management

“I am coach of an under-12 girls team and we’ve just lost a player due to a broken leg. We’ll have to play with 10 for a while, so can you give some guidance please?” – U12 Girls Coach, New Jersey, USA. Answer First of all, I wish your player a speedy recovery – breaking... MORE

4v3 role reversal

4v3 Role Reversal

in Ball Control and Footwork, Small Sided Games

Reacting quickly when possession changes hands is key to teams making the most of situations when they outnumber the opposition – player roles change the moment they win or lose the ball and they need to react to that. What you tell your players the session is about Making use of an overload situation in the attacking... MORE

Forwards combining to score

Combining To Score

in Attacking, Small Sided Games

Working with pairs of attackers is a great way to get some creativity going in the final third of the pitch when your team is attacking. Players need to practice so they work out an understanding which will reap dividends on match days. What you tell your players the session is about Building an attacking partnership. Working... MORE

steal the ball part1

Steal The Ball

in Ball Control and Footwork, Small Sided Games

Here’s a great game that improves ball control, as well as practising communication, shielding the ball and supporting play. Players need to be alert and listen out for their number to be called by the coach – will they remember it! How to play it Create two 20×10-yard boxes with a two-yard space in between. Split your players... MORE

Promotion or Relegation feature

Promotion or Relegation

in Ball Control and Footwork, Small Sided Games

Teach your players how to win vital games and how to keep trying until the end. This fun promotion and relegation session involves a lot of different winning scenarios. Why use it With make or break games it is important that players understand what it means if they lose. This helps them to concentrate. Set... MORE

Attack from midfield feature

Attack From Midfield

in Attacking, Small Sided Games

Improve link up play between your midfielders and centre forward with a clever session that sets up play and creates lots of goalscoring chances. Why use it This session improves the relationship between midfielders and the centre forward. Midfielders learn how to create space for a forward to receive a pass and then get into... MORE

Attack your space feature

Attack Your Space

in Attacking, Small Sided Games

Use this effective training drill to help your young players understand the benefits of using zonal marking at corners. Why use it This is the way Rafa Benitez would defend a corner using his favoured zonal marking system. In grassroots soccer the defenders would line up and attack the space in a zone in front... MORE

Go 1v1 of Make the Pass

Go 1v1 or Make the Pass

in Attacking, Small Sided Games

This session replicates the decisions players have to make when the ball is won in a transition with the decision between 1v1 or pass crucial to the team securing the ball. Why use it This session helps players decide whether to go 1v1 to create space to pass to the target man up front, or... MORE

The Running Man

The Running Man

in Ball Control and Footwork, Small Sided Games

Use this fun session to get your players running with the ball, passing at speed and turning under pressure, just like Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne. Why use it 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... MORE

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