Tag Archives for " small-sided games "

Session Specific Warm Up

By Steven Smith

Setup:
Warming up our players often happens separate from the actual skills of soccer and is viewed by many coaches as unrelated to the theme of training in the main series.

This activity emphasizes a gradual warm up using the skills that will be needed during the main series when working on passing and receiving and possession skills. The activities described should be intermittent with range of motion and active stretching when transitioning from one step to another in the described activities. All stretching should last at least one minute per stretch with any static stretching. Coaches must lead the stretch so that the duration of the stretch is not cut short. Each of the activities described can last around 3-4 minutes for a long gradual warm-up leading toward a main series workout.

All players should have vests at the start of this activity and split into two different color groups. For this activity they will be described as wearing yellow or black.

Execution:
Activity 1: Players are grouped into twos while passing and receiving with their designated partner in the grid space provided (for groups of 18 or more the grid should be quite large to encourage lots of movement covering all portions of the grid). Give instruction to keep the head up and avoid touching any other players.

STRETCH INTERVAL FOLLOWS

Activity 2: Play continues with one ball per two people but instead of a designated partner, the players with the ball must find any person in the grid and pass to the person who actively calls for the ball. Players must not pass the ball to anyone who does not actively show for the ball by communicating their desire for the ball through their voice, their posture or clear eye contact. Coach must emphasize those three methods of communication.

STRETCH INTERVAL FOLLOWS

Activity 3: Players continue play but yellow may only pass and receive with yellow and black may only pass and receive with black. This will force players to think ahead and pick out their “team” in the midst of the chaos of the ball movements and player movements.

STRETCH INTERVAL FOLLOWS

Activity 4: All players remove their vests and tuck them into their waist bands. Reduce the number of balls for passing and receiving and restart the activity with passing and receiving to anyone in the grid (same restriction on passing only after appropriate communication as earlier). As coach determines he/she instructs a player to put on his or her vest and that player then becomes a defender who seeks to intercept passes and knock the ball out of the grid. Balls knocked out of the grid can be retrieved by a player and then resume the passing and receiving. Coach adds the number of defenders based on preference and desire for pressure on the warm-up. Coach may also reduce the number of balls allowed for passing and receiving.

STRETCH INTERVAL FOLLOWS

Activity 5: Coach reduces the number of balls to three for passing and receiving. As the number of players builds up the defending players with vests on no longer attempt to knock the ball out of play but instead try to keep possession inside the grid. The other players attempt to win the ball back for their passing and receiving with non-vest wearing players. It basically becomes a game of keep away.

STRETCH INTERVAL FOLLOWS

Activity 6: Coach controls the numbers leading to even sided play with both teams attempting to maintain possession. The coach closely monitors play and challenges each team to attempt to possess all three balls at the same time. When one team possesses all three of the balls then play is stopped and the losing team makes a sprint to the end line and back. Then play is resumed with the same challenge until the coach calls conclusion of the warm-up.

By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.

2v2 Transition to Goal

By Steven Smith

Two versus Two Transition to Goal

Setup:
Two full size goals are set up 36 yards apart facing each other and players are placed evenly at each post with balls at the right posts of both goals ready to enter into play. Goalkeepers occupy each of the goals.

This activity is extremely demanding for physical endurance and is anaerobic in its training focus. Teams who shoot often and remain on field may become very fatigued.

Execution:
Players are paired into twos for the entire duration of the activity and stand behind the goal posts at the same goal. Play is initiated by the yellow partners serving to the black set of partners at the other set of goals. The yellow partners who serve the ball move out to defend the black partners who attempt to score as quickly as possible on the opposing goal.

If the black players score or the ball goes over the end line then the black partners must immediately defend the next two yellow players who dribble off the end line and transition to attack the opposite goal as quickly as possible. The two versus two takes place between the two goals with each team trying to win the ball back and attack the opposite goal. Play continues back and forth until a time set by the coach or until a certain number of goals have been achieved by one team.

By Steve Smith
Steve Smith has been a men’s college coach that holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a Doctorate in Physical Education.

Small-Sided Game for Crossing and Finishing

By Sean Pearson

Area: 40 x 30 yards

Time: 20 mins

Players: 6 v 6

Objectives

  • To understand the different types of cross
  • To understand when to use a certain cross

Set Up
Three areas, 2 end zones 10 x 30 yards and a middle zone 20 x 30 yards. 3v3 in the middle with 2 players for each team on the outside. 2 goals with a GK in each one.

Execution
The aim for each team is to get the ball out wide to either wide player and for the wide player to cross the ball into the end zone and have runners meet the ball and attempt to score. The first cross we will look at is a low cross behind the defense.

The cross is played early and on the ground because there is space to play the ball on the ground to the striker and the opposite winger who is allowed to come off their line and attack the cross. The cross is played with the inside of the foot with pace into the space ahead of the runners so they can attempt to score with a one-time shot.

If the team scores, then the next ball starts with their GK. If they miss or the GK catches the ball, then an immediate attack on the other goal can start. First do not allow defenders into the end zone to allow success at crossing but after some success allow 1 or 2 defenders in. No-one is allowed in the end zone before the winger receives the ball.

The next cross is a cut back. Encourage the wingers if they do not see the space available for an early cross to drive to the touch line. The striker should make a run to the near post dragging a defender with them (if not the winger can play the striker) thereby allowing the deeper player at the top of the end zone to be free. The winger then cuts the ball back on the ground for the attempted shot.

The last cross is a deep cross. This should happen when there is no space to play in behind the defense and the winger does not drive to the touch line. Because of the positions of all the players, a high deep cross to the back post and the opposite winger is what is needed.

If no cross is an option due to pressure, then players can pass backwards to a team mate but then all players must reset to their original areas.

Throughout this game, you are looking for understanding from your players to recognize the different scenarios and to execute the cross that best fits the scenario. If they recognize the scenario but fail in their technique, encourage their decision and help with their specific technical miscues to help them in the same scenario next time. Try not to discourage them from not trying when they understood the type of cross they were supposed to put in but they could not execute.

Variations

  • Add a neutral to overload the players able to receive the cross
  • Apply more pressure to the wingers from the beginning
  • Take the end zones out to see if the information was taken on board in a normal game situation

By Sean Pearson. Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

Pressing to Win the Ball in the Midfield

By Sean Pearson

Area: 40 x 32 yards (2 x {8×32} 1 x {24×32})

Time: 15 mins

Players: 6 v 6 + 2

Objectives

  • To recognize where to pressure in the middle third
  • To win the ball in the middle third and maintain possession

Set Up
3 areas, two end zones and 1 large middle area. In each end zone, there is a 2v1 in favor of the defenders in the middle zone there is a 3v3+2 neutrals to become a 5v3. The aim of the team in possession is to cross the end line of the opposite side. The aim of the defending team is to win the ball in the middle third then advance the ball past the end line they are attacking.

Execution
When beginning play the striker in the end zone should look to cut the pass off between the 2 players and force the ball into the middle on one side or another. The defender in the opposite end zone reads the body shape and direction that the striker is sending the play. At this point they enter the middle zone and press the neutral on that side. The 3 players in the middle lock on to a player and man mark them all on the ball side. Lastly the defender left in the opposite end zone slides across to maintain compactness on that side. Now players are in position to win the ball in the middle third of the field.

Depending on the decision of the player on the ball and the distance of the defender from the receiving player, (1) players can stop the player from turning either forcing the ball backwards or win the ball if they try to turn. Or (2) anticipate the interception. The aim is to get the ball past the end line so when a player wins the ball in the middle third the player with the ball is allowed in the end zone with 1 other player. Adding the striker this makes a 3v2.

If the team in possession is able to switch the ball to the other side of the field then the two players who start in the end zone need to switch rapidly as soon as the pass is played backwards.

If the ball is able to be played to the center of the field as opposed to either side, it is important you players are able to get themselves back behind the ball to deny penetration and the two players in the defending end zone step up to keep the distance compact. They should look at the body shape and try to read the direction of the next pass. If it is backwards then the midfielders should step up again but if it is across the field then this is a time they could either (1) intercept or (2) pressure the neutral to stop forward progress.

It is important for your players to understand how to deny penetration and force the opposition into compact areas where there is a high risk of turnover. Then what is the best way to move the ball forward. If the forward direction is not initially on, going backwards is allowed as that is the game of soccer.

Variations

  • Add goals and GK’s
  • Allow the 2 defenders to enter the middle zone if they have the ball
  • Only allow the player with the ball to enter the attacking end zone with the ball

By Sean Pearson. Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

Attack v Defense

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 45 length, 5 yards wider than the penalty area on each side.

Time: 15 mins

Players7 v 6

Objectives

  • To understand if the team can counter attack or maintain possession
  • To decides how the ball should move forward

Set-Up

Depending on the age and physical capability of the players you coach the area should go just under the halfway line, however you can adjust the distance how you see fit. The defending team is in a 4-2 formation with a GK and the attacking team is in a 2-3-1.

Execution

Firstly, in order to perform attacking transition your team must first defend. With 2 midfielders in the center of the field the attacking team’s easiest open pass is out wide. The job of the defense is now to make the area around the ball as compact as possible to deny penetration and force mistakes. The FB engages the winger and the rest of the defense slides across. The midfielders also slide and drop down to stop penetration. The attacking team attempts to score in the goal the team that transitions scores by moving the ball past the end line, by pass or dribble.

When the defense wins possession the first thought should be can we go forward? The second question, if the answer to the first is yes, is how? Should the player in possession drive forward with the ball (Red1) or pass the ball (Red2)? Then if the they pass should the receiving player then (Blue1) Drive or (Blue2) pass? This is your preference as a coach, my preference is generally, if there is space, to drive at speed. But the ball moves faster than players so if there is a teammate in a better position then pass.

If the attacking team plays into the #10, again the team compacts the space around the ball to stop penetration and force a turnover.

When the defending team wins the ball, if there is no space to go forward quickly then players have to make a decision of where to go. Do they pass forwards or backwards? But now the mentality changes to build up play (still attacking as you have the ball) over quick counter attacking.

If your players do go backwards and the attacking team press, there is the option of your GK playing over the top of them into the space behind them. For this your FB’s will need to be aware of the space and make forward runs into the area.

The important thing your players must understand and recognize is if they can go forward, then when and how they can. If they can’t they must understand that there are other options. Attacking transition is as much about recognizing when you can counter attack as it is about the actual attack.

Variations

  • Play with different formations
  • Set a time limit of crossing the end line if your players decide there is space to counter attack.
  • Add a line the last players must reach as the ball crosses the end line to force the whole team forward at the same time.

By Sean Pearson. Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3

Four Corner Game

By Sean Pearson

Area Size: 42 x 36 yards

Time: 20 mins

Players: 4 v 4 + 5

Objectives

  • To decide the where, when and how to play a long aerial pass
  • To decide early which body part to use to execute a close control of the ball (chest, thigh or foot)

Set-Up

1 large area with 4 areas in the corner with a neutral in each area. 4v4 with a neutral in the middle and spare balls around the outside of the area.

Execution

In my opinion 1st touch is the most important technical skill in soccer. In order to do everything else good close control from your 1st touch is essential. It’s what allows players to build confidence and be calm when receiving the ball under pressure.

As often and as early as possible use the overload in the middle to find space to use your laces and aim for a neutral in a corner at a distance the individual player can make. You can also use the neutrals in the corners to pass to on the ground to keep possession if there are no other options to pass to. The neutral receiving the ball has a 5yard area to control the ball with, using a body part which is suitable compared to the height of the ball when being received, which to start with no one can challenge them in. When this is successful you can give the team a point.

The neutral then looks to play out to open players on the team including the neutral in the middle if they are available. When receiving this ball, if possible can this player then play another long pass into a different neutral. You want as many repetitions with long passes and aerial control as possible so don’t be concerned with adding a set number of passes after or before each long pass.

When a neutral has the ball, they can also find a long pass option straight away. This could be to 1) another neutral in the corner if they can reach 2) The neutral in the middle or 3) a player on the team in possession. Eventually allow pressure into the areas where the neutral has possession or as the ball is travelling towards them to increase the game realism.

This allows all players to benefit from playing and receiving long passes to work on their aerial control. You can swap the 3 groups as often as you want to become neutrals on the outside. Once the defending team wins possession they aim to score points the same way.

Variations

  • Add goals to go to after a successful aerial control
  • Increase/decrease the area & numbers depending on your team’s/player’s age & ability
  • Only allowed to play long passes with 1 touch (advanced)
  • Have to pass the ball to a team mate with 1 touch (advanced)
  • Add curl to the passes with the inside or outside of the foot (advanced)

By Sean Pearson. Sean is also the author Coaching Team Shape in the 3-3-1, Coaching Team Shape in the 4-2-3-1 and Coaching Team Shape in the 4-3-3