Castle-keep: for dribbling, passing, and defending
Area: The two boxes (red & blue above) can be 20-30 yards apart (closer for younger players). The boxes are 6x6 yards (can be 8x8 for younger players to ease scoring).
Instructions: The object of the game is to sprint from the starting positions above (except the ‘keeper who guards the box), take one ball (from either side), dribble then pass the ball into the opponents’ box. It is possible to score from a pass from behind the goal, the keeper guards the box but must never enter the box (no player is allowed to enter either box). Once the player has released their ball they may try to steal a ball from any opponent and score again. As the game progresses you’ll notice increased opportunities for players to be able to pass to teammates in order to score. Play the game until all of the soccer balls are stationary in both boxes. Whichever team has passed the most balls into the opponents’ box scores one point (see illustration below). Each time you play the game, rotate the ‘keepers.
(see next slide for technical coaching observations)
Technical coaching observations: This game tests many facets of the soccer including dribbling, passing, receiving, defending and goalkeeping. When dribbling, are players on their toes using the outside of the instep? Do they dribble with their head up? When passing does the plant foot point to the target? When defending does the player force play away from the goal box? Do they dive in or remain patient until the opponent takes a bad touch?
3v0 Down-the-line only: for passing & movement
Area: 10x10 yard box designated by cones (can be smaller for advanced players)
Instructions: Initially play 3v0 with the rule: Player in possession may only pass “down the line”, so no passes across the box. This encourages supporting players to make runs in support of the player in possession. Progression: Add a defender, and if the ball doesn’t go down the line or the defender wins possession then the player who made the error goes in the middle. Players on the outside (wearing red above) may ‘cut the corners’, but all passes must be within 1 yard of the lines of the square.
Technical Coaching Points: Plant foot points to target, kicking foot comes through the ball at a 90 degree angle to plant foot, and maintain this shape thro’ impact. Kicking foot: strike the ball with the inside of the foot, hit the middle of the ball to keep it along the ground, ankle firm, toe points slightly up. Additionally, this drill can also be used to teach players that sometimes when in possession you have to draw the defender toward you before passing it to a teammate. This allows the pass recipient more time when they receive possession.
See the next slide for progression…
Progression: 3v1 Down the line only for passing & movement
Progression: Add a defender, and if the ball doesn’t go down the line or the defender wins possession (or kicks the ball out) then the player who made the error goes in the middle. Players on the outside (wearing red above) may ‘cut the corners’, but all passes must be within 1 yard of the lines of the square.
Over the border
Area: 2x10x10 yard squares, 12 yards apart (you may alter this distance depending on age/athleticism of players)
Instructions: Players are numbered, and then two teams keep possession in their respective boxes. Coach calls a number and that number sprints into opponents’ box and attempts to win possession or kick the ball out of the square. Whoever does this the quickest acquires a point for their team. Illustration above is for 10 players, however you may manipulate this, for example, with 14 players send 2 players into the opponents box, leaving 5 players to retain possession.
Technical Coaching Points: As well as short passing technique described previously, this game can be used to teach players that sometimes when in possession you have to draw the defender toward you before passing it to a teammate. This allows the pass recipient more time when they receive possession.
Cal North small sided game for player development
Area: 40 x 40 yards (this can be manipulated to suit the ability/athleticism of your players)
Instructions: Play 5v5 or 6v6 with one goalkeeper per team (but they cannot use their hands). Both ‘keepers wear a pinnie (see yellow dots above), and are able to join in as a field player whenever they choose. However, when their team is defending, the goalkeeper occupies one of the two goals in their half. Whichever goal the ‘keeper occupies, means the opposing team cannot score in that goal. Also, the goalkeeper may run to block the other goal if the opposition ‘switches’ the point of attack. The team in possession cannot score from their defensive half of the field. The blue cones illustrated in front of each goal (above) indicate that no player, except the goalkeeper, is permitted in that area. The offside rule applies.
Technical & Tactical Coaching Points: This is an example of “The Game is the Teacher” because it teaches the player in possession to play with their head up, in order to locate the opponents’ ‘keeper. This will enhance the players’ ability to switch the point of attack, or it might encourage a quick counter-attack. Therefore, this game will enhance technical ability (dribbling with head up), and also tactical decision-making capabilities (for example, when to switch play, and when to counter-attack).