Football/Soccer Session (Academy Sessions): Mini Matches (2v2, 3v3 etc)

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James Heffernan

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James Heffernan
Name: James Heffernan
City: Birmingham
Country: United Kingdom
Membership: Adult Member
Sport: Football/Soccer
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Small-sided games (SSGs) are shown to offer significantly more opportunities to touch/pass the ball than traditional games (6v6+).

All of your match-day difficulties can be broken down into smaller building blocks using SSGs. 

Combined with Futsal balls - which are also proven to offer a greater number of touches on the ball - you will notice a significant improvement in your players' technical skills, energy and game intelligence


What challenges are your team facing?


"Winning the ball back more quickly"

Goals count 'double' if they win the ball back within 3 seconds and then score 


"Winning the ball back higher up the field"

Goals count 'double' if they regain possession in the opposition half and then score.


"Running in behind the defence"

Remove the cones / physical goals. Teams score 'goals' if they receive a pass beyond the goalline

"Struggling to retain the ball under pressure" OR

"Creating overload situations"

Play an overload game 3v2, 4v2 (depending on ability).

Team with more players must have X number of touches, or all players touch the ball before scoring.

Team with fewer players score 'double' goals for each goal

Football/Soccer Session Plan Drill (Colour): Match

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Football/Soccer Session Plan Drill (Colour): Match
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Match (15 mins)

Set up / Rules:

  • Several pitches with cones for goals
  • 2v2 or 3v3 or 3v2
  • Ensure you show the players the boundary of the pitch (for younger kids)
  • Use kick-ins over throw-ins
  • Use Futsal balls
  • The goalscoring team touch their goalposts before they can rejoin the game, but the team who have conceded can play immediately.



For each Small-Sided Game, you should include:

  • 2 or 3 constraints (not at the same time!)
  • 1x Development Point (in possession or out of possession)
  • 1x Communication Point

Pick 2 or 3 to use at different times

  • If one team is dominating, should they have X number of passes before scoring?
  • If a player kicks the ball out aimlessly, ask them to perform 20 skills behind the goal before rejoining
  • Play 2 (older) & 3 touch for younger kids
  • Reward each skill with a skill point; most skill points = 3+ goals at the end of the game
  • Experiment with overload situations 4v2, 3v2, 2v1 etc
  • Can you remove some of the touchlines so you end up with 4 goals (or 6!) on each pitch and 4v4 or 5v5 etc


In each session, use:

  • Either 1x in possession OR 1x out of possession
  • AND 1x communication
In possession

  • "Can my feet see the ball?"
  • "Am I calling loudly enough for the ball?"
  • "Where is the space?"
  • "Where are your teammates?"
  • "Where is the ball going next?"

(and for the more advanced kids)

  • "Can we create '3rd man run' opportunities?"
  • "Can we create overloads?"
  • "Are we in a strong position to maintain possession?" i.e. not standing in a line!

Out of possession 

  • "Where are the opposition?"
  • "Where is the ball going next?"
  • "Can we block passes?"
  • "Is the path to the goal protected?"
  • "Can you stay with your runners?"

  • "Down the line" (attacking command, down the wing)
  • "Come home" (back to safety - GK or someone in space behind the player)
  • "Switch" (one wing to the other)
  • "Back post" (pass to back post)
  • "One more" (as in "one more pass")
  • "1-2" (give and go)
  • "Out wide" (play the ball to the wings)
  • "Turn in" (turn inside)
  • "Turn out" (turn outside)
  • "And again" (a bit like a 1-2)
  • "In behind" (pass the ball behind the defence)
  • For younger kids, just calling "pass" might be enough, but 8/9 yr olds should start using the correct communication.
  • Remember, the instruction is ALWAYS in the direction you want the ball to go - this will help them understand


Remember to use STEP to adjust, progress, or regress the session :)





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