Small Sided Games

At Newton Girls Soccer our philosophy of how we play the beautiful game is centered on player development and the enjoyment of the game. We as a club aim to develop skilled, confident and creative soccer players in a FUN, positive learning environment. When as coaches, parents, and administrators we need to make decisions that have an effect on our program, we need to constantly ask ourselves “What is best for the players(s)?”

We need to remember that this game is foremost for the players…not the coaches…not the parents…not the administrators. It is for the players, and if we believe that our goal is to develop players then the answer as to whether or not to play small-sided games becomes easy. Yes!

US Youth Soccer

US Youth Soccer has thought long and hard about the answer to the question, “Why Small-Sided Games?”

What does “Small-Sided Games” mean? These are soccer games with fewer players competing on a smaller sized field. These are fun games that involve the players more because fewer players are sharing one ball.

All ages can play “Small Sided Games”, but it has a definite developmental impact on our younger soccer players. US Youth Soccer recommendations for “number of players” at the various age groups are as follows:

U6 | 3 against 3 no goal keepers
U8 | 4 against 4 no goal keepers
U10 | 7 against 7 with goal keepers
U12 | 9 against 9 with goal keepers
U13+ | 11 against 11 with goal keepers

1. Because we want our young soccer players to touch the soccer ball more often and become more skillful with it! (Individual technical development)

2. Because we want our young soccer players to make more, less-complicated decisions during the game! (Tactical development)

3. Because we want our young soccer players to be more physically efficient in the field space they are playing in! (Reduced field size)

4. Because we want our young soccer players to have more individual teaching time with the coach! Less players on the field and less players on the team will guarantee this! (Need to feel worthy and need to feel important)

5. Because we want our young soccer players to have more, involved playing time in the game! (More opportunity to solve problems that only the game presents)

6. Because we want our young soccer players to have more opportunity to play on both sides of the ball! (More exposure to attacking and defending situations)

7. Because we want our young soccer players to have more opportunities to score goals! (Pure excitement)

These are the reasons why we adults must foster “Small-Sided Games” in our youth soccer programs. The “Small-Sided” environment is a developmentally appropriate environment for our young soccer players. It’s a FUN environment that focuses on the young soccer player.

It just makes sense doesn’t it?

Checkout the following videos from the English FA on Small Sided Games and USA Hockey to further support this theory!

At weekly practice, NGS strongly encourages coaches to adopt small sided games as ways to teach technical and tactical skills. Below is one example of a practice drill that although focuses on defending includes:

4v4 4 goals

(For more drills like these checkout our coaching resources dropbox site)

Technical Principles

  • running with the ball
  • dribbling
  • passing & receiving
  • 1v1 attacking & defending
  • shooting
  • turning with and without pressure

Tactical Principles

  • Attacking – creating space, support, width, depth, runs of the ball, counter attacking
  • Defending – mark, press, cover and balance

Physical Principles

  • agility
  • endurance
  • speed

Psycho-Social Principles

  • confidence
  • competitiveness
  • decision-determination
  • communication