Benefits of Small sided games

In youth development we see a lot of various training methods being used such as; lines, full games, phases of play and small sided games. Many academies/grassroots clubs are starting to use small sided games as a way to condition and improve different aspects of their player’s skillset. But, what actually are small sided games?

Small sided games, or SSGs for the benefit of you and I, are a miniature version of the format players play in e.g 3v3 for under 8s who play 5v5. This is a preferred method for many coaches due to the volume and realism of actions that players perform whilst partaking in these practices. Looking at a pilot scheme used by Manchester United where 4v4 games were compared with 8v8, there were increases in the following actions: passes, scoring attempts, goals scored, 1v1s and dribbling skills (see document attached for analysis in increases).

SSGs not only help with technical development of players but it was also found, in the same scheme, that they were more enjoyable for the players and staff who took part in the experiment. This links to the environment that United look to develop their players within, here are some of the ideas that they follow at that club:

– Allow plenty of individual possession

– Trying new skills without fear or ridicule from others

Have minimal pressure from significant others

– Create an atmosphere which is vibrant, creative and fun

The pilot scheme conducted by Manchester United highlighted that on average a 4v4 versus 8v8 had:

  • 135% more passes
  • 250% more scoring attempts
  • 500% more goals scored
  • 225% more 1v1 encounters
  • 280% more dribbling skills

So, how could the future of football be affected with the use of SSGs?

– More accessible for player’s from deprived backgrounds due to local facilities (cages)

– Surge in futsal due to the fast paced, fun and individualistic nature of the game

– Compared to recent trends in the premier league – a faster and more expressive style to the way the game is played

All that young players want to do is play matches and score goals. SSGs can be a really effective tool to disguise your desired outcomes in something that looks and feels like a match, without the game being neglected to the last 10 minutes at the end of your session with no focal point. What are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading.

Connor Maison

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