Incorporating Tactical Lessons into Small-Sided Games**
How to Use SSGs to Teach Tactics
Small-Sided Games (SSGs) provide a perfect platform to teach tactical aspects of the game in a controlled, manageable environment.
**Possession:** SSGs can be designed to encourage players to keep possession of the ball. For instance, setting a rule where points are scored for a certain number of completed passes encourages players to value possession and work together.
**Pressing:** Teach players the concept of pressing by designing SSGs where the defensive team is rewarded for winning the ball in the opponent’s half. This encourages proactive defending and helps players understand the importance of closing down space.
**Defensive Shape:** You can use SSGs to work on maintaining a good defensive shape. Encourage the defensive team to stay compact and work as a unit. You can reward points for successful defensive actions such as interceptions or forcing the ball out of play.
**Attacking Runs:** Use SSGs to teach the concept of making attacking runs. This could involve rewarding points for successful runs behind the defense, or setting up games where the goal is only ‘open’ after a player makes a forward run.
**2. Position-Specific Learning in SSGs**
SSGs can be used to teach players about the roles and responsibilities of specific positions. For instance, if you’re playing a 4v4 game, you can assign players to roles that mirror a simplified version of a full team formation (e.g., one defender, two midfielders, and one forward). By giving players opportunities to play in different positions, you help them develop a broader understanding of the game and empathy for their teammates.
**3. Building Tactical Understanding Through Guided Discovery**
Guided discovery is a coaching approach where players learn by solving problems and answering questions, rather than being directly instructed. The aim is to promote deeper understanding, creativity, and ownership of learning.
For instance, instead of telling players to spread out to create more passing options, you might ask them, “How can we make it easier to keep possession of the ball?” This approach encourages players to think critically about the game and discover tactical principles for themselves.
Incorporating tactical lessons into SSGs helps players understand how individual skills contribute to team success, and prepares them for the complexities of the full-sided game. By adopting a player-centered, problem-solving approach, coaches can foster a deep tactical understanding in their players and develop intelligent, adaptable soccer players.
Simple coaching points for beginner players
1. **Don’t Kick the Ball Away:** Encourage players to control the ball first, then make a decision on what to do next. Rushing to get rid of the ball often leads to losing possession. Instill the idea that they should try to maintain control and assess their options before acting.
2. **Spread Out from Teammates:** Teach players the importance of spacing. When a teammate has the ball, they should move away to create space. This gives the player with the ball more room to maneuver and provides a passing option.
3. **Recover Lost Ball Quickly:** Make it clear that if they lose the ball, their immediate goal should be to try and get it back. This helps develop a mentality of responsibility and perseverance. It also keeps them engaged even when they’ve made a mistake.
4. **Get Goalside:** When the opposing team has the ball, players should position themselves between the attacker and their own goal – this is known as “getting goalside”. This decreases the attacker’s chances of scoring and puts the defender in a position to intercept passes.
5. **Stay in Your Space:** Help players understand the concept of zones and positional play. Not every player should chase the ball all over the field. Encourage them to stay in their own area and wait for the ball to come to them. This ensures better team structure and conserves their energy for when it’s needed.
6. **One Defender at a Time:** Encourage only one defender to actively try to take the ball from an attacker. If multiple defenders rush towards the ball, it can leave gaps in the defense that the opposing team can exploit. Teach players to coordinate their defensive efforts and cover spaces left open by the challenging defender.
These coaching points encourage a better understanding of the game, team coordination, and individual skill development. By emphasizing these basic concepts from an early stage, players can build a strong foundation that will serve them well as they progress in soccer.