The official dimensions of a regulation football pitch in a secondary school are 100 meters long and 55 meters wide. The fields can vary up to 20 meters in length and up to 25 meters in width. The size of the pitch alone can be enough to freak out a player about playing high school football and beyond. A solution? Small scale games.
Short-sided games use a smaller pitch than regulation and fewer players than standard 11. They are used to target specific areas of the game, but can also be used to help hone a player’s skills before release them on a full-height sweep.
To run small-scale games properly, you must first decide what goal you want to achieve. If you want to focus on ball movement, limit games to 6-8 players for 10-12 minutes with teams competing in passing drills.
If the goal is to increase shooting accuracy, divide the teams into 5-6 players on each side and have them fight to score on a considerably smaller goal without a goalie. Goals should be on the baseline, about 3-4 feet wide, but can be extended to scale drills for any level.
Defensively, small-scale plays are used to familiarize players with certain individual situations as well as to play at a disadvantage and work to force an offensive player into poor positioning.
Short-sided games are used to take the stress out of using the whole court and to put players at ease before playing a match. The games will teach players how to move the ball with determination and shoot with precision when playing on a full size pitch.
Here are two of my favorite little games to increase shooting and ball movement.
Small side shooting exercise
A simple small-scale shooting drill can be done by placing two teams of five or six players against each other on a field about 35–40 meters long and 20–25 meters wide. Add two goals (cones or mini nets) on each baseline about 3-4 feet wide.
The striker must complete five passes before kicking the ball in and shots must be taken within 10 yards of the net. Add a second goal or extra defender or shorten the length of the shot for an advanced challenge. If the goal is to train attacking players, adding multiple baseline goals can teach them how to get back into the defensive position properly and increase their defensive awareness.
Short Side Ball Displacement Drill
An effective way to teach controlled and targeted passing is to form a team of three players standing 5-10 yards apart in a triangle. Have players pass the ball between them in rotation, changing direction after five or six passes. Once the passes are accurate, rotate the passing player to create a new triangle. Each time a player makes a pass, a new triangle will be created allowing players to work around the pitch. To move this drill forward, move the players away from each other and add a defender! This movement will allow players to work the ball around a wider court with more precision.
Small-scale games can be used to build all aspects of play and are an easy way to progress from beginner to advanced. These drills will help players become more efficient at moving the ball across a wider field, become more efficient passers, and take more accurate shots.
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