Improve awareness with this fast small sided game

Getting young soccer players to be constantly aware of what is going on around them is difficult, but you can improve their awareness skills with this fast, constantly moving game.
This is a high-intensity game, which uses five players at one time – you can mark out two or three areas depending on numbers at your soccer training session.

How to set up and coach it

Set up a couple of 15 x 30 metre pitches, using cones to mark out small goals centered at each end.

1. Place extra balls just outside each goal line with a helper/parent at each end ready to feed a fresh ball into the game quickly after one goes out.

2. Choose three players who will be given the ball first against the remaining two.

3. Decide which end the three are to attack. An attacker is given two steps distance and one free-touch to put the ball into play. The attacker can choose to pass or dribble, but no direct goals are allowed on the first touch. The emphasis is on restarting quickly.

4. The three play against the two until either:

  • the two defenders win clear possession of the ball, they must have it under control, or
  • the ball goes over the goal line last touched by an attacker.

5. If either of these two things happen, the two players who were defenders become attackers trying to score at the opposite end in a game of 2v1 against whichever attacker last touched the ball, the player who lost possession or took a shot.

6. You will need a soccer coach or at least a knowledgeable soccer parent to act as referee…the point is to designate immediately, (ignore the “it wasn’t me” shouts), who this is to be. The other two former attackers quickly step well out of the way of this new 2v1 game and sit out until it is finished.

7. The 2v1 game continues until it resolves in the same fashion as for the 3v2 game; the one defender wins clear possession or the ball goes out off one of the two attackers.

Now the three players who just played 2v1 immediately join together in a team of three attackers against the attackers who had to stand out, with the three now attacking.

8. We are back at step four… The attackers retain possession on all balls that go out over the side lines (regardless of which team put it out).

Key soccer coaching tips

  • When on the attack, always move to receive the ball and keep up the pressure;
  • When on defence, always be ready to counter-attack;
  • Put the ball into play quickly on a restart; don't unnecessarily give your opponent time to organise towards a more favourable position to defend.

Try adding a midfielder

Another good way of using this soccer coaching drill session is for the defending team to have to play to a single designated midfielder in a neutral area across the middle of the field – it can even be you, the soccer coach.

If the defending team can connect to this mobile midfielder, then they can come get the ball back and attack.

In this way, the attacking team can always pressure (whether they score at the first attempt or not) and try to keep the defending team hemmed in, while the defending team must work together to find the midfielder to get out.

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