Small Sided Games Theory

Small Sided U8 Game

For as long back as I can remember I have seen a culture in England of just throwing the kids together and kicking a ball in there and hoping for the best, Even when i was growing up i remember PE teachers throwing us a ball and letting us get on with whatever rather than doing any coaching in the slightest and during these mad games of mob football, we each must have touched the ball about three times in an hour !

The Sunday League and young amateur game also has huge issues with the way it is structured and the way they train their young players although a commendable voluntary assignment to take on teams and give them an opportunity to play football less can be said for the lack of help in developing them as players as there is a distinct lack of effort on the physical development aspects of the game and this goes back as far as I can possibly remember, this doesn’t count for all parent coaches because there are some very good role models out there helping development , the problem is that there aren’t enough good ones in comparison to bad ones. I see it as a real shame when you see children of U7/U8/U9/U10/U11 just thrown a ball and left to figure thing out for themselves while a guy on the sidelines who thinks he/she is Jose Mourinho is analysing their statistical value dressed like Don King, because that isn’t coaching , that is watching and then doing the logistics on a weekend followed by more shouting, its unproductive and doesn’t improve any player.

Children need to be touching the ball as often as possible to generate the technique characteristics defined in the  sub routines of the skill that they are learning.Part of every session should have small sided games which are designed to accommodate the topic of the session.This should be accomplished in smaller sided games giving the participants as much time with a ball as possible. so if the game at the end of the session used to be an all out huge game with only the 2 best players on the field touching the ball should now turn into a mini tournament especially for the younger children of 07/U8 . Team numbers should increase with age.

  • 5,6, – 3 a side
  • U7   – 4 a side
  • U8   – 4 a side and on certain sessions 5 a side
  • U9   – 5 a side training – finishing with 7 a side
  • U10 – 6 a side training – finishing with 7 a side

These Numbers are at the discretion of the coach so where I may have 4 a side another coach may like 5 a side etc.. As long as the numbers are small groupings for the beneficial gain of the children. A child who trains without small sided games on average trains physically for below 30 percent of the session and the player who trains with effective small sided games works at 75% – 80% and has an average of over 300 more touches than the participants without.


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