Small sided games are a proven way of coaching tactics and techniques to players, especially in their early years of the game. It is a creative approach of playing in a small field involving separate fun games focusing on different technique, skill and styles. This seems like a modern way of coaching due to the non-traditional nature of it; however, this method has been practiced by coaches for decades. Using small sided games is educational as well as developmental. It is a great way of tracking the progress and focusing on special skills of different players without exhausting them with verbally explaining theories and tactics. This way they learn as they do (experiential learning), and the children themselves are able to recognise their special abilities and skills in the game and apply them accordingly.
Using small sided games in coaching (example pictured right) lets the players have more touches of the ball and hence become more familiar and skilled with it since the success as a player in this game to some large degree depends on how skilled the player is with the ball. A well-chosen small sided game can ensure the technical development of individual players of the team without an added pressure in the mind.
When it comes to the tactical development of children, this technique can be used in an extremely effective way through methods like Total Football which allows the players to make quick decisions that suit different scenarios. Also, due to the field of small sided games being smaller than usual, it pushes the children to be more physically active and understand their capabilities in different conditions to later apply while playing proper football.
One of the most important benefits of using small sided games is the chance for the young players to get increased individual time getting coached. When there is less number of players in a smaller field than usual, it is easier for the coaches to observe each individual player in detail and guide them to decrease their faulty areas and increase their skills. Fun games focusing on passing and movement adopted from Spanish Tiki-Taka give the much needed entertainment factor in the game to the children, allowing them to see that football or any other sport is not merely about technique, but having fun while they do it as well.
Small sided games can be created in numerous ways to catch each and every technique a player should know along with the clean application of tactics to a certain situation within the game. It gives the opportunity for each player to experience playing for both attacking and defending sides. Psychologically, small sided games develop the motivation to play better and refine their skills in the minds of the children. The opportunity to score more goals adds more fun to practice and develops muscle memory in hitting the right angle in the right spot when scoring a goal.
It was after all, the legend Pele that once famously said that for children to become world class football players they must practice daily and have at least 2,000 touches of the ball in each session. That is why at Techne Global Sports our focus is on providing players opportunities to practice small sided games, have at least 2000 touches of the ball in every session (1500 in the warm-up alone), learn to develop a love for practice.