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FIFA.com » Grassroots » For coach-educators » Technical elements for Grassroots education » Small-sided games » Introduction

Small-sided games

Introduction

Small-sided games are very beneficial for the participants. Studies have been conducted to show, and observations confi rm, that children get more enjoyment and learn more from playing in small-sided games with adapted rules. They get more touches of the ball, learn more quickly and have to make more decisions during the match (greater concentration is required because the ball is never far away).

The children are also much more involved in the game (more movement and practice) and enjoy it much more than playing on a large pitch. Fewer players on the pitch and smaller teams ensure that each participant gets more individual attention. There are also more goalscoring opportunities (which is what children want) and the goalkeepers are in action more often (except in 4-a-side matches which usually do not have goalkeepers).

Children are also more involved in the attacking and defensive movements, and in this way they are more often exposed to a wide range of football situations. They enjoy themselves and learn more.

Statistics

Statistics back up the benefits of small-sided football compared with 11-a-side football. Some of these statistics show that:

  • Players touch the ball five times more often in 4-a-side football and 50% more in 7-a-side.
  • Players are three times more often in one-against-one situations in 4-a-side football and twice more often in 7-a-side.
  • Goals are scored every two minutes in 4-a-side football on average and every four minutes in 7-a-side.
  • Goalkeepers are involved in the action two to four times more often in 7-a-side football than in 11-a-side football.
  • The ball is out of play 8% of the time in 4-a-side football, 14% in 7-a-side and 34% in 11-a-side.

Benefits: 

In small-sided games, each player:
  • receives the ball more often;
  • is always trying to score a goal;
  • has the freedom to play;
  • is always encouraged by the coach-educator;
  • is supported by his/her parents and coach-educators.