Why Playing Small-Sided Games is Excellent for Players

Why Playing Small-Sided Games is Excellent for Players

normal soccer gameIf you ask any college or professional player what is your favorite thing to do in practice? I would bet you majority of them would say small-sided games. Small-sided games in soccer are when you condense the field and some players on the field and play a “ normal” soccer game. Depending on what the coach is trying to get out of the session, the field size and amount of players can vary, but I’m writing this to let you know why you should be playing small sided games and the five benefits in playing small sided soccer.


1. Improves your technical ability

Improves your technical abilityI want to continue to emphasize the importance of being technically sound because it is what will separate you from the rest of the pack. In small-sided soccer games, you have to think even quicker than you do in a regular game. The reason you have to think faster is that the field is smaller and there are fewer options to pass to on the field. What coaches usually do is make it a five versus five games and make the field a decent size field, but because it is five v five you have to be able to take care of the ball. Taking bad touches or making bad passes can directly result in goals being scored against your team. You have to understand this and have 100 percent concentration whenever you are on the field. The reason your technical ability will improve is you’re getting more reps, and it will have a game like feel because you’re going to goals. I always say that there is no teacher like the game itself, and here it is. Yes, the field is smaller, but you’re getting reps that will benefit you down the road, so continue to play a lot of small-sided soccer to improve your game.

2. Improves your movement

Improves your movementSoccer is a game about rhythm and timing. Rhythm and timing dictate your movement in a soccer match. Small- sided soccer improves your movement because you will always be moving to try to get open, or moving to help your team defend well. Learning to have excellent movement will prove to be beneficial to your development and also will be something coaches will notice from your game. Remember that you always have to be an option for your teammates in the match because this will benefit the team immensely. The best teams in the world understand the importance of passing and moving, and also running without the ball to open up space for another player. This skill takes a lot of dedication, but if you’re willing to put in the time and effort you’ll be able to movement instinctually, and that’s the level I want you to achieve.

3. Improves your defense

Improves your defenseI know many don’t like defending, but it is necessary for the modern game. If you’re a poor defender, it will show on the field, and especially in a small-sided game. Playing in a small-sided game will improve your defense because you will be put into many situations (individually and collectively) where you need to defend, and defend well. Defending is all about determination, effort, and agility. If you’re able to go into the match with the mindset of taking it personally and doing everything in your power to not let anyone past you, you’ll find defending to be challenging and rewarding at the same time. Great defenders can move and be light on their feet because they’re playing against tricky, elusive players. You have to remember in a small-sided game that there will be times where you have to be a great defender if you want to win the game. Work at it and don’t take plays off. Taking plays off is not got for your game and will take a big hit on your development.


4. Improves your fitness

Improves your fitnessIn a game, a soccer player can run anywhere up to 7 miles, so you have to be fit and able to run for long distances. Yes running extra sprints and longer runs on your own will help, but playing soccer and being honest with how hard you’re practicing and playing will ultimately be what you want to achieve from the game. Fitness has to be there because when you get tired, you have to be able to continue. Once your fitness wavers, your mind goes, and once your mind goes, it is difficult to perform at a high level. In a small-sided game, there will be no time to rest, because the field is smaller and you’ll be involved at every moment. These are the times to push you to the limits and beyond. These moments will prove to be important down the road because you put in the work when it would have been easy to not. You fought to track your teammate's man to prevent a goal; you ran hard to the back post to get on the end of a cross, you won your one v one battle. You did all the things because you know in your heart this will make you better down the road.

Being able to focus on these five skills in small sided will take your game to the next level. These are the skills you need to focus on every day when you go out to practice. These skills are transferable to the real game, so continue to tweak your game as you see necessary so you can achieve your goals you set for yourself.