Small Sided Games
Small sided games play a big role in today's trainings, doesn't matter if we are talking about youth soccer or Professional soccer. The question is why is SSG so important in the modern game? Easy, it provides all the lessons the game teaches you in a smaller space. For example, player movement without the ball. Where can you be to influence the game the most without the ball, or defensively when your opponents have the ball. The beautiful thing about SSG is that you don't need to correct the player regarding his movement because he will realize that himself in a smaller space. He will have more chances for success and failure then correct it in a shorter period of time. When players play on a regulation size pitch, the game slows down and takes too long to replicate scenarios for key attacking and defending moments.
There are 5 big reasons why small sided games are so important.
By reducing the size of the pitch, we immediately improve players game situational intelligence and their vision in SSG. When the pitch is reduced players have to be much sharper with their technical skills and abilities on the ball to solve problems. This also allows players to get much more direct touches on the ball to become more comfortable playing at high speed.
Tactically SSG allows players to learn good team tactics in how you break teams down to how you defensively solve problems. When the game opens up to a bigger size pitch, players will see some scenarios much better and faster. When the pitch is small, players don't have much time to deliver a crucial pass to open up the defense and vic versa when you lose possession defenders have to quickly solve defensive problems by closing down the ball and spaces. Tactically understanding how your team likes to go forward to how they defend in different parts of the field is very important in training. SSG paints those pictures countless amounts of times.
SSG builds players in game intelligence in all aspects of the game. The game speeds up and players aren't allowed as much time on the ball. This increases reaction times in changing direction and ideas of how to unlock the game. When the game is moved back to a bigger pitch the same principles are applied but players have more time to make the same decisions just on a bigger pitch.
When you see a midfielder or a defender play a great through ball I call that vision. Vision gets developed on SSG when a player is getting the maximum amount of repetition finding the best pass to unlock the game. Defensively that same vision applies by seeing a play develop and reading the next pass by intercepting it. SSG are great at creating these situations over and over again and challenging a player to make the right play or be punished by conceding a goal.
SSG is amazing for building fitness. There is no time to ball watch and take a break. There is always a correct position to be in offensively to create a chance or defensively when a play has broken down. The constant shuttling back and forth will give any player a great base in his fitness to roll into regulation size pitch.
SSG was my favorite part of training. It was were you get to see what you and your teammates are made of. Many times this was where the coach made his first impressions of players. I knew this and made sure I was always locked in and ready for the fight. It literally was a fight most of the time until the game is over. Unfortunately many players would get hurt in SSG because the increased risk of injury by the increased about of times players get tackled. This was where I gained my toughness and grit to compete. I took these lessons I learned into my game and applied them.