This blog post encourages maximised playing time via the use of multi game pitches.
What are “multi game pitches” ?
Pitches that have 3,4 or 5 games within the same initial set up of the pitch.
I began using multi game pitches within my own soccer school back in 2001. I needed to develop these types of games due to working in sports halls and small 5v5 courts where space was at a premium.
These set ups allowed me to move smoothly from game to game without the players waiting around for me to set up the next practice.
Why use them?
Multi pitch games enable maximised playing time due to the format of short breaks between each game – and also the ease of moving from game to game without the need for setting up or moving cones.
How to play?
You play the games in sequence. Depending on age, experience and level of the player – for example, you could play 5 minute games, with a 1 minute break between each one or you can increase/decrease time as required.
How to score the games?
Likewise, with the scoring – you can continue the score into the next game – or you can count each individual game as a win/loss/draw and reset the score for the next one.
Each different game will give the players a small “tactical” hint on where to attack and what areas to protect when defending.
Therefore, the coach should only be needed for the initial instruction of the game and then to encourage the players (while playing) to complete various actions to be successful. This will maximise the time that your players are actively playing football.
Example 1 – Fab Four Tournament
The “Fab 4” Tournament includes four games within the same pitch set up.
The full set up.
Game one is the “End Zone” game where both teams attack and defend their end zones. Goals are scored by dribbling or passing to a team mate (who is running off the ball) in the end zone.
You can add different scoring for the type of goal that you wish to encourage. So maybe 1pt for scoring with a pass and 2pts for scoring with a dribbling – or vice versa
Game two is the “Switch game” and works across the pitch. The teams try to use the full width of the pitch in order to score in the wide gates.
To score a goal, the players must dribble through the gates – or – make a forward pass on the floor into the gates. Again, you can play around with these rules to suit your group and what you would like to encourage the players to do.
Game three is the “six goal” game and again works across the pitch. Each team defends/attacks the two wide gates and the central mini goal.
This game encourages switching play in order to score on the sides, but more importantly to open spaces in the middle in order to attack centrally.
1pt is rewarded for scoring in the wide gates and 2pts for scoring in the mini goal.
This game is a fantastic way of teaching your players the concept of going (1) through (2) around (3) behind your opponents defence to score
Is something that all players will need to understand and learn as they grow in game intelligence. In every game they play (2v2 to 11v11), these ways of attacking are open to them. But…. the players must read the opponents defence during the game and see which one is available.
Occupy width and search for depth
A tip when developing young players is to make them aware of the following.
“Your opponent can always reduce the length of the pitch by (1) dropping deep (2) holding or pushing forward the defensive line to use offside”
However, the opponent can never effect the amount of width your team holds on the pitch. The ability to use width in order to create space to attack forwards is essential to any successful team.
Game four is the “Normal Game” where the teams can try to use the techniques and small tactics of the previous games in order to be successful.
– Can we create 1v1s to dribble forward?
– Can we look and pass forwards?
– Can we make forward runs?
– If we are blocked, can we switch play and make forward progress in the middle or on the opposite side of the pitch?
Use of goalkeepers
If you want to use goalkeepers in the game. They can be involved in a number of ways
(1) can play for their team as a goalkeeper or outfield player depending on whether goals are used
(2) can play as neutrals who stay in the end zone/outside zones and enable the team in possession to have a +2 overload in possession.
Including the goalkeepers in this way will give them the complete technical session of handling, receiving and releasing the ball.
Example 2 – Switch Game
The “Switch Game” also includes four games within the same set up.
The teams take a turn at attacking and defending each end line of the pitch.
Each end line as a different set of goals to defend.
The full set up
In each game, the teams must use different tactics in order to be successful when attacking and defending
For example, ATTACKING priorities
Attacking mini goals – Switch play and pass forwards
Attacking dribbling gates – Switch play and dribbling forwards in 1v1 situations or by creating a 2v1 for one-two’s, overlap or underlap runs.
End zone – forward passing and running off the ball
Big goal – using all the aspects of the above and combining them with shooting at goal or crossing the ball.
In game one, the RED team defend the two mini goals and attack the end zone. The BLUE team defend the end zone and attack the two mini goals
After this game, the teams move to defend the line on their LEFT
In this game, the RED team defends the dribbling gates and attacks the big goal. The BLUE team defends the big goal and attacks the two wide dribbling gates
In game three, the RED team defends the end zone and attacks the two mini goals. The BLUE team defends the two mini goals and attacks the end zone.
In game four, the RED team defends the big goal and attacks the wide dribbling gates. The BLUE team defends the dribbling gates and attacks the big goal.
Use of a goalkeeper
You can use a goalkeeper to play for the team defending the big goal.
When neither team is defending the big goal, the goalkeeper can then play as a neutral inside the pitch.
The use of “Multi Game” pitches is a very simple way of maximising playing time for your players and also teaching the game.
The games can be played with various numbers from 2v2 through to 6v6/7v7 by adapting the size of the pitch.
You can load two, three, four or five games within the same initial set up and move in sequence between each one or call out randomly the next game to be played.
In each game, the team must organise themselves and this encourages communication amongst your players.
The coaching messages from each game
(1) how best to attack
(2) how best to defend
progress into the next game.
Therefore, this type of session will give the players a smooth learning process, whilst also challenging them to think both in and out of possession (individually and as a team).
The key is to keep the format and rules of each game simple.
Good luck. Mick.