Coaching Attack & Defense Using Small-Sided Games

This small-sided game focused on coaching attack and defense comes from Brian Bliss, Director of Player Personnel Sporting Kansas City, and was presented at the Soccer Champions Coaches' Clinic. Find out more about the Soccer Champions Coaches' Clinic. 

Activity 1

Set-up: 4 v 4 + 3 in Grid 20 x 20 yds. The 3 neutral players are positioned as 2 on end line and 1 central.

small-sided game

Team in possession looks to circulate the ball with players moving along axis and creating triangles with neutral in middle.

4 defenders work together to make ball go around them not through the middle.

Upon winning the ball they should play to neutrals and quickly assume wide positions.

Loss of possession players enter middle and begin to defend.

Activity 2

Set-up: 3 v 3 + 1 on field approx 20 x 25 yds. Game is directional and requires attacking team to stop the ball in end zone 2-3 yds. deep.

3 v 3 small-sided game

Extra player in possession should allow ball movement and force defensive group to adjust shape of pressure, cover and balance.

Team in possession can use teammate behind end zone as outlet when in trouble to create defensive adjustment.

Attacking team must use principal of length and width to maintain ball while trying to penetrate end line.

Activity 3

Set-up: 4 v 4 (4 Goal Game). Attack 2 goals and defend 2 goals. Goals should act as a simulation of penetrating pass/goal.

4 v 4 4 goal game

Players can score from anywhere on field forcing defending team to get immediate pressure on the ball so no easy penetrative pass/goal can be made.

Ball circulation and spreading the game out in width and length should enhance the idea of pressure, cover and balance and general principles of attack.

Player behind each goal can be used as outlet for team in possession. Player can enter game on dribble and other player must exit.

Activity 4

Set-up: 5 v 5 + GKs to Big Goals approx. 48 x 45 yards.

5 v 5

Game should mirror the game. You must try and score, win ball back, maintain possession.

Use of GKs in possession as your extra attacker. Division of space in attack.

Organization defensively. Compact with general defensive principles.

If needed add a neutral to facilitate game in possession.

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Get more training activities like this from past Soccer Champions Coaches' Clinics.