Developing Team Play and Individual “Themes” Through a 6 v 6 Small-Sided Game

The following comes from Soccer Awareness eBook 12: 16 Team Shape Games. Soccer shape teaches players how to defend and attack as a team. No matter what formation you choose to play, Team Shape is a vital component to how successful your team will play on the weekend. This book looks at various options based on age groups for the size of the games. Preview Here


The basic shape is a double triangle, a positional theme where players are encouraged to interchange then return to a basic shape when the time is right. You could use a 2 – 2 – 1 formation also to allow a 2 v 1 overload at the defensive end.

The coach needs to focus on the principles established with the Awareness program and get the players to apply them in the Small-Sided Games concept. The Forward passing theme has the following:

Coaching Points:

  1. Create Space - Players spread out to be in position to receive the ball.
  2. Decision – When, where and how to pass.
  3. Technique – Quality of the pass (Accuracy, weight and angle).
  4. Support Positions – Of teammates (angle, distance, and communication).
  5. End Product – Shots on goal. Anticipate rebounds.
  6. The themes you can concentrate on one at a time include, Creating Space as a team, Forward passes to Feet and Space, Switching Play as a team, Running with the Ball, One and Two Touch Play, Passing and Support Play, Diagonal Runs without the Ball (diagonal runs, Overlaps, blindside runs, under laps), Forward diagonal Runs to Receive, Receiving and Turning, When and Where to Dribble.
developing team play in a 6 v 6

A 6 v 4 Game Overload Situation

  1. Overload situation now with a 6 v 4 in favor of the numbers team. Ask the defending lettered team to play passively to begin to get the session going easily.
  2. Then as we progress the defenders can’t tackle but can intercept passes.
  3. Next ask the defenders to defend correctly and at 100% but the team in possession should still be able to make it work with the overload in their favor. More game real now. If the defending team wins it, they can attack.
6 v 4 game overload situation

Running with the Ball in a Small-Sided 6 v 6 Game

Here the theme is running with the ball particularly from the back. Use the progressions
to get it going.

running with the ball in a small-sided 6 v 6 game

Coaching Points:

  1. Creating Space – Players breaking wide to receive the ball from the keeper.
  2. Decision – Can I run with the ball or do I pass.
  3. Technique – Key factors of running with the ball, head up, good first touch out of your feet, and run in a straight line (the shortest route forward) with pace, using your front foot to control the ball.
  4. Quality of Pass / Cross / Shot / Dribble at the end of the run.
  5. Support Positions – support in front, fill in behind.

When you get to a 6 v 6 set up it may be useful to change the shape of the teams to 3 – 1 – 1 from a 2 – 1 – 2 so there is a 3 v 1 overload at the back to help players run out with the ball. The space is usually in the wide areas for this movement. This allows for a greater chance of success in the practice until players are comfortable and confident performing the theme.

Get more like this in Soccer Awareness eBook 12: 16 Team Shape Games!