Small-Sided 4 v 4 Attacking Game

The following is an excerpt of small-sided drills from Soccer Awareness in the Best of Amplified Soccer Training Volume 1 and can also be found in Tactical Thoughts on the Development of the New 4 v 4, 7 v 7 and 9 v 9 Game Sizes.


One way to teach the basic tactical game of the 4 v 4 is to offer many different ideas on actual game situation that focus on certain themes. This is what the following presentations do. You cannot do better than put players into game situations to learn the game, we just take it one stage further by what we present here. We continue by teaching Attacking principles in a 4 v 4 game situation so several thoughts on different set ups to teach it individually and collectively as team players. The set ups of the game situation will dictate what theme we get out of it.

Coaching Points for 4 v 4:

  1. Correct Positioning when Attacking and Defending.
  2. Maintaining Possession and dictating the direction of play by running with the ball, passing and dribbling.
  3. Forward passing but if not then positioning for back or sideway passing.
  4. Movement as a team forward, backward, sideways left and right.
  5. Communication – verbal and non-verbal (body language).
  6. Techniques involved – Controlling and Passing, receiving and turning, dribbling, shielding and shooting. Defending.

4 v 4 a Basic Diamond Shape for Attacking

This is the set up for the eventual 4 v 4 (or 5 v 5 plus keepers) competitive game situation. The above coaching points are important to use as guidelines to what you are trying to achieve in this coaching practice.

The attacking four spread out as wide and long as they can to make it difficult for the defending team to mark them. Maintenance of a rough diamond shape ensures good angles and distances of support wherever the ball may be.

The use of the awareness principles is very important in the development of this game concept and you can ensure they are applied by conditioning the game for example making it one and two touch play to mention just one way.

4 v 4 a basic diamond shape for attacking

A 4 v 4 Dribbling Game

No goals are used. To score, a player must dribble the ball under control over the goal line. Looking to encourage 1 v 1’s, work on improving ball control with quick movement. Decision making is to improve when and where to dribble. This practice can be applied with the same principles with larger numbers of players such as a 6 v 6 etc.

4 v 4 dribbling game

Coaching Points:

  1. Creating Space – For you to receive the ball.
  2. Decision – When and where to dribble (less likely in the defending third, most likely in the attacking third).
  3. Technique –Tight Close Control on receiving the ball, use of body to dummy an opponent, ability to change pace and direction, established dribbling skills, a positive attitude to beat the player.
  4. Runs of Teammates – To support or to take opponents away to leave a 1 v 1 situation.
  5. End Product – beating an opponent in a 1 v 1 situation.

Talk about safety and risk areas and identify where it is safe to attempt to beat a player 1 v 1 and where it is not. Have the players answer the questions; don’t tell them, let them work it out for themselves. Losing possession close to their own defensive line and thus the opponent scoring will tell the player that is not a good area to try to beat a player 1 v 1 just by the resulting action.

With the Awareness program, I am encouraging players to make quick observations and quick decisions often resulting in a player passing the ball early to avoid being caught in possession. It also helps players who are good at dribbling by enabling them to identify situations in advance to allow them to get in a good position to take a player on in a 1 v 1 situation. This could include opening the body up to receive and face up to an opponent, seeing the immediate opponent has no cover on so you can attack 1 v 1, seeing where the defender is early and identifying the best side to attack, seeing you have no support so have to attack 1 v 1 etc.

Get the rest of this session with five more 4 v 4 attacking small-sided games from Soccer Awareness and lots more in over 60 pages of training resources in the Best of Amplified Soccer Training Volume 1. Preview Here