4v4 four goal game

This traditional coaching game is great for getting players to play with their heads up, watch what is going on around them and move into spaces where they can influence the game.

Experience: beginners/intermediate.

Set-up: Play 4v4 on a 30-yard square with two goals at each end.

The goals should be set a few yards in from each corner of the pitch.

How to play: Each team defends the two goals at one end of the pitch and attacks the other two.

Coaching points: Watch for attacking players moving to unguarded goals and congratulate them. Similarly, stop play and congratulate defenders who track attackers or cover open goals.


Place a goal on each sideline and allocate each team two goals to attack and two to defend. This may look chaotic to begin with but it improves spatial awareness.

Restrict the number of touches each player can have before passing or shooting. For younger players, three touches is appropriate. For older or more experienced players two-touch is good. You can even try restricting them to one-touch

4 super tips for goalkeepers to both recover and maximize performance in the off-season

Have you been there before?

After slugging it out for 11 months of the year, your body is about to break down like a freight train with no coal in the furnace. You may be thinking that you should push on full steam ahead, though nothing can be further from the truth. In fact, possibly the most critical stage in any goalkeepers development is the need to take a step back to move two steps forward, this is why rest is critical to maximizing your goalkeeping performance in the off season.

So, now you can kick your heels up on the couch, pop open your favorite bag of chips, grab the TV guide and your home and hosed?

No, you may end up derailing all your hard work in an instant. Let’s see how any goalkeeper can recover and maximize their performance in the off-season with 5 simple and fun training tips.

Two of the key components why many young footballers fail to progress in their physiological development is that they miss two critical components throughout their training year.

Being aware of a “detrained” state: Detraining is the partial or complete loss of training-induced adaptations, in response to an insufficient training stimulus. Detraining characteristics may be different depending on the duration of training cessation or insufficient training.

Taking time off to recover from the harsh demands of competitive football entails a fragile balance, where timing is everything, and if left unchecked the untrained goalkeeper can pull apart much of the platform for success that was built over a competitive season. Having too much of a break means that the muscles and cardiovascular enhancements created over a year can be lost over a very short period of time. The time taken to rebuild those muscular and cardiovascular responses which are lost in the off season can take considerable time to be re-built, which can lead to a short term road block in competitive performance.

2) Understanding the concept of active rest:

Active recovery refers to engaging in low-intensity exercise after workouts. There are two forms of active recovery. One is during the cool-down phase immediately after a hard effort or workout. The second form of active recovery includes the days following a competition or other intense workout. (Quinn, E. Sports Medicine Guide, December 2, 2007).

The above definition refers to a period after each and every training session, though we can easily apply this to the rest period in a year long periodized plan, over 2-4 weeks (depending on the structure of the competitive season). Active rest is the key component to being able to curb the effects of a detrained state, by reducing activity intensity rather than cutting off activity completely.

So let’s look at 5 super hot tips to help maximize goalkeeping performance and enhance recovery rates from the harsh demands of competitive football:

1) Make Rest a Part of The Bigger Picture: Coaches whom have a periodized plan are more likely to help their team succeed throughout a competitive season than the coach that doesn’t take the time to plan their training sessions throughout the year. Though the off season should also be part of the bigger picture. Having a 2-4 week rest period should entail that the goalkeeper and the rest of the team are active, though not to the same intensities as before and during the season.

2) Do Fun Stuff Other Than Football: One of the great things about growing up in Australia is that Aussies have a great array of different sports and football codes. Playing a different sport outside of the regular football (soccer) season not only helps young players take their mind off the game, but allows them to work different muscle groups and expand their skill set outside of regular training. Get involved in basketball, get a rugby ball and play some touch football with some friends, the list is endless and the key again is differentiation and the ability to recover actively outside of the competitive football field. Goalkeepers can gain invaluable experience in eye-hand coordination by playing other sports in the off season to boot!

3) Get Your Body Back in Alignment:
Everyone knows that the goalkeeper goes through some serious knocks and bumps throughout their season. Holistic therapies are now widely practiced in elite sports, and nothing beats a better recovery than some massage and physiotherapy to knock out any roadblocks to your football development. In fact, massage therapy during the off season will help the mind refocus, and help the muscles recover from the strenuous demands encountered throughout the season. If you have had any niggling injuries during your competitive season, get down to a physiotherapist to help knock them out, so that you are fresh and ready to go when the new season gets under way.

4) Eat Right To Fuel Recovery: Don’t let the Christmas break make you look like Santa when the time comes to get back out onto the pitch! As with the whole season, a focus on solid nutrition should be the norm, even when it is time to take a break from the pitch. What you also need to steer clear of, is going to the extreme with unconventional diets that can hinder rather than help your recovery. Whole breads, cereals, fruit, vegetables, plenty of water and lean meats will contain ALL of the nutrients you require to fuel your recovery and maximize your performance when it comes time to hit it out in your next competitive season. Now no one likes an overweight goalkeeper (that’s why they put us between the sticks in the first place, right?), but having one day during the post season to have a “cheat” food (something you really like but is usually taboo during the season) is ok as well.

Taking the foot off the pedal is both healthy and normal for the competitive goalkeeper to maximize their performance. Resting completely can lead to detraining effects which can really take the edge out of the goalkeepers performance throughout the season. In summary, planning your off season is vitally important to maximize goalkeeping performance, making sure that you take the time to get out and play other sports (outside of football) to help enhance your skill set is also vital. Throughout the season, you are bound to get some knocks that may be prolonged if no rest and recovery is taken during the off-season, having some sports massage is a great way to iron out aches and pains and get the body ready for pre-season. The post-season is no time to be slack about your nutrition either. Make the effort to keep your diet lean and mean, but also leave one day (every now and then) in your post season training schedule to have a little cheat food as well!


4 square soccer

Number of players: 4v4 (or 5v5 if you use goalkeepers)

Age group: U10 upwards

Set up: divide a 40×30 grid (with a goal at each end) into four quarters using flat cones or lines.

Assign the following positions to the players in both teams: defender, left midfield player, right midfield player and attacker.

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How to play: The defender works in the two squares nearest her goal, the left midfield player must stay in the two squares on the left of the grid, the right mid player works in the two squares on the right of the grid and the attacker plays in the two squares nearest the other teams goal. Otherwise, normal soccer rules apply.

Play to a set number of goals or for a set time. You could also award ‘goals’ for a set number of passes.

Tip: encourage quick shooting and tight defending by not having goalkeepers and making the goals big. The younger the players, the bigger the goal should be.

3v3 – 1 goal

g7Game Rules
A normal 3-a-side game in an area approximately 30 yards by 20 yards, except
that it is played around one goal rather than two.

Emphasize shooting at goal at the earliest opportunity.

Players combine to create goal-scoring opportunity.

Team in the dark uniforms can score only from the left side of the field, and team in white only from the right side.

Re-start game with a throw-in any time the ball goes out of bounds.

When goalkeeper makes a save from one team, he throws the ball into the opposing half of the field.

Player Objectives

  • To take early shots from within shooting distance of the goal.

  • To provide support for the player with the ball

3 team keepaway

Minutes: 10-20 Number of players: 9-18 Ages: 9-14

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Objectives: soccer warm-up, team work, ball control, possession, passing


Make 3 teams (Green-Blue-Red) 4v4v4 or 5v5v5 or 6v6v6 in Square grid about 25 x 25. Vary the size for player numbers and ability. One team starts as the defenders and the other two teams play keepaway. When the defenders win the ball the team colour which was responsible for losing the ball become the defenders. You can give a goal for X number of consecutive passes.

This is an excellent warm up and very good for improving small, quick passes.

It’s also a good drill for improving general ball control, awareness and team work.

I use this on every training as a warm up in a square grid about 20 x 20 meters.

2v2 with 2 neutrals

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 20.18.30The X’s and O’s play possession football. They can use the neutrals (the ‘N’s in the diagram) if they are in trouble. The two sides without neutrals on represents the corner of a pitch.

To make the game more competitive you can award a point for completing a set number of consecutive passes (easier) or keeping the ball for a set period (harder).

This routine helps your children to avoid pressure by playing themselves into a corner. It also encourages communication and keeping their heads up.

1. Keep moving

2. Look up often

3. Switch it often

4. Play quick passes

5. Talk A LOT

2v1 Sieve

2v1 Sieve works on attacking and defending skills.

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Set up three to five 10×10 yard grids in a row. Place two lines of attackers at one end, and give a ball to all the players in one line. Position a defender in each grid.

Two attackers enter the first grid and try to beat the first defender, who cannot leave the area. If successful, they move into the next grid and take on the next defender, and so on. Every time they beat a defender they get a point.

Defenders only have to knock the ball out of the grid area to stop the attack. Each time the defenders stop an attack, they move up a space, changing places with the defenders in the grids in front of them.

The defenders become attackers by stopping an attack in the first grid. When this happens, the attacker who lost the ball goes into the last grid and becomes the new defender for that grid, the successful defender in the first grid goes to the end of the attacking lines, and the remaining defenders all move forward by one grid.

The first players to earn a predetermined number of points win.

2v1 to goal

Improves tackling, passing and shooting skills

A defensive player kicks the football out to two offensive players. The defender follows the pass and tries to win the football back and clear it toward either of two goals placed wide. The offensive players try to score on goal.

Rotation: The player who shoots or loses the ball rotates to the defensive line. The other two players go to the offensive line.



“Settle the ball on the ground. Keep it in front of you” when receiving the kick from the defender.

“Dribble at the defender”–the offensive player who receives the ball should proceed to the defender.

“Pass the ball once the defender is committed”—if the defender is committed to stopping the dribble, the other offensive player should be open.

“The player without the ball should stay even with the ball or behind it”–don’t get behind the defender or in an off side position.


“Close the space quickly”– Shut down the player with the ball.

“Force the play to the outside”–away from the other attacker.


Play with a goalkeeper.

Allow only one pass for offensive players.

Allow another defender to enter play once the first pass is made.

Require a one-touch shot for a player who receives the ball in the penalty area